The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review

Yaacov Dovid Shulman

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Volume VII, Issue 26

Shabbat Vayakhel 5763, March 2003

Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2002 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (

by Yaacov Dovid Shulman

Time prickled
In my bones, tickled
My lonely cave retreat.
It was sweet
To forget, upon this new planet,
Everything but my new vanity.
All the rules here were so parochial,
But I never felt broke. Ellipses
Round the sun swung under me, until
I forgot my ice-milk home, quilted
Whiteness, vague, recalled
Shapes of celestial aldermen.
My doubled eyes flew open.
Here I learned to cope and–
Like the frog hunched in the pond
Whose half-immersed, wandering
Eyes see below a green and misty realm
And, above, the vaulting elms
Clear as the sound of rat-tat-tatting
Woodpeckers–saw this and that! Ingrown
Sleep ceased.
The beast
Of the forest snuffling,
His back hairs
At the foot of the spiral stairs
Lifted his muzzy snout
And let out
A snort, a roar,
And wept like the River Jordan.
And I walked amidst men,
Men of the clouds, at attention,
Stiff, hosanna-ing God,
And men of the wadis and deltas,
Of the Congo of hell, tussling
Husked boars, men of the silver-skinned
Coast, of the eye-tearing wind.
And all that remained
Was, with these stained
Hands, to be kind,
To mind
My P's and Q's,
To recuse
Myself from all conflicted
Interests, and interdicted
I had to budge. Tents
That I had set up
Were assaulted by the wind without let-up,
And the keen
Cold cleanness
Prickles in my skin and nerves,
Swerves, trickles, in a trice,
An icicle rivulet
Down my spine,
And I give you this old wine,
Which burns and warms, inside,
The lazing lion's pride.

by Rabbi Chaim Vital

I climbed the ladder by myself, and I came through the door into the elevated structure.

And there I saw God, may He be blessed, sitting upon a chair alongside the southern wall, in its middle. He had the image of an "Ancient of Days," elderly, and His beard was as white as snow, beautiful beyond measure. And righteous men were sitting there on the floor before Him upon lovely new mats and carpets, learning Torah from His mouth. And I knew that these are the righteous people who are called "men of elevation"–who have the form of human beings–who see the face of God's Presence constantly and learn Torah from His own mouth.

This distinguished them from the "masters of Mishnah," who had the form of birds and geese–and of whom it is stated, "a person who sees a goose in a dream should anticipate wisdom" (Brachot 57a). The latter stood in the pavilion and in the garden and didn't experience the face of God's Presence constantly as did the "men of elevation," nor did they learn Torah from His mouth.

When I entered and saw His face, I was in a turmoil and seized by trembling. I fell on my face to the ground between His legs, and I had no strength left at all.

He stretched out His hand and took hold of my right hand. and He said to me, "Chaim, My son, stand up. Why have you fallen on your face? Do not be afraid, and do not fear."

I said to Him, "My Master, I have no strength, and my glory has turned to ashes because I am so terribly frightened of You, and I do not have the strength to get up."

But He said to me, "I have strengthened and empowered you. Stand up and sit at My right hand in this empty seat where no one is sitting, right next to Me."

Then I said to Him, "And how shall I sit at Your right hand in that place, which has been set aside for R. Yosef Caro?" He said to me, "Yes, I meant to do so at first. But afterwards I gave him another place. And I have given you this place, and it is already prepared for you."

I said to Him, "But this is the place of Shmuel Haramati (Samuel the prophet)."

And He said to me, "It is true that this is his place, but when the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, he resolved not to sit in this place until the it will be rebuilt in the future. Since then, he has gone to Jerusalem and he stands in the ruin of the Beit Hamikdash, constantly mourning over it until it will be rebuilt in the end of days. Therefore, his place remains empty, and I have given it to you so that you may sit in it."

Then I sat at His right hand, literally next to Him, on the mats upon the ground, like the other righteous men there. He said to me, "Is this place acceptable to you?"

I said to Him, "Who can express the great praiseworthiness of this elevated structure?

"And explain to me why the masters of the mishnah have a different form than the men of elevation, so that there should be such a difference as I saw with my own eyes?"

He said, "Have you forgotten the statement of the sages that in the future, the Holy One, blessed be He, will make wings for the righteous, who will glide over the face of the water? They said this in regard to the group that is called the masters of the mishnah (Sanhedrin 92b), who have the form of birds with wings and who glide over the face of the water of the rivers of the garden of Eden, as you saw with your own eyes."

Then I said to Him, "My Master, I have now recalled what is written in the Introduction to the Tikunei Zohar (1b) regarding the verse ‘when there happens to be before you...and the mother is hovering over the chicks...and take the offspring for yourself'–that the chicks are the masters of the mishnah, the offspring are the masters of kabbalah (who are these men of elevation), these men who have the form of offspring (lit., sons)."
Sefer Hachezyonot

by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira

I. "When you lift..."

Let us understand what this coin is about. And why is it precisely a half shekel? And why is the giving of the shekalim proclaimed on the first of Adar?

Also: we learn in Yalkut that Moshe Rabeinu said, "When I die, I will not be remembered." God replied to him, "Just as you...lift the head [of the Jews] and give them the teaching of shekalim, so every year when they read that teaching on shekalim, it will be as though you are standing and lifting their heads."

I. We learn in Midrash Tanchuma (Yitro) on the verse, "do not neglect your friend and the friend of your father" that "your friend" refers to the Holy One, blessed be He, Who called Israel His "brothers and friends"; "the friend of your father" is speaking about our forefather Avraham–as the verse states, "the seed of Avraham My beloved." "Do not neglect"–but if you have neglected, take heed.

This Midrash does not explicate what a person is to do if he has, heaven forbid, neglected the Holy One, blessed be He, the true friend of Israel. It merely states, "if you have neglected, take heed."

How is it possible for a Jew to grow distant from God, when God is so close to him and loves him so much that He calls us "brothers and friends"? And this is not a new love but one that exists from the earliest days, from the earliest generations, coming from Avraham Avinu. Why doesn't this person feel it? Why doesn't his soul burn with a great and ever-lasting love for God?

But this is merely "neglect." As the verse says, "You have forgotten God, Who created you." This person doesn't distance himself purposefully. Rather, he forgets and neglects. Even a person who has descended so low that he is actually sinning, heaven forbid, began his descent with forgetfulness and neglect. He was so overwhelmed by the pressures of the world, or permissible desires so turned his head, that his thoughts were confused and his spirit lost its focus, losing awareness and thoughtfulness. And so little by little he neglected God and grew distant from Him, until he could no longer feel the love and connectedness, and can fall into the hands of sin , heaven forbid, even purposeful sin. Derech Hamelech

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