The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VII, Issue 41
Naso 5763, June 2003
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
In love with clams, he sang the sea
He thought of red, he thought of blue,
He lumbered about and blew his nose
And the soldiers marched, Hup two! Hup two!
And here men pray like a circle of gold
First he saw peaches, then he saw fire,
There are words and words, and some are not words
(note: the first part of this essay was incorrectly attributed to Prof. Herszel Klepfisz)
by R. Asher Katzman
In R. Shapira's work, Chovas Hatalmidim, he manifested his greatness in writing. He had a gifted pen, and was noted as a deep thinker and writer. His words make an impression on the inner core of the soul and heart.
In Warsaw in 5692, he published his Chovas Hatalmidim. It has been said that "the letters of this book burn with holiness." In this book, he penetrates the hearts of students, unveils their spiritual strength, and brings them to the Torah and service of God by educating them with a supernal love, with holy words and deep thoughts from the revealed Torah of God, and the broad, deep world of mysticism and kabbalah, expressing the character of his soul and mind.
R. Shapira commented on this work to the Gritzer rabbi, R. Eliyahu Lifschitz, "If I didn't know that I was the author, I would never have believed that I have the ability to write such a work ... It was only with strength that came from God..." This work created legions of yeshiva students who placed his words, which were like hot coals and flames, in their hearts, with the greatest passion and love for Torah and Hasidism. Even in the time of the great and terrible sacrifice of Polish Jewry, in the terrible camps of the death camps, beneath the shadows of gas chambers and burning crematorium fires, his words warmed them with great faith in God, so that they could accept martyrdom with joy.
The book is divided into thirteen chapters, corresponding to the thirteen principles of faith and the thirteen rules of interpreting the Torah, followed by three important essays on how to learn and ponder the teachings of Hasidism; how to understand and elevate oneself in Torah, prayer and song to God; and the holy exaltation of the manifestation of God on the holidays and the holy Sabbath.
When he published this book, R. Shapira was barely 42 years old, but he was already considered an extraordinary man, one of the leaders of his generation, a tzaddik and a holy man.
by Rabbi Chaim Vital
That year, a few God-fearing and pious Torah scholars in Tzefat agreed to meet in the synagogue every Friday afternoon, where they would each discuss what they had done during the week, whether good or bad, for a person would be embarrassed to admit any sin and would desist from it.
But I said to them, "I don't agree with you. Who will be willing to reveal his evil deeds to others?"
Still, the meeting took place in the synagogue on Friday afternoon.
That Friday night, I dreamt that I was descending from the khan to Tzefat on the stone ladder that leads from the marketplace. And in the butcher store there was a crossroads. My father came from one path to summon me, whereas R. Moshe Cordovero and R. Moshe Sagish came from the other path, which leads up from the cemetery to the khan. Many dead people descended from heaven to that path and from there they approached me. While they were still at a distance, I saw a notebook in their hand which contained the names of some Torah scholars, and they were whispering these names.
The first name was Rabbi Shlomo Sagish, and I, Chaim, came after him, and then other Torah scholars. When they came near me, I adjured R. Moshe Cordovero to tell me the truth about the nature of that notebook. If, heaven forbid, it contains the names of people who will die that year, it is better that know it, so that I will be able to review my deeds and prepare myself for the journey.
But he said, "This is a record of Torah scholars who are able to return to God in order to serve Him. Today all these people are already gathered in the synagogue to review their deeds. But you did not agree with them about this good deed."
I told him the reason that I had voiced on Friday afternoon.
And then I said to him, "Is Rabbi Shlomo Sagish greater than I, since his name appears in the notebook before mine?"
He replied, "Heaven forbid. That was done out of respect for his father, who initiated this good deed this week. Therefore we wrote down his son first."
Then we came to the Jews' Street, and I saw all the Jews gathered there.
At noon the sun set and there was a great darkness in the entire world, and all the Jews were crying bitterly.
Then a person who looked like a hermit, with torn clothing and long hair reaching down to his feet, came from the west by means of the synagogue of Argon and sang a sweet song in a loud voice. That song was composed of stanzas all about the mitzvah of yibum (levirate marriage) and the woman involved, and about the messiah and redemption, in accordance with the Zohar's comments on the verse, "If he will redeem you, he will redeem well."
No one understood his words nor even heard his voice except for me. He came singing until he reached me, and the sun again began to shine.
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