The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Nitzavim 5758 / September 98
|Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (unless
* A Holy Sigh
A HOLY SIGH
The depression that results from intensive pursuit of money is the venom of the Serpent.
This weighs down your limbs. When your limbs are weighed down, your pulse, on which your life force depends, weakens. The more your pulse weakens, the more your limbs are weighed down-- that in turn weakens your pulse. And this can continue until your soul leaves your body.
All this is a result of the desire for money. That desire is the source of worry and a depressed spirit.
But you can heal your pulse with a holy sigh. That is a sigh that means that you want to return to God. Then your life force is strengthened. You merit great consciousness, and can receive words from heaven.
RABBI NACHMAN'S JOURNEY TO THE HOLY LAND (CONTINUED)
Due to the French wars in the East--particularly, the war against Turkey--the Jewish community in Istanbul did not allow any Jews to sail from the city.
Rabbi Nachman paid this no mind. Dangers did not frighten him. But he did not want to bring his companion into danger, and so he told him, "I am ready to risk my life, but not yours. If you want, here is money for expenses, and you can go home in peace. As for me, I must travel. I want to go, in a way that the Jews of Istanbul will not notice."
Rabbi Nachman's companion replied, "Wherever you go, I will go--whether to death or to life."
At that time, a representative from Jerusalem was staying in Istanbul. The representatives of the land of Israel were generally, in those days, the finest Jews of the holy land. It will suffice to mention one example: the great genius and Kabbalist, fund-raiser and scholar, Rabbi Chaim Yosef Dovid Azulai (the Chida). It was such a caliber of person that was sent from the land of Israel to raise funds for those "who dwell in the presence of God."
This representative who was in Istanbul at the time of Rabbi Nachman's stay there was a wondrous person. He had intended to remain in Istanbul an entire year, but suddenly he told the local Jews, "I must leave immediately, for I will pass away soon. My burial place is already prepared. Do not be afraid of the Frenchman, and do not worry for the Jews who wish to travel to the land of Israel. With God's help, nothing bad will happen to them."
When the Jews of Istanbul heard this, they hired a great ship and proclaimed that whoever wishes to travel may do so. Men and women--both Ashkenazi and Sefardi--boarded the ship, and among them was Rabbi Nachman and his companion. Rabbi Nachman met with the representative from Jerusalem and persuaded ? him to take Rabbi Nachman to Jerusalem, for he didn't want to go to Tzefat or Tiveria.
As soon as the ship set sail, a storm began. The ship rose and plunged down--"rising to the heavens, descending to the depths." The danger was so great that none of the travellers believed that they would remain alive. They cried out to God and recited the confession before death. It was like Yom Kippur. People were reciting selichos and other prayers. But Rabbi Nachman remained still. When he was questioned, "Why do you remain silent at such a time of trouble?," he did not respond.
When the learned wife of the Hatiner rabbi (who had been one of those who had cried out) also complained about Rabbi Nachman's silence, he answered half-jokingly, "If only you too had remained silent, it would have been better for you. Just try silence, and the sea will also grow silent."
The people ceased their crying out. Daylight began to appear. The storm ended, and the sea waves grew still.
A few days later, there was no longer any drinkable water on board. There remained only one vessel of water, in which worms were crawling. The water was distributed with one measure for every person. This was a new danger, even greater than the first. People could not bear the thirst. All of them, men and women, prayed. Then a new storm broke out. And forty-eight hours later, they arrived at the port of Jaffa.
Rabbi Nachman wanted to disembark in Jaffa in order to go from there to Jerusalem with the representative. But the Turks did not allow him to do so. Because of his foreign dress and, more, because he could not tdzenoyfreiden with them, they suspected him of being a French spy. And so Rabbi Nachman remained on board.
It was two days before Rosh Hashanah of the year 5559 (1798). Rabbi Nachman was perishing with his desire to disembark as quickly as possible onto the holy soil. But the captain unconcernedly anchored the ship in order to remain there several days. But great waves threatened to overturn the ship. Nothing helped. The captain wondered why the ship couldn't remain still. The Sefardi rabbis on board told him, "We have a tradition by word of mouth that this is the place where the prophet Jonah was cast into the sea."
After the ship struggled an entire night with the wild waves, unable to rest, they were forced to sail from that inhospitable place.
On the night of zechor bris, the ship arrived at Haifa and anchored at the harbor before Mt. Carmel, opposite the cave of Elijah. Before daybreak, everyone recited selichos and then the morning prayers.
And then everyone, men, women and children, went to the city.
"At that time," Rabbi Nachman's students tell, "our holy rebbe came to the place for which he had desired and gagrt with such an awesome longing, and for whose sake he had thousands of times placed his life in kan. No mind can conceive the great level of the joy he had at that moment, when he came to the holy land and stepped on it. If all the rivers were ink, one could not write a fraction of it. At that very point, the rebbe gained his attainment. He said that as soon as he had walked four cubits upon the land of Israel, he already accomplished everything which he had to accomplish."
After half day?, the entire group of Jews went to the mikvah and then to the synagogue, where everyone stayed until the evening.
In the evening, when Rabbi Nachman came to his lodgings, he was joyful without measure. He kept repeating to his companion, "How fortunate you are to have merited to be here with me!" Afterwards, he told his companion to read him the names of those who had given him notes to pray for them in the holy land.
With great joy, they ate the evening meal of Rosh Hashanah, and spent the time together joyfully until they went to sleep. The next morning, they went to the synagogue. On the way back, Rabbi Nachman grew very disquiet. His heart was almost broken, and in out of great heartsickness, he did not speak a word to anyone.
As soon as Rosh Hashanah was over, Rabbi Nachman wanted to return home. But his companion, who wanted, in the words of Rabbi Nachman's students, "to feast his eyes on the holy sites of the land of Israel," came to Rabbi Nachman and told him that a group of people were traveling to Tiveria, and he wanted to join them. "Very well," Rabbi Nachman replied. "If you want to go to Tiveria, hire donkeys."
His companion hired some donkeys and left a deposit for them with the owner. But when Rabbi Nachman learned of this, he said, "Go take back the deposit. If the owner doesn't want to give it back, forget about it. But I am not going to Tiveria."
Two or three hours later, Rabbi Nachman's companion grew very ill. And he thanked God that the rebbe had not allowed him to travel.
from Reb Nachman Braslaver
A TALE OF SLANDER
The next morning, after Rabbi Israel had finished his prayers, he went to Rabbi Avraham a second time to join him at the morning feast. In the middle of the feast, Rabbi Israel turned to Rabbi Avraham and asked why he had called him a fool.
When Rabbi Avraham heard this, he was shocked, and he replied, "God forbid! I know nothing about this." All of Rabbi Avraham's followers who were sitting at the ceremonial meal were also surprised, and found the matter extraordinary. Who was the person who had told such a slanderous story, apparently to create dissension between two spiritual masters--a particularly obnoxious crime, considering how highly Rabbi Avraham regarded Rabbi Israel? The people saw how much Rabbi Avraham was suffering upon hearing this story.
An old man, a follower of Rabbi Avraham, looked around, and saw a man who looked very frightened, his face turning various colors. He recalled that this man had been in Mezhibozh and then gone to Rabbi Israel a few weeks ago. The old man immediately suspected him of being the person who had told the story.
The old man went up to him and said that he wanted to talk to him. They went to another room, and there, the old man asked him about the matter. The man answered that it was indeed true that he had told this story to Rabbi Israel, but he insisted that he hadn't made anything up. He himself had heard Rabbi Avraham say those words. To authenticate his story, he told exactly what he recalled: people had been telling Rabbi Avraham that Rabbi Israel said that he should be called Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, after the holy Baal Shem Tov. And Rabbi Avraham had replied, "Why do you speak of a fool?"
When the old man heard this, he remembered that he had also been there. And he now laughed very heartily, and he immediately went back to the feast and asked the holy rabbis to allow him to tell the story, which had now become clear to him. So they gave him permission.
The old man told that for several weeks, people had been telling Rabbi Avraham about a fraud named Israel who was pretending to be a spiritual master and deceiving a community of Jews, and who insisted that he be called Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. It was about this person that Rabbi Avraham had said with a laugh that they shouldn't talk about a fool. The follower of Rabbi Israel of Rizhin who had heard this had mistakenly thought that they were talking about his own rabbi, since his name is also Israel. He had been very hurt, and had gone and told the story to Rabbi Israel.
When everyone heard this, the atmosphere became calm and cheerful.
The next morning, Rabbi Israel set out on his way home, with Rabbi Avraham and his holy children riding alongside to accompany him out of the city. Before Rabbi Israel left, he told his followers to make sure that the man who had told the story didn't run away, and also to make sure that Rabbi Avraham didn't know that the man was leaving with them.
When Rabbi Avraham and his holy children turned back home, Rabbi Israel commanded the man to sit next to him. The man was nearly dying of fright, because he didn't know what this might lead to.
The entourage travelled together for several miles, until they approached a small village. Rabbi Israel told them to stop, and he sent someone to call the beadle of the village burial society. When the beadle came, Rabbi Israel told him to take the man, have him lie down on a bier, and have him carried into the cemetery as someone called out before him, "Charity saves from death" (Proverbs 10:2), as is done at funerals.
When the man heard these orders, he grew terrified, and he began to weep before Rabbi Israel.
Rabbi Israel answered him, "Don't be afraid. Nothing will happen to you, God forbid. When you enter the cemetery, jump down from the bier and come back here. We will wait for you."
And so it was. When he returned, Rabbi Israel explained to his followers that he had told the man to act that way so that Rabbi Avraham would think that the man had already passed away. Therefore, Rabbi Avraham's distress wouldn't be able to harm him. If not for this charade, the man would certainly have been harmed (God forbid). But now Rabbi Israel had hidden him from Rabbi Avraham. And, added Rabbi Rizhin, the man should never let Rabbi Avraham see him, and nothing bad would happen to him.
from Niflaos Yisroel
WHEN THE LIGHT OF OUR SOUL BURSTS FORTH
We are not always fit for elevated spiritual experiences. Those many instances that lack any elevated illumination are to be dedicated to exoteric Torah learning and practical service of God.
But when the light of our soul bursts forth, we must immediately give that light its freedom, so that we may unfold, visualize, imagine, grow wise and attain, aspire and yearn to the highest heights, to the source of our root, to the life of our soul, to the light of the life of the soul of all universes, to the light of the supernal God, to His goodness and beauty.
Oros Hakodesh 10:2
LOOK, THERE IS A MOUTH
Look, there is a mouth that is moving its lips silently
Back to Parsha Homepage | Previous Issues