The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 45
V'Etchanan 5761 August 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Everything in Torah must be preceded by a natural civility.
If it is something upon which intellect and natural conscience agree, it must pass on a straight path with the inclination of the heart and the approval of the will deep within us. Just as we [can learn about] thievery, adultery and modesty from the ant, the dove and the cat, how much more [can we learn from] our inner recognition and spiritual sense.
If it is something that transcends intellect and heart-felt inclination, it too must pass through the path of the conduit of natural civility, in regard to the connection between every detail and total inclusiveness, so that [it is an integrated unity, like] "a good deed that draws another after it." Also, the fact that a sense of justice based on sensory factors is connected to Torah with the supernal, divine will as it is revealed within the light of Torah; and the fact that we are bound to the totality of the [Jewish] people throughout its generations (as it is connected in the paths of its life with the holy conception): all these are paths of natural civility.
And these paths prepare us for illuminations that are more inward than the paths themselves, which will shine with a glowing, radiating clarity. Orot Hatorah 12:3
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
And if thinking about some past concern doesn't awaken your spirit, then follow the advice of the Talmud: "recall the day of your death." The Talmud says that even the wicked know that they will die. So why do they remain wicked? Because although they know this, it is only in a general way. It is only a general idea that does not break their heart with vivid details.
So imagine that you have reached that event, one that every individual finally comes to after living his length of days and years. Imagine that you have reached your last minute on earth; imagine how you will look at the entire world and your children from whom you must part. Your body will go beneath the earth, with the insects and the worms. And your soul will be led on a path whose destination you do not know.
Your children will surround you, weeping for you and crying out, "Woe, my dear father, my dear father!"
Your friends and family will moan and call to you.
And as for you, you will hear and understand everything, but you will not be able to do a thing. You will yearn and plead to live, but your heart will beat so violently that it will almost burst. Your throat will choke so that you will be about to suffocate. And then your soul will be ripped out of your throat and heart.
And as you are being brought to the cemetery, your son will beat his head against the wall. He will wail and cry, "My father, my dear father, have you left us? Are your torn away from us forever?"
Your daughter will throw herself to the ground and shriek bitterly, and wail, "I cannot live without you, my father. If only I could die instead of you!" Tears will stream from her and wails will burst from her until it will seem that her suffering and wails will kill her.
These, your children's voices, will cause everyone, the living and the dead, to tremble. And the others there will also moan and sob--in pity for you and for them. You will be surrounded by cries, distress and misery. In the end, everyone will go home. But where will you be, and with whom will you be left alone?
If you learn Reishis Chochmah, Zohar and the midrashim on what happens to a person and his soul after he dies, then even if you have a heart of stone, it will certainly melt. Now, having immersed yourself in these bitter feelings, you will ascend to a worthy prayer, one that does not lack feeling thought, faith, love or awe of God.
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
a Hasidic story of the nineteenth century (Part III)
by Avraham Yitzchak of Zinkavitz
Suddenly, the little door in the tree opened. A man came out and said, "Whoever went into the mikvah can come with me." So the messenger who had jumped into the pond took his letter with all the signatures, and followed the man into the tree. Right away the door closed behind them.
Meanwhile, the other messenger was left outside the tree. You can imagine that he felt very bad that he hadn't gone into the pond too. But it was too late to feel sorry. So he sat down by the tree again and started praying to God that his friend should be successful.
The messenger who had gone into the door in the tree soon came out and entered Luz. The man from Luz who had opened the door in the tree for him took him to the rabbi of Luz, who was a tzaddik.
While the messenger was going down the street, he passed an old man who was crying. He asked the man, "Why are you crying?"
The old man answered, "Because my father hit me."
"Why did he hit you?"
"Because I didn't help his father, my grandfather."
The messenger asked the old man, "How old are you?"
"I'm four hundred years old," said the man.
"And how old is your father?"
"He's five hundred years old."
"And how old is your grandfather?"
"Oh, he's seven hundred years old."
The messenger wondered at this strange thing.
Finally, the messenger and the man leading him came to the yeshiva of the rabbi of Luz. When they entered, the messenger saw that the yeshiva was full of scholars, old and young men, all learning Torah.
They greeted him, and asked him why he had come. The messenger told them the whole story of how the king of Turkey had said that he would throw the Jews out of Turkey and take their houses and money if they didn't show him King David. He showed them his letter with all its signatures. Then he told them that the rabbi of Jerusalem had asked a question of heaven while he dreamt, and he had been told that help for the Jews of Turkey would come from Luz. The messenger told how hard he had traveled, how many months he had been going from town to town and city to city. He told them that soon the year would be up, and that if the Jews of Turkey didn't soon get help, they would all be thrown out of Turkey with no more than the shirts on their backs. Finally, the messenger asked the people to tell him where their rabbi is, so that he could ask for help.
The people in the yeshiva answered the messenger, "Our rabbi doesn't live a regular life like everyone else does. He only lives because of a miracle. The whole year he stays in his room and sleeps. One day a year, he wakes up. Someone goes and washes his hands, and he gets up. Then all of us in the yeshiva line up and go into his room one by one. We ask him questions about whatever is bothering us--in our learning, or in other things--and he answers us. After that, at the end of the day, he goes back to bed to sleep for another year. The last time he was up was three months ago. That means he won't get up for another nine months. And we don't dare to wake him up ourselves, heaven forbid.
"However," they continued, "because you need help for a whole community of Jews, maybe the rabbi will wake up to help you. If he does, we'll let you go in first to speak with him."
by R. Avraham ben Nachman
All of this took place in the week before Selichot (for R. Nachman moved to Breslov in the month of Elul (cf. Chayei Moharan). On the first day of Selichot, R. Nosson got ready to travel to Breslov for Rosh Hashanah, for when he had been in Breslov previously, he had heard R. Nachman speak strongly regarding this. He hired a wagon, and he told the wagon driver to wait for him outside the town. When he went home to take his holiday clothes, there was a great commotion, and his wife began to cry and wail.
As for his father, in his great fury and anger he had no idea what to do. R. Nosson quickly traveled to R. Nachman with a few other men and stayed there for Rosh Hashanah and afterwards for all Ten Days of Penitence.
During these ten days, he once came to R. Nachman alone and told him everything that was on his heart. R. Nachman assigned him a number of practices (cf. Sichot Haran 184). Afterward, R. Nachman came out of the house with R. Nosson and walked with him outside, back and forth, next to the great synagogue, spoke with him a many words that calmed his soul, and afforded him a great deal of encouragement. In the midst of the conversation, R. Nachman took R. Nosson by the shoulders with his holy hands and told him, "In veiter se zeir git az me ret zich oys dos hartz far Hashem yisborach. And furthermore it is very good to speak one's heart out before God.
Heinu, azoy vi me ret zich oys far ein emesn gitn freint. That is to say, just as one speaks to a true good friend."
Immediately, these words entered R. Nosson's heart like a burning fire, and he understood that with this advice he would certainly become a kosher and worthy human being. He would tell God about all the thoughts that the Evil Urge was arousing in him and about all the obstacles that were keeping him from God, and he would seek God's compassion and grace in everything regarding every manner that He help him to become a fit Jew.
And so with these words, R. Nachman brought R. Nosson tremendously close to God.
To subscribe by e-mail (free) or to
sponsor an issue ($18.00), please contact:
Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues