CHASSIDUS                        BS'D

                       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.

Succos* I. Joy on Succos 1. On the holiday of Succos every Jew should renew his service of HaShem* with joy. This can be compared to a king who had a son who fled from him. After a period of time he returned to his father and to his service. The king didn't want to reward him because he was not sure that he was sincere and if his returning was from a sincere desire [for the king] and not from fear of the king. However when he saw that he served him with joy and love he knew that he had returned in sincerity with a full heart. This is the level of [the joy of] Succos. (p. 144 sefer Toras Avos teachings of the Rebbes* of Solonim, Lechovitz and Kobrin. This one was from Rebbe Avraham of Solonim.) * * * II. Tshuva* on Succos 2. It is well known what it says in Sefer Yitzerah* that there are three bechinos*: World [Heb. olam. which refers to a physical location], Year [Heb shanah. which refers to a particular time] and Soul [Heb. nefesh. which refers to a particular person. We can understand] this to mean that there are three bechinos that inspire a person to tshuva. [Each relates to a certain time of the year.] Rosh HaShanah* is the bechinah of Year [Heb. shanah]. The holy and uplifted time that raises the person high up. Higher then the level of 'Rosh.' [Heb. lit the head, or highest level. This is achieved] by doing tshuva. [i.e. the time of Rosh Hashanah causes the person to do tshuva and be uplifted.] Yom Kippur* is the bechinah of Soul, as it says that 'you shall afflict your souls'. For the same reason it says, 'and you shall answer and say', which Rashi* says means that one should lift up his voice. In the great holiness that shines from this day itself the soul is raised up very high. [i.e. by afflicting one's soul it causes one to do tshuva and he is uplifted from that.] Succos is the bechinah of World. The bechinah of 'in the shade of your wings I am hidden.' A place higher above the highest places. [i.e. the sitting in the Sukkah causes one to do tshuva and he is uplifted from that.] (p. 135 sefer Yismach Yisroel, teachings from Rebbe Yerachmiel Yisroel Yitzchok of Alexander.) * * * 3. 'On the fifteenth day of the month when you gather the grains of the land, you shall have a celebration.' The simple meaning of this verse is difficult to understand. [Why is it that] because 'you gather the grains of the land' you should 'have a celebration'? I think we can understand this teaching according to what it says in the Midrash*: [The verse says] "'you shall take them on the first day'. But isn't it the 15th day and not the first? It is the first when counting [new] sins." The Kedushas Levi Z'L* explains that on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur people repent because of their fear of HaShem, and hence [according to the Talmud*] their intentional sins are considered as if they were accidental. So why should he start to count them [after he has repented]? It is better he should not remember them. But on Succos one does tshuva from love and so the intentional sins are actually considered as mitzvos*. (Up to here are his words) The Jewish soul has a desire to serve the Creator because it is a part of Him and desires to become attached to it's source through mitzvos and good deeds. [However] the sins that one commits come to the person from his physical body as it says 'the Yetzer* of a man is evil from his youth' [which the Rabbis say means] from when he is born. The physical body is called 'earth' as it is know from the drash*: 'and he called to the heaven' that is the soul from above, 'and to the earth' that is the physical body. This is what the verse means: 'When you gather' to the side of holiness. 'The grains of the field' i.e. the sins that come from ones physical nature that is called 'land.' 'You shall have a celebration' [i.e. this is to be done on the Succos]. (p. 121 sefer Yativ Panim teachings of Rebbe Yekisiel Yehuda of Sighet) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Hoshanah Rabbah* I. For HaShem's sake. 1. 'Save us because you are our G-d, saves us'. We pray and ask that You save us [from the exile, but] only for Your sake [and for no other reason. This is] in order that Your godliness and lordship of this world should be revealed in this world. Because you are our G-d, [therefore] you should save us. This is the real 'saving', i.e. that you should be revealed as our G-d, the king of Israel and her redeemer. (p. 498 sefer Divrei Elimeilech teachings of Rebbe Elimeilech of Grojizk) * * * II. An eternal redemption. 2. 'Because you are our Redeemer'. On Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur HaShem makes a spiritual redemption for every Jew. [However on Hoshanah Rabbah] we are asking that He make a redemption that should be enduring and which will last for ever. Because You live and exist forever, so should it be that our physical redemption and the redemption of our souls [should be eternal]. (p. 498 sefer Divrei Elimeilech teachings of Rebbe Elimeilech of Grojizk) * * * III. Praying in order to pray. 3. 'Save us, [because of] the three hours.' We can explain this according to what the Talmud says that the first Chasidim used to take an hour to prepare themselves for prayer. [During that time] they used to pray that they should be able to direct their hearts to their Father in heaven. We pray three times a day, and since each prayer requires an hour [we have three hours in preparation]. Therefore we pray and ask HaShem to save us so that he may find our hearts prepared for Him. And that we should direct our thoughts in those three hours so that the Yetzer will not destroy us. (p. 154 sefer Beis Yitzchok teachings of Rebbe Yitzchok of Vorki and his descendants. This is from his son Rebbe Yaakov Dovid of Amshinov.) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: bechina(bechinos): a subdivision of an Inyan*. Every Inyan has many bechinos. Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical meaning to verses in the Torah. HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name Hoshanah Rabbah: Last day of the intermediate days of Succos. It is considered to be similar to Yom Kippur in that it is a time of repentance. Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah. Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach. Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group Rosh HaShanah: Heb. New Year Holiday at the beginning of the year. Sefer Yitzerah: Hebrew Kabbalistic work. Succos: Holiday after Yom Kippur where people sit in booths Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law. Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance Yetzer: lit. Inclination. It is Jewish belief that every Jew has both an evil and good inclination within him, that are at 'war' to see which of them the person will follow. Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the most holy day of the Jewish year. Z'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechorono LeVaracha (His memory is a blessing.) ************************************************************** Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil