The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 16
Shemos, January 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
THE SMALL, CLAY URNS
ALL EVIL WILL DISSIPATE LIKE SMOKE (Part I)
THE SOCIETY FOR POSITIVE MINDFULNESS (continued)
THE YOUTH OF RABBI NOSSON OF NEMIROV (continued)
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
You do not exist. Therefore,
Wind blew, it was the hollow
Here the stars are burning, yet
Forget that careless journey
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
A total and absolute evil that lacks the slightest spark of good rejoices in its own annihilation, destruction and obliteration. This is the zenith of its development. We must rise to a level of such all-encompassing love that we desire to help all, and we desire to help evil by destroying it. "And all evil will dissipate like smoke."
Only the spark of goodness that is bonded to evil experiences suffering. This aspect of goodness yearns to exist, and it imagines that the conditions of its existence are dependent upon the on-going existence of all the offshoots of the evil to which it is bonded. And so any move to destroy that evil causes it pain.
So we yearn to separate the evil from the good. Then the world will be filled with delight. Good will delight in its existence, growing ever stronger, like the sun emerging in its might. And evil will delight in its self-destruction, as that too grows ever stronger, in accordance with the amount of good. "The candle of the wicked will be dimmed, and the light of the righteous will rejoice."
Of necessity, the evil characteristics in the world will be wiped away. They will remain as formless shapes of existence, upon which new forms will be stamped. All structures of the cosmos proceed to aid this wiping out, in order to prepare the new creation.
Orot Hakodesh II
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
2. From this moment on, do not regard yourself as a lowly person, an animalistic person for whom any actions and any behaviors, even degraded ones, are proper. Rather, as our sages hinted, "a person should always view himself as though holiness rests within his belly." You are elevated, and things that are fit for others person are forbidden to you. Regarding every thought, word and act, do not only look to see whether they are acceptable, for they may be fine for some other person, but not for you. Instead, look to see whether they are right for you at your high level.
This is not to say that you should consider yourself an exalted personality and grow proud, heaven forbid. To the contrary, make yourself as nothing before every Jew. Break your heart within yourself, saying, "Considering my level and the state of being to which I have dedicated myself, my actions are not right. Who knows how much damage I am causing with all my behavior–in thought, speech and action–since I have consecrated myself to heaven?"
Encourage yourself and strengthen yourself to improve from this moment on.
3. Group members must meet at an appointed location no less than three times a week. And the more times you meet, the better.
4. When you meet, do not engage in trivial chatter. Instead, everyone should learn whatever he desires: Talmud, mishnah and so forth. But hold one learning session together as a group (whether once a week or more often, as the majority decides)–in particular, texts that offer guidance. And this text should be learned by everyone as a group.
5. When the group learns a text that offers guidance, do not go through the material as though you are reading some narrative. Instead, learn it calmly and in depth, and apply the words to yourselves: how to implement their guidance and make it a permanent part of yourselves. Then various topics will reveal themselves to you.
In general, if a group member has an insight–whether it occurred to him at a meeting, at home, on the street, or so forth—he should tell it to the others. And they in turn should listen attentively. Even if nine times out of ten there is nothing substantial to what he has to say, the tenth time it may be something worthwhile. As the Zohar states, at times one can find a pearl even in a pauper's knapsack.
In general, every good thought about serving God that manifests itself in a Jew's mind and heart is a species of an echo of the voice of his spirit: the echo of an outcry over its downfall, or a joyful sound when it is ascending.
But a group member who is expressing his ideas should not merely wish to use up time, in order to speak at length and display his wisdom.
6. From time to time, it is good to have a drink together–not to grow drunk and rowdy, heaven forbid, but in the Hasidic manner: in order to bond more closely and to awaken even one's animal spirit from its sloth. Even if a person does not drink alcohol because of poor health (heaven forbid), he should mix water with alcohol and drink together with everyone else.
7. After having a drink, sing an inspiring tune such as Yedid Nefesh, Adon Olam, Mizmor L'Dovid ("Hashem is my Shepherd, I will no lack"), and so forth. If your spirits are aflame and you want to dance together, do so, as long as you do not spend the entire time drinking, singing and dancing.
8. Every one of you should view your meeting place as a sanctified space, the space of the world (of the Master of the world ?). It is a bath house where souls are washed and purified. You are entering the camp of God's Presence, which is found in this space. As you go there, see yourself leaving the realm of this world and going to a branch of the lower Garden of Eden, which God has brought down to your meeting place. Your heart should be glad and rejoice with a holy trembling in your great happiness that even in this world you are able to take refuge beneath the wings of God's Presence.
And certainly at your meeting place, you should rejoice and have in mind that God's Holy Presence is in your midst. "My spirit is sick with love for You; please, God, heal it by showing it the delight of Your radiance" (Yedid Nefesh). Awaken a yearning within yourself for God to reveal in your heart a spark of the delight of His radiance and the beauty of His might that is found here.
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
by Rabbi Avraham Tultshiner
R. Nosson's heart was aflame with his desire to serve God. All of his prayer and learning was with a fiery passion that cannot be imagined.
Whenever he experienced a problem in serving God, he would travel to R. Nachman, who would speak with him at length in order to inspire him, revivify him and strengthen him with all kinds of encouragement, in his sweet words.
R. Nachman told him that he must be firm that he will grow stronger in serving God no matter what happens to him--even if he will have to go begging from door to door (heaven forbid). He should accept all this willingly, and accept even more. In this way, he would have a chance of aligning himself with God's will. Only this [spiritual work] remains with a person for all eternity, forever and ever. Nothing is left of all the toil and struggle of this world--a world that flits by as quickly as the blink of an eye, leaving us suddenly trapped in an evil net from which none escape, leaving us to disintegrate into dust amidst the insects and worms (R. Nachman teaches that we must maintain an awareness of this every day).
R. Nosson undertook this challenge. He wanted to cut himself off completely from the vanities of this world, and spend all his time learning Torah and serving God. All his friends and acquaintances came to him and spoke with him for a long time. They argued that he was not treating himself, his wife and his children correctly. They said that he should go out and earn a living, as everyone else does. But R. Nosson didn't even have the time to consider their words, much less to answer them.
Class for Men: Hakhsharat Ha'avreikhim ("Spiritual Training"), step-by-step guidebook on how to develop an awareness of our souls and of God, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe), Sunday night. For information, call (410) 358-8771.
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