The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 8
Vayera 5761 November 2000
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2000 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* A World That Is Clearly Seen
* The Jew with the Beautiful Face
* The Land of Israel
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
The following teaching of Rav Kook is difficult both in its language and in its ideas. Accuracy in translation cannot be guaranteed.
It seems to me to be saying the following.
There is a view of the world that sees existence as something from which to flee. But when we see the world clearly, there is no reason to complain about evil. Even those who seek nothingness--and thus complain about this world's somethingness-- are complaining that the world is deficient. And since deficiency is a species of nothingness, then they would have to agree that this world is in fact good.
In other words, the deficiency of this world is not in opposition to a transcendent "nothingness." To the contrary, it is an expression of that "nothingness." Within this physical world rest the most transcendent states.
The problem with the world is not that it has too much existence. To the contrary, the problem with it is that it does not have enough existence. Suffering in the world is not caused by our being led astray by things of this world but by the fact that we are yearning for that ultimate true being.
But if a person is yearning for "nothingness," he is yearning for that which appears evil, but which is in essence good. Even that person cannot reject this world as unredeemably evil, for good is hidden within it and within everything.
A person who totally rejects this world as he seeks "nothingness" can transcend feelings of pain and even find them pleasurable. Nevertheless, this must come to an end. One must realize that existence is good--and we continue to be aware of that, even as we return to a normal perception of pain.
The more we look the more goodness do we see. Then we see good even in moral evil, for everything is in essence good. If we were satisfied with the state of affairs as it is, we would be content to have a raised state of consciousness in which we see the good even in evil. But because we yearn for an ultimate good, our perception of this world in a sense diminishes, and we cease to see the good hidden in evil.
But finally, we will come to that ultimate goodness--and then, looking at the expanse of all reality, we will see that goodness was hidden within the evil at all times.
The knowledge that goodness is hidden within evil is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But if we eat of that tree's fruit prematurely, we grow content with things as they are, and no longer yearn for an ultimate goodness. But once we do reach the ultimate good, the tree of knowledge of good and evil is transformed into a tree of life. We see that every part of the universe and of history was in the service of goodness.
This awareness comes from the essential soul of the Torah, and is revealed to those who yearn for God to be revealed--beyond labels and conceptions. Then we reach a level of silence, a world-transcending awareness of the goodness that pervaded the world throughout the era of human history. That silence is our connection to God, our praise.]
In taking an account of a world that is [seen] clearly, there is no place to complain about the existence of evil.
There are those who are repulsed by being, who say that their ultimate goal is nothingness. According to their conception, therefore, deficiency and emptiness comprise goodness. If that is the case, then [even according to them] there is nothing that is not good.
Any inadequacy in the world is nothing else than either (a) a diminution of existence; (b) a diminution of the existence of the diffusion of the essence of being (which desires existence and its perfection); or (c) anything that has any sort of relationship to [diminution]: a diminution of [this world] acquiring [reality], a diminution of consciousness, a diminution of glory.
All of these lead to suffering, solely because of one's yearning for what [truly] is and one's yearning for the perfection of being.
[So even] if one's total yearning for happiness is an outcry for nothingness, then everything evil is good, for [evil] is closer to nothingness.
These matters grow ever more profound. At last, even sensations of physical pain grow still and their sharpness is removed. And when [this] concept grows [yet] stronger, they even become pleasurable.
However, this line cannot proceed to its end. [This] account must squeeze [dry] its measure, and realize that being is happiness and existence is good. As a result of this awareness, every suffering and pain is [again] viewed in accordance with its usual place and consensus meaning. But we still actually see that all evil in the world is nothing less a diminished good in relation to the outcry for the abundant good.
An insightful gaze into every exceedingly refined part of goodness--which is even found in evil--reveals the light of truth in existence. And we see that all God did is good, very good.
And [we can say the following in regard to] the moral evil in the world. If not for the longed-for goodness that will raise everything to full goodness (and this is the goodness that is coming into being, the goodness that is rising, that is blossoming, goodness in itself, original, goodness whose foundation and whose goodness are contained within it and gush from it in its original source)--if not for this hidden happiness, our eye would see that even moral evil is none other than reduced goodness, and that all evil is none other than diminished charity.
However, if this were to be seen, the desire to ascend would cease to exist. And then the world would be desolate of its happiness and elevation. Therefore, we do see the evil of moral evil. This [more limited viewpoint], when [we see] goodness reduced, is also a refining of the structures of truth. And it is accompanied by a limitation of all structures of evil, all sufferings and pain, all disgrace and all diminution, which have come in consequence of sin.
[Ultimately,] with the improvement of the spirit, with the permanence of the desire for an elevation that does not cease from its very essence, there is no fear of any evil. Automatically, the world and all its fullness are seen with their full goodness in the foundation of their broad and full existence. The tree of knowledge of good and evil is completely transformed into the tree of life--from the depths of its roots when it absorbs its nutrition to the height of its crown, its buds, leaves and blossoms. "Its fruit will be for food and its leaf for healing."
This supernal view of goodness is viewed by the soul of the soul of the Torah, which sends its sparks in a hidden manner to all who cling to the lights of God, who desire the glory of God, who say, "May the name of God be magnified beyond every label and word, beyond every speech, expression and utterance, beyond every thought and conception."
"To You, silence is praise." "Give thanks to God, for He is good, for His kindness endures forever."
Orot Hakodesh II, pp. 468-69
by Avraham Stern
One of the Shpole Zeide's comrades was Rabbi Mordechai, the first Nes'chizsher rebbe. (He was the father of the Kavler rebbe, Rabbi Leib, who was the father-in-law of the Trisker maggid. He was also the father of the Ustiler rebbe, Rabbi Yosele, and of the second Nes'chizsher rebbe, Rabbi Yitzchak, whose teachings are presented in Toldos Yitzchak.) Rabbi Mordechai decided that he too (like the Shpole Zeide) would become a nistar, a hidden tzaddik. But he had an elevated public persona. He filled the rabbinical post in Leshnav, a small shtetl near Brod.
While rabbi of Leshnav, he came to mistrust the shtetl shochet (ritual slaughterer). And so he set out by foot to Brod, to look for another shochet.
As he was passing through a forest, a Jew with a beautiful face emerged from a small path and joined him.
"Where is a Jew going, and for what reason?" he asked Rabbi Mordechai. Rabbi Mordechai answered, "I am going to Brod to look for a shochet, because I do not trust the one we have."
The man told him, "Is that so? I am no longer a young man. I remember once when a rabbi dismissed a shochet. And do you know what happened in the end? With my own eyes, I saw the shochet and his wife and children became wandering beggars. Nu! I saw what happened to the shochet-- but I have not yet seen what happened to the rabbi."
With these last words the man disappears. Rabbi Mordechai believed that this had been an appearance of Elijah the prophet, who had come to prevent him from committing a great injustice. And so he set aside his misgivings, went back home and continued to remain a nistar.
by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov
1. As a result of dwelling in the land of Israel, God's providence rests upon the entire world.
2. In accordance with our original Torah thoughts, so is there drawn to us an illumination from the holiness of the land of Israel.
3. As a result of our longing to come to the land of Israel, great amounts of income are drawn to us.
4. As a result of your giving to the poor of the land of Israel, our own money remains in our hand.
from Sefer Hamidot
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