The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume II, Issue 53
Bein Kese Le'esor 5758 / September 98
Translations and original material copyright (c) 1998 by Yaacov
Dovid Shulman (unless otherwise noted)
* A Torn Soul
-by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
* None Like You
--by Rabbi Yaacov Yosef of Polonoye
* Not in Shul
-by Simchah Raz
* The Eyes of God
-by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
* The Shofar and the Workers
-by Rabbi Ch. D. Ermon-Kastenbaum
A TORN SOUL
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Whoever has said that my soul is torn spoke well. It is
certainly torn. We cannot imagine a person whose soul is not
torn. Only a lifeless object is whole. But a human being is
filled with conflicting desires, and an inner war rages within
The purpose of all of our work is to mend the rents within
our spirit by means of an all-inclusive viewpoint in whose
greatness and exaltedness everything is embraced and comes to
Malachim Kivnei Adam
NONE LIKE YOU
by Rabbi Yaacov Yosef of Polonoye
I heard an interpretation of a Rosh Hashanah prayer
attributed to a Sefardi rabbi: "You hear the voice of the shofar,
and listen to the shofar-blast, and there is none like You...."
One can compare this to a human king who had two servants:
one who served the king from his youth and never did wrong, and
the other who had rebelled but afterwards repented and become
faithful. Certainly, the king loved the servant who never
strayed more than he did the servant who rebelled.
But this is not the way of the Holy One, blessed be He. He
loves the penitent more than he does the completely righteous.
As our sages teach, "In a place where penitents stand, completely
righteous people cannot stand."
The Shelah writes that a completely righteous person is
called a shofar. A penitent is called a shofar-blast.
Also: the word "hear" refers to something heard from a
distance. The word "listen" refers to something heard from
"You hear the voice of the shofar"--God hears the righteous
person from a distance. "And listen to the shofar-blast"--He
listens from nearby to a penitent.
It is true that this is the opposite of what we would
thought. And so the prayer continues, "And there is none like
Toldos Yaacov Yosef (quoted in Lashon Chasidim)
NOT IN SHUL
by Simchah Raz
Rav Kook spent the greater part of the Days of Awe reciting
the basic prayers of sh'ma and the shmoneh esrei, standing in his
As a child, Dr. Nachum Arieli once asked his father about
Rav Kook's Days of Awe prayer.
"My father was silent for a while. He measured me with his
eyes, thought, and replied, 'We who prayed with the rav on the
days of awe can testify that he was not with us in shul. We saw
with our own eyes that he was not with us, but elsewhere.'"
Dr. Arieli continued, "You may wonder what this means.
Where was he? The answer is that his body alone was with the
other bodies. But his soul flew to the hidden heights and his
mind was removed from the things of this world, like a angel
flying up, so that one can only hear the rustling of its wings.
When Rav Kook's students gazed at him, they saw that he was not
with them. If someone was worthy, he could (so to speak) take
hold of Rav Kook's tallis and himself rise a handbreadth or two
from the ground.
"Why did Rav Kook's prayers take so long? He did not add
any words to the prayers--only intent. Every year, at the
beginning of the month of Elul, he would set aside his other holy
books and devote himself to mystic teachings and the meditative
exercises of the Ari. For thirty days he prepared for Rosh
Hashanah, and forty days for Yom Kippur. He strove to understand
their prayers, until he was intimately familiar with the content
of the Ari's meditations. Then, when the days of awe arrived, he
prayed with those meditations.
"And my father would conclude by telling me, in awe and
love, 'When a person prays in such a manner on the days of awe,
only his body is here in the world of bodies. But his soul is
flying in the world of souls.'"
Malachim Kivnei Adam, 251-52
THE EYES OF GOD
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
A person who has an appreciation for the land of Israel, who
has truly tasted it, can tell if someone else spent Rosh Hashanah
in the presence of a tzaddik. He can tell if that tzaddik is
great or small, genuine or unauthentic, or whether that person
himself is a tzaddik.
The reason for this is as follows.
The taste of the land of Israel can be communicated to
anyone who has tasted wisdom. A coarse person alone could not
understand. But anyone who can sense the taste of wisdom--
whether a person learned in exoteric Torah or other areas--can
understand the taste of the land of Israel, for "the atmosphere
of the land of Israel makes one wise" (Bava Basra 158).
This taste of wisdom and mindfulness is certainly very
However, the essence of the land of Israel's holiness rests
in the fact that God gazes upon it with direct providence. He
gazes upon the land of Israel continuously: "constantly, the eyes
of Hashem your God are on it, from the beginning of the year
until the end of the year" (Devorim 11:12). This is what
sanctifies the land of Israel and makes its atmosphere impart
Wisdom is referred to as "eyes." For example, the verse
tells of Adam and Chava that "their eyes were opened"--which, as
Rashi explains, means that they grew wise (Bereishis 3:7).
Therefore, because God's eyes gaze at the land of Israel
continuously, the atmosphere of the land makes one wise.
What is it that induces God to gaze at the land of Israel?
This is brought about by the souls of Israel, in whom God
takes pride: "Israel, in whom I take pride" (Isaiah 69:3).
This pride creates divine tefillin. Tefillin are called
"pride" (pe'er) (Succah 25).
Tefillin are mindfulness. The energy of these divine
tefillin enter God's countenance and then radiate through His
eyes (so to speak). This brings about God's providence. This
makes the land of Israel holy. It is the reason that its
atmosphere makes one wise.
Thus, it is apropos that this land is called "the land of
Israel": it receives its holiness from "Israel, in whom I take
However, it is clear that not all times are equal for Israel
to come close to God. At times a person is distanced from God,
heaven forbid. At such a time, God's Presence cries out, "How
heavy is my head, how heavy is my arm!" (Sanhedrin 46). God's
Presence cries out that His pride has been spoiled, He can no
longer take pride in the Jews. This means that His tefillin,
which are composed of this pride, are blemished. And so God's
Presence cries out about His "head" and "arm," on which tefillin
But when one Jew comes to God, then another Jew, and then
even more Jews, His pride in His nation of Israel who come to
serve Him grows ever greater.
This pride creates tefillin, wisdom.
Those tefillin form the holiness of the land of Israel, a
land whose atmosphere makes one wise because of the "eyes" of
When an individual can see God's pride in His nation of
Israel, he himself receives this pride, this mindfulness. Then
spiritual tefillin are created for him. These tefillin enter his
face and shine out through his eyes.
Then his own eyes become "the eyes of God." Wherever he
looks, the atmosphere becomes that of the land of Israel,
creating wisdom. The essential holiness of the land of Israel
comes only from the "eyes."
But who can possibly see God and His pride? The answer is:
a person who sees the true tzaddik.
The true tzaddik is a person who brings others close to God.
He constitutes the essence of how the Jewish people approach
their Father in heaven. Therefore, he himself constitutes the
pride that God takes in His nation, because this pride comes
about because of him.
So when a person sees him--particularly when Jews gather to
hear the word of God from him; and even more particularly on Rosh
Hashanah, the time of the great gathering--then the pride is at
Then the beauty of the tzaddik, who is himself that pride,
At that time, when one gazes truly at that true tzaddik, one
receives that wisdom. Then tefillin--which are wisdom--are made
Then one's own eyes become "the eyes of Hashem." Wherever
one looks, one transforms that place into the level of the land
of Israel, with an atmosphere that imparts wisdom. By looking
with eyes that were made by that pride, one transforms the air
and invests it with wisdom.
"Your eyes shall see the king in his beauty" (Isaiah 33:17).
The king is the tzaddik. When you see him in his beauty, when
people gather about him, then "you shall see a land of
distances." A "land of distances" is the land of Israel, whose
atmosphere makes one wise. And so wisdom is referred to as
"distances": "I said that I will grow wise, but it is distant"
So after we see the tzaddik in his beauty, whatever we look
at rises to the level of the atmosphere of the land of Israel,
which imparts wisdom.
"You shall see a land of distances."
If you have a deep longing for the land of Israel--and
particularly, if you have already experienced the taste of the
land of Israel--when you meet a person who went to a true tzaddik
on Rosh Hashanah, you will at that time experience the taste of
the land of Israel. Through that person, the atmosphere becomes
that of the land of Israel. And so your own longing and yearning
for the land of Israel awakens.
The main thing is that this should be in truth and
Likutei Moharan II 40
THE SHOFAR AND THE WORKERS
by Rabbi Ch. D. Ermon-Kastenbaum
A group of young Jewish construction workers who were
pressed for time to complete a building in a Jerusalem
neighborhood continued working on Rosh Hashanah.
When the neighbors grew aware of this, they immediately sent
someone to inform Rav Kook.
A short while later, Rav Kook's representative appeared on
the site carrying a shofar. He approached the workers, who were
astonished to see this religious man. After wishing the workers
a good year, he told them that Rav Kook had sent him to blow the
shofar for them. He politely asked them to interrupt their work
and pay attention, and immediately recited the blessing and began
to blow the shofar.
This statement of Rav Kook and the shofar blowing had their
intended effect. Every shofar blast touched the hearts and awoke
the Jewish core in these young workers. They put down their
tools and gathered about the shofar-blower, some with tears in
their eyes. In that skeletal, unfinished building echoed the
ancient call of the shofar, reminding them of their father's
house, their grandfather's visage, their town and synagogue;
reminded them of a world of Jews standing in prayer. And they
were inundated by questions: What has happened to us? Where are
we, where have we gotten to? And they stood in confusion and
When the shofar blowing was completed, there was no need for
words. Everyone decided to stop work. Some asked Rav Kook's
representative if they could accompany him. They quickly changed
their clothes and walked together with him to Rav Kook's beis
Moadei Harayah, p. 65
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