heavenly

+ 270 Wisdom is that apprehension of heavenly things to which the spirit rises through love. Honore de Balzac


+ 277 One of the questions asked by al-Balkhi, and often repeated to this day, is this: Why do the children of Israel continue to suffer? My grandmother Dodo thought it was because the goyim were jealous. The seder for Passover (which is a shame-faced simulacrum of a Hellenic question-and-answer session, even including the wine) tells the children that it's one of those things that happens to every Jewish generation. After the Shoah or Endl?sung or Holocaust, many rabbis tried to tell the survivors that the immolation had been a punishment for 'exile,' or for insufficient attention to the Covenant. This explanation was something of a flop with those whose parents or children had been the raw material for the 'proof,' so for a time the professional interpreters of god's will went decently quiet. This interval of ambivalence lasted until the war of 1967, when it was announced that the divine purpose could be discerned after all. How wrong, how foolish, to have announced its discovery prematurely! The exile and the Shoah could now both be understood, as part of a heavenly if somewhat roundabout scheme to recover the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other pieces of biblically mandated real estate.

I regard it as a matter of self-respect to spit in public on rationalizations of this kind. (They are almost as repellent, in their combination of arrogance, masochism, and affected false modesty, as Edith Stein's 'offer' of her life to expiate the regrettable unbelief in Jesus of her former fellow Jews.) The sage Jews are those who have put religion behind them and become in so many societies the leaven of the secular and the atheist. Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir


+ 318 One of the questions asked by al-Balkhi, and often repeated to this day, is this: Why do the children of Israel continue to suffer? My grandmother Dodo thought it was because the goyim were jealous. The seder for Passover (which is a shame-faced simulacrum of a Hellenic question-and-answer session, even including the wine) tells the children that it's one of those things that happens to every Jewish generation. After the Shoah or Endl?sung or Holocaust, many rabbis tried to tell the survivors that the immolation had been a punishment for 'exile,' or for insufficient attention to the Covenant. This explanation was something of a flop with those whose parents or children had been the raw material for the 'proof,' so for a time the professional interpreters of god's will went decently quiet. This interval of ambivalence lasted until the war of 1967, when it was announced that the divine purpose could be discerned after all. How wrong, how foolish, to have announced its discovery prematurely! The exile and the Shoah could now both be understood, as part of a heavenly if somewhat roundabout scheme to recover the Western Wall in Jerusalem and other pieces of biblically mandated real estate.

I regard it as a matter of self-respect to spit in public on rationalizations of this kind. (They are almost as repellent, in their combination of arrogance, masochism, and affected false modesty, as Edith Stein's 'offer' of her life to expiate the regrettable unbelief in Jesus of her former fellow Jews.) The sage Jews are those who have put religion behind them and become in so many societies the leaven of the secular and the atheist. Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir


+ 289 A visitor is a friend, he brings news, good or bad, which is bread to the hungry minds in lonely places. A real friend who comes to the house is a heavenly messenger, who brings the panis angelorum. Karen Blixen, Out of Africa


+ 198 God said, There shall be lights in the heavenly sky to divide between day and night. They shall serve as omens and define festivals, days and years. Bereshit 1:14


+ 165 They shall be lights in the heavenly sky, to shine on the earth. It happened. Bereshit 1:15


+ 188 God placed them in the heavenly sky to shine on the earth, Bereshit 1:17


+ 203 God said, The water shall teem with swarms of living creatures. Flying creatures shall fly over the land, on the face of the heavenly sky. Bereshit 1:20


+ 74 The Two Companions

The oral Torah draws sustenance in a hidden manner from the heavenly, and in a revealed manner from the earthly.

The land of Israel must be built up, with all the people of Israel dwelling upon it in a well-ordered manner: with the Temple and a kingdom, with cohanim and prophecy, with judges and officers and all their accouterments. Then the oral Torah will live in all the glow of its beauty. It will flower and bloom. With its entire measure, it will connect to the written Torah.

In exile, these twins were separated. The written Torah rose to the heights of holiness, and the oral Torah descended to the very depths. Nevertheless, [the oral Torah] receives a silent sustenance from the light of the written Torah, from its past uncultivated growth, which suffices to allow it to exist, [although] with a constrained life.

Every day, [the oral Torah] descends and falls. But one day the breeze will blow and the light of life will arrive from the treasury of eternal redemption. Then Israel will grow strong. We will be planted upon our land and improve in all the magnificence of our structure. Then the oral Torah will begin to blossom, from the depth of its root. It will rise higher and higher. The light of the written Torah will shine the rays of its light upon it anew: “new for the morning.” Then these companions will unite in the realm of their bridal chamber.

And the light of the soul of God, the Life of worlds, which is revealed in the revival of Israel (when our horn is lifted), will shine with the light of the seven days of the light of the sun and the light of the moon combined.

Then their light will be straight and penetrating, connecting one extremity to the other. It will respond to the land and the nation in every manifestation of life. The light of the moon will be like the light of the sun. And the light of the sun will shine sevenfold, like the light of the seven days, on the day that God binds the fracture of His nation and heals the illness of its wound.

Orot Hatorah 1:3


+ 73 The Words of the Sages

The oral Torah exists within the essence of the nature of the Jewish people. And received our blessing with the heavenly revelation of the written Torah.

As it appears, the oral Torah is lesser than the written Torah. It is the written Torah that provides the chief method of discerning the path of the oral Torah. That path consists of the supernal relationship of the Jewish people with supernal divinity, with the goal of goals, with the might and glory in the worlds, and higher than their totality.

But on an inner level, the Torah was given to the Jewish people precisely due to our inner, supernal special quality [which is identified with the Oral Torah]. This divine, hidden special quality caused the [written] Torah to be revealed to us from heaven.

And so, the oral Torah is more exalted in its root than the root of the written Torah.

“The words of the sages are more beloved than the words of Torah.”


+ 83 Sustaining the World

by Avraham Shoar

In his youth, the writer, Avraham Shoar, was the chavruta (study partner) of Rav Kook in the beis medrash of Lutzin. He tells that young Avraham Yitzchak’s diligence was extraordinary. If a short amount of time passed without learning Torah, he felt real anguish: a actual physical pain:

One day (tells Avraham Shoar), he told me: “I have decided that two nights a week, we should learn mishmar (extended learning). Two nights a week, let us learn until dawn.”

I remember one such mishmar night, typical of the character of this extraordinary man. We were learning Chulin from the Talmud together. We were engaged in halachic dispute. I stood my ground, and we argued at length until we at last came to a shared understanding.

It was late. We were learning at the bimah. Around us was silence. In the adjoining dormitory, all the students were already asleep. Before us, burning above the holy ark, was the ner tamid—the eternal light. And we took a short rest from our toil and sat and conversed.

He said to me in a secretive voice: “Do you know, perhaps just the two of us are now sustaining the entire world. Perhaps the Holy One, blessed be He, is judging the world right now. And mankind’s sins are being considered, and they outweigh the good.

“Now the angel Michael, the one defender out of a thousand, picks up the words of our Torah learning and places them on the scale, and our words of Torah help outweigh the other side. If so, we have merited to sustain the entire world. And we are still just children. This is the first year that I am wearing tefillin, and as for you, you are not even bar mitzvah.”

As he spoke, I was lifted to the highest worlds. I could see, almost with my own eyes, the heavenly host: the fiery scale, the angels and cherubim. They were weighing the acts of humanity, and behold, they placed upon the scale the page of Chulin that we were learning, with the commentaries of Rashi, Tosafot and the Maharsha. And this page gave merit to the entire world.”

As I sat, submerged in my visions, Avraham Yitzchak’s voice continued. I heard him say with great simplicity: “A day will come when and I will be great in Torah. And then...” He touched me so that I would turn to him, and I saw his face burning, his eyes brilliant and sparkling like fiery coals set in milk. And he whispered: “I will go to the land of Israel, to the holy city of Jerusalem, and I will found a yeshiva there, like Kerem Beyavneh. And students from all over the world will gather there, and ‘from Jerusalem will come forth Torah.’”

These were the youthful dreams of Rav Kook.

These were his desires and yearnings when he had just become bar mitzvah.

Malachim Kivnei Adam, pp. 4-5