The Wings of Morning - A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Nasso 5758 / June 6, 1998


* When Your Soul Connects
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* The Business Agent Who Disappeared
-by Avraham Shtern
* The Son of Feiga the Prophetess
-by Hillel Zeitlin
* Make the Torah Greater
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* Sometimes, Memory is a Redemption
-by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

When your soul connects with the supernal light of the Torah, its smallest details become beloved to your soul. Then your desire for the Torah spreads to every letter of its subtleties and the subtle distinctions made by the rabbis, as they spread and branch forth.
Orot Hatorah 5:1

by Avraham Shtern

A middle-aged Jew once came to Rabbi Israel of Rizhin. He gave a kvittel (a note) with his name on it, but with no request. Rabbi Israel asked him about that. The Jew replied, "I only came to look at you. If the rabbi will hear me out, I will tell him the reason." And this is the story he told:

I am, thank God, a successful businessman, and I also own several farm estates. I ship wood and other merchandise from Lithuania, Poland and Volhin to Danzig on rafts. One time, I invested everything I had in that merchandise, and in addition, I had to borrow money from others. I sent my Jewish agent along with the cargo. When he came to Danzig, he sold the merchandise and took receipts for everything.

Then he gave the shippers and the other workers their expense money. They travelled home, and he took the cash box and travelled home by himself.

Everyone came back--except for him.

In town, people said that he had run away with the cash box. The creditors came to me, and I worked out a payment agreement with them. I still had great trust in the agent, and believed that something must have happened to him. I heartened his wife and children, and paid them the same as before.

This winter, on the nineteenth of Kislev, I had a dream, as lucid as if I were awake. I saw my agent standing next to me. He told me the name of a small town and the name of the rabbi there. He told me to remember this well, not to forget it, and to travel to the rabbi and collect my money and the accounts from him.

I asked him, "Why? Why did you leave the money there?" He replied, "I became ill, so I sent for the rabbi and secretly gave him everything."

I asked him, "Does that mean that you are no longer in this world? And if that is the case, why did you take so long to come to me?"

He replied, "You must know that everything that is written in the holy books is true. There are all sorts of things one must go through before one is clean enough to come to one's true place of rest, and that takes a great deal of time--everyone according to his actions in this world. And so I had my experiences too.

"But tonight, the angel Dumah, who is in charge of Jewish cemeteries, proclaimed, 'This is the nineteenth of Kislev, the yahrtzeit (anniversary of the passing) of Rabbi Dov Ber, the maggid of Meziritch. He will pass over the cemetery on his way to the garden of Eden. Everyone should stand in two rows, and whoever saw him on earth should take several steps forward. Rabbi Dov Ber will bring those who stand forward along with him to the garden of Eden.' Immediately, Rabbi Dov Ber passed by, accompanied by thousands of the deceased. He pointed at those who had stepped forward and showed each one where he should stand in his escort.

"I remained in the row. But as Rabbi Dov Ber came close to me, he summoned me with his finger. I came to him and told him, 'Rebbe! This is a world of truth, and I must admit that I did not see you in my lifetime.'

"The rebbe answered me, 'But I saw you. When your mother was pregnant with you, she gave me a kvittel. But now, before you come with me, you must immediately go and give your employer his money together with the accounts.' The rebbe sent me off with a guard to accompany me and bring me back to him. And now I have come and spoken to you, and I hope that I will soon be able to come to my true place of rest."

The businessman continued telling Rabbi Israel of Rizhin:

I asked my agent if such great tzaddikim (holy men) exist today. He told me, "Yes, they do. The grandson of Rabbi Dov Ber, Rabbi Israel of Rizhin, is considered very highly in the world of truth." I wanted to keep the agent longer, but he asked me to let him go and to forgive him the trouble I had suffered on his account for such a long period of time. I immediately forgave him. When I woke up, I remembered everything. I wrote down the name of the small town and the rabbi there. I went there, and everything was as the agent said. I collected the money and accounts from the rabbi, and I was able to pay off all my debts.

And I am, thank God, wealthy. So what request should I have? But at any rate, I wanted to come here and see you.

Rabbi Israel of Rizhin blessed the man that he and his family should be healthy, and that he should have gratification from his children. And he advised the man to raise the deceased agent's children to Torah, marriage and good deeds, so that his wealth would remain.

May the merit of the tzaddikim protect us and all Israel. Amen.

Chasidishe Maysios, pp. 73-75

by Hillel Zeitlin (killed by the Germans, 1942)

[disclaimer: this biography by a great admirer of Rabbi Nachman contains sections that many Breslov Hasidim do not accept as accurate.]

Just as the withered, scorched earth yearns for rain, so did the heart of Nachman as a young person yearn for God. Superficially, he was a child like any other. He danced, pushed, rolled on the ground, raced, played hide-and-seek. But inwardly, he was filled with a flaming fire, a craving, a desire for the wellspring of all life--a longing that gave the child no rest, that chased him from the camp of childhood, in the exact midst of his carefree existence.

He was raised in an atmosphere of pure, good Judaism. He had a concentrated and sharpened piety, filled with spiritual elevations, with spiritual growth and unceasing effort to be worthy of his predecessors: Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka. Young Nachman absorbed the pain of God's Presence, hiding his mystical yearnings from those around him, desiring to surpass his elders in everything, seeking his own path to God, intending through his own struggle to come to a level that not even his holy forefathers had attained.

He was born on Shabbos Hagadol in 5532, in Mezhibozh.

His father, Rabbi Simchah, was one of the brilliant Torah scholars and Hasidim of his time. His mother, Feiga, was known as a daughter of the famous Hadel (or Adel)--the daughter, student and good angel of the Baal Shem.

Feiga was the sister of two tzaddikim, men who illuminated, explicated and disseminated Hasidism: Rabbi Boruch of Mezhibozh (who conducted his rabbinate with a high hand, and who considered himself the one true inheritor of the Baal Shem Tov; his brief teachings are collected in the small book, Botzina Dinehora); and Rabbi Ephraim (rebbe and rabbi in Sudilkov, author of the remarkabe, illuminating "Degel Machaneh Ephraim").

These two pillars of Hasidism used to call their sister Feiga the Prophetess. They considered her to be a holy person, a woman who possessed the holy spirit. According to the tradition of the Breslover Hasidim, she was constantly in touch with the soul of her grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov. Through him, she attained high levels and was able to prophecy about all her relatives--in particular her son, Nachman, whose purpose must be to prepare a path for the king, the messiah.

Young Nachman did not content himself with the brilliant inheritance that shone for him from every corner. Already as a child, he sought his own light.

The child decided to deny himself the pleasures of the world. But how does one deal with eating? One cannot live without it--yet when one eats, one must have pleasure. Therefore, the child had an "insight": he would eat, but not chew. In this way, he would not taste anything. He conducted himself in this way when he was no more than six years old. However, the young ascetic had to quickly abandon his first austere practice.

Learning in cheder came to him with great difficulty. Instead of concentrating his entire attention on learning, he would visualize God's Name before him--fulfilling the verse, "I have set Hashem before me always."

The teacher would grow angry, but young Nachman would appease him with his great patience and diligence.

Later, when Nachman was learning Gemara, he would appease his tutor by--in addition to the regular salary that his parents paid--himself giving a separate daily payment from his pocket money in order that the rabbi would teach him more Gemara.

Later on, when he learned independently, learning continued to come to him with difficulty. He would open a sefer, study it and torment himself--yet he still did not understand its simple meaning. However, he would not leave the sefer alone. Instead, he cried and begged God for mercy. He approached the topic with all his strength, he scrutinized it, considered it from all angles, studied every line, word, letter, every crown of a letter, every vowel--until everything grew bright and clear.

Nachman did not leave unstudied any sefer that existed in Mezhibozh.

He learned Tanach, Talmud, books of Halachah, Ein Yaakov, Midrash, Zohar, Tikkunei Zohar, the writings of the Ari, other Kabbalah seforim, musar seforim and (although his students do not speak of this) all sorts of philosophical works, books on astronomy, natural science, medicine: whatever scientific works that could at that time be obtained in the Holy Tongue.

Reb Nachman Braslaver, chapter 1

by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

"Learn Torah for its own sake." Learn for the sake of the Torah.

God desires that wisdom be made actual. This wisdom is more desirable and uplifted than we can ever understand. Any lack comes from us. Because we are immersed in a physical body, we cannot recognize [wisdom's] greatness, its strength and uplifted nature.

The wisdom of the Torah is the divine revelation that, in accordance with God's will, results from our worship and learning. When we learn Torah, we bring its wisdom from potential to actual--as it relates to our spirit. There can be no comparison between the light that is renewed when the Torah is connected to one person's spirit and when it is connected to another person's spirit.

So when we learn Torah, we literally make it greater. Since the Holy One, blessed be He, wishes to make the Torah greater, we should learn out of love for the great light that God wishes to be revealed, [in our own desire that it] grow greater and greater.

Even more, we should create Torah thoughts, for this certainly makes the Torah greater--literally, with a double measure of light.

Orot Hatorah 2:1

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Sometimes, memory is a redemption.
Imagine wearing blue on the Sabbath.
Imagine the green globes of apples
Hanging in the leafy crowns of trees,
Shafts of sunlight on the field
And the cool of the dusty, empty road.

All translations and original material. Copyright 1998

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