The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume III, Issue 24
Terumah 5759 / February 99
Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov
Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)
* The Orphan Maidservant
* The Supernal Treasure
* -Rabbi Nachman's Return from the Holy Land
* Perek Shirah: The Chapter of Song
* The Things of This World
THE ORPHAN MAIDSERVANT
"Do not oppress a widow or an orphan" (Shemos 22:21).
The following story is told about Rabbi Yaakov Berlin, the father of the Netziv.
He had a maidservant, an orphan, who once caused a great deal of damage. His wife strongly berated her. When Rabbi Yaakov heard this, he grew upset, and he told his wife, "My wife, you have no right to berate her like that. If you want, you can bring her to a din Torah--a Torah court."
His wife agreed and told the maidservant, "Put on your coat and we will go to the rabbi."
When they were about to leave, they saw that Rabbi Yaakov had also put on his coat and was ready to go with them.
His wife told him, "You don't have to bother. I know what to say."
"That you know what to say I have no doubt," Rabbi Yaakov answered. "But you are making a mistake. I am not going to speak on your behalf. I am going to defend this poor orphan. She will not know what to say, and she is very frightened, poor thing."
THE SUPERNAL TREASURE
Some people are so saintly, so great is their tendency toward supernal holiness, that their hearts are empty of any love for this world. They lack even that portion of love for this world that is fit to exist in a person's heart.
As a result, they find imperfection in their human character, and they cannot be leaders in this world.
And so they must retrieve their love for this world. They do so through prayer, which deals with impermanent things; and through the in-depth study of Jewish law and this-worldly discussions of the Torah, in all their detailed ramifications. Then they have a love for the world that becomes a love of holiness, and which unites with the love of Torah.
Through these people, the world is elevated.
As far as these supernal tzaddikim, these individuals of the spirit, are concerned, the things of this world can claim no place of importance. These people correctly assess what the supernal treasure and illumination is, and their intent is to cultivate it continuously and draw it into the entire world.
It is an absolute truth that their service is not at all the same as the paths of service of others, who are constantly enclosed within the confines of this world and its desires, within the prisons of the body and its proclivities. When we see something in them that astonishes us, we should have no critical thoughts, for all their ways flow from a very exalted holiness.
Oros Hakodesh III, p. 305
RABBI NACHMAN'S RETURN FROM THE HOLY LAND
After returning from his long journey to his home town of Medvedivke, Rabbi Nachman visited the shtetl of Shpole (in the Kiev gubernia, or province). There, he was hosted [eingeshtanen] by the Shpole Zeide.
The Shpole Zeide was a folk rebbe: singing, dancing, joyful. He had known the Baal Shem Tov himself, and attempted to reproduce his ways. It is difficult to know whether he gave himself the title Zeide (Grandfather), or others did. At any rate, it fit him extraordinarily well. He consoled, encouraged, counseled, gave remedies, made peace between man and wife and between parents and children, defended the weak, threatened the strong with spiritual punishment, and stood up in defense of the abused Jewish arrendators [lessees]. He was well-known as a man who intimidated the aristocrats, who would beat their "Moshkes," let dogs loose upon them and throw them with their families into dark cellars. Like other tzaddikim--gute yidden--of his generation, the Shpoler Zeide distributed everything he had to the poor.
Like a true folk rebbe, he was a loyal spokesman for the Jews before heaven. He would always argue before the Master of the world: "What do you want from your people Israel? In their place, in such a bitter exile, another people would not keep one commandment. Yet Your people Israel keep the commandments and perform so many good deeds." It is told that once, when there was a famine, he convened a court, appointed great tzaddikim as judges and pressed charges against the Supreme One: What does this mean? Why does He not give any food to his Jews?
When the Shpoler Zeide saw Rabbi Nachman, he welcomed him joyously, made a royal feast and invited all the town leaders. Whenever someone entered the house, the old man leaped up and said earnestly, "Do you see? You know that I never eat at night, but for the sake of this important guest, I do."
The two men spent the entire night engaged in Torah and dancing. In the morning, they took leave of each other with great friendship.
However, the love between the old folk rebbe and the young messiah pursuer did not last long. When, a year and a half later, Rabbi Nachman settled in the shtetl Zlatapolye near Shpole, a fiery enmity broke out between the two rebbes. Of this, more will be told later.
But meanwhile, there was still peace and quiet. The Old Man of Shpole had not yet glimpsed the eagle's wings of this young stormer of heaven.
Rabbi Nachman experienced an extraordinarily great joy when he met the Maggid of Tirhavitze, Rabbi Yekusiel. The Maggid was an associate of Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel (author of the Meor Einayim, and the father of the Tchernobel Hasidic dynasty). Rabbi Yekusiel and Rabbi Nachum would travel to each other for Shabbos. The spiritual influence of Rabbi Yekusiel was felt, the Breslover Hasidim tell, in eighty-four towns. The rebbes of his time called him a border guard, for he did not allow the anti- traditional spirit of the Khersoner province to penetrate into the Kiev province. (The shtetl of Tirhavitze lay on the border between the two provinces.)
At the time that Rabbi Nachman began to act as a rebbe, Rabbi Yekusiel was very old. But he ignored the fact that he was an elder who was considered holy not only by the Hasidic masses but by the greatest rebbes of his time (for instance, the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, sought his approbation for Rabbi Shneur Zalman's siddur). Although Rabbi Nachman was still very young and barely accepted, he travelled to Rabbi Nachman as a student travelling to his rebbe.
Once, Rabbi Yekusiel went to Rabbi Nachman in the company of Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel. In the presence of Rabbi Nachum, he told Rabbi Nachman, "You are my rebbe." Afterwards, he said of Rabbi Nachman, "He hides himself from the entire world and particularly from me. But he does not remain hidden from me. I know that because of him, I will be the subject of great controversy. People will shoot at me from all sides and wound me. I may be shot, but I will not step away from the truth!"
And Rabbi Nachum of Tchernobel himself said concisely of Rabbi Nachman that "he has beautiful eyes--yafeh einayim" (the biblical phrase used to describe King David).
Rabbi Yekusiel had a son-in-law, Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac, who came from a distinguished family and who was a great scholar and tzaddik.
Once, Rabbi Yekusiel said to Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac, "My
child, everyone must have a rebbe."
Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac followed this advice, and he became a student of Rabbi Nachman.
Now, as he was returning home from the land of Israel, Rabbi Nachman passed Rabbi Yekusiel's home town. When he crossed the bridge leading to the town, one of Rabbi Yekusiel's hasidim recognized him and grew flustered. Rabbi Nachman called to him and told him to tell Rabbi Yekusiel privately to meet him in a small village a half mile from the town.
In great confusion, the hasid went to Rabbi Yekusiel. Rabbi Yekusiel was standing outside in his yarmulke, without a hat and gartel, speaking with people. When he heard that Rabbi Nachman had come, he was so filled with joy that he didn't know what he was about. He told the hasid to harness his horse and carriage, and he himself ran--without hat and gartel--to Rabbi Nachman. He ran so hastily that he arrived even before the carriage did.
On the Shabbos following his return home, he taught on the verse, "Make yourself a serpent and place it on a pole." At Shalosh Seudos, he taught on the verse, "When you pass through the waters, I am with you." In this teaching, he taught that just as G-d is both hidden and revealed, so is the Torah hidden and revealed. "Hidden" means its inner being. And we must yearn only for this innerness. How can we reach it? Through true prayer, through binding our thought to our words. G-d wishes to be kind. He is ready to direct goodness and blessings to every individual. But to receive this goodness and blessings, we must have a vessel. What is that vessel? It is our "I." When our "I" is complete, when it is subjugated to the supreme will, we are on the level of a tzaddik. And every Jew can reach that level. As the verse states, "Your people are all righteous." Then we become a vessel to receive all goodness and to attain the inner being of the Torah. "When you pass through the waters...." "Waters" refers to Torah. Then "I am with you." G-d becomes bound with us through the perfection of our "I."
from Rabbi Nachman Braslaver
PEREK SHIRAH: THE CHAPTER OF SONG
The heavens say:
The earth says:
The Garden of Eden says:
The desert says:
The fields say:
The waters say:
The oceans say:
The rivers say:
The wellsprings say:
THE THINGS OF THIS WORLD
A car without a driver
To our soul,
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