DERECH HaBAAL SHEM TOV
Ahavas HaShem, Ahavas Yisroel, Ahavas HaTorah
THE WAY OF THE BAAL SHEM TOV
Love of G-d, Love of fellow Jews, Love of the Torah
Note: A '*' next to a word indicates that it is translated/explained
in the glossary at the end. Three '*' (* * *) in the text indicates a
break between two sections. A single '*' (*) indicates a separation
between different teachings on the same subject. Anything found
between '[' and ']' are my comments and do not appear in the source
material. Everything else is from the original as is cited at the end
of the article.
I. Serving HaShem
1. There are two methods of serving HaShem*. One is that which has
been taught by Rebbe* Pinchas of Koretz. One should be careful of the
bad midos* he has and to nullify them. This is called the level of
'Cursed is Haman.' The second is the way of the Rebbe Reb* Zushya of
Anapoli to continually concentrate on the greatness of HaShem.
Through trying to be attached to HaShem [in his thoughts] he will
automatically nullify the bad midos. This is called the level of
'Blessed is Mordechai.'
One has to have a correct understanding in order to go in either the
first or the second way. [The reason is that] the main method of
serving HaShem is the first way [to nullify the bad midos] but on
occasion he needs to follow the second method. The reason is that it
is possible to come to depression if he works on a specific bad midah
[for a long time] even if his intention is to nullify it.
And so Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz said that one is forbidden to work
more then necessary on himself to remove all haughtiness because he
can come to spiritual damage from that. And the same with other
midos. At those time he should follow the second method. However one
needs to have [a clear] understanding [in order to do this.] In Purim
we need to drink until we no longer have the ability to understand
between these two methods. This is because our understanding goes
away [due to drinking.] (Nachli Binah quoting from the sefer Par
L'Yishorim teachings of Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz.)
* * *
II. Source of Joy
2. 'When Adar arrives joy is increased.'
It says in Megillas Esther 'These days should be remembered and
observed in every generation.' It has been explained that through
remembering the miracles and great wonders that were done for us by
HaShem, we will cause an inspiration above that will bring to this
world a great 'light' as was in the time of that miracle. And a
miracle like that will be done likewise in every generation according
to the need [of that time.] And so it should be His will.
We can also explain it like this. The gematria* of word 'in joy'
[Heb. b'simchah] is the same as that of 'year' [Heb. shanah] This
means that the joy that a person is inspired to have at this time
will be a source from which he can draw upon himself joy for the
whole year. And so it should be His will. (p. 134 sefer Ohav Yisroel
teachings of Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apt.)
* * *
III. Purim the whole year
3. I saw an interesting teaching in the sefer Divash L'Phi from the
Chidah. [He states that] Purim includes in it all of the Yomim
On Pesach they went out of slavery to freedom, and here [on Purim]
they went out [of a decree for] death to life.
On Shevous they received the Torah and here they once again accepted
the Torah [as is taught by Chazal*.]
On Rosh HaShanah the book of life and the book of death are open and
here they were judged if the decree would stand [and they would be
killed] or if they would be rescued.
On Yom Kippur they are forgiven for all their sins and here they were
forgiven for having had enjoyment [at the meal the king had made and
they ate at contrary to the Torah*.]
On Sukkos they are under the shadow of the clouds of glory and here
many came under the shade of the wings of the Shechina* [as the verse
says] many of the people of the land became Jews.
It may be that for this reason the holiday is called Purim because of
the Pur [lit. lottery.] This is because the first letters of the
Purim are the first letters of the words: Pesach And Sukkos [Heb.
V'Sukkos] Rosh HaShanah Yom Kippur The giving of the Torah [Heb.
Matan Torah.] (p. 155 sefer Bnei Yisasachar teachings of Rebbe Tzvi
Elimeilech of Dinov.)
* * *
4. This Megillah represents the idea of combining together the
Written Torah and the Oral Torah. Therefore it is called a 'sefer*'
and also a 'letter.'
The idea of the Oral Torah is the totality of the good midos that are
by nature stored in the hearts of all the Jewish people. They come
from the source [which is] the attachment of the Jewish people above
[to HaShem.] Therefore through the love of the Jewish people and
their unity there is not a single thing that they are lacking.
These days are propitious to bring about this unity as the verse
says, 'They should gather together.' Through their gathering together
all the Jewish people will overcome Amalek. This happens because when
they are together he has no power over them. As it says 'In Refidim'
which means when they separated from their unity.
Therefore the Talmud* teaches that they once again accepted the Torah
in the days of Achashverosh. The Midrash* Tanchuma* states 'The Torah
is informing us. Did they not already say "We will do and we will
hear."' The explanation is that their acceptance [at that time] was
of the Oral Torah which is harder to follow [as opposed to the
Written Torah which they had earlier accepted.] We see from this that
in the days of Achashverosh they willingly accepted also the Oral
Torah. (p. 180 sefer Sefas Emes teachings of Rebbe Yehudah Aryah Leib
* * *
V. Once it happened that the first Bobover Rov Z'L* was having his
tisch* on the day of Purim. There was a large barrel filled with beer
standing on the table. A number of the bachurim* were pushing each
other to get to the barrel to fill their cups with beer.
The Rebbe called to one of the bachurim and asked him, 'Why are you
pushing? If your fellow will come to there before you and he will be
able to drink, then you will have performed the mitzvah* of "Loving
your fellow as yourself."'
The Buchor answered, 'If my fellow will go first and there will not
remain enough beer for me how can I fulfill what Chazal require of
us, "A person is required to get drunk [Arm. l'basemi] on Purim?"'
The Rebbe answered, 'You have answered well. However listen to what I
will tell you. Chazal did not say that you are required to get drunk
[Heb. l'Hishtaker] on Purim. They said you are required to "basemi"
on Purim. The meaning is that a person needs to be raised up in his
service of HaShem. By fulfilling the mitzvah of "Loving your fellow
as yourself" you prepare yourself, and you will be able to rise up
and be exalted [Arm. l'hisbosem] in Torah learning and service to
HaShem as is fit for this holy day.' (Heard from Admor* m'Bobov
Zechisom Yugan Aleini v'Al Kol Yisroel
Admor: Hebrew initials for: Adonenu Morenu VeRabenu (Our master, Our
teacher our Rabbi). This is a title commonly used with Chassidic
Rebbes. Admor of Ger, Admor of Satmer etc.
bacharim: Hebrew/Yiddish for young men who are learning in a Yeshiva
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages
of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
gematria: Numerical value of the letters of the Hebrew words
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad.
Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations
mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group or a teacher
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their
higher spiritual stature.
sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book.
Shechina: Hebrew word denoting the divine presence.
Shlita: Hebrew Initials for the words: Sh'Yichiya L'Aruch Yomim Tovim
Amen. (He should have a good long life amen)
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tanchuma: One of the Rabbinical Midrashic works
tisch: Yiddish for 'table' Refers to a meal eaten by a Rebbe with his
Torah: a. First 5 books of the Jewish Bible
b. Also refers to the whole of Jewish law
c. also common term for a chassidic teaching
Yom Tov(Yomim Tovim): Hebrew name for 'holiday'
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All rights reserved.
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