The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 36
Nasso 5761 June 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* Horses of Fire
* The Youth of Rabbi Nosson of Nemirov (Part Iii)
* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (Part Iii)
* The Nations of Cain
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
"‘Horses of fire' refers to the letters of the Torah" (Introduction, Tikunei Zohar).
Sometimes an idea is so powerful that a person cannot grasp it with his own strength. But his inspiration is magnified when he bonds with the letter in the Torah. And that capability rises much beyond his own strength, like the swift and certain passage of a chariot. There is a type of person who travels only by foot. He makes his way using the might of his deep study of the Torah in a general fashion. He is not aided in understanding matters by means of the letters of the Torah. There is another type of person who lacks the strength to walk.
Instead, he travels exclusively upon the letters of the Torah, [‘the horses of fire']--even in those matters that are simple, where a healthy man should travel by foot, using his own ability.
And there is another type of person. He goes by foot whenever he can. And when he does utilize the letters of the Torah, it is not out of weakness.v Rather, he is like a man riding gloriously upon a horse, lending a crown to [the Torah] that he is involved with, or riding to a place that he could not have reached with his own ability, but only, in addition, by means of seeking out the letters of the Torah.
Orot Hatorah 5:4
by Rabbi Avraham Tultshiner
In 5540 (1789-80), R. Nosson was born in Nemirov, where he grew up. His father was a noted Torah scholar, R. Naftali Herz. With his help, R. Nosson grew in an atmosphere of Torah and wealth. His father was very wealthy, owning (with two other partners) three large stores: one in Odessa, one in Barditshov and one in Nemirov. From his youth, R. Nosson was expert in his knowledge of his father's business and other activities.
R. Nosson's father-in-law was the well-known av beis din, R. Dovid Tzvi, who served as rabbi of Mohilov, Sharigrod, Kreminitz and the surrounding communities. After R. Nosson began learning in his father-in-law's beis medrash, he grew in Torah, sharpness and expertise in the Talmud and all the halachic literature of the early and latter sages, in the manner of the leading Torah sages.
From his youngest years, R. Nosson's heart yearned to serve God. ("It is not learning but doing that is the principle thing.") This increased when he drew close to the students of the Maggid of Mezeritch who were still alive at that time: R. Zusye, R. Levi Yitzchak of Barditshov, R. Boruch of Mezibozh, R. Gedalia of Linetz, R. Shalom of Farbishtsh, and other great men. From then on, he was aroused and longed even more to imbue all his actions with Torah (this was the approach of the righteous and holy men who went in the path of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid). From that time on, his yearning and longings for God were great and wondrous.
However, he constantly experienced ascents that were followed by great descents, due to the attacks of that obstructive, oppositional force that exists on all levels. ("The greater a person is, the greater is his inclination." And this negative force sets aside everything else to attack a Torah scholar.) He found it very difficult to engage in any holy activity:
Torah, prayer, and the like.
In addition to this, he was a deeply intense thinker--which is one of the twenty-four traits that obstruct repentance.
And he knew of no counsel or advice that could help him. He had already traveled to a number of true tzaddikim of his time and tried them. But they could not help him at all.
Nevertheless, he was content to go to them. However, his father was on of those opposed to all the holy students of the Baal Shem tov. And his father-in-law was also a forceful misnaged (cf. Likutei Halachos, Ribbis 5:20). At that time, the great controversy and the persecution of those who were drawn to the students of the Maggid had not yet simmered down, as is well-known. As a result, R. Nosson had great difficulty in traveling to them. However, if he felt that they were helping him serve God, he would pay no mind to any obstacle.
Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
The Strategies and the Basis of the Group
A verse rebukes the Jewish people: "You have forgotten God, Wwho formed you." This [forgetting] is the principle factor that distances a person from God. R. Elimelech of Lizhensk's prayer states, "May our mindfulness be pure, clear, clean and strong."
Everyone knows that if he were to see with his own eyes, literally, that he is standing before God, he would not have an evil inclination. To the contrary, he would express his entire spirit and soul in holy words to God until he would become nothing and then, by their agency, be absorbed into God.
Not only that, everyone feels how, even if he is experiencing no more than a strong focus in his mind and thought upon God, his evil inclination is annihilated. Then all of its poison, which bubbles throughout his physical senses, are nullified before God. For example, on Yom Kippur (and particularly during Kol Nidrei and Neilah) does not every Jew feel that his every lust, fantasy and improper desire no longer exist, since at that moment his thought is clear and strongly focussed on God?
The entire essence of the imperfection caused by human downfall is that "[we] have forgotten God Who has formed [us]." A person falls from his mindfulness, and it is not always pure, clear and strong, as it is on Yom Kippur and so forth. Even if a person wants to strengthen and empower his mind and thought, he cannot maintain this mindfulness with constancy for any significant period of time.
And so all of our service must center on how to strengthen our mindfulness, how to broaden it, empower it, perfect it and bind it to God--and not only during such times as shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and so forth, but rather so that it will always be clear, strong and bound to holiness.
Ideally, this service of mindfulness should begin from below and rise upwards. At first, a person should purify his body. Then his thought will automatically be purified and strengthened. One should not first begin with one's mind.
And so in earlier generations, people began with a service and purification of the body. Having completely purified it and experiencing a body subservient to holiness, they then came to the service and purification of mindfulness. And this was the superior path.
However, it is not so now, in the generation of "the heels of the messiah," a dwarfish generation, a generation of "heels." Our bodily weakness causes much lack of self-control, of rule over oneself and one's body. If in these days a person were to begin his service by purifying and sanctifying his body, he would attain nothing. His body would not be purified, and certainly not his thought, which he had not even touched upon or attempted to purify and strengthen. His body would remain in its dwarfishness and darkness, repellent and rejected. Thus, we must begin our work with mindfulness.
And so we have called our society the Society of Positive Mindfulness. Its character is alluded to by its name: to strengthen and reveal good thought within us, to perfect and broaden it so that it not be the wispiest of the wispy, a momentary flash of a spark that swiftly dies out--but pure and strong, until it will subjugate the entire body, until it will subsume to itself all bodily senses, [until it will] appear and rule in man.
Does every individual sanctify all of his body suddenly at shofar blowing on Rosh Hashanah or on Yom Kippur? [Certainly not.] Nevertheless, we see [as noted above] that a strong thought can subjugate and sanctify even a body that has not been sanctified.
And so why should we allow mindfulness and its mighty spirit to sleep and rot in its lethargy within ourselves?
B'nei Machshavah Tovah
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Those who are primitive, those who hew the bronze hills,
And our feet have the right
And we gaze at the primitive footsteps of our pioneers
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