The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 42
Pinchas 5761 July 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* To Speak
* The Paths of the Mysteries
* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (Part Viii): [From Image to No-image]
* Three Stories
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
To speak, in the face of the
The red-stained car seat, to speak
The armored vehicles and
Hatred breeds, coalesces
That feed upon the cries of
With love and redemption our
With the song of the crane, to
Resurrecting the murdered
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
There are people great in Torah [learning], fear of heaven and wisdom, to whom matters relating to the secrets of the Torah have no relevance, because they are on that great level and possess a breadth of resources with which to occupy their spirit in the treasures of revealed Torah and wisdom.
If you instead sense within yourself an inner sensitivity to the paths of mysteries and a pressure of the yearning of your soul, do not be dismayed. Even if it grows clear that you have this desire because your ability in revealed matters is minimal, what of it? This is, in the end, the gift of your inheritance. Rejoice in your portion, for "Hashem is close to all who call to Him"--who call to him truly and whole-heartedly. And "He does not favor the wealthy in relationship to the poor" (Iyov 34:19).
Orot Hatorah 10:4
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
[From Image to No-image]
Let us not in one leap [attempt to attain the abilities of] a person who is already experiencing periods of positive mindfulness. Our desire is to elevate everyone in our group, so that everyone will be able to come to such holy moments and uncover this positive mindfulness.
However, the analytical filter within us that demands that our every thought show a similarity to this-worldly thought is a great obstacle, an obstacle that does not allow us to attain any pure awareness--not even the inspiration of holiness and pure prayer.
And is this not the essential cause of a flaw in belief, awe and love? A young man came to me and lamented, "If I could picture some image when I am standing before God in prayer, I would be inspired--at least in a simple way, like a person begging an omnipotent being to save him. Or I would tremble and shake when I would have the thought and image that I am standing before God's Throne of Glory. But since it is forbidden to visualize any image or form, all I have is the concept that I am standing before God--a concept without [substantive] thought. But without [a concrete] thought, I cannot be inspired, unless it is some spontaneous inspiration. And I am certainly unable to achieve an on-going experience of fiery, passionate feeling."
Perhaps this was underlying cause of the sin of the mixed multitude, who said, "Let us make ourselves a god who will go before us." They wanted a god that they could see. But they went too far and sought not only a mental image, but an physical one--and, even more egregious, they foolishly desired an image of the god of Egypt (God have mercy).
The basis of our group is that we not rebuke and give orders--for either this person will not listen, or he will look at himself and say that he already possesses positive mindfulness and inspiration--even thought that is not the case.
This is because everyone wants to be pure of heart and an elevated person. But [most] people cannot rise beyond the flotsam in which they are afloat.
The entire purpose of our group is that we will lower our shoulders to whatever low level [another] member [may be on], down to the soles of the feet of his spirit and body, and from there we will raise him up, using means appropriate to his condition.
Group members must be given exercises and counsel appropriate to their level, which will help them habituate themselves [to mindfulness]. And so, [in this spirit, my counsel is that] a person in such a situation--at the beginning of the growth and broadening of his mindfulness--should depend upon the view of the Ravad, who responded to the Rambam: "Why does he call person [who attributes physicality to God] a sectarian? A number of great and good people...have entertained that idea..." (Hilchot Teshuvah 3:7).
It seems difficult to understand the words of the Ravad. Does the verse not clearly state, "You saw no image"--besides other such statements? (Cf. the Kesef Mishnah's question ibid.).
But in line with what was stated above, [we can understand this as follows]. The Ravad is not saying that we should delude ourselves that there is some image in the upper realm, God forbid, let it not even be uttered. Rather, we must know in truth that God has no image, heaven forbid. But we, beings scraped out of physicality, corporeal people who possess form, visualize such a thing so that our mindfulness will be able to grasp, expand and broaden.
Then, when God helps us and our mind grows stronger so that we can think of God with a strong and clean mindfulness, and an image of a spark of prophecy is revealed within us, then this physical image will of itself cease to be. And when we pray, we will be able to picture that we are standing before God and His throne of glory--but merely in a manner that [consciously] supplies our ear and mind with that which they are capable of comprehending.
And so, member of this group, if you find yourself in such an extremity, visualize that you are standing before God's Throne of Glory and that you are praying and begging Him simply, like a son crying and begging before his father: "Have mercy on me, my Father, I can no longer bear the wanderings of my body and the abandonment of my spirit. From the time that you cast me from You and hid Your face from me, I am surrounded by terror."
Who is the person, even if has a heart of stone, who will not melt when he pictures that he is standing before God's Throne of Glory, a consuming fire, as he pleads for himself, his family, and all Israel?
Bnei Machshavah Tovah 7
by Reb Avraham Ben Nachman
[This narrative (from Kochavei Ohr) complements the one presented last issue (from Avahena Barzel)]
R. Nosson decided that if R. Nachman's influence would improve his service of God, he would ignore all obstacles--even those caused by his father. Regarding this, it is said, "Both you and your father are equally obligated to honor Me."
It is impossible to keep all the commandments that depend upon the heart (although they are the principle thing) unless one binds oneself to tzaddikim and their holy words, words that encourage prayer, as well as other holy advice to every individual in accordance with his place and hour. (Regarding meaningful prayer, cf. Yoreh Deah II 240:25 and Pitchei Teshuvah paragraph 22 ibid.)
(As it happens, after a few years passed, his father greatly regretted having caused R. Nosson trouble, and he came to agree whole-heartedly with how R. Nosson had conducted himself. This was while he was still in this world--and certainly in the world-to-come he is limitlessly grateful, for "a son gives merit to the father," as is taught in the books of truth. Cf. Chayei Moharan 9, regarding the worth of those who become Hasidim of R. Nachman.)
At any rate, R. Nosson, R. Naftali and two other men (R. Lipe and the young R. Zalman) traveled to R. Nachman. Immediately upon their arrival, R. Nachman spoke with them a great deal. And in the midst of his holy speech, he told them three stories:
In the first story, about the rabbi of Neskhiz, he indicated that they should pay great attention to every word he speaks, even regarding this-worldly things, and not to imagine that his words are simple.
In the second story, about R. Shneur Zalman, he hinted that R. Nosson should involve himself intensively in creating Torah thoughts based on R. Nachman's teachings.
In the third story, about how the holy R. Michel drew close to the Baal Shem Tov, R. Nachman showed that he knew what R. Nosson was thinking. R. Nosson was stunned, seeing with his own eyes that nothing is hidden from R. Nachman, not even his thoughts.
From then on, they were drawn very close to R. Nachman. In particular, R. Nosson understood immediately that, as he had wished, he would doubtless improve in his service of God under R. Nachman's influence. Afterwards, they returned home, and a day or two later, R. Nosson's father came back from Berditshev. It is likely that he was angry about R. Nosson's behavior, but R. Nosson was already determined not to listen to him at all in regard to this.
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