The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Volume V, Issue 26

Vayakhel 5761 March 2001

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright 2000 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (


* The Constant Prayer of the Soul
--by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

* Tchernobler Ways (Part III)
--by Avraham Stern

* The Shtreimel
--by Menashe Unger

* from me
--by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

THE CONSTANT PRAYER OF THE SOUL by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook

The constant prayer of our soul is always striving to emerge from concealment to revelation, to spread through all the life-powers of our entire spirit and all the life-powers of our entire body.

This constant prayer is also yearning to reveal its nature and the might of its action to all of its surroundings, to the entire world and to life.

To attain such a level, we must engage in a self-inquiry that results from our study of Torah and wisdom.

And so the service of learning all of Torah and all of its wisdom is in itself the constant revelation of the hidden prayer of our soul.

"The soul of every living thing will bless Your name, Hashem our God."

Olat Ra'ayah

TCHERNOBLER WAYS (Part III) by Avraham Stern

"Now, my dear Jew," said R. Motele Tchernobler, "I would like you to know that I was chosen from all the students of the Baal Shem Tov to travel about and collect donations for the hidden tzaddikim of the generation. These men are poor rabbis, slaughterers, scribes, school teachers, tailors, cobblers, blacksmiths, and so forth, and they are poor. If they have to arrange a celebration, as for a bris, a mazel tov, a wedding--where will they get the money from? They are busy learning Torah for its own sake. Therefore, you must understand that I am giving you more than I am taking from you. More than the householder does for the poor man, the poor man does for the householder.' The person who gives sustains the recipient's body. But the recipient lifts up the soul of the giver and also bestows him with worldly abundance. As our sages state, Give charity so that you yourself may grow wealthy.' The more you give, the wealthier will you become."

This answer pleased the misnaged a great deal, and with a good will and all his heart he gave R. Motele the three hundred kerblech that he had asked for.

Now let us return to the Skverer Hasid.

The rebbe, R. Yitzchak Skverer, answered his question as to why he didn't accept a pidyon nefesh donation regarding the impending army induction of the Hasid's two sons.

"When it comes to military draft," R. Yitzchak Skverer said, "I must act differently than all my brothers. Once, when I was being supported by my father-in-law in Rizhin (the institution of kest), it was my turn to accompany him for an outing. We travelled to an inn, where my father-in-law told me, Go inside and fetch me the Jew."

I called out the Jew who leased the inn. But my father-in-law told him to go back, that he didn't need him. Then he said to me, "Let me put this to you: if your father, R. Motele Tchernobler, will ask me, What did you teach my child when you were supporting him in your house?,' what will I answer? That I sent you to fetch an inn-keeper? Go back inside. A Jew is sleeping under a table. Tell him to come to me."

I went back into the inn and looked under tables, where I found a Jew, a vagabond wearing heavy knapsacks, lying stretched out under a table and snoring. When I gently woke him up, he drew back his foot and gave me such a kick that I was thrown down. When the inn-keeper, who knew me as the Rizhiner's son-in-law, saw this, he rushed over to the man to strike him. But with my last ounce of strength, I struggled up and barely managed to restrain he inn-keeper. And then I humbly told this vagabond, "My holy father-in-law, the Rizhiner, desires that you will come out to him."

"Soon, soon," the man answered. He got up from under the table, together with all his knapsacks tied to his body.

When he came outside, my father-in-law invited him to sit next to him, and he sent me to sit next to the driver. In the middle of the way, my father-in-law got off the coach with the vagabond and told the driver to follow them slowly, and they walked ahead of us, talking. When I saw that they were deeply engrossed in conversation, I slid down from the coach and carefully followed them to overhear whatever I could. I heard the vagabond tell my father-in-law, "I am a messenger of the Court on High. I have come to obtain your consent to a heavenly decree that from today onwards, young men will be drafted into the army starting from the age of twenty-one years. The heavenly court can do nothing without your agreement."

My father-in-law replied, "If it depends on me, then I do not agree."

The vagabond said, "I must tell you that God Himself, so to speak, sent me to tell you that He wishes you to agree."

My father-in-law answered, "Is that so? If it means carrying out God's will, I agree."

Immediately, the man disappeared into a small forest. My father-in-law came back to us, and we went home.

And so, since I know the source of this decree that twenty-one year-olds are now drafted, I cannot accept pidyon nefesh money in advance. Nevertheless, I give you my wishes that your children will be saved from gentile hands."

And the Hasid finished tale, "So it was. My children were allowed to go home."

May their merit defend us and all Israel, amen.

Chasidishe Maasiyos

THE SHTREIMEL by Menashe Unger

Shivchei Habaal Shem Tov contains a great deal of material about the customs that R. Israel Baal Shem Tov and his students introduced, as well as about their new way and behavior. From this work, one can construct a portrait of the way of life of R. Israel Baal Shem Tov and his students. As is known, Hasidim wear a shtreimel on the Sabbath. In Galicia and Hungary, the shtreimel was made up of thirteen strips [shpitzn]. In Poland it was a tall spodek. [In Galicia the rebbes would wear a spodek only on a holiday, for Hanukkah candle-lighting and for the rosh chodesh meal.] In Cracow, those related to the rebbe wore a sable kolpak [kolpik night cap]. [Before I was married and while still in the rebbe court, I myself wore such a cap.] In Congress-Poland, Hasidim wore tall shtreimels, or velvet or silk caps.

When did rebbes and Hasidim begin to wear shtreimels on the Sabbath?

According to Rabbi Aaron Wertheim (Halachos V'halichos B'chasidus, p. 196), Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer taught that the acronym of "Shabbos" is "Shtreimel Bimkom Tefillin"--"the shtreimel takes the place of tefillin." The only source that Rabbi Wertheim provides is an old Hasid from whom he heard it. [I am familiar with this saying as well, but attributed to a later rebbe.]

If we were to accept that this was taught by Rabbi Pinchas Koritzer, then we would have to say that he wore a shtreimel on the Sabbath. However, this source is not reliable.

According to a story in Rabbi Shai Zevin's Sipurei Hasidim (I p. 20 #223), those in the company of R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi--the founder of Habad Hasidism--wore shtreimels.

R. Levin tells the following story:

There was a custom in Rabbi Shneur Zalman's minyan that whoever was called up to the Torah had to put on a shtreimel. If he didn't have his own shtreimel, he would borrow one from the shamash, who had one specifically for that purpose.

Once, somebody needed the shtreimel, but the shamash had misplaced it.

And so he lent the man R. Shneur Zalman's shtreimel. After the prayers were over, when R. Shneur Zalman put on his shtreimel, he sensed that one of the Hasidim had worn it. When he summoned the shammash and asked him if anyone had put on his shtreimel, the shamash told him what had occurred. Rabbi Shneur Zalman called for the hat maker, and instructed him to rip open all the seams of the shtreimel and to remake it. After the hat maker put the shtreimel back together, he placed it into the oven to dry, as was the custom. But he forgot to take it out, and it was burnt. He came to R. Shneur Zalman to tell him what had happened. But before he could do so, R. Shneur Zalman asked him, "What happened? Was the shtreimel burnt?"

"Yes," said the hat maker.

"It doesn't matter," said the rebbe. "Go home in good health." And the rebbe ordered a new shtreimel.

R. Zevin, who came from a line of Habad Hasidim, no doubt heard this story from Habad Hasidim. [R. Zevin does not provide sources for his stories.]

If this is indeed a Habad tradition, then we see that R. Shneur Zalman and a few Hasidim wore shtreimlech. According to this story, the rebbe even wore a shtreimel during the week.

R. Yisroel Baal Shem Tov

from me

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

from me you may learn to walk.

you may find the chord cluster wedged
silk iridescence, you may find that you are
glorious, you may breathe an organ echo of dusk.

and from me, you may learn short
interludes of prancing branches,
and bear the drumskin in your feather compass
around the globe, the blue, the black ecstasy, white-steel

Singing dizzy asteroid
silence jasmine silkiness, great
boots that, splattered, imprint your motto, Grow. from
me you may learn to count pebbles, to forget the days

scrawling like fire at your
boot tips. and from you old-scroll eyes,
sinister droop of cast-iron bellied clouds,
may borrow the ten-league huzzah of your white-faced boots.

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