The Wings of Morning -
A Torah Review
Yaacov Dovid Shulman
|WINGS OF MORNING
Volume VI, Issue 12
Vayeishev, December 2001
Unless otherwise noted, translations and original material copyright © 2001 by Yaacov Dovid Shulman (email@example.com).
* The Society for Positive Mindfulness (Continued)
* The Youth of Rabbi Nosson of Nemirov (Continued)
* My Silence Has Surrounded Your Silence
by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro (the Pieszesner Rebbe)
Always keep the following principle in mind: you may eat whatever you need to be healthy, but be deliberate over every mouthful of food that you eat for taste. For example, say that you have two pieces of meat in front of you, and one of them is more attractive to you than the other. Even if you don't want it that much, even if your preference is only based on the fact that when the plate was brought before you, your glance fell on it first, be aware that a sharp sword is hanging over that piece of meat. Take care and keep away from it.
Similarly, if you love to eat meat, although you do not have to abstain from it altogether, tell yourself often, "I am in charge of myself, and I have decided that I will not eat meat today." It will not be so terrible if you don't eat meat now–in its place you can eat bread. You won't die (heaven forbid) if you abstain from meat for a little while.
Understand these words. Treat seriously what I have written here and the implications of these words as well, for you and the entirety of your spiritual life depend on these matters.
Our ultimate goal is to transform ourselves from being a maidservants's child to being the child of the king, and in our service of God to move closer to Him, from behind the millstone to the King's palace and His throne of glory. In other words, not only will we serve God, but we will become servants of God; not only will we act in a holy manner, but we ourselves will become holy.
Everyone can evaluate himself in the following manner. After any service of God, look within yourself, and say: "I prayed, learned Torah, or whatever. Do I now feel any spirit of purity, even the very slightest? After my service of God, are my thoughts, desires and feelings even slightly different than the desires and thoughts I have after my exposure to the world and its impulses? And right now, do I feel any yearning for the state of mind I was in while I was praying and serving God? Do I feel a pain in my heart that I have drifted so far from the purity and supernal beauty that I had caught a glimpse of in the midst of my prayers?"
If you do see all this and are pained, that is a sign that your divine service was acceptable to God, and that your body has been sanctified by that service. If not, you have erred in your assessment of all your spiritual attainments (heaven forbid). But even if the latter is the case, do not grow discouraged. If the medicine has not worked, gird your loins and grow even stronger in your service of God.
Guidance and Principles
1. Now that you have read all of the above, start again and read it through a second time–not like a person who is reading about someone else's thoughts, ideas and problems, but as though you are reading about yourself.
Imagine two people who are reciting Psalms. Whereas one of them lacks nothing, the other is immersed in troubles (may the Compassionate One save us). The first one is only reading the words that King David spoke like someone reading a history text. But the suffering person cries out, "I am drowning in a deep swamp" with his own feelings, as though King David had merely put the words in his mouth so that he could express his cry from his heart. "A prayer for the poor man when he is faint." The poor person swoons in his prayer, and his prayer is within him.
Here as well, when you for example read and reread the description of how a person grows upset as his days pass in spiritual poverty and lowliness, it isn't as though you are hear about someone else's worries; right now you yourself feel upset, with an unsettled feeling that had been previously concealed within you. Or when you read about how a person should remind himself of the imminent day of his death, you are not reading a narrative about some other person for whom you feel sorry; you see this as happening to you.
And the same goes for all passages of inspiration, and how you can fill your thought with enthusiasm and strength.
And so it is not possible to read a great deal of this work at once, because you cannot feel lowly, joyful, broken-hearted and elevated, all at one sitting. If you do read this work at one sitting, it will be like a mere narrative. Instead, learn it little by little. Do not just read it silently, but say the words aloud. And go through this book once a month.
2. Take everything written in this work seriously. Put whatever you read about into practice that day, or for two or three days, to anchor it firmly within yourself. And even if you do not succeed the first time, do not grow discouraged, for you are not required to do everything at once.
3. When, with the help of God, you experience episodes of holy feeling, fiery passion and an outpouring of your soul so that words pour forth from you out of your great emotion (examples of this were given previously), appreciate and value these words. And whenever you want to arouse yourself from your slumber, say these words and utilize them to petition God, for these words are sparks of your soul: they were quarried from your soul and came forth in this form.
Bnei Machshavah Tovah
by R. Avraham b. Nachman
Afterwards, the episode of the Hanukkah journey took place (cf. Chayei Moharan and Yemei Moharanat).
And then, R. Nachman married off his daughter, Sarah, in Medveduvka, to the son of Rabbi Leib Dobravner.
R. Nachman's wife sent someone to Nemirov to buy cake and bring it to Medveduvka. From this person, R. Nosson learned about the wedding. Although he wanted to go, he realized that it was not so sure that his family would let him return home if he would visit R. Nachman at this point. And he also realized that since Medveduvka was quite a distance away, he would have to stay there over Passover.
He took a head kerchief of his wife that was worth a good deal of money, so that [if he were to find himself without a home] he would have something of value. But when he discussed this with R. Lipe, R. Lipe advised him, "If you take the kerchief, there is no doubt that your marriage will end in divorce, because your wife will be terribly embarrassed that she doesn't have anything to wear to the synagogue. You will do better to have faith." And R. Nosson followed his advice.
Since R. Nosson did not know how to get to Medveduvka, he decided that he would go to Linitz and ask there for travel directions. As soon as R. Nosson left home, his father reasoned that he would probably stay with a R. Gedalia who lived in Linitz. And so he sent a letter to R. Gedalia. In this letter, R. Nosson's father invoked the fifth commandment--to honor one's parents--and told R. Gedalia to send R. Nosson immediately back home.
However, R. Nosson got lost on the way, as a result of which the letter arrived before R. Nosson did. When R. Nosson at last came to R. Gedalia's home, he was told that R. Gedalia was sleeping, and he was also told about a letter that his father had sent.
[Suspecting the contents of that letter,] R. Nosson asked the way to Medveduvka, and even as R. Gedalia still lay asleep, set out to R. Nachman.
On the way there, he met R. Yudel in a village. [It was Purim, and] R. Yudel read the Scroll of Esther. Before doing so, he studied the mystical writings of the Ari in R. Nosson's siddur. R. Nosson had a siddur containing these writings because R. Nachman had instructed him to pray using those contemplative directives.
The next day they came to R. Nachman before the afternoon Purim feast. As soon as they entered, the meal began. R. Nachman told R. Nosson, "Shushan Purim iz oych a yom tov. Shushan Purim is also a holiday." (R. Avraham said that Shushan Purim exemplifies Yehoshua.) [In other words, although they had missed being with R. Nachman on Purim, they would be with him the next day, Shushan Purim, and that too is something. In fact, it is a day with special meaning, since at another time R. Nachman alluded to R. Nosson as his Yehoshua.]
R. Nosson attended the wedding. At that time, R. Nachman said that he sang a song with which he summoned all the holy patriarchs.
by Yaacov Dovid Shulman
My silence has surrounded your silence,
Why should these stars not bow?
Beauty, the youngest prince.
Brothers. My preciousness
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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