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Meditations Actions and Philosophy
Jewish Mysticism – Chassidus
Rabbi Yisroel Baal Shem Tov
Imagine a treasure buried for millenia, in it is contained the secret to life.
Well my dear friend, this treasure is the messianic wisdom, which as our sages teach: when the world was created, the first thing that was made, was Light.
This light wasn’t physical – for the sun, moon and stars were created on the fourth day.
Rather it was the spirit of G-d, which Rashi teaches, was the spirit of the Messiah (Moshiach).
You see, this light began to be revealed on Chai-Elul (1734/5494) by the holy Baal Shem Tov.
His teacher, was the prophet Achiah Hashilioni, who revealed himself to Him, on his birthday Chai Elul (1724/5484.)
For ten years in a cave they studied the Torah, and when they concluded – imagine that!, unraveling such mysteries that no man ever heard – He revealed Himself.
Many books have been written on the stories of the Chassidic master, whose legendary saintliness and compassion were the balm to Jewish souls, inspiring a Jewish revival which has permeated every single Jewish heart (for its core value system of love etc. has become the basis of all Jewish values.)
Little though (to the secular man) is known regarding the extraordinary Divine Light, which began to be revealed from the times of the Baal Shem Tov.
In an unbroken chain, this Divine light permeated successively the Baal Shem Tov’s “heirs”; the primary disciples who became the new Jewish masters.
Rabbi Dover Ber of Mezritch.
The Alter Rebbe, the author of the Tanya and the Shulchan Aruch.
The Mitteleh Rebbe.
The Tzemach Tzedek.
The Rebbe Maharash.
The Rebbe Rashab.
The Previous Rebbe.
And our very own Master, Guide and Rabbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn.
It is with no small trepidation, that I set out on the task, no doubt (for all tasks, certainly those of such cosmic significance, of revealing these Divine pearls, rubies and diamonds to the uninitiated) by the will of the Our Loving Father in Heaven – ultimately on the infinite journey, into the infinite light.
The Following Is The Translation (often paraphrased) of those parts of Kesser Shem Tov (Kehos 5757) that fit our “profile” of Meditations, Actions and Philosophy.
Rabbi Zevi Wineberg
The Baal Shem Tov’s Ethical Will.
Serve G-d: This is a euphemism for “Live-Life – with sincerity.”
Every day have a daily study – whether much or a bit – in Chassidus.
See to it that your behavior is kind, compassionate and never cruel, or G-d-forbid, sadistic.
GOODNESS AND KINDNESS
See to it that every day you do some act of goodness and kindness – in fact, you should eagerly anticipate, “perhaps G-d will arrange such a good happenstance.”
See to it in your daily recital of the Shema, that you concentrate (on the translation / meaning of the words.)
Action (for men) – See to it that you go to Mikvah (daily) especially when you are in need.
See to it that you keep every single “minor” detail of the observance of our Holy-Shabbos.
(the numbers follow the book’s sequence)
- The famous letter the Baal Shem Tov wrote to his Brother-in-law.
I ascended into heaven on Rosh Hashanah 5507 and entered into the room of the Moshiach where he sits and teaches Torah to the seven Shepherds, and all the great Tzaddikim and saints, and I asked him “When Will Our Master Arrive?” He replied, “When your Chassidic teachings will be spread.”
Every letter of prayer contains: spiritual worlds, souls and Divinity;
and if you meditate to unite these three dimensions, then they unify, and your soul elevates with them.
To give you an idea of the great joy this causes in Heaven, imagine the joy of a marriage, which is nothing compared to it.
4. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Everyone must work based on their current standing (in other words, not imitate.)
6. ATTAINING TRUTH
The Baal Shem Tov said in the name of the Ramban – whenever we are not sure what to do; and seeing that any personal benefit (be it a pleasure, or our honor) skews our logic (so the mind presents fallacious rationalizations;) hence to begin with, you must imagine that this action will bring you neither pleasure nor honor… and then G-d will guide.
7. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Everything in this world contains all potentials (it can be used for good or evil.)
Every generation has a spiritual-leader (in ours, the Rebbe.)
He has the potential to elevate all the thoughts and speech spoken by the people of his generation (through judging it favorably.)
It is o.k. to lie to bring unity.
10. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When God desires a person, first he places a deep love in their heart which arouses, inspires and motivates them –
however, then he withdraws this love and it is only through effort that the person perseveres – however, eventually, through their perseverance they begin to derive personal growth, satisfaction and joy.
22. TORAH (FROM REBBE)
When one studies Torah from a Tzaddik, the words he studies (contain Divine energy/frequency) and they continually expand.
23. TORAH (FROM REBBE)
One must be careful whom they study from, for if their master (Rabbi) comes from the soul source of unity (Divine light) then they receive unity.
24. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that (as Rabbi Sadiah Goan says) Our main purpose in life is to rid ourselves of all negative (vile) character-traits (in other words, we are born with vile tendencies, say ego, which causes anger etc.)
(Introduction: the Baal Shem Tov often speaks about two states of mind: the expansive, open, thinking; and the closed, anxious, narrow) – When a person recognizes that they are in the closed state, this itself opens their mind.
As God is everything (for there is nothing, not directly being created currently) how can evil exist? – firstly evil often becomes the motivator for Good; additionally, a person who sees evil can take pleasure (and pride) in that he is different.
29. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When man thinks he is close to G-d, he is very far; when he thinks he is very far, he is actually very near!
31. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
A person who is humble (has no narcissism, ego, sense of grandeur) easily becomes one who fears (is close) to G-d.
We should always announce (when something negative occurs…) “All that G-d does He does for the good!” (In fact, a higher level is to, as the Baal Shem Tov says elsewhere, to see the good in the bad, for then the bad turns to good.)
34. RATZU VSHUV (SPIRITUALITY/PRACTICALITY)
How boredom leads to Divine service… As we know, energy seeks to return to its source; hence the soul seeks to go to sublime Divine association; therefore when a person does nothing (or nothing meaningful) this causes a soul-longing.
The benefit of jokes – when a person is in the closed state (see # 25) hence by laughing, one elevates oneself.
All fears that come to man are actually God hugging – In other words, drawing the person close; for one must meditate, that “the purpose of this fear is that God desires Me” (which will eliminate the negative.)
40. TESHUVA (CHANGING)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, that Teshuvah (repentance) is (for-example…) A person who told lies should stop; An argumentative person should act peacefully (and this simple principle of ceasing the negative behavior, which is a perfect repentance, applies to everything.)
41. BAD (TO GOOD) – DREAMS
We have the power to flip negative to positive – for-example, if someone has a negative dream, by interpreting it in positive way…
43. THOUGHTS – BAD (TO GOOD)
All of our thoughts create universes – if our thoughts are positive, then the experiences that filter down (from these higher universes into our personal universe) will be.
44. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We connect to God when we realize He is found in the holy letters of the Torah and Jewish prayer.
46. HASHGACHAH PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUENCE)
When Moshiach comes, we will see how each and every event in our life is designed.
47. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov asks; why did God have to hang Mount Sinia over the Jewish people (threatening them if they don’t accept the Torah he would crush them…) as in any event they said, “we accept the Torah.” However the lesson is that, “Even when you’re not in the mood…”
50. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
A person who has passed personal challenges, is now able to help others.
53. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There was once a king who was a magician, and so he invited people to have a relationship – a personal connection with him – but as one enters the palace grounds, there were millions of gold coins for the taking. Most people came and took some money – some came beyond the palace grounds to the interior, and there they found even greater riches, and so it was chamber after chamber… However the King’s son ignored all and went straight to the King.
In other words, in truth, God is everywhere.
54. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
If one is looking for pride, one should praise God; if one is looking to denigrate, one should do so to oneself; for praise recognizes God.
54. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When one is negative, we deny God.
55. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Take no pride in the good you do (have done) – imagine, that it was God.
56. THOUGHTS (AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT))
Whenever you think about something, you are one hundred percent “THERE!”.
57. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
64. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We should analyze based on how much physical pleasures attract us, to how much, should spiritual.
65. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When we connect even in the slightest degree to God, we connect completely; and likewise the reverse.
68. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
One must have great pride in their Divine service.
69. BAD (TO GOOD)
Convert evil to good.
71. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Even if you cannot perceive what purpose you serve, you must realize that your life has! – as it is directed by God.
73. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
A parable – there was a king who had three good friends – he pretended that he was upset with them and told each to take one of his dogs; gave them a stipend and told them to care for it. One took the money for the dog and made a beautiful crown to give to the king. The second fed the dog very meagerly; the third put all his effort into the dog – the king rewarded the first and rejected the third.
(It seems to me that the lesson is that the King gives the soul a body…)
One must understand, there is infinitely beyond…
75. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT) – BAD (TO GOOD)
Our negative thinking and certainly speaking, causes there to be others that think and speak negatively against us – however if we use our thoughts and words for prayer and Torah study and we pray for our enemies, then their evil dissipates.
We are always wrong, if we are demeaning.
80. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The most important prayer (outside of Israel,) the understanding that G-d is everything.
Believe that as you request of God, you are immediately answered.
If you wonder – “but sometimes what I prayed for was not helped” – all prayers work, though some cosmically, for in actual fact, it could be that the circumstance is actually in the interest of the person.
Whenever we pray we have cosmic unifications.
Once we break a taboo 3 times, it seems o.k…. and we need help to even realize what we are doing is taboo.
The first judgment against man (in heaven) is for not having studied Torah, and man complains, “But I was too busy…” but the long summer days and winter nights, show otherwise.
As man is a composite of the six dimensions: top, bottom, north, east, south, west, so is all his perceptions – as his perceptions are limited (for anything that is a dimension must have been shaped, and if it was shaped it is not eternal) hence man has no perception in the Divine.
This is one of the reasons, why man cannot accept two gods, for if they were separated they would have dimensions.
SHECHINAH – TZADDIKIM
When G-d first made the world we are told He made his infinite light, but He hid it in the stories of the Torah, perceivable to the Tzaddikim; but to be revealed… (as the Torah of Chassidus does) in their teachings (as we know, Chassidus is the revelation of the messianic wavelength.)
“I G-d have not changed”; it is only that G-d conceals Himself in the miraculous repetitiveness of nature – however, once man is aware that everything is G-d – one of the fundamental secrets that there is, this = no more separation / concealments.
87. BAD (TO GOOD)
Everything that occurs comes from above – however in its source, it is combinations of letters, hence the word “Tzarah” which is a “problem,” can be rearranged to spell “Tzahor” a “shining light,” therefore when a person accepts suffering with joy, or finds the silver lining, they rearrange the source code.
88. BAD (TO GOOD) – FAITH
Faith eradicates pain, as pain is the perception that it is bad, while faith is the reverse.
89. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When you see something or hear something wrong in another, know that even partially you have that in you – You should then include the other in your soul and rectify it, and through this you rectify it universally.
90. RATZU VSHUV (SPIRITUALITY/PRACTICALITY)
All of Judaism is ratzu / inspiration, and shuv / performance of Mitzvos, in a continuous, flying aloft / landing and repeat.
91. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We must always connect our intent with our action.
Just as with a fire, if one is too far, one is cold; but too close one gets burned; so with a Rebbe.
93. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Even if everyone is liars, corrupt and thieves, if there is one person who is true, faithful and trusting, this emancipates the generation.
95. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Rabbi Ami said, that if the rain is withheld, people should go to the Tzaddik to pray, and if he succeeds and becomes arrogant (from it) then he brings God’s wrath upon the people. The Baal Shem Tov asks, “Why should people suffer from one man’s arrogance?” He explains, “In truth all people have complete control over nature, for whenever someone truly believes in G-d’s power this manifests – it’s only as they seek their predilections, and remove G-d from their radar, and are in need, they go to one who is connected – however, as this then seems miraculous, that person may feel arrogant; so in essence it is the fault of the people” (as in a better circumstance it would be commonplace.)
96. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
If G-d causes one to be prevented from serving G-d, as their heart wishes… one should understand this is only to motivate.
Once there was a king who said, “All can come and make a request” one man came and asked for riches; another for a prominent position; but a wise person said, he would like to come speak to the king three times a day – this pleased the king very much (seeing that to this man, a relationship with the king was more important than anything) and hence when he came, all was given.
98. EVIL – (BAD (TO GOOD))
All is God, so how does evil occur? – This is the Kabbalistic doctrine of the world of Tohu that preceded our world (spiritual.) Being egotistical it shattered and became the source for arrogance, evil, maliciousness – but when a person considers that this too contains the Divine, we extract the good and the bad dissipates.
99. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When we think lustful or arrogant thoughts, we take our Divine soul, bind it into a filthy cesspool – one must have pity, and release one’s soul!
102/103. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Everything in this world can be united to the Divine (through figuring out its meaningful purpose.)
When one is with his wife, even if they are chit-chatting… if this is done for the sake of unity, every word is Divine.
Just as you hold a physical object with your hand, you hold someone by calling their name.
107. SHABBOS – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Why does Shabbos have a Mitzvah to delight her with physical pleasures? – for once the body is taken care of, the soul can!
108. REPENTANCE / TESHUVA
There are two ways a king can cause a subject to repent, one through suffering, the other through blessing – it goes like this: once there was a simple man who defied the king – instead of punishing him, the king gave him a prominent position – he was then continually upgraded until he finally became part of the ministers of the land – there he realized, how wise, kind, compassionate, just etc. the king is – this caused him the greatest feelings of remorse.
People often try to escape – they are suffering – this is like a woman who gave birth, but to rid herself of her pain she goes to a different city! – However the true answer is what happened to the Jewish people who escaped Egypt, but then the Egyptians pursued them… – so they realized they have no choice but to pray, and that very day they were saved.
110. TESHUVA (CHANGE)
When we do Teshuvah – turn our life around – we must do so, step after step, otherwise it dies.
When a person does Teshuvah – the spiritual stain of their bad deeds is (like clothes in a washing machine) cleansed.
(When we engage in material things be they copulation, food, drink – we elevate the Divine sparks.)
111. TORAH / MITZVOS
When one holds part of an indivisible reality, such as G-d, one holds the whole! – and as G-d placed himself within Torah and Mitzvos – therefore when one passionately does a Mitzvah, or studies Torah (for the sake of connecting to G-d) one completely bonds.
Hence when one does a Mitzvah (in the aforesaid passionate way) it is as if he fulfills everyone.
LOVE FOR G-D
When one feels great joy, one should feel that this comes from G-d.
Faith is so powerful, that it creates miracles.
If you need to educate people you may not be harsh – you must first realize how you are all offshoots of the Rebbe of the generation’s soul.
114. YETZER HARA
When the Yetzer Hara attacks a scholar he does so using “holy” distractions.
115. YETZER HARA
A Parable: Once there was a world emperor and he sent his trusted servant to go and foment in all countries a rebellion – some countries went to a full scale war for the king – others accepted their “new ruler” – there was one though, that was comprised of exceptionally wise people and they realized that in fact this messenger “fomenting-rebellion” was in fact, not real.
Just as when you see a dirty face in a mirror, it is your own; so too the dirt you see in another; It’s our own.
119. MIRACLES – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
What makes a miracle a miracle is in its uniqueness; for the first time you see a natural phenomenon, you call it a miracle; the second time nature; similarly, we should pray that our life of giving, should never be rote.
By nature the soul coming from the Divine, desires to soar to its source – for this reason it’s enclothed in a body – the body then has physical desires which drag it down – this then intensifies its longing.
The benefit of this system is, that if the soul would be in a permanent state of ecstasy, as every constant pleasure loses its value (hence pleasure) and as the goal is to feel pleasure in the Divine – hence through this ratzu-vshuv, lowering into the physical / causing a soul-longing – then the body’s needs forcing, say more eating etc., we continually can receive soul-pleasure.
In fact G-d’s “retribution” is a kindness – the Baal Shem Tov gives an example from two friends who angered each other – now as they decided to reconcile, they began to analyze who was right and wrong – if they had no desire to reconcile…
123. CHARITY – BAD (TO GOOD)
Sometimes we incur a financial loss – this occurs as some kind of punishment – the benefit is to give that amount of money to charity.
124. TESHUVA (CHANGE)
One who knowingly does wrong (as opposed to slips up / in other words, didn’t have malicious intent) is almost impossible to change.
A deeper explanation of the Mishnah, “Whoever the spirit of the people are pleased with, God is” – the Tzaddik of the generation receives the spirit of God, however this can only occur if He is humble – this then traverses through him to everyone else – this spirit has great love and hence people become loving.
A teaching on the Mishnah, “Whoever learns Torah Lishmah (for it’s sake) merits many things.”
The Ramban told his son, a sign that you are studying Torah “Lishmah” is when you feel great awe and love (for G-d, then.)
You see, every letter of the Torah is intimately one with its Creator.
When we study Torah lacking Divine (but rachmanah litzlan personal) intent – this then takes the Divine into the place of kelipah (death.)
However if one then restudies this Torah with the proper awe and love, it elevates these letters from death.
Now the journey from heaven to earth is obviously as distant as earth to heaven – there are millions and trillions of stations along the way – hence when one studies Torah lishmah, they not only do a momentary pleasure, but as these letters ascend to their source, they bring life to all these universes.
MITZVOS – G0D
The Baal Shem Tov explains the meaning of our sage’s words, “The reward for a Mitzvah is the Mitzvah.”
When you do a Mitzvah joyously, this brings God great joy!
The Baal Shem Tov quotes the teaching of the Kabbalists: all study of Torah, prayer and Mitzvos, should have an equal balance of love and reverence (for G-d.)
However on Rosh Hashanah, our reverence should outweigh our love.
And on Shabbos, our love over our reverence.
There are two types of rebukes – one focuses on the evil others do… – The Baal Shem Tov gives an example of a king whose son left the palace and became involved in low behaviors such as theft etc. – two people came to report this to the king; the first came to tell him how low the son became – this aroused the king’s anger and he banished him; the other came with tremendous sadness for the king, over how low the king’s son had fallen; this caused the king to do all in his power to restore his son.
Our sages teach, “The whipping not written, is the death of the “Torah scholar””; explains the Baal Shem Tov, when (for example, the Misnagdic cult) study Torah, they get filled with arrogance – hence to rid them of this death / kelipah / arrogance, one must shame them.
However he gives an example of a king whose Minister and servant made a rebellion, so he ordered them whipped; but in honor of the Minister, he said that they should put the whip in a silk-cover – then the king heard that the minster was bragging to the servant (about his honor). So he said, he should be whipped like a servant. Similarly when demeaning (such a debased “torah-scholar”) never use the words of Torah (to prove your point. This is a very profound teaching, for as we see, when arguing with “terrorists”, BDS etc. by using logic, you are feeding their fundamental narcissism – one must simply call them by what they are, Evil.)
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example of a country in which they relied on their very strong giant – however the enemy became clever and he stole, piece by piece, his sword, spear, arrows and then took over the country. Similarly, each individual must pray – we should never rely on the Rebbe (head of the generation) especially as there may be times, that there is one who himself doesn’t have the fighting power.
134. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
From the Yetzer Hara we learn how to beat it – just look at how well it serves its Divine mission!
135. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
All problems arise when we are disconnected.
136. PRAYER – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
If a person finds he is able to concentrate during pray, it is a sign that his prayers are answered.
137. TORAH – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, there were some businessmen traveling and they lost their way – being stuck in a forest, they went to sleep – they happened to meet some people and they asked them for the way, the first group were kind and told them; the second group were thieves and they led them to their den.
Similarly, we come to this world like that lost businessman – the words of the Torah are the people who find us – however if we study the Torah searching for the truth, it will lead us – however, if study the Torah searching for ego, we will end up in the lowest hell.
Often we don’t concentrate on prayer, for as it deals with lofty things we think we have no association – which is a mistake.
141. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT) – EGO
There is no possibility of doing only good – for it is only when the Yetzer Hara sees some possible (ego) gain from your action, does he permit it. However one must steal the Yetzer Hara’s knowledge (con him). In other words, you must pretend to do things for your personal (ego) gain.
142. TORAH – LOVE FOR GOD
The idea of learning Torah Lishmah (altruistically) is to connect to the Divinity in the letters.
143. ACHIYAH HASHILOINI
The Master of the Baal Shem Tov was Achiah Hashiloini who received Torah from Mosheh Rabeinu and was on the Beis Din of King David – He was also the teacher of the Prophet Elijah.
144. TORAH – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Once there was a king who sent his son to a distant land (to tour.) But eventually his son became a native and didn’t return – so the King sent important ministers, but the son wasn’t interested; so he sent many other delegations, but no one could change his mind. Eventually one wise person, dressed up as a native, and became his friend, and convinced him. This is a parable the Baal Shem Tov gives, explaining the stories of the Torah (in other words, these are not tales – rather as we relate to human experiences, they are actually examples of behavior.)
145. GOD – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
All of our problems arise, for we know not our power – a person doesn’t understand how like a father who has no other business but to hear from his child, God awaits, delights in, cherishes, our every prayer, Torah study and good deed!
A person must know that God is completely humble, and hence awaiting our input, then becomes our mirror; hence when we have in our heart compassion, His mercies is also aroused – this not only affects us, but the entire cosmic destiny.
146. GOD’S COMMUNICATION
We find by Arab kings (this perhaps was in the olden days, though they still act like this) they merely allude (hint). Similarly, from time to time ideas pop into a person’s head (positive) these are hints from G-d.
147. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Why does the verse say, “He does the will of those who fear him and he listens to their pleas” this seems redundant (and perhaps the order should be reversed; that after they plea, he does their will.) It contains a deep lesson – God like a loving father gives into our requests – however after we receive them, realizing that they were not worth it (at best…) we then change our request.
148. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When a good soul is about to enter into this world, the satan complains to God that “this person will bring the world to you and hence you made me for no reason!” – so God allows him to send a despicable soul, garbed in the appearances of a Torah-scholar (though in actual fact, simply driven by ego) and this person (getting jealous of the reverence good people hold the good soul in) begins to poke fun at him – then there is freedom; for those who wish to attach themselves to the Tzaddik / good person vs. those who wish to be part of the mockers, are given the option.
149. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Everything that occurs in our world… there is a profound reason.
151. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov gives the following amazing parable: two people had to traverse a dangerous forest, filled with bandits; one was a drunk, the other upstanding – however the bandits caught the two, stole everything and for good measure beat them till they were black and blue – when they finally reached the other side, the people asked if it is safe to cross the forest – so the drunk said, “Sure, it’s no problem;” So they asked him “Why is it, you’re all battered” and he didn’t know. – But the wise person explained the truth; similarly, a foolish person is like a drunk, he loses touch with reality,… with his soul,… with what is valuable,… and when he gets to heaven, he is all black and blue.
The Baal Shem Tov explains the concept that the world of falsehood mirrors the world of truth, for there are three main pillars: Chessed, love, pleasure; Gevurah, Strength; and Tiferes “Beauty”; in the world of holiness, the pleasure of Chessed is spiritual (like the pleasure we get from helping another) however as this descends to the lower world, this becomes the sexual appetite; in the higher world Gevurah is positive self-discipline, but as it descends, it becomes anger and idolatry; and “beauty”, instead of seeing God’s glory, it becomes arrogance.
Now a person in the lower realm is weak-minded, hence allows these instincts to overtake them – but if one strengthens their convictions….
153. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There are (similar to 152…) different energies which can be used, both in the positive and negative realms- so when for-example the attribute of Tifferes “beauty” is expressed, foolish people will begin boasting – but a wise person will see the foolishness, and use it for spiritual goals.
154. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Why was the death of the firstborn the final straw which allowed the Jews to leave Egypt? The firstborn represents the mind – our minds know to do what’s right, but the kelipah obfuscate our mind with emotions; but when the mind reasserts itself, automatically a person is freed.
156. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Everyone of man’s journeys (throughout life) is already preplanned.
We must clear our mind of all our worldly concerns as a preparation to enjoy Shabbos.
158. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We must concentrate and ensure all we do is truthful.
The first Hebrew letter represents God / Alef, but it also transposes into Peleh, which means miracle; so God can do miracles; hence the Alef can become Beis (the second letter) which, as Hebrew letters are numbers, it’s double that – eventually it forms all the letters – now as God is the first letter, it means that no matter how many letters, until the very last Taf, which represent the lowest earthly level, God is within it all.
161. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There is no such thing as kindness without strength (for it quickly dissolves) nor strength without kindness (for that is simply evil.)
162. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Whenever you have a bad thought, you must know it comes from evil.
164. BAD (TO GOOD)
When a person is going through a difficult time, early in the morning they should focus intensely on their prayer or Torah study, binding their soul with the Divine (found within these holy letters.)
A person should cry during prayer, quietly.
167. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Today when our minds are weak we must strengthen our faith – even during study, every once in a while.
169. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
You should connect deeply to the concept: that you are currently in Divine space (as it says, the world is in Divine space) and God as we speak, is watching.
170. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
God loves those who makes themselves into nothing; to the extent, that even if they are with poor people, they feel even poorer.
172. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT) – YETZER HARA – GOD
The Baal Shem Tov brings from the Arizal, that this world is about overcoming lusts and desires – along this path, God gave us a Yetzer Hara that constantly implants such stupidities – when we can ignore him and go on the straight, normal and decent road, this give God incredible joy.
If we study Torah as it is fascinating, this is worthless; but if we do so to fulfill the Divine will, as a means of forming a bond, which can only be done through Torah and Mitzvos, it’s priceless!
There are three verifications: sight, sound and comprehension; seeing is believing; hearing, though less concrete, is still; but third party verification is the least – for example, if you see lightning, it’s obvious; if you hear thunder, though you cannot see it, it’s still pretty much; but if someone tells you, that “on the moon there is unique explosions,” it’s hard to believe… – The truth is, if our body didn’t cover our soul, we could see from one side of the world to the other – furthermore, our ears would hear the announcements that come daily from the heavenly court, but as we cannot see or hear, we must trust those who have.
When we pray to God to save us – this is called outer-fear, for it’s our fear of something motivating the prayer – however this still is very good, for this leads us to an inner-love (of God.)
184. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
(The following is a very deep concept and I can only hope I am getting it perhaps right; Ed.)
There are three levels:
The first is, when a person is in a happy mood (generally called the open state – in other words, positive) they eliminate the closed / miserable state; (in other words, all of us are born with the capacity to be happy and angry (as we see;) Now the wise person, while they are happy eliminates their capacity to get angry.
The second is, the person is in the closed state; however they know they are in the closed state.
The third is that they don’t even know (this is the majority of people who are miserable bullies.)
192. CONNECTING (TO GOD)
The Baal Shem Tov explains the concept of Diveikus – unifying (with the Divine.) One way is through delving deeply into the letters of the Torah (or prayer) to the extent one savors it and wishes not to even move on (for within these letters is the Divine.) The other is that when one studies Torah or does a Mitzvah, their body (that is doing this) houses their soul (and as they are attaching themselves automatically to the Divine) the Shechina (the Divine presence) which rests above every Jew, gets drawn down, and the person take immense pleasure.
Whenever we do a Mitzvah, two things happen: we have an intention and an action; from our pure intention (lishem shamayim ) we create a heaven, and from our action, we create a life giving earth.
194. BIRURIM (DIVINE SPARKS)
How can physical food give life to the spirit? (which isn’t physical.)
The answer is, that when we say blessings for the food, as the food itself is comprised of the words of God, the Divine letters (see Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah, the second book of Tanya) that are constant Divine energy – hence these letters then get activated by the Divine energy – now of-course the soul is already Divine energy, hence the two meet up (like fire to fire.)
The Baal Shem Tov gives a beautiful parable – once there was a king that lost a precious diamond – now in front of the king were minsters, soldiers, and in general the people, who all loved him – he could have asked any of them – however he wished to give the reward for finding this – the ability to be proud of and brag about…! – to his only son; – now in essence, the king actually hid this diamond! his entire purpose was to be able to give the merit of finding it to his son (similarly, God took these original Divine sparks, for we know, from the “body of Adam” there were sparks of Divinity, within foods and he sent his special son, the Jewish people to make blessings, thereby elevating these sparks – this in truth is a great secret, for all physical things we encounter, as we use them for spiritual purposes (or say “thank-you” for them) we elevate them.)
196. COMMUNICATION (FROM GOD)
From the Torah you study, if you are connected to God, you can discern when things happen to you, the direction to choose.
201. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When one serves Hashem all the time, there is no time for boasting, and the other negative character desires.
AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT) – SHAME
Pretend you are not living on this planet, so what would it matter what people say!
AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT) – EGO
When you embark on doing a good thing, worry not the Yetzer Hara’s devious scheme (to get you not to…) by saying that this will lead you to arrogance… – ignore him, push forward with alacrity and love, and even if it does bring some arrogance, eventually you will do it only with purity.
What is the open and closed state? – The open state for example, is when one studies Torah, their mind being open hence they understand – in all things, be it Torah study, prayer, Mitzvos, good-deeds, there is the open and closed state (the closed state is based on fear, hence it obliterates intelligence.)
The Mishna says, “Whoever studies Torah for God’s sake, merits many things” – explains the Baal Shem Tov, when you speak, at this moment, this is your life-energy – if these are words of Torah (Lishmah – done for the right reason) then these words are connected to the Divine.
205. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Rabbi Yochanan Ben Zakai in his living will said, “May the fear of God be as great to you as your fear of man” – explains the Baal Shem Tov, for-example, if you are sleeping and your Rabbi / master woke you up, immediately you would be alert and prepared to fulfill his will – so why not, when God?
Why do we say in prayers, “Our God and God of our fathers”? – there are two ways people come to believe in God, the first is as an inherited belief – though this is strong, it lacks the benefit of the second – namely, when someone coming from an agnostic mindset, searched of the truth and discovers God; which is how Abraham came to belief. However the second, though being a far more real and loving belief (for we accept what we discover, as well as love it) lacks the “dogmatic” strength of the former (for if something is philosophically based, technically, someone could bring contrary proofs.)
Ideally we combine both.
207. BAD (TO GOOD)
Whenever something bad or good happens to a person… the Baal Shem Tov gives the following parable: Once there was a king who got angry at someone, so he sent his messenger – when the messenger arrived to call the person to the king, the messenger who felt identified with the king, was angry – the fool fears… while the wise person says… “Let me go make the king happy!”
Furthermore, the same example applies in the reverse – once there was a king who was very happy with a person, so he sent his messenger, the messenger who identifies with the king, came with great joy – the fool is so happy to find the king’s messenger happy… while the wise person says, “I shall go to the source.”
208. CONNECTING TO GOD
It is known, the purpose of life is to attach to God, we do this when we pray and learn with passion – especially when we say the words; for these passionate words connect to the Divine speech.
209. AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Just as if someone found an extraordinarily large treasure and was extraordinarily excited; so he packed as much as possible into his “car;” nonetheless, he would be extremely saddened by what he must leave – so too, though we may have found extraordinary treasures within Torah and Jewish mysticism, knowing we can never have it all…
Our forefather Jacob understood, that one cannot be exclusively either in the character trait of kindness (which allows for evil, for it never judges) nor in the charterer trait of harsh-discipline (for it creates resentment, hence jealousy, hence evil). Therefore he understood, there must be a balancing act between, which is called Tifferes, which essentially is the side of judging each situation on its specific needs, and when appropriate for the benefit of the other, being kind or tuff.
211. PRAYER – TORAH
The four letters of the Divine name also represent speech, sound, breath and thought – when we attach our speech, sound, breath, and thought to the Divine (say, through speaking, thinking etc. words of Torah…) this creates a unification of the individual soul with the Divine – this in turns causes the flow of blessing not only to the individual, but to the entire universe.
212. WAKING UP
The first thought we have, the first speech and action, become our train of thoughts, speech and actions – this is why it is critical that our first thought be of praise (gratitude) our first word (Modeh Ani – gratitude) and our first action, the clasping of the hands to say, Modeh Ani – in this way our soul becomes unified.
Sometimes Tzaddikim cry to God as they have some suffering, but they don’t get answered – the Baal Shem Tov gives an example of a king who had a son, and the young boy built from straw a little home and someone broke it – so he came crying to his father, but the father just laughed, and didn’t punish the man – for you see, the father in the meantime had in mind how he has planning to build his son a beautiful palace.
215. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov said, just as if you would see a man God-forbid drowning and flailing with his arms, no-one would think of laughing – as he is trying to survive – a person who is praying (or perhaps in general) and is gesticulating in order to ward off the kelipos and intrusive thoughts, trying to drown him (from true life,) should not be mocked.
217. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We should always – even in middle of work, have at least a small part of our thought on God, for like a coal, as long as there is a single spark, it can fan.
The great Tzaddikim have the Shechinah / Divinity speak through them – the opposite of this, is, with crazy people (that lose control of their reasoning.)
Everything has Divine sparks, hence God arranges we should have what we own – for when they are used in spiritual pursuits, say a Shabbos table etc. we elevate them – however it may be that we have finished elevating the sparks designated for our soul, at that moment we may decide to sell the table and another whose soul should elevate the other sparks, will buy it.
The Baal Shem Tov merited his incredible high level, from the many times he would go to the Mikvah!
The Baal Shem Tov taught, far better than fasting which weakens the body, is to put one’s effort into praying and learning Torah.
220. HISHTAVUS – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There is a famous verse “I place God before me constantly” – the word I place, “Shivisy” also is related to the word “hishtavious” which roughly translates as “equanimity;” in other words: consider all things as being equal – this is an awesome level, whereby I serve God, but what occurs to me, whether it is good or bad, I consider that everything coming from God, is obviously good.
Similarly we must dedicate our lives to God, but not necessarily in the way we think, for one person may wish to attach their mind to God (miyached-yechudim) and God arranges that one must “meet and greet” – one should not feel sadness over this, rather understand, that this is one of the ways God wishes to be served.
Also we should ask God to do to us what he knows is best, for often what we think… is to our own detriment.
221. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
One must know what arrogance is, but not be; know what anger is, but not be; for we find that by God there is complete recognition.
If a person were to fast even from Shabbos to Shabbos, yet have even the slightest sense of arrogance – “Look at the tremendous service I do…” – this would place his entire good-deed in the hands of the dark side – Rather one should think, relative to the holy angels who serve God constantly, day and night, my little contributions, are a joke.
234. TIKKUN CHATZOIS
(This may apply only to holier men…ED.) One should be exceedingly careful to always get out of bed at midnight and turn one’s night into day – one should perhaps sleep a drop during the day, so this little bit of sleep at night will suffice.
245. ATTAINING WISDOM
It states, the gateway to wisdom is silence; for when one is quiet, one’s mind thinks.
266. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
A great and wise person is able to “enjoy” life, eating delicious foods, looking wherever… but taking no personal enjoyment; as his mind’s eye is on the knowledge, that the existence of all, is truly God.
237. PRAYER – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
During prayer, imagine that you are traversing through the supernal realms – and when you get a new extraneous thought, try to immediately dissolve it… for this will prevent me from entering a realm.
Now try to eliminate that thought, for example, if one thought of a negative desire, such as sexual, immediately regret it by saying to yourself, “What have I done, by taking the sublime realm of thought and place it in garbage.”
Now to get to the next realm, contemplate how “If I can love something physical like this woman who comes (as we all do) from a putrid smelly drop (of semen,) how much infinitely more so, must I love God.”
This mechanism applies to many types of experiences.
For example, if you hear a joke which brought you some pleasure, you could imagine that this comes from, in essence, the world of Divine pleasure.
The same applies for a good-food; so you end up eating on earth, but feeling Divine delight.
The same applies with arrogance; for-example, if you get praised, or if during prayer you feel special, you can transpose this to how great and special God is.
This transposition relates also if you receive a negative fear, such as not to give charity in case you may become poor; imagine the sense of shame one must feel by knowing God is continuously looking at you.
If you encounter the character trait of winning… you could “win” this character trait (so it doesn’t distract you.)
So also with the charter trait of attraction; to be attracted exclusively to God.
248. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When a person receives a negative thought, be it a fear, a lust etc. all you need to do is destroy it by seeing it as excrement.
Prayer from joy and happiness is much better than from tears and sadness – an example the Baal Shem Tov gives, is of two people who need something from the king – the first comes on is hands and knees, and the king perhaps gives him part of what he desires – however one of his ministers throws him a feast, serving him his favorite foods and then toward the end, asks… – the king being in a jolly mood grants him his wish.
As wherever our thoughts are, so we are; hence when a person continuously has faith in God, this evokes this realm (namely of God’s faithfulness) however a person who constantly is worried (about God’s wrath…)
When a person is not well, they cannot properly serve – hence one must be exceedingly careful with promoting their good health.
232. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
It is a great and noble level, if we consistently realize how, “just as if I were looking at someone and they at me, they are observing me; how much more so the Creator of eyes.”
235. TORAH (EGO)
When one studies Torah, one should never delude themselves that they have grasped (for every word of Torah has infinite depth and meanings.)
A person who studies much Torah etc. and considers himself greater than others, in fact to a certain extent, we all have innate arrogance… – this is similar to a person who went on a road trip and his friend drove up to the top of a mountain; but when he was sleeping, he was on the bottom and when he awoke they were driving on a straight road on top; so not knowing that he was elevated, he did not think he had arrogance – however, a person must humble himself by realizing the awesomeness of God and the lowness of man (suffice it to say, if he truly was Godly / humble, there isn’t a possibility for him to ever have sinned.)
239. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We must despise all the “pleasures” of this world, from the pleasure of food, sex etc. – for anyone who has tasted real pleasure, the spiritual bliss – this is like a person who makes a sudden windfall and his happiness causes that all other pleasures seem worthless – furthermore, we must place in our hearts the true fear of God – this is understood, like if you traveled to a palace – as you enter you would feel a fear – hence anyone connecting to God should also feel a palpable awe – and this eliminates all physical fears.
240. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We must detach ourselves from the “pleasures” of this world.
In an absolute truth, the only reason there is any pleasure in something as silly as an apple, intercourse, etc. is because based on the fall (of the sparks of holiness from the world of Tohu which is the source of all non-holy acts in this world) however in essence, the true pleasure and awe is found only in God (as the great angels serve either through awe or love continuously).
243. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – EGO
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example – every lock has a key – the two are perfectly aligned – similarly every problem has a specific alleviation (this refers to Kabbilistic mechanisms) but then there is a thief who simply breaks down the door – similarly, by properly humbling (breaking) our heart – this removes any barrier between us and G-d.
245. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – PRAYER
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example to understand how come there are many angels who only have permission once in fifty years or less, to say a praise to God – some may only say a single word (for example Kodosh; of “Kodosh, kodosh etc.”) Once there was a king who had a custom that all the ministers would come and give him praise – however the ministers were petrified that if the king was in a bad mood… hence they would quickly come, and say their praise and depart – However the king’s son whom the king loved so much knew that no matter the king’s mood, as soon as he would come – the king’s heart would immediately be filled with joy (for love banishes anger)… similarly the Jewish people are permitted to continuously praise.
246. MOSHIACH – PERCEPTION
Currently the incredible intense light of God is concealed through the cloak of nature (concealing the infinity in its seeming monotony) however when Moshiach comes, this cloak will be removed – those who are good will perceive how all is miraculous, which will give them infinite bliss.
248. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There are seventeen mechanisms whereby a person saves themselves:
This is brought down in Sefer Chareidim (I don’t know if the Baal Shem Tov merely quotes or adds.)
Firstly one who does an Aveira creates a personal prosecuting angel (as it mentions in Pirkei Avos.)
- Before one sins one should contemplate how deep does this sin go? (in other words, it goes deep into heaven.) Furthermore one should contemplate against whom (namely God) he is rebelling.
- He should contemplate who is watching him, even in the most concealed of places.
- He should contemplate if he has permission to waste his time.
- One should continually feel a tremendous fear, dread and panic from transgressing.
- One should feel a tremendous “depression,” that one demeans God, whose life-force is within him, by sinning; which is the ultimate evil, for he is using God’s gift against the gifter; and the fact he has this desire, is only a test.
- Do not do even the minutest part of the sin.
- Stay far away, even from the slightest Aveira.
- One must run from doing an Aviera and likewise run to do a mitzvah, which refers mainly to charity and going to mikvah.
- Neither you nor your messenger should engage in any Aveirah.
- When an Aveira comes your way, distance yourself; for by doing one, one then falls down a slippery slope.
- One should never do simultaneously two Avieros, hence when one does an Aveira they a. demean God, and b. their own soul.12
- An Avaira must be utterly reprehensible to your estimation.
- Do not be confident – this means one must continually be vigilant (fearful) of the possibility of doing an Avierah.
- Despise yourself for having done any Avierah (though as the Alter Rebbe writes, after this, one should request God’s pardon and feel joy – for God holds no grudges.)
- Realize, by sinning one does not just take oneself down, but as the Rambam says, the world is perfectly balanced, so one sin, destroys the universe.
- When the Yetzer Hara has you convinced to sin, run to a place filled with people – which will cause you to be ashamed.
- Contemplate how for every sin there is a terrible purgatory (punishment) and feel broken over what you have already racked up.
249. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
In order for a person to do good they must be balanced – one must not be manic nor depressed – hence when a person sees that they are getting over-exuberant, they must mix in some sadness and vice-versa.
One who cannot see their emotional tides, should go to a Soul-Doctor (Mashpia – Chassidic mentor) who will know (though sometimes the soul-doctor can tell that the person has become arrogant and the arrogant person is incapable of listening (for “he knows everything”) hence he must humble him.)
250. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Whenever one grasps part of an indivisible whole (for example God) hence by doing a single Mitzvah with love and devotion, it is as if one fulfills All! (this may be why – translator writing… – one who does one Mitzvah, at that moment becomes released from the duty to do any other Mitzvah.)
251. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
There are two types: one represented by Yehudah, that do things within nature, and the other represented by Yosef, that live supernaturally – when the Tzaddik of the generation seeks to inspire his people, he must first both connect himself to God, as well as realize the intrinsic soul connection he shares with them – then his words have cosmic ripples.
254. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, how can one listen to their Yetzer Hara, when in fact we must learn from it, for it consistently is serving God.
255. BAAS KOIL (TESHUVAH – CHANGE)
It states, that daily there are heavenly proclamations (such as “woe to those who don’t study” etc.) now if no-one can hear them, what is the benefit? However, our soul hears it, and from these shocking pronouncements, a person begins to have inspirational emotions.
256. RATZU VSHUV (SPIRITUAL LOOPS)
The first time we see a miracle, we call it a miracle, the second, nature – similarly, in order to go beyond our current state, adding in our love or awe of God, and doing more, it takes a herculean miraculous effort, but once we achieve that state, it is time to make the next miracle.
257. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
(Translator – my deduction from the teaching…) The Chochmah / inspiration, doesn’t translate to Binah / the studious subdivision of the particulars (for within the inspiration is a universe) unless one makes a binding decision to do.
Just as the three forefathers were vehicles of the expression of Divine will, similarly, there are vehicles of expressing the opposite.
During prayer we ascend.
The first part until Boruch She-amar we are in the world of Assiyah, filled with extraneous forces (kelipos) hence one must make a herculean effort to focus, concentrate and participate.
From Boruch She-amar to Yishtabach, we are in the world of Yetzirah, where not as many kelipos reside.
From the world of Yetzirah, we enter into the world of Beriah; from Yishtabach to Shemoina Esrieh – and we must concentrate.
Shemoinah Esrei is the world of Atzilus, an intimate oneness.
260. LOVE – EDUCATION
Once there was a prince who the king sent him to learn how others live, but eventually he succumbed to their low lifestyle – so the king sent ministers to bring him back, but he was content – eventually one wise person decided to get the prince back, so he dressed up as one of the low people and ingratiated himself and convinced him.
Rely not on another, but your own prayers.
262. LOVE – EDUCATION
The only time it is right to educate, is if it comes from unconditional-love (criticism is a form of abuse.)
The closer you think you are to God, the further – and vice-versa.
265. SATAN – MOSHIACH
When Moshiach comes, God will slaughter the angel of death – this means he will take out the death – negative, releasing only the good.
269. EGO – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
If you have done much good – studied much Torah – grown etc. think not, “I have done this” rather, God inspired this – for if not, we take the Yud (God) out of the Ani, and we are left with Oin – nothing.
The ability to create Baalei Teshuvah (those who return to Judaism, God etc.) is mainly through the Rebbe of the generation, who reconnects the person to their source.
271. RATZU VSHUV – OPEN (MIND)
Rotzu / Vshuv also is Gadlus (expansive thinking) vs. Katnus (contracted – fear based myopia) – realizing we are in Katnus, transforms us.
273. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – LOVE
What does it mean God fills the entire world? – It is impossible for us to do or say anything without God – hence God is literally within all our actions and speech – now if our intent is love, then the resultant speech or deed manifests love (this is an exceptionally profound concept, for in other words, the primary means to happiness is to ensure that fundamentally, the reason we are here, is to love, for our positive energy then becomes reality.)
274. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Kabbalah teaches us, says the Baal Shem Tov, that everything we do, we must do for the Divine soul within.
275. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Whatever you are thinking about, is where you are.
Even when we need to beseech for God’s mercies – as we find ourselves stuck – we should go to God in a way he desires; namely prayer should always be that we beseech not only for our own, but for all who need.
The Gemarah says, that Tzaddikim are similar to a tree planted in a pure ground – this means, teaches the Baal Shem Tov, that just as the roots will sap the positive nutrients and bring it through the trunk to create fruits, so too the Tzaddikim will elevate the sparks of their soul found within everyone.
If we study well or pray with passion, the Yetzer Hara will immediately jump at this opportunity to induce in us an ego.
279. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Just as a parable is the container of a wisdom, so too speech contains thought – however when a person is disconnected from themselves and they ramble, this speech is connected to kelipos – hence a person must ensure that their speech is connected to their mind, which is in turn sourced in the Divine.
280. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We should never admonish anyone – for all we will gain – hate (though of-course if we encourage, we engender love.)
281. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – TRUTH
When there is something not understood, but a person truly seeks to understand it, then they elevate that thing to the world of Machshavah (the realm of thought) and from there the Divine reveals.
282. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – EGO
Another great principle from the Baal Shem Tov, Your Divine service should be exclusively (all the time) for God (not your) sake.
283. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – REALITY
Whatever we think about, we manifest (like the law of attraction, hence one must think exclusively positively.)
Our thoughts are the screen of our desire.
286. EGO – AVODA (SELF-REFINMENT)
We must ensure that our study of Torah and prayer is exclusively for the sake of the Divine (otherwise we add power to the kelipos, negative forces.)
Like a symphony, each one of us has a unique complementary strength.
The only reason God conceals himself, is so we can find – for that which we search for, is so much more appreciated.
289. CONNECTING (TO GOD)
Whoever wishes to connect to the Divine should study Torah, for within the wisdom of the Torah is its thinker.
We mustn’t only pray for our needs, but for the redemption of the Shechinah (the Divine – for our own lustful etc. thoughts (for as all must contain the Divine (to exist – though God in his compassion, grace, mercy etc. gives us freedom) causes the Divine to be captured, which as the Alter Rebbe describes, it is like taking a king and placing his head in a toilet bowl filled with excrement.)
If I study Torah or do a Mitzvah with an ulterior motive (for example, recognition) now as essentially God is one with his Torah, therefore ideally what would happen is the light of the Divine would connect to this Torah study or Mitzvah and then to my soul; however when I do something with an ulterior motive, this motive, called kelipah, a shell, acts as a barrier – it encases the mitzvah – this perhaps can be best understood by a story about the Baal Shem Tov, that he once came to a study hall of Torah and he wouldn’t enter, saying, “This place is filled with Torah” – he was not offering a compliment though, for with his Divine vision he could see how instead of the Torah rising to heaven, through its learners ulterior motives, it remained encased within the confines of the lower kelipah realm.
294. LOVE/FEAR (OF GOD)
Just as the world was created with the two Divine names of Haveyeh and Eloikim, similarly, whenever we study or pray, we must do so with these two names which represent respectively, love and fear (of G-d).
Tzaddikim are the emissaries of the Shechinah (the Divine presence on earth) and what they personally lack, represents what is lacking.
299. BAD (TO GOOD)
Sometimes we can transform a situation by seeing the corresponding Divine – for-example, if someone is God-forbid locked-up, they could learn the concept of the four (one of whom, is a person released from incarceration) that give praise for their miracles.
A Tzaddik who is suffering in a limb, can think about which part of the Sefiros this limb corresponds to.
By concentrating on the Divine positive part, we eliminate our suffering.
When we speak words of Torah at our table, we elevate our Table (as we know, all has Divine sparks seeking redemption, like positive energy.)
Hence you should speak an abundance of Torah during the week, and especially on Shabbos (at the meal table.)
Then when Mincha (Erev Shabbos) arrives and during the Kabbalois Shabbos (Shabbos evening service) you elevate the entire week.
300. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
One should be most careful from taking the “pious preacher” role – The Baal Shem Tov gives the following example – there was once a pious man who came to a little town – and he desired to know the type of townsfolk – so he went to the pub, for by hearing the words that freely flow, as the tongue is the pen of the heart, he could understand.
Much to his chagrin, they were vulgar and lewd, and he was most upset.
When they realized that in their presence was a holy man, they decided to appease his disappointment by giving him presents; so they each gave him a gift.
Meanwhile this pious person realized that these people bribe him, so he arranged for them all to gather on the morrow, to receive more.
However from his association with these coarse and vulgar people, he eventually became just like them.
301. LOVE (ABOVE ALL)
It states that inviting guests is greater than having the Divine presence – however, queries the Baal Shem Tov, having to entertain, would by necessity take one away from the greatest of Mitzvahs, to study Torah – nonetheless concludes the Baal Shem Tov, camaraderie far surpasses.
One should think that they are only a receptacle to receive Divine blessing, and though one must do their part, nonetheless through praying in a mechanism that one concentrated (on the understanding) then one connects to the Divine level of thought, which this draws in G0d, so to speak, into the world.
302. LOVE – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Whatever occurs is a gift:
We should only look positively on everyone.
If one sees something negative in another, it is a sign that at-least a speck of that evil is in oneself (for we only can see our own evil – even if subconscious). Hence this is a blessing, as it allows me to transform myself (for as the Rebbe says, as we have innate self-love, this blocks our ability to perceive our own negative.)
This is also the reason for a wife (for as the Baal Shem Tov states elsewhere) though not everything negative she points out in you is accurate, yet some is – allowing you to thus change.
Hence if someone is maliciously disturbing your service, you should consider that G-d has sent them, so you should restrengthen your efforts.
The main thing is to remove any trace of sadness and always be happy.
For example, there are two kinds of doctors: one who hands out bitter pills, the other sweet – similarly, by engaging in self-flagellation, one then becomes miserable and begins to see the negative in others.
However by understanding that everyone is your blessing (as mentioned above) for in fact this is a sweet medicine (that as opposed to G-d hurting you, he allows you to see your own evil so you can simply change it) you fill your heart with love for all which brings down the Divine favor.
Similarly I heard from the Master (this is the writer writing) that one should always feel that no matter the spiritual level one attains, one is on a low level.
I also heard from the Master, we serve God in thought – for by transforming a negative to a positive, we thus have the oomph to do positive.
The urge to go number 1 (in Hebrew called small) reminds us we are.
The urge to go number 2 (in Hebrew called big) reminds us we are a bigshot – hence we need to feel small.
304. SONG – EGO
Our sages teach, whenever it says in Tehhilim, Mizmor Lidavid (a song by David) first he sang and from his joy the Shechinah (Divine voice) spoke, and when it states Lidovid Mizmor, first the Divine voice inspired and this caused his song – hence when we say Tehhilim, we should be humbled, for when does the Divine voice ever come to us?!
The suffering of the Jews (or a Jew) under Gentiles (and nations or persecutors) is to extract all the spiritual sparks – and once this occurs (as the Rebbe says it already has) the throne of evil dissipates, and in fact the world will be inherited by the righteous.
306. GOD – PRAYER
Just as a mother, desires for her son to say something smart so his father will fall in love (endeared to him,) similarly the Shechinah (God) desires, any words or heartfelt positive prayer, or good deed.
When we do this, all the angels in heaven praise God – for our praise below causes, like a conductor, all the angels to praise above.
Similarly our good below builds the entire universe.
307. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMNT)
One who truly wishes to become a servant of God must clear his mind from its tumbling thoughts.
Even when he eats or drinks he should only think/feel that he does this to have the energy to serve God.
One should elevate the Divine pleasure over the physical, and in this way he derives spirituality from food.
309. FREE CHOICE
How could God cause the Egyptians to hate the Jews? – shouldn’t there be free choice? – however as God had already seen their evil, he allowed them to deserve punishment.
Faith shows one is connected.
It is far easier to have your prayers answered and attain Ruach Hakodesh (a state of Divine communication) today, then even in the time of the Holy Temple.
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example for this – when a king is in his palace it is very difficult to get an appointment – however if he is traveling and especially if he stops off at an inn, it is much easier.
By guarding our thoughts from nonsensical distracting ones, we guard ourselves from the enemy within (making space for the Divine.)
Before one speaks, one obviously must think – before one prays one should too – we should contemplate, that our speaking will be the Shechinah speaking through us, and in the Shechinah are all the positive qualities, hence how humble should we become!
314. EGO / HUMILITY
The verse states, “What does God desire from you (already”?)
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example – even a great minister whom all fear him, when he stands before the king he becomes like a child – his entire arrogance/pompousness disappears, and he is completely humble.
So too, “All that God desires is that we should always be in the state of (mah) nothingness.”
A good way to do this, is as mentioned in Choivois Halivavois, imagine how you will, as all people have, and currently are, be eaten.
Nothing is worse than arrogance that comes from humility – in other words, a person senses how great he is, that he is even humble.
316. LOVE/FEAR (OF GOD)
The whole point of Torah study – reverence / fear of G-d.
317. PRAYER – HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUNCE)
There was once a great Chossid of the Baal Shem Tov, who traveled to be with him for Yom-Kippur – but as his horses received no straw he was forced to go to the fields (outside the city) for them to graze – as they were grazing, he fell asleep, and by the time he awoke it was past nightfall (hence he couldn’t go past the tichum – boundary – to walk back.) He was most saddened and spent an entire heartbroken Yom Kippur in prayer and tearful supplication – however when he came to see the Baal Shem Tov, the Baal Shem Tov was joyous – he said, from your prayers in the field, you elevated the prayers of the Jews who prayed in the fields worldwide.
319. SPIRITUALITY VS. MATERIALISM (HAPPINESS VS PLEASURE)
In material matters there is pleasure without satisfaction:
For example – if I desire money, then gaining money gives me pleasure (for any pleasure fulfilled, grants a pleasure) however it doesn’t satisfy me; as King Solomon says, “Those who love money are never satisfied.”
Similarly if I like delicious foods, I gain a pleasure, but the moment I finished the pleasure, it doesn’t satisfy this craving, so we end up like a gerbil, in endless loops.
However in Judaism, it is the opposite, for though a person who seeks the answer to a thorny intellectual problem may on one hand feel pain (due to the complex problem) nonetheless the very search, through tomes and ideas, itself is pleasurable; and when he does get the answer, he feels a great satisfaction – likewise the person who studies Torah, or for-example keeps Shabbos.
On Shabbos we get an extra Divine soul which gives us great spiritual satisfaction in Torah study and prayer; hence when we do so, it elevates all the Torah study and prayer we did during the week.
G-d gave us the Shabbos so we should be able to have a free day – to ascend through Torah study and prayer.
Unlike physical pleasures that once achieved a person doesn’t feel satisfied, after we study Torah or give charity, we feel immensely.
Similarly, scientific discoveries, though they may bring us momentary pleasure, they do not create any satisfaction.
How much more so, the “philosophies” (Humanities) that lead us to distorted and misaligned behavior (not only causing lack of pleasure, but deep existential angst.)
However the Torah, not only does it give us pleasure, not only does it gives us satisfaction, it furthermore refines, elevates, and brightens our life.
When one teaches Torah, the goal is not to enthrall the audience but to inspire (with meaningful lessons) similarly when one listens to a Torah class, the goal is not to choose what you enjoy, rather what you can grow. (This is the secret of when G-d told Adam “You can eat all the fruits of the Garden (of Torah”) in other words, you must take lessons and growth, “but from the tree of knowledge (in other words, discerning what you like or don’t…) the day you eat it you shall surely die” – for this turns Torah not into a life-teacher, but simply an entertaining show.)
YOU – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
It states, “Make for me a dwelling and I will dwell in you” – as our sages teach, G-d says, each person can be God’s dwelling – what does this mean? – we know we have, say eyes to see, hands to give, ears to hear etc. – now when we use these limbs (our holy temple…) for G-d’s desires, such as reading Torah, giving charity, listening to Torah, then we activate the Divine eyes which supervises all of humanity, the Divine hand which gives to all, the Divine ear which hears all.
This is why Moses was shown the “blueprints” for the Mishkan in heaven, which he told Betzalel who built it – for this is to teach us, that if a physical building can be transposed from Heaven to earth, how much more so can the Divine come to man.
One can sometimes wonder, with the dissenting opinions in the Talmud, it seems as if perhaps G-d-forbid Judaism was lost – in truth, when Moses ascended the mountain he found G-d studying Torah and quoting the future dissenting opinions.
In other words, these opinions stem from the three sides.
The side of love which finds no fault, the side of justice which finds no mercy, and the side of compassion which is a balance, leaning toward compassion, yet retaining right and wrong.
Hence the reason the Talmud and Mishnah quotes the dissenting opinions is to show us that these arguments clarified the law.
As we know, the Sanhedrin worked based on a majority, yet we find an anomaly, that if in a capital case all judges found the defendant guilty, he was set free, for the very fact that not a single judge had a dissenting opinion we are wary… maybe the whole court is simply merciless.
(It is interesting to note, that when we get to heaven there are two sets of angels, those representing our good and those our bad, with God as judge – so if God is the judge, do we really need our deeds to be weighed? but in his great compassion God shows us, that every ruling of Judaism, of the Torah, of God is perfectly fair.)
The very names of the Rabbis of the Mishnah represent their souls, which is their Torah (for they come from one of the three sides, hence their tendency, for example of Hillel to be lenient, and Shammai strict.)
The Name of the Rabbi, is his soul (life-force;) While his law, is his mind.
When one learns Torah with awe and love, one attaches their soul to the Rabbi’s soul, hence his source in the Divine.
Even when we study the law of a Rabbi, that the final Psak Din (halachah, Judaic ruling) does not go according to him, nonetheless, as we arouse this light in the Divine, we hence cause a great heavenly delight.
Just as it is a Mitzvah to mention the name of the Rabbi (whose law one studies) how much more so, we cause redemption from studying Torah altruistically.
TORAH – CONNECTING (TO GOD)
What does it mean to study Torah altruistically – as we know God says, “I have placed my soul within the very letters of the Torah” so to study Torah with the intent to unite with God, does so.
TORAH – MOSHE
Moshe stands for Mosheh, Hillel and Shammai; for as mentioned, Torah is made up of the logic to permit, the logic to prohibit, and the absolute truth in-between.
It was evening, / then morning, why? – For the benefit of light is only subsequent.
335. AVODA (SELF-REFEINMENT)
Rabbi Shimon Ben Gamlieil said, our eyes (during Simchas Beis Hashoivah) were wide open (through the night) and how do we sleep for centuries?!
AVODA – (SELF-REFINEMENT)
If a good deed is better than not – so why did God, who is the first being, not create the world earlier? – the answer is that God had an appointed time when it was best – the proof is that soon we will live in the perfect world of Moshiach (hence one could also ask, why not create Moshiach…) however God whose entire desire is only to bestow, knows the prefect sequence.
There is God’s foreknowledge and God’s desire – one may wonder, if God’s foreknowledge predicts that a. will be evil, on what basis could he be punished?
However there is a constant tension between God’s desire and foreknowledge (for example, I may wish to reward my son for studying, yet know that he will not.)
Hence at all times a person has the opportunity to not go according to God’s knowledge, rather desire.
349. LOVE/FEAR (OF GOD)
In this world wherever there is joy, there is no trepidation; and vice-versa; however when we are dealing with our feelings for God, both simultaneously!
350. YETZER HARA – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
How does one become a true Merkavah – vehicle for the Divine will – firstly we must integrate our soul with our body, like a diamond that radiates light; and secondly as our sages state, the quality of the diamond (the hardest physical substance) is, it even would smash the hammer trying to crack it, similarly, must our determination be infinitely stronger (then our Yetzer Hara’s).
“She sees the going of her home and lazy bread she eats not” – explains the Baal Shem Tov, this is the soul that is aware of what goes on in her home, heaven; how in one stride, the angel Michoel traverses heaven and Gavriel in two.
Every Kav / beam has six directions: north south, forward behind, right left – this is the secret behind creation Yesh Me-ayin for Yesh (the creation, beginning from the kav) stands for Yimin (right) and Small (left.)
Why do we first say the vowel (Kometz) before the letter (Alef – while we could have said Alef Kometz) for it is the vowel, that explains the letter.
As (Einstein said) time is relative, so to a human being, a day is time, as is a week, as is a year, as is a decade, as is 50 years – this is only because as our time is limited (hence every moment has value) but to God (time can only be seen as sequence – in other words, transitions – for we begin in darkness, then bring in light, and then continuously add.)
We say, God is, was, and will be; – by knowing that he is (for example, every moment all of reality is recreated -see Shaar Hayichud Vehae-munah) we realize he was, and always will.
By understanding this, we understand how awesome this world is – for it means this world arose out of the future delight that God foresaw.
Our sages teach, any Jewish judge (Rabbi offering Halachah) who offers a true judgment (based on Torah) becomes God’s partner in creation – in other words, though this world is constantly created by God, God literally makes him as if he is likewise.
The Targum explains that the word Breishis (“in the beginning God created”) refers to Chochmah – Chochmah is the letter Alef – in other words, Alef created the entire Alphabet, from Alef to Tav – for each letter is simply double alef (respectively; so Beis is two, Gimmel three etc.) So the closer one is to the Alef, the closer to God.
God enclothed himself into the letter Alef, which is Light, and created the highest world of light, Atzilus; then he took this Alef and placed it within Beis and created the next world of Beriah and then he took the Beis and put it into Gimmel and there are millions of lower worlds, until the letter Tav which is Tachtoinim, the lowest (and all in order for the lowest, to integrate the Alef.)
This then is the exact meaning of the verse – “Alef, God created the heaven” – which refers the Hebrew Alphabet, which is spirituality, from the letter Alef (closest and imbued most to the lowest Tav) “and these then created the physical.”
However after God created the Physical, He foresaw that His light could be misused hence He concealed Himself into far darker forces (the lusts and passions of foolish people) this is the statement “and the world was dark, confusing, but the spirit of God hovered above” – in other words, for those spiritual people, be it Abraham, Moses etc. who would realize that the darkness only is a concealment of God, the truth would manifest.
The Baal Shem Tov interpreted the famous Biblical verse that “we should do the commandments to live!” – that ultimate life is to transform the gross body, as Chanoich and Eliyahu managed, into light.
Just as when we are praying we can think of work, when we work, we can pray.
The Gemarah says, any prayer that has not a sinner praying together with the Minyan (quorum of Ten) is no prayer.
Does this mean we must go specifically to find a sinner?
Explains the Baal Shem Tov, if there are ten Tzaddikim (righteous Jews) praying, their passion should be such, that just as a wet twig won’t light, but if you combine it with ten dry, it too will catch – hence, their devotion should light the sinner.
Everyday – the Gemarah teaches– a heavenly proclamation goes forth, calling people to the study of Torah – but if we cannot hear it, why does it go forth?… and if we can…. why don’t we?
The truth is our eyes (as the soul in heaven does) should be able to see from one end of the universe to the other, and so our hearing – but as our eyes and ears are under the dominion of the Yetzer Hara (dark angels) therefore we don’t – however great saints like the Baal Shem Tov, could both see and hear.
361. A STORY
There was a person (the author writes, that he personally heard this story from reliable sources) who was a great Torah genius, however he did not believe in the awesome knowledge and wondrous saintliness of the Baal Shem Tov.
The Baal Shem Tov however wished very much to encourage him.
One day he was learning a commentary which he couldn’t comprehend – and he spent many weeks trying to understand, but he couldn’t… – one night he had a dream and he was escorted through heavenly realms until the light was so intense he couldn’t open his eyes and finally he was brought to a room and was told to open his eyes – there he saw the Baal Shem Tov and other great Tzaddikim – the Baal Shem Tov explained to him the meaning.
That Shabbos he went to the Baal Shem Tov’s table, meanwhile thinking this might have been just a dream, however the Baal Shem Tov said to him, “Welcome, did you look to verify if the explanation I told you was correct?”
From that moment on, he became firmly attached to the Baal Shem Tov.
362. When we concentrate in prayers, it is like an intimate union with God.
363. BAD (TO GOOD)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, that when you see someone evil, instead of hating them, you must realize that as we are a single soul, there must be subconsciously some of that evil (desire; though I repress the fact I have it, so as not to make myself appear bad – even to myself) and hence by rectifying that evil – I eliminate it.
Whenever you learn Torah, understand that even if you are not so into it, your soul rejoices.
365. BAD (TO GOOD)
Fear of a negative can be transposed into understanding that all comes from God; so it is really God’s love (calling you home, and this transforms negative to positive.)
366. OPEN – TEACHING (TORAH)
There is expansive and contracted in the three primary realms of space, time and soul (times when we are secure and open, and insecure and fearful) this is why, before teaching one should tell a joke – or connect positively, for this opens the heart of the recipient.
In truth, the goal is that even when an anxious disposition exists within the world, and one doesn’t feel the Divine love, one coerces oneself to do what is right.
367. RATZU VSHUV (DIVINE LOOPS)
The idea of Rotzu Vshuv (literally the energy goes up and down) for through taking a break from Divine devotion during work, eating, sleeping etc. the soul rests – and the mind (which has limits) refreshes to subsequently be able to serve G—d.
A person who measures how much time he needs off in order to be able to sustain the Divine service, is continually (even during the break, for this is the intent) serving God.
368. BAD (TO GOOD)
The great Tzaddikim take foreign thoughts (as they are always connected to G-d, hence all thoughts not, come from negative sources) and connect them to their source (for all is sourced in some kind of positive); However if one doesn’t know how (and as the Alter Rebbe says, this is primarily a task for the Tzaddikim) it is enough to know that in everything there is the external element (which may be negative) and the internal (which is positive.)
370. TRUTH – REBBE
Just as when a person is deeply connected to a desire, then they do this with all their passion; similarly in the world, God sends us (in every generation) a soul like Moses who is one hundred percent permeated with the truth (there are no foreign desires) …To the extent the generation connects to the Tzaddik, is the extent they get connected (with truth vs. false pretenses.)
372. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
From the passion that evil exhibits, we may deduce how much passion we must have.
373. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
All words can be connected to the Divine – certainly words of Torah (as the Baal Shem Tov mentions, to meditate that within these words is the Divine author.) Even when talking to a friend… (for letters automatically come from the Divine – though I am not clear how these connections – perhaps this is more for Tzaddikim – are done.)
375. HEAVEN – HAPPINESS
There is a known story of two jesters who Elijah The Prophet told Rabbi Yehoshau Ben Levi (I think) that they would receive the portion in the world to come – for they knew how to elevate, inspire people.
The foundation of a home determines the home, for if the foundation is leaning, the entire structure will be off – similarly if a person is filled with ego (delusions of self-grandiosity) even the good they do, is filled with ego – conversely a humble person filled with admiration / love, will see good, even in evil.
The pleasure in physical delights comes from ancient angels that fell.
Our sages teach, all Torah that isn’t accompanied by work causes sin.
For while we pray and study Torah we need to use our mind – ironically, though this inspires us, part of the inspiration and the use of our mind adds to our ego, and then when we are not actively engaged in mental pursuits, our ego can take over (hence we can fall into lashon hara, anger, arguments) therefore one should engage in work.
A Torah teaching banishes the negative.
If one needs to be punished, as the ability to generate positive blessings purely from trust (in God’s goodness) is absolute, hence they take away the trust – thus one should pray that God grants them trust – this is why it states, that Abraham trusted, and this was considered a good thing – in other words, that it was granted.
384. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
When one is studying Torah they are on a high level, when they are engaged say in chit-chat or mundane affairs, on a low; but the ultimate goal is to elevate – in other words, to do all for God.
Once the Baal Shem Tov visited a townlett – and during the third Shabbos meal, the landowner (in those days, towns were owned by squires) invited some of the Jews and together they sat (with Kosher food) and sang Jewish songs etc. – The Baal Shem Tov saw that in heaven they were much impressed – so he said to the man – “what is your motive?” – he replied “There is a saying “let my soul expire with the Jews” – I heard that on Shabbos Jews receive an extra soul which departs after Shabbos – so I want that my extra soul should depart with them.”
385. BAD (TO GOOD)
The Baal Shem Tov taught, that if someone is in the need of a miracle, he should give 18 Gedulin (a polish coin – perhaps one could substitute this with a number of current 18) for candles for the Synagogue, for the soul of Rabbi Meir, The Master of Miracles; and he should say – “I promise these 18 gedulin for candles, for the soul of Rabbi Meir, the Master of Miracles – the God of Meir Answer me! The God of Meir Answer Me! The God of Meir Answer Me! – And may it be your will God our God, that just as you listened to the prayers of your servant Meir, and did miracles and wonders for him, so shall you do for me and all Jewish people who need both hidden and revealed miracles. Amen May It Be Your Will.”
It is known that the human is a micro of the macro -the entire universe is your reflection – so be what you wish.
390. LOVE – GOD
It is known that all acts of giving entail two components: the first is the love hence desire; then the actual specific gift.
However this is only in the world of time where there are differences (hence there is a. the love based on a motive (or identification) and then the giving and then the subdivisions within giving) however in God, everything happens simultaneously – so as it arose in his heart to love the Jewish people, the world was simultaneously created – however we then must understand how this world is a continuous expression of his love.
391. LOVE/FEAR (OF GOD)
How can one know if they have proper fear of God?
The test is, if a Minister was standing before his king and someone brought by, one of – say – his favorite foods, but because at that moment the fear of the king is upon him (or the bashfulness before the king) his heart would not even seek the food.
393. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – EGO/HUMILITY
In the beginning of the service of God, one may use the otherwise deleterious trait of arrogance – for example, one may induce oneself about the reward God will give them – for though in essence, who truly is deserving…? And eventually, one wishes to do what’s right for the right reasons, however to begin with, a person must incentivize.
By Tzaddikim they constantly fluctuate between the state of arrogance and humility – for in order to incentivize oneself to do something new – particularly an entirely new service – one must have a trait of boldness, nonetheless, once one does it (or during) one must do so with humility.
Even by regular people, the Yetzer Hara tells a person “Who are you…?” Causing them to doubt what effect they can, and even should have. So a person must say to themselves, “the entire world was created solely for my ability to make it better!” – however once one does the actual service, one must return to a state of infinite humility, for it is alone God that has empowered.
We can now understand the bizarre reason why Korach, who himself was a very great scholar quarreled with Moses.
You see Korach understood, at times a person must use the trait of arrogance; for Moses who the Torah itself says was the most humble person (something Korach must have been able to see) had to use this trait as a king, leader (though he wished for neither – as we know, God forced him.)
However, as Korach in truth was arrogant, and as arrogance causes jealousy, and as jealousy causes rationalization (in other words, the jealous person sees evil where there isn’t in others; and can’t see their own…) hence Korach felt, Moses extended his “arrogance” too far – however Moses being truly humble, understood; and he tried to teach Korach that he should be happy with what God had ordained – this is truly a very important lesson, for wherever there is a leadership role (for as a child wishes to be big, a fool wishes to be great…) a person should, like Moses did, try to defer.
For the Tzaddik, whenever he prays, he prays for the lack in the Shechinah, and that which he personally lacks, he understands is a reflection of the lack in the Shechinah – however the average person, who cannot set his own needs aside, should not attempt to pray as the Tzaddik does – for whenever a prayer ascends to heaven, it is inspected; if it is sincere, it is accepted (hence the Tzaddik who is sincere, it is accepted; and likewise even if I pray for myself, as long as I am sincere, it is accepted – in other words: I don’t pretend I am altruistic.)
Now there are two kinds of loves a parent has for their child, the first is when the child does something clever, and the second is for the child, despite anything – similarly, the Tzaddik, through elevating this world, creates a delight by God, but his deepest connection is simply his personal (as all people can have) love.
The ability to create people who return – to God / Judaism etc. – is mainly through the Tzaddikim who are able to reveal the person’s essence.
The spiritual dynamic of Shabbos is that the source gets revealed and the sources’ offspring, naturally desire it.
In other words, Shabbos is a holy-day, for in it is revealed a primordial light, which is God, the holy of holies – and He shines on all the Creations.
For we exist in two states – in a spiritual state, our existence is as we are perceived in the primordial thought (a single thought which predicted all) and it is this thought which is the true life-force.
However, when it came time to physically create, through the chain of descent (from the spiritual to the physical) the spiritual source remained above and only a minute actual life-force (which could be small enough that it could permeate and create a small physical) was extruded.
After all was created, on this sixth day, as things could not continue with the minute life-force, so God then took from His spiritual encompassing life-force and permeated all that existed.
However the main recipient of his light, was man; that objective of creation.
And this is the explanation of the Medrash, “What was the world missing? Menuchah.” This means God, who is called Menuchah; “Shabbos came, Menuchah came;” In other words, the new encompassing light.
Now as a result of this light – just as a child busy with little toys nonetheless discards his small pleasures and runs to his father, for he knows that this is his source; similarly, on Shabbos we are attracted to source.
And this is the desire of God (like the father loves to see their son’s love.)
And this is why God keeps man.
And this is the idea of Shabbos, which is a return to the source; in other words, the source radiates to his children, and the children desire and take pleasure in the source, and this is the unity of God.
And this is what it says in the holy Zohar, “the secret of Shabbos is that Shabbos unites in the oneness…”
This means that the creation (people) are generally called a cover to God; for God is one, but from the perspective of creation there is many (hence concealing the oneness).
However this is only due to the outer element, but based on their infinite source (in the thought of God) they truly are one – but when does this manifest? – when they connect to their singular source.
In other words, when we desire God, in a singular over-encompassing desire (more than any other foolishness) and wish to unite with Him, this connects God with His creations and becomes the reason for their continued existence.
And this connection is called a Bris (covenant) and hence Shabbos is called an eternal covenant, for then God and his Shechinah unite.
For God is called the hidden Godliness, and the Shechinah is the Godliness that resides in us, and the connection between the two is on Shabbos.
Hence on Shabbos, as it is a replay (of the original seven day cycle) it is the day in which God is reinspired, to reconnect and eternally give life.
What is the meaning of the prayer we say on Shabbos “And spread your Sukkah of peace…” – we know the idea of a Sukkah is that it has Schach, which allows in the rays of starlight – in other words, depending on your vantage point, is how many stars you will see – similarly on Shabbos, when the primordial Divine-self rays into the soul (As the Zohar says, “Shabbos is the day of the soul, for souls in bodies” – especially sensitive ones – receive Divinity) and the main thing on Shabbos is to connect to this Divinity through prayer and Torah study – yet simultaneously this experience is experienced based on the individual’s receptive sensory heart.
When one judges another, saying that they deserve a punishment for a wrong they have done, then in the heavenly court they check the “judges” deeds – now it may be that the person did not do the same sin, however, we know there are sins that are comparable, for example, one who is arrogant is as if he has committed adultery; one who is angry, it is as if he worshiped an idol; and perhaps the judger’s sin, is deemed worse, and the punishment is then meted – however if one excuses the sinner by saying that he has such a strong Yetzer Hara (in other words, “The sinner is good, yet the evil in him got the better of him”) then a person is likewise forgiven.
Every thought comes from one of seven categories (as we know there are seven emotions and emotions cause thoughts: love, fear, beauty, victory, sensitivity, morality, humility) and in every emotion there is a positive and a negative (for example positive vs. negative loves, positive vs. negative fears, positive vs. negative victories etc.)
Whenever a thought from the negative side comes to you, you should tell yourself, “how low have I fallen?…” for there are different realms, the realm of negative emotions comes from the excrement vs. the realm of thought, where God resides; by having this meditation, you destroy that emotive thought.
And then you should think, “if I can love this emotion (lust etc.) then how much more so must I love my dear beloved God” and this way you return yourself to the world of pristine thoughts.
Similarly when you consider yourself important and you ask God for your needs (for the two go hand in hand, for we consider our needs as important as we consider ourselves) vs. when you consider yourself nothing, for then God can come to you.
I heard from the Baal Shem Tov a lesson in humility – that there was once a king who had two princes, one he sent with great honor, pomp and ceremony to another country, and the other in shame – in order for him to learn the quality of humility – and the one who learned humility, conquered far more.
If one wishes to become humble, one should understand that the only existence that causes him to exist is the Divine energy (for example, you are made of atoms, atoms are energy and that energy as we know from both Kabbalah and science is merely popping in-and-out of existence based on Divine will) – for the entire purpose of our existence is to be a place for the Divine to reside.
One may think, why would the world be created for man, filled with (at times ) arrogance etc. when God has angels whose bodies are a third of the universe, and radiate a pure resplendent light (and as we know, a negative quality, darkness the visage, so what is so amazing about a human…) the answer is from the example of a parrot (why do people love it when a parrot can speak? – though his words are sparse, high-pitched…? yet every human can speak so much infinitely better?) for precisely the uniqueness of the humble person, is what arouses such heavenly delight!
All the resplendent magnificent light which shines in the heavenly realms actually comes from the soul on earth that does the tiniest of spiritual sacrifices, as it states in Kabbalah, “when man (below) has but the slightest sacrifice (say giving a little extra charity) then the splendor of God radiates in all the heavens.”
The Baal Shem Tov said, a person is called a Tzaddik when he receives pleasure in his spiritual service.
When we consider the words of God (say in Torah study, through prophecy etc.) one should bear in mind that this comes from the realm of Divine speech which is the source of every living thing – similarly, there is the Divine thought (behind the words) which is so much infinitely, even greater! – this brings us to a humble appreciation.
Pain is invariably the bodily suffering (or perception of lack,) however when we appreciate that the body actually is an offshoot of the spiritual force which creates both the body and the pain, thereby we nullify our attachment to the pain and bring in the positive force.
The reason some people are sadistic – for they don’t mind if you will kill them, as our sages state: a sadistic person is already dead (in other words, the reason a normal person fears death is because they love life, however someone who is both depressed but simultaneously arrogant, hence their ego cannot tolerate that there is anyone who has joy – this comes about due to the fact that unlike usual self-depression (shame) there is induced-shame, as such, not only is the person sad, they are also angry that someone shamed them, (for whereas if we shame ourselves we get depressed, but we don’t have an egotistical need for vengeance) but in the arrogant person, their ego drives them to sadism.)
“Dear Father in Heaven, we are not the soldiers of the evil satan, called Nega which stands for the fallen strong (angels) Amelekites – No, we are soldiers of your glorious Shechinah! And we pass before you like true angels! We the soldiers of the house of David, the children of Yitzchok who was bound selflessly on an altar – Remember his children in mercy – and as it states: “Each man traveled according to his flag, each tribe to its fathers house;” so we are imprinted (the Bris,) under the wings of your Mitzvah – Please See To Whom We Belong!”
When we are praying and understand what we are saying, we connect the realm of speech to the realm of Divine thought.
One should be extraordinarily scrupulous in learning (without the explanation) the laws of Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish law.)
Furthermore we must teach this to our children, for without knowing the laws, the Torah gets forgotten – and certainly adults must learn.
The Maggid related that when he heard the great name of the Baal Shem Tov whose fame was spreading far as a miracle worker – now the Maagid was extraordinarily knowledgeable in all sections of the Torah and especially so in the Kabbalistic, but being extraordinarily studious, his time was most precious to him – so he set out on the journey – and he came to the Baal Shem Tov; the Baal Shem Tov told him silly fables (in truth they have very profound lessons, though he was not aware) how once he was driving and he didn’t have food for his non-Jewish wagon driver, and then a gentile came and he bought food from him, and another time he didn’t have food for the horse etc. – so the Maagid realized he is wasting his time, so he went to his inn and told the wagon driver that “I would have liked to go back tonight but it is very dark, but tomorrow morning we travel” – now the Baal Shem Tov called him to come visit him and the Maggid came – the Baal Shem Tov said, “I hear that you are versed in Kabbalah” so he said he was – he then brought a book of Eitz Chayim, and asked him to explain a chapter which he did, so the Baal Shem Tov said, “You don’t understand,” so he reread it, and had the same understanding, so he said: “If the master has a different explanation, please tell me and I will see.” So the Baal Shem Tov told him, “Stand” which he did, then – in this chapter there were names of angels – and when the Baal Shem Tov said the chapter, the actual angels appeared, a fire surrounded his home, and when he concluded he told the Maagid, “You did understand, but you didn’t say it with passion” – so the Maagid remained and he learned extraordinarily deep secrets.
426. CONNECTING (TO GOD)
The Baal Shem Tov explains, that to learn Lishmah (altruistically) means to learn, to connect to the Divinity – the awesome Divine life-force – within the holy letters.
427. HASHGACHAH PRATS (DIVINE ORCHESTRATION)
Everything in truth is Divinely orchestrated, however when you don’t believe this, you fall under the forces of darkness that conceal.
When Moshiach comes and the forces of darkness are removed hence concealment of truth is – we will see how everything is one hundred percent Divinely orchestrated.
When we think about how low we are, this is called concealment.
When we think about God’s tremendous kindness to us (which we can only appreciate by first contemplating how low we are, otherwise we believe we are deserving, hence it isn’t) and to everyone; then this is called joy.
A person who needs charity should bear in mind that they are giving another the opportunity to save their lives (as it states “Charity saves from death”) hence by having this intention, hence by taking money, they are doing a great Mitzvah.
Someone who does so with the proper intention; hence should only take from worthy Jews and not run to anyone.
This completed the Holy Book Kesser Shem Tov
Now we are translating the additional sayings of the Baal Shem Tov that have been handed down to us through the holy lips of the Lubavitcher Rebbes
3. This Teaching Was Told To The Rebbe Rashab While He Visited The Graveside of His Father The Rebbe Maharash
The verse states, “It will be when you come to the Aretz / Land”
The Medrash teaches: Why is Israel called Aretz? because it is “rotz,” runs to do the will of her father in heaven.
In addition, the words, Aretz means desire (in other words, she desires to do the will of her father in Heaven.)
“It will be when you come to the land” – in other words, when you will arrive at God’s intent (for you) – “that God your Lord gives you as inheritance” – for this is a present to every Jew; so the Avodah (mechanism) in this should be – “You should settle” – you should bring this intent into practical methods – “And you should take etc. and place it in the basket” – you should take the light (inspiration) and put it into containers (actions) – “and you should go to the place” – this is the idea of Divine ordinance – “that God your Lord will choose” – for wherever a Jew goes, this is not circumstantial rather Divinely ordained. And the purpose of going somewhere is – “to spread his name there” – to spread the knowledge of God.
“When you will come” – in order to perceive the Divine intent in your life, this is through – “to spread his name there” – to have sacrifice in spreading Godliness. And how does one have sacrifice? – this is through saying a blessing or a verse in Tehhilim (as the Rebbe Rashab explains, on earth people marvel at wisdom, but in heaven, in simply saying the holy letters.)
The radiance of God is far more by the simple Jews (who sincerely do God’s will…) then in the Jewish scholars (for the former have an unquenchable thirst, while the latter quench their thirst in the understanding of Torah.)
The entire Torah is names of God. In Sefer Yetzirah it says, three letters build six words. The word Tzohar (made of three Hebrew letters) has six combinations – five revealed and one concealed. To run, Difficulty, Desire, Light – The lesson is, through running to do a Mitzvah, we transform a difficulty into a new desire that God has, to bestow light, and it becomes joyous. The Baal Shem Tov said, if we knew the power in the combination of the letters of the Torah (for together they form Divine names which are positive energy systems) there wouldn’t be a single Jew who would not know all of Chumash and Tehillim by-heart.
The Baal Shem Tov said to the Jewish leaders (Rabbis/ teachers of the Jewish people) “You set aside your own Torah study and service for the benefit of the public (teaching) so what will be of you? – but your personal growth will be merged into and rise with the communal.”
“In the Beginning God Created Heaven and Earth”
The Baal Shem Tov Explains: The Beginning of our Service is To Reveal God, and this is through understanding the miracle of the creation both of heaven and of earth.
5. AVODA (SELF-REFINMENT)
The beginning of our service is to elevate the entire world, especially the human, to the level that “God is your Lord” – in other words, to develop a personal relationship.
6. SHABBOS BREISHIS
The Baal Shem Tov says, the Divine light that comes into Shabbos Breishis is what gives energy to our entire Divine service.
7. EVIL (VS. GOOD)
The Medrash explains, what does it mean “It was evening it was morning” – evening refers to the deeds of the wicked, and morning, the deeds of the righteous; and I don’t know which ones God desires, thus when the Torah says “and God saw the light was good,” we know.
How could there even be such a question?
Answers the Baal Shem Tov, one appreciates light only after darkness, a wise person only in contrast to a fool, and similarly a righteous person only in contrast to a wicked, so I may think that all is part of God’s will…
8. TORAH – PRAYER
“Make a Tzohar, light in the Teivah, Ark” – The Baal Shem Tov taught, the ark are the words of Torah and prayer; and light is saying them with warmth and heartfulness.
9. BAD (TO GOOD)
When we pray with absolute vitality which shows our heartfelt desire, this transforms negatives to positives.
10. BAD (TO GOOD)
When negatives are upon us and this arouses us to Teshuvah, to transform our lives; this transforms negatives.
11. TORAH – PRAYER
From the Previous Rebbe:
Everyone is familiar with the Torah teaching that the Baal Shem Tov says on the Passuk (verse) “Come to the Ark” – that the Baal Shem Tov says, that a soul comes into this world and the person becomes preoccupied with making a living through labor; as we know the Baal Shem Tov believed, better to be a skilled laborer than a businessperson – so a person can get consumed… – so the solution is to “come to the ark;” to attach oneself to the words of prayer that one says, and the words of Torah that one learns, and in merit of the connection to these holy letters of prayer and Torah, the Baal Shem Tov predicts you will be helped in all you need –
CONNECTING (TO GOD)
This connection to the spirituality of the letters, according to the Baal Shem Tov, is one of the highest spiritual connections.
Connection is the master-key and everyone can do it.
The Baal Shem Tov says, that the true simple faith exhibited by a Jewish man or woman saying Tehhilim, is the highest level of connection.
The soul is on par with everyone; but by a scholar, his connection opens up a new vista of wisdom; however by a simple Jew who cannot understand what they’re saying, the words creates the same levels of salvations (in other words, when it comes to connection and salvation, all are equal.)
“Now I see you are a beautiful lady.”
Did Avrohom not see his wife before? (this was said upon entering into Egypt where he requested her to please hide (so the Egyptian’s wouldn’t kill him.))
The Baal Shem Tov explains, that Avrohom’s thought process was continuously connected above, hence he didn’t see what is eyes were looking at (perhaps didn’t think about….)
However as he approached Egypt, a debased and low country, the thoughts of this world began to effect.
G-d did Jacob (in contrast to what Abraham had to do…) a favor; namely he folded Israel into one mat, so his one night on Mount Moraih (where he had the famous dream) enabled him to elevate all of its holy sparks.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, there is a fourth realm – we know there is the realm of holiness, the realm of Kelipahs Noga and the realm of Shalosh Kelipos Hatma-ois (Holiness, translucent darkness, and congealed darkness.)
In truth, though it is not mentioned in Eitz Chayim (a Kabbalistic work) the Baal Shem Tov says that the realm of Holiness is such that it perceived the extraordinary benefit of the Divine light, hence is both excited and humbled by the experience, and due to the humility, it shines forward – however in Kelipah as there is the ego which sets an expectation, hence there is lack of joy (for you don’t feel happy with what you believe is OWED) hence they are in a constant state of desire.
Why did Lavan chase after Jacob – for there were a few letters of the Torah that Jacob had not refined (birur) hence Lavan chased him and from this an extra portion of the Torah was added.
“And the fear of God was on the city” (fear in this context the Torah writes as “Chitas”)
The Baal Shem Tov said, whoever knows all the letters of Chumash Tehhilim and Tanya (Chitas’s acronym) has nothing to fear.
17. ELUL, SELICHOS, ROSH HASHANA, ASERES YIMIE TESHUVA, YOM KIPPUR
The Rebbe told us what he heard from the Rebbe the Baal Shem Tov:
“Had we not tarried, we could have returned twice” (this is what Judah said to Jacob.)
“Returned twice” are two types of Teshuvah (returning to G-d.)
- A general return to G-d on Rosh Hashanah – accepting Him as your king.
- A specific returning on Yom Kippur to specify each sin and to cleanse oneself.
These two returns are dependent on the Cheshboin Hanefesh (soul-account) that one does during the month of Elul.
In other words, based on your service in Elul is how your Teshuvah during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be.
However Elul is a general preparation, but the specific preparation for Rosh Hashanah is during Selichois when we say, “To you God is mercy and we are ashamed” – in other words, where we specifically supplicate.
And the days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the specific preparation for Yom Kippur.
18. JEWS – PASSION
The Rebbe, the Mezritcheh Maagid told me a Torah which he heard from the Baal Shem Tov:
“And the angel of G-d appeared to him, a flame of fire amidst the burning thorn-bush – behold the thorn-bush was burning but it was not consumed – said Moses ‘Let me turn aside and see this amazing site.’”
The Targum (Aramaic translator ) translates, “And the angel of Hashem revealed to Moses in the flame in the thorn-bush.”
The idea of revelation is that it appears to each person based on their particular capacity (of understanding.)
A revelation means that even a person of limited capacity can still benefit (for revelation comes from God who is not.)
It is for this reason translating the verse, “And God descended on Mount Sinai” (the great revelation) “and God revealed himself on Mount Sinai.”
For in the revelation of Sinai (as the Medrash tells us, each person said “The voice is speaking directly to me”) it had a simultaneous effect on the highest to the lowest.
Rashi comments on the revelation of the angel in the flame of fire, as “In the heart (of fire”)
In other words, where does God reveal himself? in the heart that has a passion – the sincere heart.
The reason for the lowly thorn-bush is because as Rashi says, it represents that God is with those in stress (Tzarah).
This world is called a distressed world, as opposed to the bright higher worlds; for in those worlds, the clear translucent Divine energy radiates; though in this world it is concealed through the cloak of nature (whose habituation creates the appearance of a lack of Divinity.)
It is our job, through passionate Torah and Mitzvahs, to light up this world.
It states, “Man is like the tree of the field” this refers to the sages, but there is another “tree” the thorn-bush.
Both have (or are referred to as) fire.
However there is a difference, for the scholars being able to satisfy their hunger, in the intellectual pursuits, are not like a burning flame. However the simple pious Jew who prays and says Tehhilim, not understanding the words, his fire for God is ever present.
So Moses said, “Let me turn aside and see this amazing site”; In other words, understanding the great sight, that the true everlasting flame for God, is in the heart of the simple pious person… he decided to turn aside from where he was, to where he should be.
Now obviously a Tzaddik like Moses was all good, however he realized that one must continually ascend.
The Friediker Rebbe explains this: it means that one must realize, that today must be far better than yesterday, and likewise the morrow.
19. THE THURNBUSH
What was the amazing site – that on one hand the thornbush was engulfed in flames yet it wasn’t burning, on the other hand, though it was burning (smoke rising etc.) it wasn’t being consumed.
“For a Peshah, for an ox an donkey, a sheep, an article of clothing, anything that is lost.”
The Baal Shem Tov explains Peshah to stand for Prikois Shel Oil/ “doing whatever you want” (as opposed to doing the heavenly will.)
For everything there is (let’s call it) frivolity.
Seemingly, how is it that a Jew could be frivolous? – his body was born in purity through a kosher Mikvah.
The fact that the 40 sah (quantity in the Mikvah) makes one pure is absolute, and this is in fact what creates Kabalas Oil (accepting the heavenly will.) – We know angels warm themselves up by the steam rising from the Mikvah and when the soul comes into the body at conception, angels escort it – so how does a soul end up frivolous.
The answer is “for an ox” – an ox is the Yetzer Hara (whose source is in the celestial ox) “for a donkey” – a donkey is cold – it cools off the spiritual passion; “for a sheep” – a sheep wanders, this refers to the fact that instead of being focused the person spreads himself everywhere, hence he wants everything; he feels he needs it all; “for a garment” – this refers to what a person thinks, speaks and acts upon/in; “anything that is lost” – through this a person loses everything! and doesn’t know who they are..!
The Baal Shem Tov taught on the Verse:
“When you will see the donkey…” – when you will truly look at the desires of your body, you will see – “your enemy…” – for it hates the soul that has spiritual yearnings and strivings – furthermore you will see – “that it is burdened under its luggage…” – instead of doing happily that which God requests, it is lazy and stubborn – so you may think – “I will not help it….” – that I need to whip the donkey; in other words, be harsh (to my body); This is not the way for the light of the Torah to penetrate, rather – “you should surely assist it…” – you should refine it, encourage it, but not break, pain it (this is an amazing teaching, for the Baal Shem Tov set aside the notion that people should perhaps not care about the body, rather he said you should use your body in good health and happiness.)
22. HATE -SHAME
“Do not hate your brother in your heart – you should surely rebuke him and do not consider him to have sinned.”
The Baal Shem Tov teaches:
Do not hate your brother in your heart.
Anyone who hates a fellow Jew, even just in their heart – not that he actually G-d-forbid does anything wrong or says something bad about him – but he just resents him – such a person transgresses a Biblical prohibition.
So how can one ensure not to transgress… so, “you should surely rebuke him” – you should go to the person that you know hates you – now his hate must have a cause – and the cause is surely something related to your conduct. He probably saw things that he considers according to the Torah, one shouldn’t behave as such – therefore the solution is to go to him and prove that your way and method is correct!
“And do not consider him to have sinned.” So if you may query, why should I have to do this? – This is out of brotherly love, and this is the meaning of “and do not consider him to have sinned”; your love for him should cause, that you do not allow him to have the sin (of hatred.) As you will show him how your manner and method is according to the Torah, you will remove from him the sin of hating.
However as you are doing such a great mitzvah you may say perhaps a harsh word; hence Rashi says on the words, “And do not consider him to have sinned,” you may never shame a person.
The Alter Rebbe quoted from the Maggid who said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov,
Loving a Jew, is in fact the explanation of loving God.
For within the Jew is a Divine soul.
The Baal Shem Tov said: every positive command has a prohibition (for example eating kosher has, not eating not-kosher) the Mitzvah of loving your fellow Jew has a corresponding prohibition to never hold any grudges.
The festivals are “holy days” – in other words, in these days we draw down an awesome holiness – however they depend on, to what extent we prepare (spiritually.)
When we truly sit in the Sukkah for seven days (meaning, use the Sukkah as much as we should – for the law is to do as many activities as possible, besides eating and drinking there) then we draw the supernal light within (us.)
“And The Land Will Rest”
Explains the Baal Shem Tov – this means that we rest our desires.
28. TORAH (EGO)
Through Torah a person can draw down heaven or (if allowed to egotistically intermingle) hell.
29. JEWS – ANTI-SEMITISM
The Jewish people are compared to the land – just as the earth’s crust contains natural minerals and metals (the Baal Shem Tov writing this app. three hundred years ago made a true prediction) which most have yet to be explored and mined – but most importantly, the benefit of the earth’s crust is the wonderful dirt, which gives life to all – simultaneously, all tread the dirt while they need it.
This exact analogy is the Jewish people – for the Jewish people contain the deepest treasures, like the ground – true sometimes it must be mined; but we see how Jews everywhere contribute socially, economically, spiritually to every land that they come to (and as the Baal Shem Tov says elsewhere, just as people tread on the dirt though they need it, countries in their stupid savagery that have expelled the Jews, found, for-example Spain, that their entire economies collapsed.)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, that just as the Jews had 42 journeys (from place to place) until they reached Israel (starting in Egypt) in each of our lives, the leaving of Egypt is birth, then there are 42 journeys (ups and downs etc.) until we return to the higher life.
31. THOUGHTS SPEACH ACTIONS
The three cities of refuge refer to the three faculties of thought, speech and action (namely, if you use them for the good.)
32. “Listen amongst your brothers, and offer justice.”
This literally refers to judges.
TORAH (IN THE HEART)
The council of the four lands came to test the Baal Shem Tov and he explained to them that in the study of Torah there are two types: 1. The Torah of the mind and 2. the Torah of the heart.
The mind understands, and the heart feels.
“You” – said the Baal Shem Tov – “and the great Torah scholars, know the Torah as it has come as a wisdom, and I have come to reveal the Torah, as it comes also in the heart.”
He then explained the verse to “listen amongst your brothers,” in three ways.
- “Listen amongst your brothers;” He who has a sensitivity and understands how great is God’s love to every Jew, that every Jew is so precious, such a Jew, is amongst his brothers!
- “Listen amongst your brothers;” He who has a sensitivity, is between your brothers – he is connected with Jews and feels a deep spiritual pleasure in, and from each and every Jew.
- “Listen amongst your brothers.” In order to achieve the above mentioned sensitivity – to appreciate and understand the greatness of every Jew – this is precisely when you are amongst your brothers – when one is interconnected with Jews; and every Jew, even the simplest to you, is considered your brother.
When the messengers saw that the Baal Shem Tov was very strong in his viewpoint, they asked him – seeing that the other schools of learning had hundreds, if not thousands of disciples; yet his had just sixty, so where did he derive his belief (in the continuation of his movement?)
He gave them an example:
There are two types of farmers – one sows many seeds over a vast quantity of land – the other makes little mounds and every seed, treats like his own child – the former does reap a large bounty, but what he reaps, has worms and mold, and the seeds they produce likewise – whereas the latter, not only does his little harvest yield wonderful fruit, but their seeds as well.
34 / 35. GOD
All the different names of God, refer to God (though they also refer to, as God clothes Himself in a particular attribute, so God of love, God of Judgment; while the famous name Havayeh, refers to God beyond.)
The Baal Shem Tov suggests a., that one needs to be extraordinarily careful when studying Kabbalah, not to associate the Divine names to the limited attributes (see above) and b., therefore, the average person should not (study Kabbalah, as not understanding how much is allegory, mistakenly assumes imagery.)
Love has the same numerical equivalent to secret / stranger – when you reveal a person’s inner light (through seeing him in a positive light) this creates from a stranger, love.
38. LOVE (MEDITATE)
The commandment to love (whether God or a fellow) is that one should deeply concentrate on those thoughts that inspire love (for one can be commanded to generate, not feel.)
When a person dedicates their life to teaching others, this is what accompanies a person in the hereafter (both in Gan Eden and Tichias Hameisim).
“You are God’s children.” “These are the children of Abraham, Abraham gave birth to Isaac.”
But Abraham had also Yishmoel – however the true meaning of being a Jew, is that one receives a Divine soul.
41. GOD – TISHRIE
God blesses personally the month of Tishrie, and it is with this power, the Jews bless all the following months.
This happens when we read the Torah portion (which we read before Rosh Hashanah) Atem Nitzavim.
The month of Tishrie is filled with numerous abundant blessings.
The truest darkness (as many live in) is that they think black is actually white (what is actually their detriment, their benefit) :
43. GOD – EVIL
It is true God sustains evil (as freedom to choose between good and evil is necessary) however as God despises evil, this is like one who gives something that one is compelled to – with a perfunctory giving.
44. GOD – EVIL – LOVE
God is deeply upset by how much evil propagates, when instead it should be good/love.
The greater the mind the lower it can explain – so the greatest mind can explain the deepest concepts even to a child.
Even if we are filled with Torah knowledge and with deep love and awe of God and this motivates us to give charity, we may be “murderers,” for if we give charity but we do not feel the other person’s plight…
Just as a king who forcefully washes off the excrement that their baby excreted, similarly God’s punishments are love.
We literally are wherever we desire /are fantasizing (for in essence reality is not physical.)
The unlearned pious sincere Jews, whether businessmen or tradesmen, who pray and earn their livelihoods honestly, they give charity and rejoice in donating to their synagogue, upon them is the verse, “Your nation are all righteous (Tzaddikim) they will inherit the earth/heaven/Moshiach” for they increase the love of God.
Trust in God is consonant with the knowledge, that, it’s God.
There are two necessary trusts – there is the trust that my livelihood is not the means I employ, but the means only to catch God’s blessings.
And the trust that God will grant me the means.
The more ego, the less does God assist.
The Baal Shem Tov gives an awesome example for the mechanism of life which is continued growth from a winding stairwell.
So when you are at the bottom you can see the next level; but as you start ascending, because the stairwell is circular, you actually are simultaneously closer to the next level, but you cannot see it.
This teaches us that, what you see, is the human comprehension; vs. what you don’t, the Divine advancement (this contains extraordinary profound secrets.)
In continuation of the example of the circular stairwell: this is similar to a dance in which people go in and out (a circle that people come close and separate) for in order to achieve the next level, one therefore must go away from the current.
Every Jew is called a seed, now in seeds there are those of vegetation, and those of trees (it seems the idea is, that as one of the Rebbes said, that due to the sacrifice for Chassidus that the older (earlier) Chassidim had, they implanted a deep love for God (as we know, traits become hereditary) within their children, hence when a descendant of one of these trees arrives – due to circumstance somewhere – his earnestness and certainly love and awe of Hashem become a source of wellspring.)
56. TESHUVAH (CHANGE)
The Baal Shem Tov explains proper repentance, Teshuvah (attachment to the Divine source) is when we understand that the Divine is our source; (in other words, we are born into a perception of self-sufficiency, when we realize that our very soul is God, this is the ultimate return.)
The verse states, “You will be to me like a precious land, says God of hosts” – just as the wisest scientists will never permeate all the myriads of treasures the earth produces, and stored in the mantle; for all is derived from the earth… simultaneously no-one can truly perceive the tremendous qualities lying sometimes latent in every Jew, called God’s “precious land” – the Baal Shem Tov concluded – “I desire to harvest these qualities, as only God’s land can produce.”
58. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
“I place God before me constantly – from my right side He will never depart.”
God (‘s name) must be like a friend – just as when you shake your friend’s hand, so your right hand crosses and then is perpendicular to his left hand (as you shake his right hand;) similarly, God’s holiness must effect your left (selfish narcissistic) side.
The Torah is complete – no one has taken anything from it (expropriated,) for the Torah restores (revives) the soul – when one approaches the study of Torah with pure faith and fear of God, then the light of the Torah revives one – it gives a tremendous appreciation for the greatness of God.
Therefore the Torah remains complete – no one has touched (in other words, it is an inexhaustible supply of Divine energy.)
60. PRAYER – GRATITUDE
Once the Baal Shem Tov (in his concealed days) was dressed as a simple Jewish peasant and he came into a synagogue, where there was a great scholar – he asked the scholar “how are you?”… “how are things?”… “how is your livelihood?”… but the arrogant scholar just ignored him, so the Baal Shem Tov said, “Why are you removing God’s sustenance?” – so the scholar was surprised and puzzled – so he replied, “God gives man sustenance and He receives his sustenance (so to say) by our gratitude, thanks and appreciation.”
(The Baal Shem Tov would travel from city to city to simply ask Jews how they were – for in Jew’s praise of God, this arouses God’s greatest loving reciprocal joy.)
In every physical thing there is good and evil, the physicality of it is evil, and the Divine energy which is its source, is good.
So we must turn away from evil, in other words not use the physical thing for its taste, or beauty, pleasure; and only seek to be sustained through the Divine energy (for when one makes a blessing, the Divine spark in the food, shoots into their soul.)
One must constantly seek to make peace / unity between the physical object and the Divine life that causes it (in other words, by connecting to the spiritual part of food, for-example, a woman etc. we cause it’s own soul to shine.)
“Elokim (one name for God) rose through the sound of the Shofar – Havayeh with the sound of the Shofar.”
The Baal Shem Tov said – we rise to God through the name Elokim (from this world) and this causes that the name of Havayeh (God who transcends this world) permeates.
A person’s greatest lust has no comparison to the tremendous spiritual lust David felt.
What we Jews manifest in terms of Divine revelation (which we may not currently perceive but will be revealed when Moshiach comes) infinitely surpasses the revelation Jews felt in the Holy Temple (for the revelation of today is based on doing Mitzvos, not out of sensing God, rather out of submission – as we know tragically historically – with the ultimate sacrifice.)
Though there may be different spiritual levels (by different Jews) yet when it comes to Amen Yehei Shimei Rabbah, we are all equal.
Every day Torah should seem as if it is “Just Released.”
67. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Every Jew’s greatness is that s/he is a spiritual warrior (battling their Yetzer Hara, so Divinity enters.)
It is far greater, not, to know what is wrong, but how to do what is right.
However we go, we should walk directed by God.
Our soul which emanates from God has five levels: Yechida, Chaya, Neshomah, Ruach and Nefesh (Oneness (with God,) Life, Soul, Spirit, Life-force) The Lower three levels we apprehend (through realizing, if I am alive, I must have a life-force, spirit, soul – the higher two, we feel.
Every soul has a specific mission – a purpose – we must fulfill this purpose before the time allotted.
72. BAD (TO GOOD)
When we say the beautiful songs of praise to God, composed by King David (Tehhilim) we shatter any negative.
Whoever says the whole book of Psalms, eliminates any negative (Divine) decree.
Three types of souls enter this world (Jewish): Those who come into the ocean of madness (our world) in a boat – so their upbringing has the protective element of Torah and Mitzvos – but there are those who have been born without any life-jackets and the waves of insanity constantly threaten to submerge their Divinity, and then there are lifeguards.
The Mitzvah of Hachnasas Oirchim inviting in guests cheerfully, joyfully and with respect; merits that a couple will have a good son (born.)
The letters of Divine speech which really is the creative energetic force which brings matter from its not-existent state into existence – these letters, for-example “Let there be a sky” continuously are “said” (for if not, as the only existence of the sky is these creative letters (e=m, so though we see matter, it is really energy, and as we know, energy must have source…) so if God/forbid would stop saying these letters, even for an instant, the sky would simply disappear.)
Just as your shadow mimics your every move – so too whatever we do on earth gets literally mirrored in heaven (in other words, if our energy – desire – emotions are positive, our heaven / destiny, becomes positive – what is amazing about this teaching is, that irrespective of who you are, simply by choosing to believe that G-d, hence reality is good, it will become.)
If after Davening (our daily prayer/s) we feel low (crushed,) then our prayers will have a good effect (however if we feel great – buoyed by how good our prayers were – they become useless.)
Whatever God does is truly miraculous, but the only one who realizes – is God.
Fortunate is a man who is their true self.
Whoever rejoices in the study and sharing of the Torah (studies) is fortunate that their children and grandchildren will likewise.
83. MISNAGDIM – CHASSIDIM
When a person only learns nigleh (the Talmudic studies) they can delude themselves that their brain is wise, hence as they become self-centered they seek not the fulfillment (of Torah) rather the leniencies (as we see with misnagdim rachmanah litzlan;) however one who studies Chassidus (the inner dimension, the soul of Torah) such a person remains faithful (and seeks to follow correctly, and even more so! (hence the name Chassidim, which means “go beyond the letter of the law.”)
84. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Who is a Yiras Shamayim? (a notable accolade, literally one who fears God – does good…) one who has self-control – But one who merely studies Torah (and this is their sole occupation) Stay Far Away!
The harder your beginning(s,) the greater your end(s).
Everyone has a specific Mitzvah in which there is a Divine feeling.
The following is a commentary of the Friedikeh Rebbe based on the famous story that one of our great sages came to another in a dream – in fulfillment of a promise to demonstrate what he feels/recognizes in heaven (after he passed on.)
So he said – “I see an opposite, topsy-turvy world, those who were below below, are above above; and those who were above below, are below above.”
The Baal Shem Tov teaches us, that our eyes lie.
In truth, those who seem on top are below, and those who seem humble are really high.
99. TORAH – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Talmud states that one who learns Torah and is meritorious, it becomes a potion of life, but if in the reverse… death.
The Gemarah explains, this depends on a person who studies, with faith.
Asks the Baal Shem Tov… what is the connection between belief and knowledge?
On the contrary, belief refers to what you cannot understand; versus Torah study, which you must.
Now in Gemarah Shabbos, Rava explains this: that those who believe means those who strive, and through their toil, they come to proper conclusions.
Whoever studies Torah must be cognizant that in every concept is a deep secret.
Hence, one must work very hard to discover this hidden wisdom.
Such a learning, creates a refinement, and merit to the studier.
This is the explanation of merit, which in Hebrew is Zocheh, which also means refined; so if Torah refines the person, then it is a merit.
However if God-forbid the reverse, namely (as in the case of misnagdim Ed.) the Torah contributes to arrogance, ego, hence evil, then it is pure poison.
Whoever reads the story of the meggila in reverse order does not fulfill the obligation (Jewish Law.)
Explains the Baal Shem Tov, whoever reads the story of the meggilah (which primarily applies to all our festivals and Biblical stories) and thinks “this is history,” not realizing this is guidance! misses the point.
101. TESHUVAH (CHANGE)
There is a daily heavenly announcement, “return wayward children.”
Queries the Baal Shem Tov – but who hears it?
He replies, as we have a part of our soul in heaven and this part Hears it, this inspires us on earth.
102. TESHUVAH (CHANGE)
When we randomly get thoughts to come close to God, this comes from the heavenly announcement (see 101.)
103. KINDNESS (TO GOD)
The Baal Shem Tov explained the teaching of our sages that there are three signs (qualities) of the Jewish people: merciful, bashful and kind.
Merciful, that we have mercy upon our soul which descended from the heavenly highest heights to be clothed in the world of darkness, in a physical corporeal body. (Which for her is an extraordinarily painful experience, like going from being a prince to a beggar.)
Bashful – they feel bashfulness in the face of the Divine light which hovers over their head and hence they improve.
Kind- that they allow the Divine Being on the heavenly throne to inspire, educate and guide them.
The Baal Shem Tov distributed all his money to charity, so he was queried – doesn’t the Talmud say, one who distributes lavishly should do no more than 1/5th.
Explained the Baal Shem Tov – the wording of our sages is “hamivazvez,” which refers to money that one finds difficult to give and must force oneself, however I love to give (hence it is no different to my ability to spend.)
Avrohom Avinue recognized God when he was three, however his greatness lies in the fact that he had genuine self-sacrifice to teach others.
The explanation of the Mishnah, “when two people holding onto a Tallis come into a court, each claiming they found it (in a permissible way, which would allow them to keep it) so the court causes each to swear they “posses no less than half” and they divide it.”
The Baal Shem Tov explained how this Mishnah is studied in heaven.
Everything that exist in this world contains a Divine spark (which is its direct cause, from non-existence to existence.)
When one uses that item for a Mitzvah, one elevates this holy spark back to the Divine source.
Now for doing so (which is literally like saving a prince) he merits a great reward – now if one Mitzvah was done through two people then this reward is divided.
In heaven they deduce the following – two people who were engaged in bringing a third to Teshuvah, (repentance) so say Rueven tells Shimoin about Levi and then Shimoin goes and he inspires Levi and Levi becomes a full-fledged Baal Teshuvah, hence for the rest of his life he elevates many sparks – so now both Rueven and Shimoin wish to claim some of the reward, so the answer is that they will split.
107. LOVE/FEAR (OF GOD)
The Talmud states Jerusalem was destroyed for the Jews were pedantic to only follow the Torah law.
Yerushalayim is made up of two words, Yirah-Shalaim, complete fear of God – hence one who fears God, goes beyond the letter of the law (indicating their joy not compulsion.)
A Jew never converted, neither did a gentile (to Judaism.)
Whoever converts “out” of Judaism lacks Yechidah, the quintessential Jewish soul, and conversely whoever converts to Judaism has this soul, it’s only that through circumstances God removes the barriers.
Our Sages teach “whoever delves into Torah, his possessions become successful.”
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, the possessions of a Jew are his mind and his heart.
Avrohom Avinu was both a Torah scholar and fulfilled all the Mitzvos before they were given.
However the reason he was chosen was because God saw that his sincerity and true faith was absolute.
And this comes about through studying Torah.
110. “Whoever says I have only Torah – without work – even Torah lacks.”
The Baal Shem Tov explains – work refers to Loving Ones Fellow – doing everything to assist with love – only then does one’s Torah bear fruit.
111. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov taught, when people are happy because of you, so is God.
The Mishnah says, “Man is punished with and without his knowledge.”
Explains the Baal Shem Tov, with his knowledge refers to when sometimes a person is very bitter, and says that he prefers death…
And without his knowledge, is when man judges another person (believing for his sin he deserves punishment) this then is visited upon him.
(another explanation of the above 112 Mishnah)
When we arrive to heaven, we are shown scenes of someone’s behavior and asked to pass a verdict.
If we (God-forbid) find the behavior as warranting punishment, this then becomes our own judgment, for we are shown scenes which we ourselves did.
114. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT – REBBES
The Mishnah says – Who is wise, whoever learns from everyone, as the verse states “from all my teachers I became wise.”
The Baal Shem Tov queries – is everyone truly a teacher.?
We find a teacher must be qualified.
How can you say one who learns from everyone? – does everyone have teaching qualities?
And furthermore what is the proof from the verse “from all my teachers I became wise.”
This seems to refer only when one delves deeply into the teachings of the teacher.
So how does this compare to someone who learns from anyone?
The answer is, it states, “the candle of God is man’s soul,” a candle has both light as well as a shadow; now the light comes from the candle, while the shadow comes from the candle-holder which blocks the light rays.
Similarly everyone’s soul shines light, but is blocked in life, by the body.
Hence when one is in the presence of a Tzaddik whose soul is shining, he receives positive thoughts, but in the presence of a rasha whose body is obscuring and hence he radiates darkness, he receives negative thoughts.
Hence the goal is to learn from the Tzaddikim, while rejecting the way of the wicked.
115. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
We must learn from everyone, even a bad person (for there is some good in everyone.)
116. YETZER HARA – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
It doesn’t take a genius to break one’s instincts, for this, any normal mind dictates… however what a wise person does, is harness (the yetzer hara); for as it states, there is much power in the impulse, therefore through guiding one’s emotions, one is granted extraordinary energy.
The word Olam (world) in Hebrew also means (helem) concealment, this world conceals; and the goal is to reveal (olam) which refers to the Helem Haatzmi, the Divine (which is hidden.)
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, when a person is arrogant, hence desires superiority, hence instead of loving, they look askance at anyone who they deem unworthy; this causes that their Torah study – itself limited to the simple meaning, not the remez, drush and soid – is worthless.
The Jewish people are compared to a vine – just as the vine’s leaves protect the delicate grapes and as we know, the power of the protector is greater than the protected, thus within the Jewish people there are the laypeople (pasheteh yidden) and the Torah scholars – the former are the vine leaves.
120. LASHOIN HARA (GOSSIPING)
The Baal Shem Tov explained the Mishnah, that Lashoin Hara kills the speaker, the listener, and the conceiver; for this refers to their spirituality – which is much worse than physical annihilation.
121. TORAH (IN THE WOMB)
When a child is in the womb they are taught the entire Torah – on Thursday nights they are taught the Chumash with Rashi – he who has a good memory, when he studies the Chumash with Rashi on Thursday nights, remembers the sweet pleasure of that previous study.
It states in the Holy Zohar, “The master of the academy said, ‘He who is small is great, and he who is great (in his own estimation) is small’.”
The master of the academy was precise in his wording – he begins with the organized mentality in tikkun (our world).
For even in the spiritual realm of Tohu, there is big and small, however in Tohu, it begins from big to small; this we see empirically that he who begins in his Divine service when young and mistakenly assumes himself great, when he is older he is truly small.
However he who is small, is great.
For in Tikkun, the order is from small to great.
In the beginning of one’s service one must feel like a nobody – meaning, this that I understand, is nothing – the main thing is the sense (in other words, to understand how much one lacks.)
123. WATER – BLESSING
“The lower waters cry, we wish to be before the king.”
Explains the Baal Shem Tov, from when the waters were separated – during creation – the lower waters weep with an incredible yearning that a Jew should come by and use them for something spiritual – be it washing ones hands (for prayer) a mikvah etc.
This weeping may continuously go on for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The soul of Moses in every generation (in the leader – the Rebbe) every Jew, man or woman is a generation – when they join in marital unity according to the Torah, they become blessed by the Moses of the generation, He is totally a Divine light – however his light is the light that shines from the radiance of Moses found in each and everyone, in the three loves: the love of God, the love of Torah, and the love of one’s fellow.
Until Abraham the world was dark, for though there were Tzaddikim (righteous people) they did not bother teaching the way of God and did not request God’s mercy for them- however with the arrival of Abraham all that changed.
He taught his generation the way to serve God, and sacrificed himself to arouse God’s mercy for his generation, to the extent, even for the wicked evil sodomites and amorites, he prayed and requested Divine mercy.
Once the Baal Shem Tov took his disciples to a far flung town – in this town lived a skinner (of carcasses) who was very devout and would constantly say Tehilim – and there also lived a sacred hermit who would study Torah non-stop, and removed himself from all worldly affairs. The Baal Shem Tov took his student to the home of the skinner and asked his students to place their hands on one another’s shoulders and then he closed the circle and they were astounded to see the heaven in store – then they went to the house of the hermit who had amazing mental abilities and would be able to teach anyone anything, in fact, he would often say “this I heard from Elijah the prophet” and once again they formed a closed loop and they saw snakes and scorpions (the result of his arrogance.)
Explained the Baal Shem Tov, though it says, “if one fasts for thirty days they will merit to see Elijah,” nonetheless they will not merit to see their own soul.
Abraham was generous with his money, his body and his soul.
With his money – for he would feed all visitors.
With his body, for he would personally serve.
With his soul – for as it states in Sefer Yetzirah, that Abraham was an extraordinary genius in researching Divine wisdom, and certainly every moment of time was extraordinarily precious to him, nonetheless, he was generous to set this aside, to teach people, completely not on his level, for the greatness of kindness is to set oneself aside.
128. TORAH SCROLL
In the city of the Baal Shem Tov – Mezhibush – there was once a heavenly evil decree and many became very ill, some critically – and everyone came crying to the Baal Shem Tov – he told them:
We say in the prayers of Shemoinah Esrie, “may the service of the Jewish people always be pleasing to you.”
The explanation is:
Whenever Jews do Divine service, they create the desire (the same etymology of pleasing) to minimize negative decrees – and what is this service? – this is the letters of the Torah and this occurs in two ways – saying the letters of the Torah and the book of Tehhilim and the writing of a Torah that all participate in.
Everyone decided to participate, and immediately the Baal Shem Tov had his scribe Reb Tzvi write the first two columns, and miraculously everyone got better.
We say in the grace after meals:
We are grateful for all that comes from your full open holy outstretched hand.
In the Baal Shem Tov’s siddur it was written instead of holy (hakedusha) overflowing (hagedushah.)
The Baal Shem Tov explains: how does one escape poverty? through creating a shift in thinking, in emotions, and even by simply dancing.
When one studies Torah without heartfelt love for and awe of God, the Torah remains trapped (for all good deeds are taken by angels to God, however if the motive was simply habit or worse, selfishness…)
In the times of the Baal Shem, once for many years, all the Mitzvos the Jews did, did not elevate, until one complete Tzaddik seeing an “eis-ratzoin” (heavenly good-mood, hence window of opportunity) caused it all to elevate.
The Baal Shem Tov said, the love of one’s fellow is the first doorway to God.
One must have self-sacrifice (the readiness to give all, even to the point of giving one’s life) for every single fellow (even one you never met.)
The Baal Shem Tov would frequently say: loving God is to love the Jew, for when one loves the father, naturally he loves his son.
There are two motives to love a fellow: 1. Because he is 2. because he is great – the first is reality, the second is a title.
The Baal Shem Tov said, the love between Jews must be a brotherly love, for just as such love is boundless, similarly one must contain an unconditional-love.
The Baal Shem Tov said, just as one loves a holy Sefer Torah with a deep inner love, so too must one love a fellow Jew – and this is most dear to God (who is everyone’s father, as we see empirically.)
The Baal Shem Tov said, generally there are two categories of Jews, there are the pious unlearned and the pious learned.
We must love both:
For the pious unlearned, apart from the fact we must feel sorry (that they lack Divine knowledge) nonetheless, they have such beautiful hearts filled with moral convictions.
And the scholar, apart from their quality; we know, that it states, “whoever is great, has an equally great Yetzer Hara,” so seeing that their Yetzer Hara is so strong and nonetheless they are pious – how can we not love them.
139. JEWS – LOVE
We must love the simplest Jew like the greatest, the reason is because he is a Jew, as it states, we all have a single father, “You are children to God”, and it states “God says, I love you.”
140. JEWS – LOVE
We must love a Jew simply because he is, the difference between a scholar and unlearned is only in information, but regarding the soul, all are equal.
141. JEWS – OUTREACH
One must teach every Jew, even those completely distant, for every Jew’s soul has come to transform himself into God’s vessel/vehicle.
The Baal Shem Tov said “I love the pious simple Jew – he contains the deepest moral treasures.”
The Baal Shem Tov said to his Holy disciples, that through sacrificing oneself for a fellow Jew, we reveal the Divine.
The Baal Shem Tov in his year of being a hidden Tzaddik would travel to different cities and towns, and there gather the men women and children and tell them stories with lessons from Ein Yaakov.
In one town he told them about Reb Yaakov, who was a great genius and would study the Talmud by heart – however when one studies by heart, one must be more focused – however his son came by and said something witty – so he stopped and really appreciated his son’s wisdom.
Similarly, says the Baal Shem Tov, when God asked the angels if he should make man, the angels were none-to-impressed.
However when a Jew goes to synagogue to pray and listens to the class and takes something from it, then God gathers all the angels and says to them – “You angels have no financial worries, however this person correctly has a wife and children – which I demanded of him – furthermore he must support them, pay his taxes etc. yet he finds the time to go learn and derives lessons in his life!” -so, said the Baal Shem Tov, when you meditate, cogitate, analyze, the fact, that it is the Jews that God brags about!… (this will arouse great love.)
145. LOVE – BLESSING
The Baal Shem Tov said that when a friend blesses another, this is received by God far more impressively, then even the great advocate of the Jews in heaven, the angel Michoel.
It is known, the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching that when we judge another we are judged.
Hence when something bad happens to another and instead of feeling their suffering and pain we believe that due to their sins they deserve it, this comes against us.
Similarly when we do feel their pain – and we ask God to help, we receive a blessing.
In one of the Baal Shem Tov’s holy talks he said – “Behold I testify by heaven and earth, that in a serious judgment in the heavenly court on a person who passed on – now this person was quite unlearned (he could only say his prayers and the Tehhilim) but he was extraordinarily loving – in his thoughts he would always think about others.
In his speech he would speak with love, and in his deeds, he did whatever he could to help everyone – he would feel the pain of every Jew, whether man or woman, and he rejoiced in their joys – the heavenly court decided that he would have a portion in heaven by the great Tzaddikim and scholars upon whom our sages correctly say, ‘are lovers of God.’”
The Baal Shem Tov continued, when a Jew sighs over the pain of a fellow, this annuls all the negative decrees; and when we rejoice in the blessings of a fellow, and wish him well, this is as precious to God as the prayer of Rabbi Yishmoel The High Priest, In The Holy Of Holies!
If you hear something negative from someone about someone, you should have great sadness, for either the person who is speaking is negative, or the person who is being spoken of.
If one is dealing with a Torah scholar who suffers from arrogance, one should have so much love for him, to the extent that he begins to see his own shame.
The Baal Shem Tov said there was once a war between two countries that lasted seven years, in order that the marches of the army should be sung (hence elevated) by a certain Tzaddik (who used this song in his service of God.)
Based on the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching, we truly understand that as God is the source of all existence – a source which continuously renews (as both logic and science has proven, for we can now witness that atoms continually are popping in and out of existence, for anything that has no inherent existence – in other words, was created, must by necessity have a continuous force (like if you wish for a ball to fly forever) applied to it….) This would then mean, that relative to the creative force, the creation (like an image on a screen) has absolutely no true existence.
When a Jew wishes to eat, this is in truth the soul longing for her source (Ed. The way I understand this is, as the Baal Shem Tov says elsewhere, that within food is God – it’s Divine soul, hence we seek this source – though we are not conscious.)
The number Elef-Alafin (starting with an alef – in English tens of thousands) begins with the essential oneness of God, hinted to in the tiny top of the alef, which then transmigrates into tens of thousands.
In every generation there is a Tzaddik, for the world cannot exist without a Tzaddik, as the Tzaddik is the foundation of the world – however if the generation is meritorious their Tzaddik is revealed to them, however if not, he is not known.
However it is also wondrous… that we see that someone who has no merits, nor sins; and we cannot say he has merited… for example, a 13 year old boy… why does he merit to recognize the truth? and he has faith in Tzaddikim? – this certainly is not based on his merit.
The reason is because this depends on one’s source soul – for currently we are reincarnations – if the source was pure through its many incarnations, then he merits that he can tell (who the Tzaddik is.) And those sources that lack purity, therefore their Tzaddik is unknown to them and even if they do know of him, they lack belief (in his greatness, and think it’s all natural).
Therefore we who do know the truth and have faith in Tzaddikim, this is not because we are so great, for as mentioned, this is based on our source, therefore we are no better than those who don’t know the truth, and in fact are opposers (to the Tzaddik). In fact, could be, they have more Godliness, because they do much more Mitzvos and good deeds.
Therefore we mustn’t feel separated from them, rather we must unify.
I heard this causes a great heavenly negative… but rather we must believe that they too have merits, and this is called sweetening the secret (dinim) in its source.
And then there will be no source of anger/justice, and it will instead be mercy.
The simple sincerity in the heart of the average Jew is a pure reflection of God.
The simple sincere service of God in the faith based fulfillment of God’s Torah and Mitzvos that the pious unlearned Jews do, this is a vessel which draws within it, the pure simplicity (for as we know God is uncomplicated simple truth) of God.
It is well known the holy saying which the Alter Rebbe said in the name of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, that the sincere simple Jews keeping of Torah and Mitzvos due to his belief in God is the vessel that touches God and creates a tremendous heavenly joy.
The simple essence of God comes into such people.
Note 324: The Baal Shem Tov said, that with the power of sincere simple faith by anyone, one can split the sea.
The most unlearned regular Jew has innate qualities as the greatest.
160. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
In truth the greatest Jew must learn from the humblest – for that is the only real true quality.
When The Ark is open and an unlettered (unlearned) pious simple Jew makes request, God will fulfill it (at least partially.)
162. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov says, even the simplest unlearned Jew can and must become a servant of God.
A Jew who denies the continued renewal of Divine energy (as we know, the Baal Shem Tov taught that every moment – amazingly, scientifically proven – God renews all of creation – so not, that one doesn’t know, but chooses to ignore the facts) he is hopeless; for even a gentile who worships an idol, doesn’t deny God; rather as he is in the serpents skin (a euphemism for the body) he considers the natural forces, say the sun, to have power (yet when Moshiach comes, as the verse states “All gentiles will come to God” – for those who seek truth will find.)
164. HASHGACHAH PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
The reason Jews were spread to the four corners of the earth or occasionally a Jewish businessman travels to some far-flung location, is though a Jew may not even be consciously aware, the deep Divinity within – purifies that location.
165. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
As the prayers we say here get mixed into the general thoughtless atmosphere (in other words, all the things we think and say become part of that land’s atmosphere – if the people are coarse, this becomes like a negative layer) and hence can remain below.)
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example – imagine how minute is a single thought you have relative to your soul – your soul is the source of your emotions which then becomes the source of your thoughts – as God, hence your soul (for so he wished) is eternal! one thought relative to infinity is nothing! – now you understand how relative to God, all of creation…. which is merely a single Divine ray…
Imagine how dear, precious, beloved – to the extent of giving their entire fortune, time, soul, would be, to a child born to parents who tried for twenty years every therapy, but couldn’t conceive : (, miraculously when they were fifty, they had a baby : ) – so, but so much more! are you loved.
168. GOD (COMMUNICATING)
Our heavenly father communicates in many ways, sometimes he communicates like a father does to his clever child with a wink (in other words, a hint, and as the Previous Rebbe says, what occurs politically, particularly as it pertains to the Jews, one with insight understands.)
The Baal Shem Tov said: A Jewish heart is alive. (The essence of every Jew – despite silly anger or lusts – is our Godly compassion, as our sages teach, the hallmark/trademark of a Jew is goodness and kindness.)
170. GOD – PRAYER
The Baal Shem Tov once said, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah: God takes incredible pleasure in the praise we simple Jews praise him, to the extent that the greatest infinitely wise angels have no comprehension (cannot comprehend.)
A Jew is never lonely, wherever he goes, there goes (with him) God.
The Baal Shem Tov said, if an angel were to perceive The Divine radiance which hovers over any group of ten Jews – even if they do not engage in anything holy – the awe and love it would feel would be so infinitely intense it would cease (and like a flame, nullify into the fire.)
Any single word uttered from any Jew’s mouth, from the greatest Tzaddik to the simplest, whether man woman or child, if it is so uttered for the sake of strengthening Judaism – it is like a precious diamond.
174. TORAH – MENORAH
The Torah is eternal, and though we don’t have the physical Menorah there is the spiritual lighting (perhaps this means like lighting another’s soul Ed.)
175. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov taught us that what we see in another is our own reflection – if we see a beast in ourselves (as we deny our own beast) hence this is “reflected in the other” (this is why evil people aka hitler, arabs, genuinely see evil in the best.)
Your fellow is your mirror – just as it is only when you have on your own face dirt… can it be reflected…
The Baal Shem Tov brings the words of the medrash that God admonishes Moses: why do you see negative in the Jews (that they don’t serve God – this was when they were slaves…) you should rather be upset at me (that they are.)
178. TIME MANAGEMENT
The Baal Shem Tov teaches, one of the problems we have is not having an organized methodology (time-management) to our Divine service – one must regret (Teshuvah) this, and make a positive resolution.
179. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
The Baal Shem Tov not only taught us that every single thing that occurs is Divine providence, but furthermore there is a master plan and every detail contributes.
180. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
The Baal Shem Tov explains the idea of Divine providence that it extends to the four kingdoms of non-living, vegetation, animal and especially human – each and every event, from a leaf blowing in the wind, to an insects life-cycle is by Divine Providence, so how much infinitely more so your and my life.
181. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
The Baal Shem Tov explains, each one of the four species has a separate rank in its importance – though obviously a human is far more, nonetheless God’s supervision extends (and as we know from science what would happen if two electrons or protons would collide) to every single micro detail – however if God’s supervision extends to the electron, how much infinitely more so to each and every one of his chosen.
182. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
We see how sometimes in the midst of a clear calm day, suddenly a wind will fiercely blow which causes some leaves to fall or some (as it was in those days) straw to dislocate from the roof – this sudden unexpected wind is clear proof that it was exclusively caused by God’s desire (to move the leaves or straw – in other words, everything is preordained.)
184. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION)
Every single Jewish step is with the utmost care Divinely calculated – and this is for the purpose for which we were created.
185. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION) – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Every encounter according to the Baal Shem Tov with a fellow man is Divinely ordained – most often there is something to learn.
186. GOD – JEWS
One of the Divine providences of the journeys of the Jews, is that when we are spread over the four corners of earth, it enables those of us in better circumstances to assist.
187. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SUPERVISION) – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
Whenever you meet someone this was not random – most often it’s either to teach (you or the other – but you must see it as an opportunity.)
189. BAD (TO GOOD)
When 3 people get together for a good cause (this is thought to be a saying of the Baal Shem Tov) this has a great effect. (It is known that the Baal Shem Tov from a young age was part of the secret Tzaddikim society and he had many innovated ideas which the head Reb Adam, advised they create a committee of three – they would look into the ideas and implement.)
190. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
What do you recall?!?
191. ROSH HASHANAH (ABOVE & BELOW)
On Rosh Hashanah God extends credit (for the year) when Elul arrives we must make an accounting (if we have paid) hence the days of Selichois (and through our repentance) we earn that the following year, once again credit is extended…
192. ROSH HASHANAH
The Baal Shem Tov explained how the Blowing of the shofar occurs in heaven: G-d the Holy Glorious Awesome and Merciful sits on his exalted and elevated throne – which represents the seat of judgment – And Abraham with his tremendous love begs before the great and awesome God that he should get up from the seat of judgment and sit on the throne of mercy, and Isaac mentions with great inspiration how he was bound as a sacrifice (and was willing to give his life) and he begs for his offspring mercy and this sacrifice removes all barriers – and Jacob pleads for mercy for the Jewish people, and Moses prays with intense concentration, and all the seven shepherds stand next to him and pray deeply and the angels who are advocates of the Jews bring all the merits of the Jews – and opposing them are the prosecuting… and they count all the thoughts, speech and good actions, and the bad ones of every individual; and the forefathers and Moses speak highly of every Jew – the Tekiah represents Abraham, the Shevarim represents Isaac, and the Teruah is Jacob, and when a person below screams, “Father and heavenly supernal angels save and have mercy upon me!” this give the throne of mercy the ability to win.
The Baal Shem Tov explains, our cry at the Shofar should not be for our pain, but for our future.
194. SHOFAR (& YOM KIPPUR AND SUKKOIS)
The blast of the Shofar is the sound of the soul crying (longing for her father.)
The Baal Shem Tov gives a parable – once there was a king who had a wise son whom He loved dearly and both the king and the son thought that in order to learn more and acquaint himself with the customs of people, he should travel – so the king appointed many ministers and servants, and together with a large treasure-chest off he went. – All this in order so his wisdom would deepen, sensitivity increase, even more than as he was in the palace. – As time wore, all his money was spent, both because he was accustomed to such a grand lifestyle but even more so as he indulged his every whim, till he had to pawn everything. – In the interim he ended up in a faraway land where his father wasn’t even known. – When he said that he is the son of a great king, not only did they not believe him; they had never heard of the king! – When he realized his luck ran out, he decided to return – but as so much time had passed, he forgot his native tongue – so arriving at his home country, all he could do was indicate with sign language that he was the son of the king – the people thought he was nuts and he suffered both verbal and physical abuse – in such a state, he arrived at the palace and once again he indicated to the guards that he was the son of the king – seeing such a disheveled, broken and beaten person they paid no attention, and so he figured he would cry, for hopefully his father would recognize his son’s tone – when the king heard his cry, he was filled with love – “Is this not the voice of my son?” – he ran and hugged and kissed him.
Similarly we Jews are princes in heaven, and the soul is sent into a body in order to study, in other words, that through Torah and Mitzvos we achieve a far greater privileged position – but as the body and its desire begin to take hold of us – as we start to seek money and other foolish pleasures and as we become consumed by this lust/passion we become so distant that we forget the name of our father – we forget what we are lacking and we become miserable both spiritually and materially (as one effects the other) – and when we wake up and wish to return to our heavenly father we don’t know what to say, so we simply give a heartfelt cry – this is the sound of the shofar resonating from the depths of our soul – a repentance, a regret for our past and a resolution for the future, to adhere to the will and wisdom of God – and it is this sound that aroused the Holy One Blessed Be He and He demonstrates his unbounded love and forgives us of everything (which is the idea of Yom Kippur, and then sitting in the Sukkah, it is like we are being hugged.)
The Baal Shem Tov gives (another) example on the meaning of the cries of the Shofar, once a king sent his sons hunting – it was a large and scary forest and the children got lost – they called for their father but their father didn’t reply – in their desperation they just started to scream.
The Baal Shem Tov gives an example of children who get lost in a forest and from their deep fear they call, “father father protect us” -as is known, how much a parent loves to hear their child, and when it comes from the depths…
197. YOM KIPPUR
Yom Kippur is like Purim (as the Previous Rebbe explains that Yom Kippur is a day of repentance, and Purim the Jews really repented.)
199. SUKKOIS – MIKVAH
The Baal Shem Tov said, dunking in the Mikvah and sitting in the Sukkah are similar, both, in the fact that they refine the person and draw down light.
200. SUKKOIS – JEWS
The Baal Shem Tov said, the beauty of his Sukkah are the simple unlearned pious sincere Jews (who would sit with him) for in their joy of doing a Mitzvah, they cause God such.
One of the holy customs the Baal Shem Tov had on Sukkos was the attention he paid to the exceptionally simple unlearned sincere Jews.
202. SIMCHAS TORAH
The Alter Rebbe relates that the first time the Baal Shem Tov taught his holy disciples about Simchas Torah he said – “normally on Shabbos and Yom Tov Jews Daven a little later, but on Simchas Torah, as they were dancing through the night, as well as needing to have a meal, they are thoroughly exhausted so they wake up late – however the angels having no excuses, wake up on their regular early morning schedule to sing God’s praises – however they may not pray until the Jews below do– so they head to Gan Eden to see if they can help straighten things up – however coming to Gan Eden they are surprised, for instead of the usual Mitzvos they find that (…it seems the good we do below gets elevated to above)… they suddenly find that they are surrounded by worn out shoes, broken off soles etc. – so they take this to the archangel Michoel and ask him “What is this?” – so he says, “These are the remnants of the shoes that Jews danced their merry souls with on Simchas Torah” and he boasts, “with these soles I shall fashion a far more beautiful crown for our heavenly father then even the archangel matat”” (who creates crowns from the prayers Jews utter.)
203. MATZAH (SHEMURAH)
Shemurah Matzah is called with two essential internal names: Bread of Faith and Bread of Healing – it heals one’s faith.
When one understands how poor understanding (human intellect) is, one understands how rich is faith.
The Alter Rebbe said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov
Being an idiot;
And considering yourself significant (important, VIP…;)
..Are considered by Chassidim to be cardinal sins.
Being happy, through finding in everything a positive benefit;
And working alertly, yet conscientiously;
Are cardinal principles!
206. (ULTIMATE) TRUTH
It is known from the Baal Shem Tov and Maagid that the spiritual source of kelipos (falsehood) is higher than truth (in other words, in everything there is a body and a soul – now the body is false, it appears to be… yet the source of this appearance comes from God – though of-course it acts only as a garment for the soul.)
207. LEKACH – HONEY-CAKE
The Baal Shem Tov said Honey-Cake – as it is combined both from honey and flour which in their source are vessels for Torah – creates that our heart is drawn to Torah.
208. JEWS – TORAH AND MITZVOS
The Baal Shem Tov said that the holy Divine name Yud – Hei – Vov – Hei begins with a Yud (in Yiddish yud and yid / Jew are similar) this is because the purpose of the world is for the Jew, and in the letter Yud itself, we see how this must manifest, for the upper dot relates to God’s intent (Torah and Mitzvos) the lower dot, relates to the Jew, and when one fills their time and space (the body) with Torah and Mitzvos, the Divine intent is fulfilled.
The Baal Shem Tov teaches that a Neshomah/soul will come down to live seventy eighty years for the sole purpose to help out another – in general this obviously pertains to their physical needs, but infinitely more so their spiritual.
(The Previous Rebbe said that this teaching inspired hundreds of thousands of Jews to genuinely care, uplift and dedicate themselves to one another – and the Rebbe says, though the Baal Shem Tov mentions one (good deed) it is obvious that after that one, must come another and another etc.!)
210. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov says, every Jew has a Torah light that shines through him, it is with this light that he goes about his daily activities and most importantly imparts the Torah (the previous Rebbe mentions that strengthening Torah education – giving children a Torah education is what saves them from the darkness and disgustingness of societal denigration.)
The Baal Shem Tov revealed that the specific purpose of our soul’s descent is through teaching Torah to the populace.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed that the purpose of the descent of every soul is to fulfill the Torah and Mitzvos, whether it is keeping Shabbos or the festivals, lighting Shabbos candles, putting on Teffilin and though the soul comes from the highest heights (in heaven ) specifically through this, gets infinitely greater.
The soul studies Torah from God in the heavenly academy and yet God sends this soul to earth, for the entire goal is to change the Ani (I – ego – even based on Torah scholarship and good deeds into) Ayin (nothing – humility – lack of ego) and this is done by realizing that relative to the humble person I truly am less.
214. MIKVAH – CHARITY
It is known from the Baal Shem Tov that there are certain Mitzvos that the intent doesn’t really matter, two of them are Mikvah – for even if a person didn’t intend, but the right amount of water covered them, they become purified; the other is charity, for it is not so much the reason you give, but the giving, as we know, even if you lose money and a poor person finds it (in a permissible way, say dollar bills on the street, which having no rightful claimant can be taken) it is considered that you have done the mitzvah.
There is a well-known parable of the Baal Shem Tov, of a town that relied on their giant to protect them (but the enemy came and stole all his weapons) so realizing they couldn’t rely on him, this brought out their greatest strength (previously, that they themselves were unaware they had.)
Better to not learn, than to learn what is evil.
All the Torah taught up until the Maharshah was all written with Ruach Hakodesh (the holy spirit) and as it is an essential part of Torah, and as Torah is higher than the holy spirit, therefore each part can be explained according to the four levels of understanding: the simple, the hints, the parables, and the secret / Kabbalah (in other words, within the holy spirit is God and God is infinite.)
Moshaich’s soul is the essential Yechidah (the level of Divine that forms all souls) as this is within each of us – it is up to each of us to reveal (which as the Rebbe says, this comes by desiring that Divine revelation which will occur when Moshaich comes, and also by understanding that in essence we are this Divine – which of-course is the only way anything can be).
The Baal Shem Tov says, the Chassidic melodies (the hauntingly beautiful mesmerizing soul inspiring notes) is one of the paths of Chassidus.
The greatness of man, the foremost creation, is, within him is included the entire cosmic destiny (as we know, man is a micro of the macro, and his micro effects it.)
Far greater are the humble Jews than the Torah scholars, for the former feel the Divine.
223. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUNCE)
The Baal Shem Tov said that everything that a person sees and hears is a specific lesson from God in Avodas Hashem (bettering oneself.)
However one must actually comprehend what the lesson is.
This comes about through “our soul teaching us.”
Our soul teaching us refers to that one’s mind becomes illuminated and various conceptual truths become apparent visa-via the lessons that can be derived and through this one comes to understand what God’s message is.
The Baal Shem Tov says, that the most straight path to receive “the soul teaching one” is a. to recite Tehhilim with love b. to help a fellow Jew, not only monetarily but physically and 3. to have sacrifice for love of one’s fellow.
The Baal Shem Tov saw that this soul revelation, was more by Jews who were simple, and were earnestly reciting Tehhilim, even more than by the scholars who derive their pleasure from novel Torah insights.
The Baal Shem Tov says, that Tehhilim with love, going out of your way for another, whether for their physical or spiritual needs, and love of one’s fellow, are the keys to unlock the heavenly storehouses of health, salvation and wealth.
224. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUNCE)
The Baal Shem Tov said, everything one sees and hears is a lesson in one’s Divine service.
225. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUNCE)
The Baal Shem Tov said, every Jew goes through a rich world filled with Divine messages – albeit we must pray to understand.
226. HASHGACHA PRATIS (DIVINE SEQUNCE)
Our lives are absolutely predetermined – we traverse through experiences (though it is up to us to realize the message and not get bogged down in the mundane or morass.)
The Baal Shem Tov said, when you touch part of God (a part which is revealed, say in the Torah or through the Tzaddik) you touch all! (for something which is intrinsic unity, even as it manifests, is still itself (for example light, heat etc.)
Wealth is to one heaven, another hell.
There is a saying from the Baal Shem Tov, “when you meet once, you’ll once again.”
Those who study Torah and most specifically those who teach (even more specifically those who Pasken – giving Halachic rulings) must pray with great beseeching that God should grant that they discern (for unless one is humble, the conclusions they arrive at are false.)
The Archangel Michoel would forgo his awesome comprehension and love of God for doing even one of the Mitzvos of having a single one of the four corners of Tzitzis (whereby we see that a physical Mitzvah far surpasses any other comprehension or meditative emotion.)
The soul in heaven loves the Divine light, however coming to the Divine intent… that is in this world.
The Rambam was a very great Kabbalist.
235. CHASSIDUS – REBBES – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The main purpose of Chassidus is self-refinement and an unconditional-love – but in order to do so, one needs the advice of someone who has already.
236. AVODAH (SELF-REFINMENT)
The true way of self-refinement and refining one’s mind to the hallowed wisdom, is through transforming one’s negative into positives.
The letters (in Hebrew of Teshuvah, spell Shabbos-vov-hei – The Divine name, the yud refers to wisdom, the hei binah, the vov emotions, and the final hei malchus; Yud and hei are the hidden realm, and vov hei the revealed, on Shabbos the service to God is with intellect, hence the Vov Hei.
The Baal Shem Tov’s love for his fellow Jews was literally indescribable.
The Baal Shem Tov’s love was seen in how much he would implore beseech and do all he could (from God ) to help any Jew – which with his prophetic vision this was very much.
240. LIGHT / PERCEPTION
The Baal Shem Tov loved light – he said, light has the same equivalence (numerical value) as secret, whoever can see the secret behind something, can illuminate.
242. ROSH HASHANA / YOM KIPPUR / YOM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov after Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur would say “Gut Yom Tov” (Gut has the numerical value of life) in other words, these festivals will give energy (to all other days.)
However after other festivals he would say, Git Yom Tov which mean to give – in other words to share (the festival joy.)
243. ELUL / TISHREI
The Baal Shem Tov had specific customs for the weekdays, Shabbos and festivals (relative to the spiritual dynamic.)
From Elul till after Yom Kippur he was in the dynamic of “fear of God.”
Then he went into the dynamic of joy.
244. TEHHILIM – ELUL
The Alter Rebbe told the Tzemach Tzeddek “I heard from my master who heard from his, who heard from his famous master (Achiyah Hashiloini) that from the second day of Elul, one should recite 3 Chapters of Tehhilim daily, and then on Yom Kippur the final 36.”
246. SIMCHAS TOIRAH
On Simchas Torah and Shemini Atzeres by Hakofos the Baal Shem Tov would say the majority of the verses, explaining some, and some he would have the Chevriah Kadishah (holy disciples) say.
248. MOSHIACH’S MEAL
The Baal Shem Tov called the Festive meal on the last day of Pesach, Moshiach’s meal – the door was open and all came.
The Baal Shem Tov had a great love for the second day Shavous, his custom was, they would wake up early and pray and then have a small kiddush for 10 close disciples, then at the meal everyone was invited.
250. WATER – PRAYER
The Baal Shem Tov said, when you encounter a body of water you should say that “the Baal Shem Tov says, that water is a blessing.”
251. SONG – AVODAH (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov had an extraordinary talented voice (that could change tenors) he would often sing, and singing to him was a way in Divine Service, as it opens the soul.
The customs of the Baal Shem Tov actually are traditions from Moses – when Moses was in heaven to receive the Torah, all the angels and the holy sefiros gave him gifts, customs, both general and specific – these general customs pertaining to the body of the Jewish people the Baal Shem Tov had mesirus nefesh that they should become part of the Chassidic tradition and with these we will greet Moshiach.
254. MIKVA (FOR MEN)
From the Baal Shem Tov: we should go to the Mikvah every Erev Shabbos and Erev Yom Tov as well as on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
The Baal Shem Tov’s mission was to reveal God, for this reason he took many journeys often to distant towns where he would encounter even extraordinarily simple people and with great love they were inspired – his love was so great, it was for all people (as is known with the story of his kindness to a group of thieves) he loved all animals and plants.
257. LOVE / BAAL SHEM TOV
In the early years of the Baal Shem Tov’s revelation he would make frequent visits to towns and cities which had three purposes: 1. to redeem captives, for in those days it was a feudal system whereby Barons owned vast tracts and leased inns, mills etc. and if someone couldn’t pay (their rent) they would imprison them. 2. Inspire Jews to study Torah and love, and 3. Reveal the secrets of the Torah to scholars.
The Previous Rebbe said, what was innovative by the Baal Shem (versus previous greats) was he did not wait for people to come to him, rather he and his disciples made the effort.
260. SEFIRAS HO-OMER
Both the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid while they were Rebbes would recite the blessing for Sefiras Haomer as Chazan.
The Baal Shem Tov gave extraordinary love to the simple pious unlearned Jews, and his holy successor the Maagid said, “If he could see while he was alive the tremendous joy this love gave God, he would have done it in an entirely more loving manner.”
The Baal Shem Tov often favored the simple unlearned Jews even more than the great Torah scholars, as he said, “within us all is an innate goodness (a desire for truth and compassion) however when the mind is full, it often covers this innate side.”
One should say the Portion of Tehhilim corresponding to his age (+ 1) every morning.
The mechanism to add consecrated burial land.
269. BAAL SHEM TOV – MOTTO
Elijah the prophet tested the father of the Baal Shem Tov (as he and his wife were naturally barren) and having passed the test (of kindness) he told him, “I am Elijah the prophet and you will have a child soon and when he is two and a half you should tell him:” – “Only have fear from God, but never any person or any creation.”
271. PRAYER / GRATITUDE
The Baal Shem Tov discovered that it brings God immense satisfaction when simple people (such as ourselves, as opposed to the knowledgeable Kabbalists) utter praise/gratitude, for in this way we connect – this is especially when this is done frequently.
272. BAAL SHEM TOV
When the Baal Sem Tov was but three, he already attained extraordinary spiritual heights – for the next 33 years he remained a hidden Tzaddik – when he was 26, the great prophet Achiya Hashiloini revealed himself and they studied for another ten years until he was compelled to make himself known.
274. BAAL SHEM TOV / 18 ELUL
The Baal Shem Tov was born on Monday in the Hebrew year of 5458.
His birthday is Chay (18 the Life) of Elul, signifying that he breathed a new life, connecting Jews to the source.
The Baal Shem Tov was born and revealed in a land which was soaked with Jewish mesirus nefesh.
279. CHASSIDIM / CHASSIDUS
The energy and effect of the Baal Shem Tov, eternal! – though one must “stand” under his fire.
280. BAAL SHEM TOV / MOTTO
When The Baal Shem Tov Was Five His Father Who Was A Hundred And Five Said To Him, “Yisrolik, fear no-one or anything But G-d, and Love Every Jew With All The Fire Of Your Heart And Soul, No Matter Who He Is Or What He Has Done.”
282. BAAL SHEM TOV / DIVEIKUS
The Baal Shem Tov’s soul taught him, and told him that the reason he merited this was not due to his Torah study nor prayer, rather because he connected to the Godliness within the very letters.
283. LOVE – BAAL SHEM TOV
When the Baal Shem Tov was 11 he was accepted in the society of Hidden Tzaddikim and he founded his worldview by age fourteen, which he taught to the holy society – To Encourage With Love.
When the Baal Shem Tov entered the Hidden Tzaddikim society, it was headed by Reb Adam Baal Shem, who inherited the mantle from Reb Yoel, who inherited the mantel from Reb Eliyahu.
When the Baal Shem Tov was a hidden Tzaddik he dressed like the Jewish peasantry and mingled with them exhorting them to have refined character traits – to not learn from the gentile peasants – to speak only kindly – he would distribute apples and nuts to the children, and would answer with incredible devotion to their blessings, “Amen.”
In his travels as a Hidden Tzaddik, the Baal Shem Tov often would put his holy hand on the heart of children and say, may you grow up to be a warm (good passionate) Jew.
In the year 5,476 the Baal Shem bought a new Divine path to the secret Tzaddikim society.
They began to concern themselves that every Jewish town and townlet should have Melamdim, (teachers of Torah for the children.)
If they couldn’t hire a teacher, they themselves taught.
The Baal Shem, in fulfillment of the adage “he who suggests should do” became an assistant teacher – he would bring the children to Cheder (the little school) say with them the morning prayers, have them say the blessing on Tzitzis, say together Shemah Yisroel… and Torah Tzivah…, played together, told them about Mosheh Rabbeinu, and the giving of the Torah, bring them home, and said with them the bed time Shemah and Biyodcha.
The Baal Shem Tov (later when he was a great and famous Rabbi, with many holy disciples said) that this period was the most joyous period in his life – for he felt the tremendous pleasure God gets as the pure lips (“lips of innocent children”) would say a prayer or Torah.
The Baal Shem Tov built the Jewish people as one builds a building from its foundation.
The Baal Shem Tov established hundreds of Chedarim – schools.
When the Baal Shem Tov was a teacher’s assistant he would love the children very much and give them a heartfelt kiss – “It is my prayer” said the maagid “that I can kiss a Torah with the same love the Baal Shem Tov would.”
In the years the Baal Shem Tov was a hidden Tzaddik, he and his holy society would often go around to the towns/lets and speak to the simple unlearned Jews and encourage their faith in the Almighty.
It is known in the Baal Shem Tov’s journeys, he would always uplift his fellow Jews, and wherever he saw a problem beseech God.
It is known that the Baal Shem Tov first set out to heal the body of the Jewish people, hence all the years of being a secret Tzaddik he would deal with the body of the Jews, the simple unlearned masses in strengthening and encouraging and helping, assisting in every way; and then when he was revealed, he dealt with the soul, the great teachers and Torah scholars.
One of the ways to encourage someone spiritually is to help them physically – one shouldn’t make spirituality a precondition – apart from the simple Ahavas Yisroel (commandment to unconditionally love, that this fulfills) it will also make a person far more receptive – this was the path the Baal Shem Tov forged.
All know the tremendousness argument that the Baal Shem Tov had when they wished him from on high to reveal himself, similar to what we see Moses had.
296. RATZU VISHUV (SPIRITUALITY/PRACTICALITY)
The Baal Shem Tov didn’t want to reveal himself for he was in the sublime reality of Hisbodus / meditativeness – this is a supreme reality in which there is light; on the other, to teach, is what is most necessary – we find his master Reb Adam Baal Shem worked very hard to get him to reveal himself, yet it was the teaching of his master Achiyah Hashiloini who told him that his revelation would actually accentuate Hisbodedus; in other words, the revelation of Chassidus is able to integrate two opposing realities: for the benefit of meditativeness is that the mind is able to think, whereas when one focuses on implementation, though one does great things, the mind is preoccupied; whereas in the Torah of Chassidus both occur.
297. BAAL SHEM TOV
For six years the Baal Shem Tov refused to reveal himself and for this he lost six years – he passed away at the age of 61, 8 months and 18 days.
298. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov said “I had to reveal myself and fulfill the tremendous mission God desired from me – otherwise I would have been a highway robber.”
299. REBBES / CHASSIDIM
In truth there were always Chassidim and always Rebbes (meaning the spiritual qualities,) Adam Harishoin was called a great Chossid, certainly many of the Tzaddikim were Rebbes, but generally this was all personalized – from the time of the great revelation of the Baal Shem Tov it became a time of revealed Chassidim and revealed Rebbes, and all of this is in order to manifest the Divine (causing the merger of God and man.)
300. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov wished to journey to Israel (it is said, he knew that if he would meet the holy Ohr Hachayim, Moshiach would come) he managed to reach Istanbul (and was prevented – there are many stories about this.)
The Baal Shem Tov said he had the ability to go into heaven as Elijah did, but he wished to fulfill the verse, “you are dust and to dust shall you return.”
302. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov’s soul was from the inner dimension of Ava’h and on earth he received spirituality from his holy body.
303. BAAL SHEM TOV / MAAGID
The Baal Shem Tov passed away on Shavous and his son Reb Tzvi took over the leadership, and the entire holy society was in agreement – the next Shavous Reb Tzvi said that today my father, with the Shechinah, and the entire hosts of heaven came to inform me to transfer the leadership to Rabbi Dovber – upon saying this, he took off the holy Rebbe attire – dressed Rabbi Dovber, who sat in his place.
304. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Maagid said, the Baal Shem Tov’s leadership was 26 years, corresponding to the Divine name Havayeh and twice one.
Reb Menachem Mendel Horodok said, that with the Torah of the Baal Shem, we will greet the coming Moshiach.
308. BAAL SHEM TOV MAAGID ALTER REBBE / AVROHOM YITZCHOK AND YAAKOV
The Baal Shem Tov and the Maagid (and if I understand also the Alter Rebbe) were similar to Avrahom and Yitzchok (the Baal Shem Tov with his love like Avrohom, the Maagid with his sacredness like Yitzchok and the Alter Rebbe with his Torah, like Yaakov.)
310. BAAL SHEM TOV / OHR HACHAYIM
It is well know the connection between the Baal Shem Tov and the holy Ohr Hachayim.
(If I understand) The Baal Shem Tov, The Maagid, And The Alter Rebbe (and the Rebbes following) contained the primordial infinite light (of creation.)
314. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Tzemach Tzeddek writes – “The Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid to whom God revealed.”
The Baal Shem Tov was the “reincarnation” (as the Zohar says) of Moses (as the Zohar says, there is the reincarnation – revelation of Moses in every generation.)
The holy Rebbes following him also contain this power.
The Chassidim who follow the Rebbes, though they may not have their knowledge, but they are given from this power the ability through effort to transform the world.
There are two kinds of power – the first is one who is all powerful and so doesn’t care (he forgoes) the second is true power, that he cares – the Baal Shem Tov was the latter.
One should never mistake that the Baal Shem Tov was a miracle worker – there were others who were called Baal Shem – the reason is they used Sheimois (names of God) which anyone with a cursory knowledge of the writings of the Holy Ari and Shaar Hayichudim could do – the Baal Shem Tov is called Baal Shem TOV, in other words his abilities were like the Torah – the Torah contains within it God.
319. TORAH – REBBE
The Torah exists in what is called male and female dimensions: the male dimension is the higher dimension, the female, the lower, and it wishes to receive what it lacks – in other words, there are many different worlds and in each there is the Torah, however the Torah as it comes lower becomes more obscured, hence more questions; which is why the Torah of the world lower, desires the Torah, of the Torah, in the higher -however the Tzaddik whose soul is the foundation of the world (one with God)) therefore he can perceive every answer.
Tzaddikim can perceive – for example, the Baal Shem Tov said about a cup that it was crafted by someone blind in one eye – for there is part of the maker in their creation.
The Baal Shem Tov, when his soul would ascend wouldn’t feel his body – it was literally as if in a coma.
324. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov achieved that he could simultaneously (toward the end of his life, which is a major achievement) be both in heaven and on earth.
325. BAAL SHEM TOV – SHABBOS
The Baal Shem Tov made intense prayers and fasts so that he could reply to someone as Shabbos enters – for at that time the universe elevates, hence if one is aligned, as their soul elevates they cannot deal with the lower – but rising to a supernatural level it can handle all levels simultaneously.
326. BAAL SHEM TOV / ARI
The Baal Shem Tov and the Ari had extraordinarily high souls.
327. BAAL SHEM TOV
It is the nature of the truly wise, that they don’t reveal their wisdom, and they are more silent… and sometimes they conceal that, as if they don’t know (like the Baal Shem Tov.)
328. BAAL SHEM TOV
The famous picture which people make of the Baal Shem Tov is not him.
330. LOVE / FEAR (OF GOD)
The inner fear of God, that the Baal Shem Tov had, was similar to the fear of Moshiach.
331. LOVE / FEAR (OF GOD)
The Baal Shem Tov lacked any human fear, for when one has a higher fear, this cancels all lower.
332. LOVE / FEAR (OF GOD)
Even during the time of extraordinary ecstasy, the Baal Shem Tov’s face would drain (of color) due to his tremendous fear of God.
In the messianic revelation, it will be revealed the heart of the holy Baal Shem Tov, namely, the fire in the physical heart, of unconditional love.
It is known that there is an extreme wisdom to be able to see what another thinks, as the Baal Shem Tov had.
The Tzemach Tzeddek said, the miracles that the Baal Shem Tov did were unheard of from time immemorial – and all of this was done through the ability to see from one end of the earth to the other, this is through the original infinite light which God hid in the Torah (which proves the absolute infinity / not limit (that space and time, limited dimensions (for if you are here you are not there) have no barrier – an example to this would be of someone, who looking down from a plane can see in one second that which a person below would take much more time and travel.)
The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, continued through the holy Rebbes, create sensitivity.
A man once came to the Baal Shem Tov and enquired about his son who was in Breslua that was hundreds of miles away and the Baal Shem Tov opened a Zohar and told him that he just saw him (and I presume he was o.k., Ed.) The Alter Rebbe explains, because as the primordial light was placed in the Torah, Tzaddikim could use it.
The reason physical matter obscures, is because it is in the state of existence, yesh (personal “ego”) but as the Baal Shem Tov brought true bittul (humility – lack of yeshus, sense of self-existence) to matter, he could see through matter.
There is a story in which the Baal Shem Tov wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, the learned Reb Gershon Kutavier who it seems was a Rabbinical Judge – now he excommunicated someone. So the Baal Shem Tov said, “I was in heaven and I saw they wished to judge you with death” – but I desired to go and plead for you, but they wouldn’t let me in (to that chamber;) so I pleaded to God, “He did it for your sake!” So a voice rang out, “Leave him, for He did it for my sake.” So they decided that instead, (namely the heavenly tribunal of judges) that you would be blind for a month” (as it states, a blind person is like dead.) – Reb Gershon wrote back, “everything you wrote is true, however how is it you wrote the letter before the story occurred?!” – So the Baal Shem Tov replied, that in heaven time occurs prior to our time.
A Tzaddik who even has a single unnesecery thought – this is worse than a normal person who does many sins.
The Baal Shem Tov saw in every Jew something extraordinary– he could see their positive qualities.
The Previous Rebbe has an extraordinary interpretation on the concept of what Moshiach’s reply to the Baal Shem Tov, when he answered “When is the master coming?” – and Moshiach said, “When your wellsprings (Chassidus teachings) will spread to the outside” – in essence the Baal Shem Tov’s claim was, that based on the fact Jews are doing Torah and Mitzvos, and as Moshiach had previously told Rabbi Yehoishua Ben Levi, that he would come; and as interpreted by Elijah “when Jews do Torah and Mitzvos…” – hence seeing that despite the terrible persecution, the Yidden were pious, Moshaich should come! – so Moshiach explained “When your wellsprings spread to the outside” – a river goes with a mighty noise, but a wellspring’s waters slowly – similarly, the holy sacrifices both for Judaism as well as for acquiring positive character traits, was passed down “the bloodline,” to those Jews who due the war were spread to the four corners of the world – and hence this Godly light causes them to very sincerely return.
There are two levels in Tzaddikim, there are those who are preoccupied with meditation and holy Yichudim (connecting spiritual unions – this was how the Rashbi, The Arizal and The Baal Shem Tov were (before being revealed.)
The essential role of the Baal Shem Tov was to awaken one’s essence.
Because of the Baal Shem Tov’s tremendous love for all (as is known, he even loved some robbers – he didn’t shun or judge) he was able to bring out the best – this occurred even to the realm of animal (as is known, that when the Baal Shem Tov prayed, the goats would stand upright – as their souls (spiritual part) got elevated, which caused them to physically) and even on the inanimate (as is known, the Baal Shem Tov’s Tzitzis would continuously shake – for we draw down a life force in Tzitzis – and by the Baal Shem Tov, this was revealed.)
353. BAAL SHEM TOV – GOD
The Alter Rebbe repeated in the name of his master (the Maggid) “the grandeur (royalty) of the Baal Shem Tov was far more prestigious than the greatest emperor, yet his humility was far more then how a beggar who lives off a garbage dump sees himself.”
This is the idea that the Divine light is infinitely high and likewise infinitely low.
355. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The purpose of the revelation of the Baal Shem and the Maagid was to pave the way for the revelation of the inner Torah through the Alter Rebbe (similar how the forefathers paved the way for the Divine revelation through Moses.)
356. BAAL SHEM TOV – LOVE
The Alter Rebbe compared the Baal Shem Tov to Avrohom Avinue – just as Avrohom was generous with his time body and soul, so too the Baal Shem Tov – they both dedicated themselves to teaching the simplest of people.
It states, until Avrohom the world was in darkness, when he arrived it began to be light – similarly with the Baal Shem Tov.
He taught the simple pious Jews that their Amen, their blessing, their Tehhilim is very precious.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed, How Love of G-d, Love For The Torah, And Love For One’s Fellow Are All One.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed the essence of the Jew – in other words, though one may externally hence superficially do bad, one is internally hence actually, good.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed the essential component of love for God, the Torah and the Jew – for just as one’s love for God is because he is God, and one love’s for Torah is because it is God’s, our love for a fellow Jew is not due to any qualities rather because.
The Baal Shem Tov started a new path, for until him a Jew was loved if he had Torah knowledge – but from then onwards he is just.
The Baal Shem Tov had the tremendous merit to teach, that one should simply love.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed the tremendous special qualities of the unlearned Jew – he would often send his holy disciples to study proper behaviors.
The Baal Shem Tov taught the great qualities in all Jews, and if one doesn’t see, it is only because one’s glasses are dirty.
The Baal Shem Tov’s ultimate goal was that the infinite light should reside within.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed that every Jew is referred to as God’s chosen.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed that a Torah scholar should feel shame before those Jews who say the Tehhilim with errors – for their Tehhilim coming from sincerity, is infinitely greater (to God.)
367. GOD – BAAL SHEM TOV
The main task of the Baal Shem Tov was to reveal God.
368. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Baal Shem Tov showed how one should serve God, and the Alter Rebbe, how one can.
369. EGO – BAAL SHEM TOV
(This is according to my understanding Ed.) Until the Baal Shem Tov, ego was a hidden demon – it accompanied man – hence unfortunately eventually it got the better… – and instead of people (particularly the scholars, for the masses of Jews were humble) realizing that they were servants (of God) they became narcissistic – the Baal Shem Tov revealed and slaughtered the demon.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed the inner life force of everything which is its essence (purpose.)
371. GOD – CHASSIDUS
God revealed himself through Chassidus as it reveals the inner true intent (of Judaism – namely the character refinement.)
372. BAAL SHEM TOV – CHASSIDUS
The wellsprings that the Holy Rashbi opened, illuminating the mind and heart of select few, were widened to become life-giving waters through the Baal Shem Tov.
The Baal Shem Tov poked holes in the concealment that the world conceals (the Divine life-force) the Alter Rebbe expanded them to windows.
374. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Baal Shem Tov erected a ladder to heaven, the Alter Rebbe taught how to climb.
A fundamental principle the Baal Shem Tov taught, is that wherever your desires are, is who you become.
When we say a Chassidic heart, this really refers to being in tune with one’s soul; however just as we say that Abraham opened the gateway to sacrifice (for God) the Baal Shem Tov opened this heart.
378. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Baal Shem Tov began the teachings of the secrets, however it was still beyond (most,) the Alter Rebbe made them accessible.
The Baal Shem Tov bequeathed to his disciples an inner fire in performing Torah and Mitzvos.
The Baal Shem Tov was the consummate leader, who cared for every physical and spiritual concern of every Jew.
The entire purpose of the Baal Shem Tov was to reveal what a Jew is – beyond all the secrets he revealed, which great angels would “die for” is the revelation of the absolute infinite place a Jew holds (in God’s heart.)
The Baal Shem Tov revealed that every Jew has an easy direct path to fulfill God’s intent (in creation.)
385. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT) – CHASSIDUS
Even prior to the Baal Shem Tov there were ill people (spiritually) but they didn’t know – however the Baal Shem Tov and the subsequent Rebbes wrote medicine books describing the maladies and cures.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed how not only the holy can be Chassidim.
The Baal Shem Tov revealed how every Jew can have true love and reverence for God – even the simple Jews who say Tehhilim, as they do so sincerely, this is the apex.
388. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Baal Shem Tov opened the gateway to the inner Torah, and the Alter Rebbe to Chabad.
389. BAAL SHEM TOV / ALTER REBBE
The Baal Shem Tov was the primary educator and the Alter Rebbe, guide.
390. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Baal Shem Tov clarified (as well as through his subsequent students/Rebbes) that wherever a Jew goes, he is on a Divine purposeful mission.
The Baal Shem Tov (as it states, that Tzaddikim mirror their Creator and as the Creator, as we see in his holy Torah has both positive and prohibitions) managed both to remove the sadness and increase the joy – to be happy that you are simply a Jew.
392. HUMILITY – AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The sadness the Baal Shem Tov removed, is only regarding to one’s physical position, but in terms of spiritual there has to be humility.
393. The Baal Shem’s way:
- The Torah – The entire Torah is really names of God and just as knowing someone’s name is not knowing them, similarly as the Torah is infinite (hence whatever we know really is nothing.)
- Divine Providence – not only is every act in creation specifically designed, but this design is its purpose (this is in addition to the continual life-force that brings it into existence.)
- The Greatness of The Jews – Every single Jew is as worthy as the greatest scholar – it states “You are children to God” – just as it states that “Yitzchok was Abrahams child” as his face was similar, similarly the Jews mirror God’s qualities – compassion and loving-kindness.
The paradigm of the Baal Shem Tov is two, which is one: Everything is God and God is everything.
396. YETZER HARA
The Alter Rebbe was asked, what additional benefit did the Baal Shem Tov add? (Considering there were previous ethical holy books.) he replied, there are two ways to deal with a thief – one is a person who waits for the thief to come and then shouts, and the thief being afraid runs; the other is a strong person who waits for the thief, then ties him up and gives him over (to the police.) In the first instance the thief remains, and in the second he rids himself of the pest; similarly, until the Baal Shem Tov the path was to shout, “It’s a sin!” But with the Baal Shem Tov, one gains control.
397. AVODA (SELF-REFINEMENT)
The Path of the Baal Shem Tov is: a Jew is a spiritual warrior.
399. CHASSIDUS – REBBES
The Baal Shem Tov’s Light Continuing Through The Rebbes Will Shine Till Moshiach!
402. OHR HACHAYIM
The Baal Shem Tov said that he would often see the Holy Ohr Hachayim in the heavenly abode of Moshiach.
403. FAITH – REBBES
The idea of faith is not only that one believes in God but in his messengers, such as Moses down to the Baal Shem Tov, continuing through all the Lubavitcher Rebbes.
404. FAITH – BAD (TO GOOD)
If we truly had faith that all would be good, it would be (as is known with the story of the Baal Shem Tov, that there was once a terrible decree and he was most disturbed, but he decided just to trust and it was averted.)
405. BAAL SHEM TOV
The Baal Shem Tov attached God to our souls.
There is a story in which a wealthy person came to the Baal Shem Tov requesting a child – he said, that if he was willing to accept poverty it would be – the reason for this was that he saw the blessings from above for this person was only for two of the three (main blessings, namely health, sustenance and children.)
The Baal Shem Tov made a solemn oath that whoever for the sake of God acts, will succeed.
The Maagid said that when we were by the Baal Shem Tov for Shavous, heaven opened, and we saw.
Most of the stories in Shivchei Baal Shem Tov are based on the teachings and stories of the Alter Rebbe.
For anyone who thinks about idolatry, the Baal Shem Tov recommends to induce diariah (and there is a Kabbalistic reason.)
It is well known the Baal Shem Tov’s opinion that the Jews should leave the (inhospitable and poverty stricken cities) and settle on land, becoming farmers and the like – many hundreds of families did he see to it settled, and he would personally ensure that those who were late on their rent, would be paid for.
The circular group dance that Chassidim dance began with the Baal Shem Tov – a circle is a makif (for those knowledge in these Kabbalistic terms) to begin with light must come in a maakif and only then (and now after so many Rebbes etc.) does it descend.
To the Baal Shem Tov, reciting Tehhilim is the highest level.