The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Volume VII, Issue 41

Naso 5763, June 2003

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

In love with clams, he sang the sea
Of imperturbability,
Stood back to honor his own shades
Of forward red and palisades
Where tumbling green sank to the floor
Of lichen rocks and gorse and hoar,
And then a gelid dignity
Froze his eyeballs like the sea
Upon which ducks with pride and pomp
Avoid their brothers from the swamp.
He waited for a crystal vision
And read his notes, to gain precision
About his soulful accoutrements,
And smoothed his gray, expensive pants.

He thought of red, he thought of blue,
He blundered, tapped the old soft-shoe,
He found a beach where egrets flew
And plovers hatched and swallows grew
And red and green and pink and mauve
Eclipsed the sky, embraced and strove,
As starfish on the sands did rove
And hustled to their watery cove
Where mussels clung and limpets dove
And the bell rang true as the red buoy hove
And the blue sky sang like the gray-clad dove
Of the depths below and the chambers above
That dazzle with their blazing love
And the golden room and the silver glove.p> He loosed his mind as the skink releases
His tail, skedaddling to his nieces
And endless cousins, viz. Emmet and Mabel,
Who scurry about the breakfast table,
And in the silk sun-curtained air
Feast on meringue and chocolate eclair.
(Brother, can you spare a dime?
No one around can spare the time.)

He lumbered about and blew his nose
As the elephant trumpets with his hose
And the zebras plunge across the plain,
And he laid down a road across his brain
Where the neurons, trampled, didn't peep
While he drove about in his father's jeep
And was put to sleep by his murmuring sheep
Whom he had been entrusted to keep.
("Well thanks a lot and thanks a heap!"
He yelped to his kith in a leaping cheep.)

And the soldiers marched, Hup two! Hup two!
And they thought that marching ought to do,
Marching that tramples dale and ridges
But snaps the cables of sea-girt bridges.

And here men pray like a circle of gold
That spins on its axis and never rows old.
Invite the fox, the beaver, the possum,
The hyacinth girl and the apple blossom
And the saint and the cat and the tapping hornet
Where the worshipers gather and the gold-globed cornet
Is playing outside where a grass blade sways
In the temperate wind, where the trunk of praise
Of the sycamore tree and the laymen's lays
Of oriole chirp and reveille
Awaken a susurrus reverie.

First he saw peaches, then he saw fire,
Then he perceived the long-delayed wire,
Hunched up his shoulders and raised his head higher
As visions cruised in from the stars to the byre
While phosphorescent waves trailed from the hull
And flashed in the flourish and swirl of his scull,
And no thoughts were left to carefully mull,
But were pecked at and swallowed by rooster and gull.

There are words and words, and some are not words
But colors and shadows and screens and gay birds
And blue, and trumpets, and awe, and sha!
The snow-shuttered visage of Shangri-La.
He peeled an apple and put down his bags; and
Examined his hands and the lay of the land.

(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.

Sefer Hachezyonot

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Jerusalem, Israel