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.

BeHaALOSCHA I. Moving from level to level 1. 'When the Ark would journey, Moshe said, "Arise HaShem*..."' (Bamidbar* 10.35) The Ark [Heb. Aron] is a remez* for the Talmud Chocham* who is called 'ark.' He is called 'ark' because of the tablets [of the law] that are in it. [Just as the ark was filled with the tablets of the law, so the talmud chocham is filled with the law.] However the common people shame him and call him 'arna.' [Arm. ark] The derech* of the Tzaddikim* is that they will become closer to HaShem each and every day. The person that HaShem wishes to bring close, He will try with many trials to see it he will overcome them. If he strengthens himself, and overcomes them, he will rise to a very high and wondrous level. As the Midrash* says, '"Take the Levites" this is what the verse says, "HaShem examines the Tzaddik." HaShem doesn't bring a person to greatness until he has examined him.' When he is being tried [by HaShem he] is [on the level of] 'going down in order to rise up.' The idea is that one who is going up a ladder, when he is about to rise up one step, he removes his foot from the ladder. He is then standing on one foot on the ladder and one foot in the air. At that time he needs to be very careful not to fall. The same is with the service of HaShem, when he is in the middle of a trial. Even though he will rise to greater heights afterwards, at the time of the trial he is [like one] standing on one foot. He needs a lot of protection. [However] HaShem always protects those who wait for Him. This is what the verse means: 'When the Ark would journey.' This means when the Talmud Chocham is journeying from one level to another. [He is in danger of falling.] 'Moshe said.' He should pray for the Tzaddik. 'Arise HaShem.' HaShem should protect him so that he will not fall. He should be strengthened so that he can rise higher and higher. [The verse continues,] 'And let your foes be scattered, and your enemies from before you.' There should not be any power of opposition, until the people of HaShem will go over [to the higher level.] (p 188 sefer Avodas Yisroel teachings from Rebbe* Yisroel the Maggid* of Koznitz.) * * * II. Purifying oneself 2. 'And HaShem said to Moshe... If any man will be unclean because of a dead body... ' (Bamidbar 9.10) ['If any man will be unclean because of a dead body.'] This verse refers to the person who has made himself unclean from sins and was not able to bring upon himself the holiness from the first Passover. 'Or on a distant road.' Rashi* explains the dot above the word [that appears in the Hebrew text] as meaning that he was not really far away but was outside the hall of the Beis HaMikdash*. The meaning of these words is that he is far from HaShem. He is not able to say, 'Blessed are You' as a person says to his friend face to face. 'To them.' This means that he himself has become unclean. 'And for their generations.' This means that because of their many sins they cause a stain on the soul of the Tzaddik [of the generation.] This is the meaning of the verse, 'A small amount is better for the Tzaddik then a large amount for the wicked.' The meaning being that the good that a Tzaddik has is reduced a little due to the many sins of the wicked. [This is because these many sins] cause a stain for the tzaddik. 'He shall make the Passover for HaShem, in the second month on the fourteenth day of the month in the evening.' This means that he should bring upon himself holiness through his doing tshuva* [as is explained in the Zohar*.] (p. 149 sefer Avodas Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel the Maggid of Koznitz.) * * * III. Not giving up 3. 'And if a war shall come to your land...' (Bamidbar 10.9) There is a person who has the will and the desire in his heart which is good and complete with HaShem. His will is to do the will of HaShem. However the 'leavening that is in the dough' [i.e. his Yetzer HaRah*] holds him back from bringing his will and the desire of his heart into an action. However there is a person who is overcome both internally and externally by this evil power. He does not even have the desire to do good. [This is because] even his soul is in the power of the Yetzer HaRah. However, even this person should not give up on himself. He needs to prepare a war. He should consider that every Jew, no matter who he is, [has a holy soul] which is connected to G-d above. He is as if he is only half of a form. [Heb. Chatzi Tzirah] Therefore it is certain that 'the one who wishes to purify himself, they will come to help him.' HaShem will eternally be his help in the war [against his Yetzer HaRah.] This is the meaning of the verse: 'And if a war shall come to your land.' [The word 'land'] refers to your will [to serve HaShem.] This means that even if the war involves your own will [to serve HaShem,] because your will is given over to the Yetzer HaRah. 'Against your enemy who oppresses you.' You yourself are made into the enemy who oppresses you. [This is because it is the Yetzer HaRah that is in control of your will.] In any case, 'You shall sound trumpets.' You shall blow and fight with the enemy who oppresses you with trumpets, [Heb. chatzotzros] two half forms. [Heb chatzi tziros which are the same letters as the word for trumpets] You should consider that you and HaShem are like two half forms. [Your soul is connected to HaShem. Part is yours and part is His.] With this 'You will be remembered before HaShem and he will save you.' The one who desires to purify himself, they will come to help.' (p. 328 sefer Divrei Elimeilech teachings of Rebbe Elimeilech of Grodzisk a grandson of the Koznitzer Maggid.) * * * IV. Serving for HaShem's sake 4. 'Make for yourself two silver trumpets...' (Bamidbar 10.2) It is certain that each Jewish person should see to it that his service to HaShem should be for His Name's sake, and he should have no extraneous thoughts or self serving desires. It should be done for HaShem alone, to fulfil His will. The truth is that if a person will consider that he is only half a form. [See above teaching.] A small portion from the source of life. How is it possible for him to do anything with a self-serving motive? This is like the limbs of ones body. It is not possible to say that one of the limbs does something for itself, and not because of [the desire] of the heart, which is the source of the strength in all the limbs. The same thing is with the person. If he realizes that he is only half a form. A small spark from the source of life. How is it possible for him to do anything for a self-serving motive? He is only a spark from the life, and HaShem is the source of life. This is the meaning of the verse: 'Make for yourself.' You should see to it that you rectify that level of 'yourself.' Which refers to those things that are for your own good and your own desires. The meaning being that there should not be mixed with your kavonos* while serving HaShem any extraneous thoughts for your own good, or to fulfil your own desires. It should be done for HaShem alone. How are you able to rectify this level of 'yourself'? 'Two trumpets.' You should know and understand that you are on the level of half a form [as explained in the previous teaching.] You contain a portion of G-d above. (p. 263 sefer Imrei Elimeilech teachings of Rebbe Elimeilech of Grodzisk a grandson of the Koznitzer Maggid.) * * * V. Serving with fear 5. 'When the Ark would journey, Moshe said, "Arise HaShem And let your foes be scattered"' (Bamidbar 10.35) Rashi explains that the Talmud says that the Torah* makes signs before [this verse] and after [this verse.] They indicate that this is not the proper place for this verse. We need to understand why the signs are specifically [the Hebrew letter] 'nun'. And also why this letter is reversed. Also, what is the meaning of the explanation of Rashi [on the words 'Arise HaShem'] "because [the ark] went before them [for three days] Moshe said, 'stand' and don't go further." We also need to understand the idea of 'And let your foes be scattered.' We say [in the prayer before the blessing of the kohanim] 'May it be pleasant before you... and there we will serve You with fear.' We need to understand this [prayer.] It would appear that now in the exile and [with] the sufferings [that we have,] we are more able to serve with fear [then after the redemption.] Why does it say that specifically when HaShem will save us and redeem us from exile, THEN we will serve Him with fear? [The answer is that] even though we now have fear because of the many oppressions and sufferings [in the exile,] it is still difficult to serve HaShem with fear. [The reason] is that they simply do not let us live in tranquility. Also our hearts and spirits are broken. On the other hand when HaShem will save us and we will be redeemed, we will be able to serve Him with fear. The person who, even in his suffering, serves HaShem as much as he is able. Due to his desire, HaShem will help him with his burdens, and he will then be able to serve Him more. His desire helps him, so that he turns over [HaShem's] anger to compassion. And this brings upon him help [from HaShem. The reason for this is that] the Jewish people bless the name of HaShem in both a revealed and hidden language. As we say in every blessing, 'Blessed are you HaShem' which is a revealed language. 'Who has sanctified us' which is a hidden language. [It is hidden because the prayer doesn't say explicitly who is sanctifying. While in the first case HaShem is specifically mentioned.] 'Blessed is He' that we say in the blessing Baruch Sh'omar is a hidden language. And the 'Blessed are You' [said later in that prayer] is a revealed language. However the angels bless only in a hidden language. [They say] 'Holy Holy Holy...' 'Blessed is the glory of HaShem from His place.' Both of which are in a hidden language. The reason for this [difference] is that 'Israel rises up in His thought' i.e. they are hidden. They are also revealed, in this world of action. Therefore they bless HaShem, who is above all understanding, in a hidden language. Also when he is revealed in action [they bless Him.] However the angels are only on one level, on the level that is higher then revelation. [Therefore the angels] bless him in a hidden language only. This is also [the source] of the power of the Jewish people to turn compassion to anger on the wicked, and from anger to compassion on the Jewish people. i.e. to make from what is revealed to what is hidden, and from what is hidden to what is revealed. [Anger from HaShem is really the withholding of his compassion. His compassion is hidden.] The reason is that they are both hidden and revealed. When Moshe went up to receive the Torah [Chazal* teach us] that he argued with the angels. [In the end] they became friends of his and gave to him gifts. Had it been that they were forced to agree to have the Torah given why did they give to him presents? However with the princes of the nations it is different. They considered the receiving of the Torah as something that is not good for the Jewish people. However the angels did not consider it as bad for the Jewish people. Therefore they had so much love [towards them] that they gave presents. In fact the argument that they had [with Moshe] was over the greatness of the Jewish people. [It was with regards to their being on a level] that they are able to turn anger to compassion, even for the angels, who ended up giving them gifts. Let us return to what I said above. 'And then we will serve Him with fear.' Now, even though we have fear, it is still hard for us to serve Him with complete fear. This is the meaning of the verse: 'When the Ark would journey...' This is to say that it is not in it's place. Not just this, but it is a remez for the other place. [Therefore] the Torah makes signs with the reversed [Heb. hafchios] 'nun.' As the Talmud* says, 'A bent over [Heb. kafifah] nun [means] forced [Heb. kofif] faith.' This means when the Jewish people will have all good in this world and they will be in submission to the service of HaShem. However if they are forced due to their sufferings, that is the level of a reversed 'nun.' Then the ark and the Torah are hidden from Israel. For this reason Moshe prayed, 'Arise HaShem And let your foes be scattered and your enemies from before you.' These are the enemies of the Jewish people. Then the Ark and the Torah are not hidden. The 'nun' is not reversed. Their service to HaShem is with joy. (p. 53 sefer Aish Kodesh teachings of Rebbe Kolonymus Kalman HY'D* of Piasatzna, the son of Rebbe Elimeilech of Grodzisk) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: Bamidbar: Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers Beis HaMikdash: Heb. The Holy Temple Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud derech: Heb 'way' refers to a path in serving HaShem HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name HY'D: Heb. HaShem Yimkom Domov: HaShem should avenge their blood. Kavanah(Kavanos): Hebrew word for 'intention'. Maggid: In Europe this was a person who would give sermons on moral subjects. Many of the first Rebbes was Maggidim (pl. of Maggid). 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 or a teacher remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints in the Torah for various concepts. Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law. Talmud Chocham(Talmidei Chochomim): Hebrew for Talmud sage, refers to one who is learned in Jewish legal texts. 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 Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe. 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. Yetzer HaRah: Heb. Evil Inclination. Yetzer Tov: Heb. Good Inclination Zohar: Hebrew/Aramaic Rabbinical Kabbalistical work that is one of the most important sources for Kabbalah, and was very influential with Chasidim --------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil