The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 7
Vayeira, November 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* The Purpose of Evil
* A Short History of R. Yaacov Dovid Kallush of Amshinov (5574-5638;
* The Flowers of the Moon
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Just as we see evil in an individual or in the life of a human society, and we see that in all its negativity and wickedness it has a purpose (granted, a transient purpose), a special might, a power of the will and a depth of life--qualities that are necessary to perfect justice and goodness--and we are sure that ultimately evil will pass away, and that the individual will be perfected and society will be perfected, at which point everything will stand upon a basis of goodness, and evil will cease, and the desire of evil, wrath, murder, coarseness, and all their branches will dissipate like smoke, so is it in the entirety of the cosmos.
There is no doubt that there exists a power of evil that yearns for evil, creating a ferment in the world, having rulership and filled with strength throughout all the days of evil. As long as the cosmos requires an evil ferment, this cosmic evil yearns, with all its tributaries, to obliterate and destroy, to pollute and sully, to blacken and dull, to split apart and explode. And it continues at length in its evil, until the end of days, until the cosmos will reach perfection, until a new spirit, a spirit of pure life, will breathe upon humanity, and holy souls will arise to implement a true salvation. And "they will take refuge in the King, these supernal holy beings" (Zohar?).
And everything that has been said in the words of the sages and their mysterious remarks regarding evil and its existence, regarding its temporary might and strength, regarding its destruction and obliteration in the end of days--it is all recorded in a true script.
Orot Hakodesh II, p. 478
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Bromberg
Where did his power lie? And how did he succeed in persuading them? When R. Yaacov Dovid stood before these officials, he would without speech, without words, persuade them with his majestic stance and royal visage, shining with beauty and glory, and with his radiant countenance framed by a long beard and two curling sidelocks.
The intensity of his eyes spoke for his people who were being forced to transgress the customs of their forefathers, customs that had been accepted for generations. The officials could not avoid responding to the face of the royal rabbi. Seeing his great dedication, they did not find the strength to deny him. And so he would always leave them having attained his goal: the complete eradication of the evil decree.
One of these decrees was a law banning beards and sidelocks, which had been passed against the Jews of Poland. Trembling and shaking took hold of those whole-hearted, faithful Jews when they heard about this decree. "Is this not an open attack against the sanctified Jewish countenance? To destroy the sidelocks, to transgress a negative commandment explicitly stated in the Torah, and to destroy the image of a Jew and to make him equal to the gentile..." And a grievous distress arose in the hearts of the Jews. What would follow this decree? How many more such laws could they expect? Pious Jews saw a danger to their very existence, and in particular, the Hasidic Jews of Poland were determined to defend the beard and sidelocks with their lives, if need be. The greatest admorim took it upon themselves to stand in the breach with all the might of their influence--even risking their lives, for they were denounced as rebels against the state. Some--amongst them the "Chidushei Harim" of Gur and R. Yaacov Dovid of Amshinov--were imprisoned as a result of this accusation.
As soon as this law was announced, R. Yaacov Dovid travelled to a government official in Warsaw to persuade him to annul it. When he arrived at the government official's office, an aristocrat, a friend of the official, was present. After R. Yaacov Dovid expressed his concerns, the aristocrat commented to the official that it would be worthwhile removing this Jew's long beard for the museum.
A great fear fell upon R. Yaacov Dovid and, since he had a weak constitution, his knees tottered and he fell faint to the floor, and was only revived with difficulty. Seeing how much suffering and self-sacrifice this decree was causing the Jewish rabbi, the official decided to nullify it temporarily. And he gave R. Yaacov Dovid a document forbidding anyone from harming him due to his garb, beard and sidelocks.
Some time afterward, a dispute broke out in the city of Opotshenu between the townspeople and the ritual slaughterers. The townspeople asked R. Yaacov Dovid to judge between them. The ritual slaughterers, irritated that a rabbi had been brought to mix into their affairs, complained to the police that a new rabbi was inciting the Jews against the government in regard to the regulations dealing with clothing and beards.
That Sabbath morning, as R. Yaacov Dovid stood up to pray, the police captain entered the synagogue to arrest him. R. Yaacov Dovid sent his gabbai, R. Hirsch, to bring the document that he had received from the official in Warsaw. When the captain read the document, he apologized to R. Yaacov Dovid and begged his forgiveness for having bothered him without cause.
This document came to the aid of R. Yaacov Dovid at every difficult hour, and with its help he was able to reach high government officials whenever he needed to do so. And after he passed away, this document passed on to his son, R. Menachem, and he too was saved from troubles with its help.
And from an old Amshinov Hasid, I heard another version of this story: When the decree was passed that beards and sidelocks must be removed, R. Yaacov Dovid, accompanied by R. Alia Chaim Meisel of Lodz (who was then rabbi of Lomzheh), came to the Polish aristocrat, Berg, who ruled the city of Warsaw as an agent of the Russian czar. On their way, R. Yaacov Dovid said to R. Alia Chaim, "If the official will speak to us in German and not in Russian, it will be a sign that God has favored us with success."
When they came to the government mansion, the official came out to them, received them cordially, and in German asked R. Yaacov Dovid, whom he already knew, "How are you, R. Kallush?"
Immediately R. Yaacov Dovid burst into sobs. He told the official why he had come, and begged him to rescind the decree.
The official said, "I am sorry, but this is not in my hands. The decree was issued from Peterburg (the then-capital of Russia) and I can do absolutely nothing."
Hearing this, R. Yaacov Dovid grasped the official's sleeve and began yelling loudly. The rabbi of Lomzheh was stunned and said, "Rabbi of Amshinov, you cannot do this!"
"I am a Hasid!" R. Yaacov Dovid replied in a voice so loud that the rafters of the house shook.
And the official stood in confusion and waited for R. Yaacov Dovid to let go of his sleeve.
In the meantime, the official's wife came out to see what the commotion was about. She saw her husband with the two rabbis, one of whom had grasped her husband's sleeve, and was sobbing loudly. Her husband explained to her that the rabbi was begging him to rescind the decree promulgated against beards.
"If he is so concerned for his fellow-Jews that he is ready to risk his life, it is worth while helping to rescind the decree," the noblewoman said.
The official promised that he would do so.
When they left, R. Yaacov Dovid said to R. Alia Chaim, "I was helped from heaven. My father stood at my side and told me to take hold of his sleeve and not let go until he would do what I want and nullify the decree."
This took place the eve of the holiday of Shavuot.
R. Yaacov Dovid added, "All the ‘rabbis' are getting ready for learning Torah on the holiday of Shavuot. But I saved the Torah."
That holiday of Shavuot was indeed a festival, for the decree was nullified.
Migdolei Hachasidut III
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
By day recall exploding towers,
The bitter sweetness of a lone walk
You find yourself. Is this the world of God?
Turn your back upon a stone, it is
The rustle of the earth, the rush,
The geese alongside the water,
Of cold earth. Walk, in your vision
A spot of yellow, the flow of settling leaves,
See her eyes the color of leaves, of billowing smoke,
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