Stories and Sayings of the Baal Shem Tov

41. Once the Baal Shem Tov opened his window during a bitter cold day and said he sees a light that was emanating from an area where a Tzaddik lived – though it was hundreds of years before, and the home already was a heap (from here we see the holiness of a Jew never departs.)

50. Both the holy Rabbi Shimoin Bar Yoichai and the Baal Shem Tov – who were totally one with God nonetheless their humility before every Jew and their love from the highest to the lowest was absolute.  

51.  Once the Baal Shem Tov was asked about the purpose of our Mitzvos – he explained, once a prince got lost – and he was starving and thirsty – a shepherd boy took him to his little hut – he hardly had anything, but he took out of his knapsack the cleanest cloth he could find and put it on the table and shared whatever little food he had – he then spread out a sheet on the floor – for it was the best he had – after the prince retuned home he elevated this shepherd above all the other ministers – said they to the prince, but we served you continually – said the prince – “All the honor given to him, for is for the loving paltry gifts, done with true dedication to me.”

52 The Baal Shem Tov had great pain for he foresaw with Ruach Hakodesh that as the example he gave “when a person is carrying straw and dirt, he isn’t attacked, rather when carrying diamonds” and for every holy person there are fakers (from the erev rav) who seek to destroy him, and they attract souls from the erev rav – however sometimes their many machinations meshugasen prevail.

69 The Baal Shem Tov was asked what is the main innovation of his way of serving God – as before he arrived (on the scene) there were holy people who would fast from Shabbos to Shabbos – (eating only on Shabbos) and the Baal Shem Tov said, whoever does so will need to account before God – said the Baal Shem, “my soul came to this world to teach a new way, that the main thing is love of God, love of Torah, and Love of your fellow Jew.”

75. The daughter of the Baal Shem Tov Eidel who had the two holy sons, Reb Boroch and the author of Degel Machaneh Efraim, also had a daughter who was childless, so she went to her grandfather who promised her a firstborn son – after the Baal Shem Tov passed, she had a son whom they name Yisroel – after two years he passed and she took him to the Baal Shem Tov’s grave, saying “Zaidy, is this the son you promised me?!” and she left him on the grave and left – after a while people came to the grave and they saw a young child sitting and crying  – not knowing who he belonged to they brought him to the city whereupon, the mother came and collected her son – came the Baal Shem Tov to her and said – “why didn’t you come to the grave yourself – you caused me much trouble as his soul already was mixed among the many passed, and I had to go find him.”  


1. When Moshaich comes, He will explain every combination of every word of the Torah (for example the Baal Shem Tov explains on the word “Tzohar” that it has five know words, Hatzar, Harataz, Tzarah, Ritzei and one unknown… (in Parshas Noach it is explained, and together it is a complete teaching: that one who runs to do a Mitzvah, the decrees of the adversary is transformed into a light!) – so Moshiach will explain the combinations in each word, and when he completes the Torah He will make from the entire Torah a single word, with infinite combinations and explain all.

There is a known philosophical question: Why didn’t God create the world earlier? – the answer is that God’s knowledge is unlike human knowledge – human knowledge is super-imposed – God’s knowledge is one with Him (for example, if a person wishes to build a home – there is first the desire, then the action etc.) so in God’s knowledge, He also had in mind the perfect time to build the home – the world… – now we know, that the future world (the world to come ) is greater than our world, nonetheless God waits, for everything must come in its time – like Shabbos after the seven days of the week – this means, that with God there are two aspects that He wants (say the world to come, Shabbos etc.) and the knowledge that limits what he wants.

This answers another great conundrum which is, if God knows the future, how can a person have free choice? – The answer is, the very fact God gives the Torah, indicates, that God’s desire is that one should keep Torah and Mitzvos (and gives one free choice,) So a person who chooses to do something wrong follows the knowledge of God, while a person who does the right thing follows the desire.

4. When God created the world, as the spiritual worlds are infinite therefore the infinity has an insatiable desire to return to its source – so the world had no substance – hence because the Jewish people are the desire of God – and for this reason there must be a substance, hence the Jewish people are the very fabric which binds the infinite to the finite – now importantly the Jewish people must have just enough ego which is necessary for the service of Hashem.

5. When God made the world it couldn’t be, for the infinite saw the wicked and withdrew, but for the sake of the righteous it came back – this is the secret of moti vloi mati (ratzu vshuv, the infinite pulsation.)

7. A person is composite of a body and soul – the soul seeks to always dance back to God, but the body traps it and furthermore indulges in physical lusts, such as sex, food (etc.) but all of this is to elevate the sparks (of God, within physicality)… but for brief moments does the soul experience (say in prayer) sublime dance (this is the secret of ratzu, vshuv (yearning and return, and expansive and contracted (consciousness.)

8. The Zohar says God peered into the Torah and built the world – the idea is that just like one can say what they read – the thoughts (desire of the mind) is what they can say – hence this world.

9. There are time when the world is on a high or low level, as I am in the world (said the Baal Shem Tov) it is (currently) on a high.

10. Brieshis comes from Yiras Boshes – this is like a person who is in front of a great king who thinks not does the king love me, rather draws upon himself that fear of being embarrassed – in other words, the world is about realizing that God continually is watching – and not that one is worried about punishment but would be embarrassed in His wonderful glorious Being, to shame oneself.

11. God made everything through the 22 letters of the Alef Beis and in everything is the 22 letters – and within the twenty letters is God.

12. The Baals Shem Tov said everything is covering (like Rusiian dolls) even the Alef Beis (so at the core is God)

13. Kind Dovid showed everyone that within everything is God.

14. Within even every gesture, every speech is God, for it is impossible to move or speak without God.

15. The World Is Filled With God’s Honor – Civoidoi (honor) also translates as garment – meaning God is within all.

16. The Baal Shem Tov teaches “I, I, will comfort you” (says God) when we realize within every I – being is God, certainly we’ll be comforted.