The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume V, Issue 11
Vayeitzei 5761 December 2000
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2000 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* To Be Prepared for Such a Life
*The Secret Room (Part II)
* On Our Way Home
* The Sheaves of Our Land
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
[The realm of] good and evil is, at its source, much higher than what is visible in human life--whether individual or societal. Indeed, the content that reveals itself in life branches from the essence of good and evil. But its higher foundation--defilement and purity--may [only] be seen in a holy vision, informed by divine directives. At times, this-worldly evil is merely external evil, saturated with an essential goodness. And contrarily, this-worldly good may merely be a superficial and external good, saturated with an essential, inner evil from a higher sphere.
And in regard to this, we find that [the realm of] faith and holiness is the foundation and root of everything, and it is filled with essence, it gives life and hope, construction and existence--much more than any cultural, ethical content that humanity can point to. But to be prepared for such a life, [a life] established on the supernal foundation, the mined treasure of a unique nation is needed. That is the supernal mystery within the nation of Israel. Orot Hakodesh II, p. 477
by Avraham Stern
On the way, the wagon driver got lost and came to a water-filled channel. The horses grew frightened and halted. The rabbi told the wagon driver an d the messenger to approach the channel to see why the horses were frightened. There, they saw there a naked corpse. The rabbi told them to put the corpse on the wagon, and he dressed it in his own coat. Then he covered the corpse, so that it would not be visible.
When they reached a village, a Jew who lived at its outskirts came out of his house and approached them fearfully. He warned them not to travel any farther, for at the other end of the village, in the courtyard of the local landlord, a village Jew was on trial, defending himself against a blood libel. A Christian from the village was missing, and this Jew was accused of having killed him and used his blood for Passover matzos. And so it would be very dangerous for a Jew to travel there.
But the rabbi insisted that the village Jew climb up onto the wagon and join them. Immediately, they rode to the site of the trial. The courtyard was ringed by all of the landlord's Christian villagers--his subjects. The landlord himself was a judge, with an assistant at each side. The priest--the accuser--was standing nearby with his witnesses. In the middle of the courtyard sat the defendant, wrapped in chains. The rabbi told the wagon driver to travel right into the crowd that was surrounding the trial site. And the three other Jewish men on the wagon--the driver, the village Jew, and the messenger--were astonished to see that the crowd of gentiles was making way for them, and let them drive directly into the courtyard. The landlord was very surprised by the boldness of these newly-arrived Jews, as well as by the baggage on the wagon, which was packed with household goods, and on which rode a woman with three children (the rabbi's wife and the previously mentioned tzaddikim-to-be), as well as the three Jewish men, one of whom was actually the landlord's subject, who lived in his village. But most of all, the landlord could not stop staring at the man who sat at the top of the wagon, a Jew with very aristocratic features, whose regal face was suffused with a heavenly grace. Immediately, the landlord got up, went to the rabbi, gave him his hand with great civility and respect, and asked who he is and what he wants. here. The rabbi answered, "I am the Leshnaver rabbi. I learned that a Jew is on trial here for a capital offense. I believe that as a rabbi I have the right to attend the trial." The landlord thanked him and invited him to sit next to the judges.
After questioning the witnesses, the landlord asked the rabbi if he had anything to say on behalf of the accused Jew. The rabbi answered, "What would happen if I produced the missing Christian, alive?" "If you did that, then the witnesses and with the accuser, the priest, would immediately receive the punishment that they would deserve," the landlord answered. The rabbi went to the wagon and called out to the corpse, "Get up and go to the landlord. Tell the court loudly, so that everyone can hear, what happened to you from the time that you were missing." The gentile stepped forward and told everything. He pointed out the false witnesses as them men who had killed him. The false witnesses were so terrified that they admitted everything, and asked the court to give them a lenient sentence, because they had been instigated by the accuser, the priest. He had hired them to kill the gentile and then to accuse the Jew (a wealthy man), so that they would be able to confiscate his wealth for the church. And the priest had promised to reward the witnesses, and had assured them of a certain paradise in the other world. The trial was immediately overturned. Now the priest and false witnesses were the accused, and they were hanged and the Jew was freed.
The landlord asked the rabbi to allow him to take the Jewish overcoat off the gentile and dress him elegantly, for he wanted to hire the man as his personal servant. The rabbi had to reveal that the gentile was actually dead, and could only speak and stand on his feet as long as he was dressed in the rabbi's overcoat. The rabbi also explained to the landlord that one may not change nature, unless it is very necessary--as, for instance, in order to save an innocent man from death. Now he advised the landlord to take the gentile to the village cemetery and bury him with an honorable procession. The landlord and his helpers did so, and they saw the rabbi off in a friendly manner.
by Chanan Porat (Knesset Member)
15 Tammuz 5527
I do not know you, Anat, but your heart-felt letter was a breath of fresh air during this stormy, tumultuous time.
You write charmingly and humorously about how you came to Jerusalem, "possessed by a sudden madness," to put a note between the stones of the Kotel (like everyone else); and how you ran into your religious friends from B'nei Akiva, who dragged a "shiksa" like you, who doesn't know what the inside of a Bible looks like and who never even stepped foot inside a yeshiva, to the "fortress" of Yeshiva Mercaz Harav.
Then, you write, you and your friends chanced upon a ceremony of heart-felt thanksgiving for the return of the yeshiva students from the [Six Day] War, and you suddenly found yourself in the midst of another tumult: the speeches beat like cannon shells against your small, closed heart, wave upon wave.
As I said, I do not know you; but your sharp self-deprecation cannot conceal an open heart and the thirst to discover a new world. These are not the characteristics of a "shiksa with a closed heart," in your biting words.
You continue to tell that you were--as I was--moved to the point of tears when the President of Israel, Zalman Shazar, kissed my forehead at the height of the ceremony, after I spoke about the first visit of the children of K'far Etzion to the "Gush" after the war.
I will admit without shame, Anat, that this was a moment of heightened feelings for me. I didn't know what I was about, and my heart beat wildly, "drunk and not from wine."
But afterwards I sobered down and learned that it is not in the power of flaming words alone to open the gates before us on our way home to K'far Etzion; that there is a need for a stubborn public and political battle to bring this goal to reality. All my life, I was brought up with the concept of actualization: whether in keeping the commandments of the Torah, or in realizing national ideals whose source is the spring of Torah. Therefore, I cannot allow myself to become intoxicated by moving words and to satisfy myself with emotional experiences.
to be continued...
from Et Achai Ani M'vakeish
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
Who is a master, and who
Trust Abraham? He who was
Was your master? And the hills
Did he show you his thoughts, did
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