The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VII, Issue 22
Shabbat Mishpatim 5763, February 2003
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
by R. Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Is it possible that I will not find what I am seeking, when my search wells forth from the depths of truth?
And what am I seeking if not myself, my true self?–not my physical or spiritual garments–all of those are acquisitions; they come and serve the essence. But if the essence (the true essence) is beyond me, then of what use will all these tools be?
That is the core of [my] inner question, [and] true strength is required in order to strongly address it.
And this constant effort to find my essence is also the ground of [my relationship] with the existence of the entire Jewish people, of humanity in its broadest sense, and of all existence (in its being and its spreading out).
And it is [also] the gate to Hashem, to finding the eternal Sought-after–is He not the God of the world, the Source of all sought things, Whom every soul desires and without Whom there is nothing [worth] seeking?
This is the purest and most wholehearted quality [within me]. It disturbs my spirit and blocks all [my] spiritual, inner inclinations, making it impossible for them to find their way until the foundational stance of that essential thing which I seek will be based upon the spiritual foundation of all movements of life.
And the wealth of learning, of all intellectual activity and all spiritual inspiration with its multitudes of movements in life, in humanity and in the world come in order to attain that [goal].
"Happy are all who await Him."
by R. Avraham Sternhartz
Lesson Three of Likutei Moharan, which deals with song, was taught when R. Nachman of Breslov was in Ladizshin for the holy Shabbos. A few followers of R. Nachman lived in that town. In general, although most people there knew of the Elder's opposition to R. Nachman, they were afraid to speak badly about R. Nachman. Particularly, when R. Nachman arrived, most of them received him with great courtesy. But a few townspeople did not come to greet him.
On this holy Shabbos when R. Nachman came, one of his followers was celebrating a Shalom Zachor for a boy who had been born to him that week. And the Jewish custom, as stated in the Shulchan Aruch, is that people gather together after the holy Shabbos evening meal in the house of the new-born and sit at the table with various fruits, sweet things and drinks.
The cantor of the town also had to come to that meal, for that was part of how he earned money. At the circumcision itself, he would recite a Mi Shebeirach for everyone and everyone would give him a donation in accordance with his means. But since this cantor was one of R. Nachman's opponents, he sat at the far end of the table. And although it was the custom for the cantor to sing a Shabbos song for the company, he did not do so.
R. Nachman told the father of the new-born child to ask the cantor why he didn't sing, and the cantor replied that at the moment he didn't have a voice.
R. Nachman said, "I will give him a voice."
And since other singers were present, they sang instead.
After people had left, R. Nachman said, "Does the verse not state, say, ‘he who keeps company of harlots will lose wealth'–and wealth, say the sages, refers to the voice."
No one understood this.
The next Shabbos, someone else had a new-born boy. Because was a poor man, the cantor didn't go to his house for the Shalom Zachor. Some people were very upset with the cantor. He had gone to the previous shalom zachor (which R. Nachman had attended), because that father was a well-off man, one of the more important laymen. But because this person was poor, the cantor didn't want to come. So they decided that two people should go to his house and make him come, so that this poor person wouldn't be shamed.
When they came to the cantor's house, they didn't find him at home. And when they asked his wife where he was, she said that he had told her that he was going to the shalom zachor.
And they wondered, "What is going on? And where could a person go on a Friday night after the Shabbos meal?"
They knew that he had a friend whom he often visited. But on the other hand, to the best of their knowledge this person was out of town. Still, they went to his house. It was completely dark, but still, they knocked on the door. No one answered, but then they saw the cantor run out the other door of the house.
For a while, people had been saying that the cantor was having an affair with his friend's wife. But they didn't know for sure. Now, however, they saw with their own eyes that it was true. The news spread throughout the town, and the cantor fled the town and went far away.
Then all the townspeople testified that R. Nachman's statement–that he would give the man a voice (which can be also mean, a voice will spread about him)–had come true (may God protect us from such a "voice").
There was a bird's nest in that house, in which birds were always chirping. Before his shame was exposed, that cantor used to say that he is going there because he enjoys the birds' chirping as much as any song. And R. Nachman's teaching, which he had delivered the previous Shabbos, also dealt with that idea. So in retrospect people saw that R. Nachman had literally been divinely inspired with a prophetic force, for the incident with the cantor took place only after R. Nachman had left Ladizshyen.
As a result of this episode, almost all the townspeople connected more closely with R. Nachman.
Since R. Nachman had said in his teaching that in order to hear song from anyone, one should learn Talmud and Mishnah at night, the people made a new rule and established groups that remained after evening prayers in all the study halls to learn Mishnah and Talmud. And this was a great sanctification of God's name, in the name of R. Nachman–may his merit guard us now as well to learn and to teach, to guard and to keep.
by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook
"After concluding his prayers, R. Elazar would say the following: May it be Your will, Hashem our God, to place within our lot love and brotherhood and peace and friendship. And increase our borders with students. And let us come to a successful end with our hopes having been met. And place our portion in the garden of Eden, and help rectify us with a good friend and a good inclination. And may we arise and find the hope of our heart–which is to fear Your name; and may the tranquility of our soul come before You for good."
"After concluding his prayers, R. Elazar would say the following: May it be Your will, Hashem our God, to place within our lot love..."
Our lot depends, as we see, upon external circumstances. Guard us from circumstances that would prevent us from experiencing feelings of love and brotherhood toward all people. Give us experiences that will help enlarge "love and brotherhood and peace and friendship." When a person finds that people are hostile toward him and wish to harm him, his heart turns to hate people. Then he grows very much afraid that he might lose the gift of a generous heart.
"And increase our borders with students."
May we will be able to increase acts of love, to help perfect many people with the best of perfection, with is the perfection of the Torah.
"And let us come to a successful end with our hopes having been met."
May these students also go on a good path and perfect others. Then the act of love will go on forever.
"And place our portion in the garden of Eden."
May we take pleasure in the precious sweetness of the love of God and the friendship of the righteous.
"And help rectify us with a good friend."
May the feeling of love grow within us.
"And a good inclination."
May we not have to employ the trait of hatred against our physical drives, since they will be acting correctly and not in opposition to our perfection.
"And may we arise and find the hope of our heart, which is to fear Your name. And may the tranquility of our soul come before You for good."
Tranquility is found in a person who believes that he has reached his goal. Hope exists before he attains his goal. If a person has imperfections that he hopes to rectify via the awe of God, he might have "hope of the heart," but he does not have tranquility of the spirit, [the assurance] that he will find grace in God's eyes. How can he be tranquil with himself as he is, still bound and tied to evil, sinful things?
Contrarily, if a person has purified his spirit from any imperfect trait and has thus found tranquility in his spirit, yet he does not hope to reach a higher level–then, although he might have tranquility, he lacks the hope of the heart for a higher level. This in itself is a great failing, for a person must always yearn to rise and grow more perfected. Therefore, R. Elazar requested both things: that our hearts should always hope to fear Your name and desire to rise in the awe of God–but not that this hope should be due to bad traits that we are hoping to rectify. Rather, our traits should be entirely good and the tranquility of our spirit should come before You. The tranquility that we find in our spirit and our joy in our portion will be for the good. But we will still yearn for higher levels of perfection and elevation.
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