The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 15
Vayechi, December 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* THE SOCIETY FOR POSITIVE MINDFULNESS (continued)
* FOUR YEARNINGS IN THE HUMAN SPIRIT (Conclusion)
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
12. Be extremely careful not to waste time for even a moment (cf. Seder Ha'emtzaim 16). You should view even ten minutes of wasted time as a grave sin (heaven preserve us). You pay for wasted time with your life. The time that you threw away, a part of your lifetime, is gone forever; you will never live it again. Remind yourself of your mortality. This day and time are fading away, and you cannot bring them back. If you have wasted any time, imagine that you had cut out a strip of your heart and thrown it to the dogs.
If you are in a situation where you cannot learn Torah, then engage in thoughts of Torah. Think about the proper way to live your life and the ways of Hasidism. In public prayer, when the cantor is reciting the repetition of the Shmoneh Esrai, think about these things–unless you are completely immersed in his words (and unless this would so distract you that you would not respond "Blessed be He and blessed be His Name" and "Amen").
Most of all, when you are in the street, immerse your mind and heart in a Torah concept. In this way, not only will you strengthen your heart to grow more holy (which is the main goal of our group), but you will also protect yourself from evil (heaven forbid).
13. Set a certain amount of time for your every activity. If you are sitting down to eat, set aside a half hour or a quarter hour. If you are going to visit a friend (being unable to learn Torah at this moment), set aside a certain amount of time for that visit–unless you will be discussing Hasidic matters.
In general, feel yourself to be a soldier who has tasks to complete as one hour presses on the next and one action urges on another.
14. Do not let the winter Friday and Saturday nights go to waste. Do not go to sleep before eleven o'clock (unless you are planning to rise at dawn). Be aware, on the one hand, of your Maker; and, on the other, of the depths.
We have not discussed in detail the subject of loving and fearing God. This is because in truth, every Jewish soul fears and loves God. However, since the soul is buried beneath a mat of straw and hidden within the body, its love and fear are also hidden. But when you act in accordance with what has already been written in order to bring your soul forth, then you will see your love and fear of God in their purity. With God's help, they will grow manifest.
Rules of the Group
1. Make a record book in which the members' names and the group's activities are recorded.
Whoever wishes to join the group must sign the statement that appears below. This statement must be written (in Hebrew) in the same script used for writing Torah scrolls. By signing, a person agrees to all the statements and conditions of the group.
Statement of Commitment
With a willing heart and the desire of all my soul, I make a commitment to join the members of this holy society, the "Society for Positive Thought," my intent being that with their help I will wash and purify my body and spirit, sanctify my body and spirit with the sanctity of the holy God; and connect my body and spirit to the service of God with willing and unwavering thought, speech and action.
The Torah gives every Jew the ability to consecrate even an animal to God, and certainly the holiness of his body. And so with this ability, I stand before God and consecrate myself–my body, my spirit and my soul–to Him. And may the blessed God, Who does not reject a Jew's dedication, not reject me, and may He bring His holiness to rest upon me. Wherever I may be and whatever world I may find myself in, may the holiness of God embrace me and the seven clouds of glory surround me, from now and forever more.
With all my heart and spirit, I plead to God that even if (heaven forbid) my inclination ever overwhelms me and causes me to stumble and fall for even a moment with any desire, thought, word or action that contravene God's will, may He in His great compassion not reject me. May He not cast me out beyond the curtain of the Holy of Holies–just as a animal consecrated to God can no longer return to normal use (even though it is an animal). Rather, God's holy and open hand receives those who return to Him. And so may He bring me back to Him with complete repentance, in accordance with my spirit at this moment. >From this moment on, with a simple heart and a straight mind, I am leaving the gate of separation and the realm of the Other Side and all its host, which I reject and spurn as the dust of the earth. And I am entering with all my body and spirit's 248 limbs and 365 sinews the camp of God's Presence.
I resolve that from this moment on, I will be aware of every detail of my actions, thoughts and speech, as is fitting for a person who has been consecrated from on high, so that I shall not (heaven forbid) be unfettered. May the blessed God support me with the right hand of His justice. May He teach me and guide me upon His path, the path of holiness, in the midst of total spiritual and physical goodness. And may I, my entire family, all my friends and the entire house of Israel attain length of days and years that are good, joyous, satisfied and illumined by the light from above. Amen.
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook
It is evident that both total despair (the way of Buddhism) and partial despair (the way of Christianity) in some manner make use of universal evil, in regard to its desire to channel to itself all that it can have. At the very least, they acknowledge it as having an intrinsic reality and eternal nature, and this allows it to grow [as mighty as] a walled city.
But the light of Israel comes to remove all darkness and to sweep from the earth every blackening cloud, to remove the countenance of shadow that lies upon all the nations and the curtain that has been spread upon all the peoples.
Evil is destined for annihilation–each unique, particular and individual evil, as well as its source, universal evil: the entire foundation of evil that has taken such a strong grip of the root, branches and twigs [that make up] the vastness of creation.
There are people in whose essential being is concealed a tendency toward a self-sufficient evil. When these people look at the world, they see the character of cosmic evil as something that has all-encompassing sovereignty. As for those who are deeply immersed in the depths of evil, they are given over to it and rejoice in its existence, seeing great things in it and luxuriating in the poison of its perversities.
Superior to these are the people who stand at the verge of a movement toward the side of goodness–even though they have not yet reached it, even though they have not yet been liberated from [their] conceptual outlook regarding the rule of evil. Nevertheless, [their] fascination and love for evil has weakened, and so they now bemoan the world of evil and its foundation. However, they lack the power of the radiance of hope, with which they would be able to gaze upon the foundation of universal good, the source of life to which everything is indentured. [On that plane,] all good and evil are destined to reach the goal of the culmination of the ideals [of that source of life. Good and evil] rush toward the proclamation [of that goal] like a storm wind. Still, there is already the beginning of improvement in these people's fury against evil, with imprecations and abhorrence, with a bitterness within their soul and penetrating images of protest. Even though this lacks a result of radiance, the hatred of evil already nests within them.
Higher than these people are those whose viewpoint is free–those who, while they see the negative aspect, the evil and foolishness, within this world, also [see] that this cannot last forever. And they await its total dissolution and annihilation from the essence of the foundation [of the world]. These people are already yearning for the destruction of evil, and believe in it. However, the lightning flash of goodness has not yet appeared before their eyes.
All of these [realizations] are merely small shafts of fine light within the depth of darkness, shining and glowing upon all of them: a torch whose lights are eternal.
This is the merest glance of goodness at its ultimate root. [This glance] knows that "evil will be dispersed like smoke," that "the government of wilful evil will be removed from the world," and that "Hashem will be exalted on that day."
"Light is sown for the righteous, and there is joy for those whose heart is straight."
Orot Hakodesh II, pp. 489-490
Class for Men: Hakhsharat Ha'avreikhim ("Spiritual Training"), step-by-step guidebook on how to develop an awareness of our souls and of God, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe), Sunday night. For information, call (410) 358-8771.
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