The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 46
Re'eh, August 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Avraham Yitzchak Zinkavitch
The townspeople of Satanov wanted Baal Shem Tov to pray on their behalf so that a plague that had struck their town would abate. When their representatives came to the Baal Shem Tov and saw that he was inclined to come to their town himself, they returned home and sent him a letter on behalf of the entire town asking him to visit them. The Baal Shem Tov acceded to their request, and came to their town.
The Baal Shem Tov sent people to carry out investigations in every house so as to find whether any sin had been committed. If so, that sin could be rectified, and the plague would cease. But although they investigated, they could find no great sin to which this plague might be attributed.
Seeing this, the Baal Shem Tov sent people to the cemetery to look at the graves and headstones and see whether any change had occurred anywhere. They went, and they did find that the headstone of an ancient gravesite, one so old that it could no longer be read, had shifted slightly from its place, and broken.
When they returned and reported this to the Baal Shem Tov, he himself went to the cemetery with a few people and approached this gravesite, which he gazed upon at length.
The Baal Sem Tov gave a command that the grave be opened. And when they opened it, they found that the person buried there was in perfect condition, and his clothes as well, as though he had just been buried.
The Baal Shem Tov gazed at the grave for a few minutes. Suddenly, the buried man stood up straight in his grave, and addressed the Baal Shem Tov, "Peace upon you, my teacher and master."
The people there were astounded.
The Baal Shem Tov said to the dead person, "I do not know if I am your teacher and master. Perhaps you are my teacher and master."
The dead person replied to him, "No, you are my teacher and master, because you are on a higher level than I am."
The Baal Shem Tov replied, "If that is the case, I beg you to speak on behalf of this town before the heavenly court so that the plague may come to an end."
The dead man answered, "How can I speak on behalf of this town, when I am somewhat angry at its people?"
The Baal Shem Tov asked him why.
The dead man answered him, "I am angry at the grave-diggers here who do not act correctly. When they bury someone they grow drunk. And they do wrong things. Not long ago, they buried some dead person close to my grave, taking no notice of me. When they dug, their shovel broke my tooth. And they also damaged my burial site. That is why I am angry at them."
The Baal Shem Tov said, "Please give me your tooth and I promise that I will have it fixed."
When the dead person gave him the tooth, the Baal Shem Tov replied to him, "I will return it to you in the world of truth, not now. But now I ask you and I command you to speak on behalf of this town before God, so that the plague may cease: so that there will not be two people who die on the same day, that there will not be two people seriously ill at the same time."
The Baal Shem Tov asked the dead person to lie down in his grave as before. The dead person did not refuse him. He lay down in his grave and it was covered, and the headstone was placed upon it properly. And the plague in the town came to an end. The Baal Shem Tov kept his promise. When his passing away was imminent, he commanded that this tooth be placed in his grave with him.
May his merit protect us and all Israel, amen.
by Avraham Stern
Moshe Rabeinu, the first redeemer, lay the groundwork for all redemptions. He alludes to them in the Song at the Sea, in quotes from the prophecy of Bilaam and, finally, at the end of the song, "Ha'azinu." Also, the holy Zohar teaches that the blessings of the sedra V'Zot Habrachah hint that Moshe himself will be the future redeemer.
Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) alluded to this when he wrote, "That which was will be" (Ecclesiastes): "Mah shehayah, hu sheyihiyeh." The acronym of these words is "Moshe" (cf. Ohr Hachaim on Shemot).
And of course, Dovid (the ever-living King of Israel, chai vakayam) is also connected to the coming of the messiah, as the Gemara learns from the verse, "Dovid, My servant, will be their prince forever" (Sanhedrin 98).
In his time, Shlomo Hamelech was an exemplar of the messianic king. Like a merchant who places a sign before his store that shows the merchandise in the store, [he showed what the messiah would be like]. In his time, there was peace amidst the Jews, as well as in the entire world. All the nations paid allegiance to him, solely as a result of his great wisdom. And so will it be with the messianic king. "The spirit of Hashem, the spirit of wisdom, will rest upon him...no nation will lift the sword against any other nation..."
Therefore, the poet and Kabbalist, R. Avraham Maimon, wrote, "Please, swiftly set up the kingdom of Dovid and Shlomo" (Mistateir, first poem). And that is also why Dovid Hamelech wrote the seventy-second chapter of Tehillim about the two of them together: Shlomo and the messianic king.
Why was this chapter of Tehillim the seventy-second?
The answer is that the true redemption comes from the divine name of seventy-two letters. The splitting of the Red Sea was the climax of the exodus from Egypt. As long as the Egyptians were not dead, the Jews were not yet certain that they would succeed. Thus, the splitting of the Red Sea comprised the complete redemption. And from it came the letter-combination of the seventy-two letter name, which is composed from three verses, "And he traveled...and he came...and he stretched out" (cf. Rashi in Succah 45a and R. Avraham ibn Ezra in his commentary on Beshalach; also, now that we have the Zohar–thank God–we can see this explicitly in the section on Beshalach).
The number forty is mentioned in a statement that "the days of messiah are forty years" (Sanhedrin 99a). However, we do not know how long the days at that time will be. So other opinions are that they are seventy years, three generations, three hundred and sixty five years, four hundred years, the years from the days of Noach till now, or the years from the days of the creation of the world until now. All of this comes to define those forty years.
At the beginning of Shlomo's forty-year rule, he built the Beit Hamikdash and merited to see the congregation of Israel (which is compared to a bride) united with God (Who is compared to a groom). This was the open manifestation of God's Presence before the eyes of all the Jews in the Beit Hamikdash. "The cloud filled the house of Hashem, and the cohanim could not...for the glory of Hashem filled the house of Hashem" (Melachim I 8:10-11).
At that time, Shlomo composed Shir Hashirim (the Song of Songs), which states, "I held on to him and I would not let go. I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me." They reached the highest level of union, when "my soul went out when he spoke," as occurred with Nadav and Avihu on the days that the Tabernacle was completed, "when they came close before Hashem."
by Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook
To attain victory over unconstraint and destructive atheism, we must educate Torah scholars who are healthy physically and healthy in all their non-physical aspects.
They must be educated intelligently with the ability to recognize the sweet feelings that come from dealing with the most elevated aspect of beauty–whether in song and poetry, the glory of nature, or whether it is the beauty that stands out in the works of mankind.
"A beautiful dwelling place, a beautiful wife and beautiful clothes broaden a person's mind" (Talmud).
Orot Ha'emunah, p. 17
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
I don't suppose you've ever
Stood, you felt the tenuous
Foreign voices murmur. How
Altar. It's not so bad. At
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