The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 44
Shabbat Nachamu, July 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
by R. Chaim Hirsch
Two core approaches comprise the work of finding the good in the Jewish people, approaches that are completely different and even in conflict with one other. The difference between these two was clear even before the Jews had become a nation, as exemplified by the contrasting traits of Avraham and Yitzchak.
In Yisrael Kedoshim (pp. 117-18), R. Tzadok Hacohen writes that there are three types of love: the love of God, the love of Israel and the love of the Torah. Each is identified with one of the Patriarchs.
Avraham was unique in His love of God. This comprised his service throughout his entire life, so much so that God called him "Avraham, My beloved" (Yishayahu 41:8).
Then, when Yitzchak was born and realized that the Jewish people would come from him, his service involved the love of Israel: the love of even the least worthy. Therefore it was Yitzchak who defended his children, as told in the following midrash (Shabbat 89b):
R. Shmuel bar Nachmani quoted R. Yonatan: What is the meaning of the verse, "You are our Father, for Avraham does not know us, and Israel does not recognize us. You, Hashem, our Father, are called our Redeemer forever"? (Yishayah 63:16). In the future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will say to Avraham, "Your children have sinned against me." Avraham will reply, "If so, let them be wiped out for the sake of the holiness of Your name."
God will then say, "I will speak to Yaacov, who suffered in bringing up his children. Perhaps he will plead on their behalf."
He will say to him, ‘Your sons have sinned.' Yaacov will say to Him, "Master of the world, may they be wiped out for the sake of the holiness of Your name."
God will say, "Reason is not with the old, nor counsel with the young." He will turn to Yitzchak: "Your children have sinned against Me.
Yitzchak will reply, "‘Master of the world, you call them my sons. But are they not Your sons? When they said before you ‘We will do' and only afterwards ‘and we will hear,' You called them ‘My son, My first-born' (Shmot 4:22). But now You call them my children but not Your children!
"And furthermore, how much did they sin? How long does a person live? Seventy years. Take away the first twenty years of his life, during which a person is not punished for his sins. That leaves fifty. Take away twenty-five years of night time. That leaves twenty-five. Take away twelve and a half years for praying, eating, and relieving oneself. That leaves only eleven and a half. If You will bear them all this time, that is fine. But if not, give half of the responsibility to me and keep half for Yourself."
And we find in the Midrash on the verse, "[Yitzchak] smelled the smell of his garments" (begadav) that he sensed his rebellious ones (bogdav), as in the verse, "A man will set up stones" (cf. Bereishit Rabbah 65a [translator's note: I couldn't find this])
This love for the Jewish people led Yitzchak initially to love Esav, for Esav supplied him with "the game in his mouth." It is known that this alludes to the souls of R. Akiva and R. Meir, the founders of the oral Torah. Yitzchak foresaw that they would be destined to be the descendants of Esav. Yitzchak thought that he had reached the level of having perfected his transmission to his descendants. He believed that although this was not reflected in his actions, Esav's inner being was holy. Thus, the essence of Yitzchak's love for Esav was directed at something [ostensibly] rooted in Esav's inner being in holiness. Even when Esav was engaged in actions not commensurate with that, Yitzchak considered the reason to be that he was "amidst the brambles and thorns (which is said as well of the sins of the Jews–cf. Sanhedrin 44a [translator's note: this citation seems wrong]).
Actually, this was only lip service on Esav's part, and not at all reflective of his inner nature. As for the souls of the sages who were his descendants, they only attained holiness after having converted, for a convert is considered to be like a new-born child. The holiness of R. Akiva and R. Meir had no relationship to Esav, but was rather newly-created after they were converted and had the name of a Jew and were rooted in the Jewish people. This also explains why Yaacov said, "I am Esav your first-born" (Bereishit 27:19). He meant to say: the holiness that you sense in Esav is in fact me.
In truth, Yitzchak's love was for Yaacov alone, for that holiness was indeed Yaacov's. That is why Yitzchak began with his loving blessing, "May nations serve you and may peoples bow down to you. Be a master of your brothers" (Bereishit 27:29). Subjugation of the nations means that holiness will be complete, for then even evil will be a slave to Israel and subjugated to holiness.
by Avraham Stern
We can infer from a statement of Rashi (Sabbath 118a) that the phrase, "the pangs of the messiah," alludes to dispute amidst Torah scholars. When the tzaddikim and wise men of the generation fight amidst each other, the coming of the messiah is delayed. The "pangs of the messiah" are the woes of the messiah himself.
The Rizhiner said once that the Rambam had been fit to be the messiah of his generation, but due to the great disputes against him–even in his own time, as we see from the sharp criticisms of the Ravad–the redemption was delayed. In later times, arose disputes against R. Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, R. Yehonoton Eibeschitz, then the Baal Shem Tov and afterwards R. Dov Ber of Mezeritch and his students. Lately, there has arisen the great dispute of Sanz against the children of the Rizhiner.
Let us hope that soon our prayer that "He Who makes peace in His heavens may make peace upon us and all Israel" will be accepted. Then in our times, the prophecy that "they will seek Hashem...and Dovid their king; and a redeemer will come to Zion" will be fulfilled. May it come quickly, in our days, amen. As is the prayer of your father.
by R. Kalman Kalonymus Shapira
All service of God is based within the mind. This is so even in regard to "turning aside from evil," since [as a consequence of mindfulness,] our soul is aroused and our evil inclination is distanced. This is because even a little light dispels a great deal of darkness.
In addition, even by nature, a person is made in such a way that his mind rules over his heart (ibid. 12).
Now let us turn to the other path of Hasidism. It is characterized by serving God with might and a manifest simple faith. [On that path,] every Jew can manifest the holiness of his soul within himself and can as well draw down holiness from above, something higher than human consciousness and understanding, something beyond his power and ability.
But God created the worlds so that a Jew should serve Him, and in His unlimited power, he made this wonder that the service of a Jew can reach such an elevated height.
Therefore, only in such a completely holy service does does this appear within a person, and particularly when he serves with might and toil and effort ("hareven," as the holy tzaddikim of Karlin would say). Only this is a complete service of God, service with utter dedication to God. The more that such a simple service is carried out with might, the more do the tzaddikim [of this path] value it. This can be seen from the fact that the holy rabbi, author of Beit Aharon, said that he envies the horses upon which people ride to a circumcision. The simple meaning, according to our limited understanding, is that this is so because the work of these horses is simple and carried out with might and great toil, on behalf of this great mitzvah.
Even though the hold words of the masters of this path are filled with words of Kabbalah, these are all within the rubric of service, [and not intellectual understanding]. The main thing is simple service. And by means of this holy service, a Jew's holy soul is set afire. [And that fire] is a person's life-force and the passion in his service. Even the pleasure of the garden of Eden is the pleasure from the service within this world (cf. Beit Aharon, Likutim, by R. Shlomo Karliner). But that is not to say that you should seek experiences of passion in prayer, for the main thing is service of God. Enter into the words [of prayer] and service [of God], and the passion will come of itself (ibid. Shavuot).
"The matter is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart to do it." First it is "in your mouth" and only then "in your heart." Do not wait for your heart to be inspired. At first, even if you can do no more than pray only with his mouth, do so. As a result, your heart too also awake. Even if you feel no life force, but you are like an ox to the yoke or a donkey to the load, take have pleasure from that itself. As a result, you will come to feel some taste of serving God (ibid., Shabbat Teshuvah). Mavo Hasha'arim
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