The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 42
Matot/Masei, July 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
THE TWO SCHOOLS OF HASIDISM: FIRST, THE SCHOOL OF INTELLECT (Part I)
THE TRUE IDEALIST
by Avraham Stern
And now to the story.
On the headstone is carved, "Here lies an honest, faithful man, Eliakim son of Shmuel...5319 (or 5312)." In other words, he passed away in the mid-sixteenth century, in the generation of the Ari, who at that time lived in Tzefat, in the land of Israel.
It is told that one Friday, the news spread through Tishvitz that a poor "lantik," a tailor who fixes and patches old clothes–had died. In order that the body not remained uninterred over the Sabbath, the Burial and Carriers' Societies quickly gathered together to perform their duties. But to their astonishment, in the tailor's hovel they came upon two strangers with very noble, handsome countenances, who did not let them approach the body, claiming that he is a holy Jew. The Tishvitz town rabbi was swiftly summoned. He arranged the following compromise: those townspeople who were normally involved in such matters would prepare the shroud and the coffin, bring it to the cemetery, and the like, on condition that each one of them would purify himself by immersing himself in a kosher mikvah. But the actual cleansing of the body and clothing it in a shroud would be carried out by these two men, who claimed that the dead man was holy.
The Tishvitz rabbi asked these two men to explain what was going on. They told him that their rabbi, the Ari, had been informed from heaven that the Maharshal, rabbi of Lublin, and the Rema, rabbi of Cracow, had decided that on a given Sunday a shofar would be blown in Lublin and Cracow, in order to excommunicate the Ari (heaven forbid). The cause was that the Ari had begun a new path in learning Kabbalah.
In order to thwart this plan, the Ari had sent them to the elder Torah leader, the Maharshal, who, once persuaded by them, would in turn stop the young Torah authority, the Rema.
The rabbi of Tishvitz asked the two men to remain with him for the Sabbath. But they replied that they must spend the Sabbath in Lublin with the Maharshal.
The rabbi asked, "How can this be? From Tishvitz to Lublin is a distance of almost two hundred kilometers!"
The older of the two men, R. Chaim Vital, replied, "Our rabbi, the Ari, made a cloud bring us here from Tzefat, which we left just this morning. And with the same cloud, we will come to Lublin, God willing. Now we are in a rush. But, God willing, we will write you from Lublin and inform you of all the details."
And they did so. From Lublin, they wrote to the Tishvitz rabbi, who copied their story into the city chronicles.
Once, R. Chaim Vital had asked his rabbi, the Ari, to tell him which living tzaddik was fit to be the Moshiach ben Yosef. (He did not ask about Moshiach ben Yosef, believing that the Ari himself was fit to be that man.)
The Ari answered him, "I have been notified from heaven to respond to all your questions. So I am asking you to withdraw this particular question. This tzaddik is hidden, and it is very dangerous to reveal who he is." (Mention of this is made in Shivchei Ha'ari and Shivchei R. Chaim Vital.)
But R. Chaim Vital insisted that his rabbi tell him nevertheless. The Ari promised to tell in the proper time.
Now, when the opportunity came to send these two messengers (one of whom was R. Chaim Vital) to the Maharshal, the Ari kept his promise. He told them that the Moshiach ben Yosef of that generation lived in Tishvitz, a small town in the district of Lublin. And he told them that if they would find him at home, this would be a sign that no one would be hurt.
by R. Kalman Kalonymus Shapira
Even in regard to learning the kabbalistic teachings of the holy Zohar and the Ari, the feature unique to the holy path of intellectual Hasidism is the drawing of those exalted matters to the sphere of human intellect. In that way, even simple human intellect and thought–which are capable of apprehending only simple, this-worldly things–can also grasp the words of Kabbalah (as I have discussed elsewhere at length).
This is so in the service of thought itself.
It is also the case in the service of the heart–a service of love, awe and self-nullification, which arouses our holy soul in general to serve God with a burning spirit and to cling to Him.
There are [two reasons that this path of intellectual Hasidism,] the holy path of inspiration by means of thought and contemplation, [was created].
One: In and of itself, serving God in thought and mind by contemplating God is very great. It brings us to connect with and cling to God. "Knowledge" implies connection (e.g., "Adam knew...").
Also, it is related to the Garden of Eden. We conceptualize, understand, know, and apprehend with our intellect and understanding whatever it is that we is capable of understanding and apprehending of the light of the Infinite One, blessed be He, by means of God's own wisdom and understanding that shine in the world of Briyah [and thus in the Garden of Eden] (Tanya, 39 and 42).
Two: Since the source of the dwelling place of our holy soul is in the mind, our soul is aroused. Love and awe correspond to our level of knowledge of God (ibid. 44).
In fact, even if a person's thought of love does not arouse his heart to a love and awe manifested in his heart (so that he actually feels a love and awe of God in his heart), if he forces himself to keep the Torah and commandments because he understands conceptually that one should love and be in awe of God, that conceptual love and awe are already considered as though they were manifest in his heart with an enthusiasm, desire and a yearning that can be felt in the heart and soul, a thirsting for God due to the fiery flames of his love within his heart (ibid. 16).
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Everywhere the true idealist declaims,
Of an old, bloody path.
Where babies' limbs fly,
And grapple with ourselves.
We tear at one another,
Covers a field of snow
He uses this world: its stolen cars,
Of mauling and hate,
For the sake
A man with shining eyes,
by Simchah Raz
Once, when Rav Kook was told about some extraordinary act of kindness that R. Aryeh Levin had performed, he stood up and said, "If there were three Jews like R. Aryeh in our generation, the messiah would come."
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