The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 20
Yitro, February 2002
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
* From the midst of My Soul
* Forming a Group for Spiritual Growth (Continued)
* The Ohr Hachaim and the Land of Israel
* The Source of Beauty
* Leopard Skin
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Hear me, my people!
I speak to you from the midst of my soul, from the midst of the soul of my soul, from the midst of the connection of life through which I am connected to all of you, and through which you are all connected to me.
I speak to you from the midst of that feeling–which I sense more deeply than any other feelings in my life–that you, only you, only all of you, yes all of you, all of your souls, all your generations, only you are the content of my life.
Within you do I live, within you. In that all-encompassing unity of all of you does my life have that quality that is called "life."
Without you, I have nothing. All the hopes, all the ideals, all the value of the quality of life–everything I find within myself only along with you. I must connect myself to your souls, all of you. I must love you with an infinite love.
Malachim Kivnei Adam
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
You may ask: why should we seek great things and join a holy fellowship? It should suffice to emulate the average Hasidim of the past, who understood what Hasidism is and engaged in its service.
But I am not asking for more than that. In fact, I only hope that we may attain the ability to walk in the footsteps of those average Hasidim, in the dust of whose feet we would be glad to roll (as I stated at the very beginning). Do you imagine that I think that we could rise to a level such as that of the fellowship of the Baal Shem Tov and the great Maggid–among whom were godly men such as my ancestor the rebbe, R. Elimelech; his brother the rebbe, R. Zusha; the rav, the Baal Hatanya; and the Maggid of Koznitz? That we may at least reach the level of following in the footsteps of the Hasidim of previous days–that is our yearning and prayer to God. But since we see from the Gemara and the masters of the holy Zohar and Hasidism that forming a group and fellowship is very helpful in enhancing Torah study and serving God, and such a group is of the essence, amongst other advice I also suggest this, in order to make it possible for you to walk in the footsteps of our holy masters, and to at least become Hasidim of some degree. Therefore, join a holy fellowship.
I must also tell you this: if, as a group, you truly bestir yourselves and work, and are able to rise to an understanding of and a practice of Hasidism germane to your own level, then in the context of our generation you will truly be a holy fellowship.
Do not form one large group, including people from all towns. Rather, as our holy masters of Hasidism of previous generations conducted themselves, everyone–particularly, those who are still supported by their parents–whose hearts have been inspired to seek an understanding of and the practice of Hasidism and who follow the same rebbe should sanctify themselves and join together in one such fellowship.
The members of such a group should in no way involve themselves in local issues. That is to say: they may involve themselves together with other Torah-observant residents in all such matters, but only as private individuals–not as group members, not in the group's name, and not claiming that group members need representation on the city council, and the like. In the end, such things lead to the love of honor and competitiveness, whereas the fellowship must be clean of all these.
If someone tells you that nowadays we need [such political involvement], tell him that yes, as human beings we need this, and that you will get involved together with other Torah-observant Jews–but not as a part of the fellowship.
This is because the holy fellowship transcends time and humanity. At the moment that we gather together as members of the group, or at the moment that every individual profoundly considers it and its ways in his thought and will, we are beyond this world and distant from its ideas and desires. At that moment, we are in the light of the Baal Shem Tov and the tzaddikim who followed him.
A member of the group can also be a member of another group of people who serve God, who tremble upon His way–but only as an individual, not as a member of this fellowship.
Hakhsharat Ha'avreichim, p. 145
by Avraham Stern
A while later, when the Ohr Hachaim moved to the land of Israel, he was chosen to act as Shadar (sheliach derabanan, or shelichah derachmana): an agent collecting funds on behalf of all the yeshivas and impoverished individuals in the land of Israel.
On his travels, he lost his way and came to the River Sambatyon. The Sambatyon's water is in a boiling tempest an entire week, throwing up stones and sand, but at noon on Friday it dries until the Sabbath is over (Cf. Sanhedrin 65b and Midrash Rabbah, Bereishis 11.)
On Friday afternoon, he crossed over to the other side and entered a forest. From a distance, he saw a giant holding an ax. He climbed up a tree and hid amidst its branches and leaves. The giant approached, cut off dry branches, and chopped them into logs. The Ohr Hachaim heard how the giant said with every stroke, "For the honor of the holy Sabbath!"
The Ohr Hachaim grew calmer. He descended from the tree and approached the giant. The latter greeted him warmly with a "Shalom aleichem," and put him into his pocket. He put the chopped wood and the ax over his shoulders, and taking huge, quick steps, he arrived home almost immediately. There he took the Ohr Hachaim out of his pocket and received him like a welcome guest.
On the Sabbath eve, the giant took the guest with him to the synagogue. This synagogue had been built with such holiness, that each congregant could only go to the place that his level of merit and holiness granted him access to. Some had to stand in the antechamber. Those more pious were able to enter the synagogue. Those yet higher could go up on the bimah, the platform from which the Torah is read, which stood in the middle of the synagogue. And so, they had the merit to be called to the Torah. A few outstanding individuals could reach the wall along which stood the holy ark. The rabbi–the chacham–was the holiest of them, and he could go up the small steps to the holy ark, in order to take out the Torah scrolls and replace them.
The giant was the synagogue shammash, and his merit allowed him to go up onto the bimah and read from the Torah. But his guest, the Ohr Hachaim, immediately walked over to the wall along which stood the holy ark. Seeing this, the others immediately realized that he is a holy man. After the prayer service, the chacham invited the Ohr Hachaim to his home for the Sabbath. However, the shammash argued that the guest belonged to him, for he had found him in the forest and brought him home. So was decided that the guest would eat two meals with the giant, and for the third meal, the shammash would come with him to the chacham. (to be continued...)
teachings of the school of the Baal Shem Tov and R. Dov Ber
If you happen to glance at a woman, think, "What is the source of her beauty?...It comes from the Godliness that permeates her...The source of beauty is a Godly power. So why should I be drawn after the part? It is better to cling to the root and source of all worlds, which contains all beauty."
When you look at other things, such as vessels and so on, think, "Where does this thing have its beauty and shape from?" The physicality is the waste and the beauty and form are the spirit and life force. This vessel is a portion of supernal Godliness, for all the life force of all physical things is a portion of supernal Godliness.
When you eat, consider that the taste and sweetness of the food comes from the life force and sweetness above, which is its life force. Inanimate matter also has a life force, for we see that inanimate things have existence. So we see that the life force of supernal Godliness is everywhere.
Tzavaas Harivash 90
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
You are the leopard skin of
Invisible light, it is
Orange effloresce, you
Hills, the leopard print upon
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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