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.
1. 'And against the children of Israel no dog [Heb. kalev] shall wag
it's tongue.' (Shemos* 11.7)
We can explain this verse in our usual manner. [It is known that] the
Torah* was given without any vowels. [For that reason] we are allowed
to assign each vowel as we wish according to the idea behind our
drash*. [Therefore] we can say that the remez* of this verse is as
All the troubles that come to a person are because he is steeped in
falsehood, and does not attach himself to truth. [The words of] his
mouth and his heart are not in agreement. However the person who is
attached to truth, [the words of] his mouth and his heart are in
agreement. He will be able to eliminate all judgments against him.
The word 'Mouth' [Heb. peh] has the same gematria* as the name
'Elokim' with one added to it. [This name is used when HaShem* comes
to execute judgement against a person.] Through the heart, where
understanding rests, one eliminates these judgments [as is known from
Kabbalah seforim*.] Then all of his troubles are eliminated.
[Therefore when he speaks only the truth and his heart and mouth are
united he can cause his troubles to disappear.]
However the person who is steeped in falsehood. He says one thing
with his mouth and [has something else] in his heart. His mouth is
not attached to his heart. The exact opposite is true. Since his
mouth is separated from his heart. He cannot eliminate the judgments
and hence all these troubles come upon him.
This is the remez of the verse: 'And against the children of Israel
no dog shall wag it's tongue.' The Jews going out of Egypt were not
harmed by anything. The reason being that 'no dog [Heb. kalev] (shall
wag) it's tongue.' [He understands this as saying 'like their heart'
[Heb. k'lev] was their tongue.] What they said [with their speech]
was what was in their heart. Their mouths and hearts were one and
they were attached to the truth. For this reason all the judgments
were eliminated. (p. 60 sefer Degel Machnah Ephraim teachings of
Rebbe* Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sedelkov a grandson of the Baal Shem
* * *
II. Both young and old.
2. 'And Moshe said, "With our young and with our old we will go.'
I will first explain what Chazal* teach, 'Praised are our younger
years that they did not cause shame to our elder years.'
The meaning of this teaching is that there are people who in their
younger years, due to their strength, succeed in the war with their
physical desires. However when they are older, due to their
weaknesses, they fall into these desires. This is because even though
in their younger years they did not fall into the traps of their
physical desires, they still did not conquer over them completely.
Therefore we see people who in their younger years loved the
Tzaddikim* and the Chasidim. But in their elder years their love
became less. We see that their younger years were better then their
elder years. They cause their elder years to be shamed.
The truth is that a person needs to have the wisdom to see that he
needs to break his physical desires, and completely control them when
he is still young. He should do this to the extent that they will no
longer have the power to overcome him when he will be older. Then all
his days will be equally good.
That is the meaning of 'Praised are our younger years that they did
not cause shame to our elder years.' All of the years were equally
good and dedicated to the service of HaShem, and the war to overcome
and break physical desires. To love the Tzaddikim and Chasidim with
This is what Moshe meant. "With our young and with our old we will
go." With the days of our youth and our elder days we shall go. With
a single way of going, in the service of HaShem. It will be in such a
way that the younger years will not cause shame to the elder years.
(p. 73 sefer Ahavas Shalom teachings of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of
* * *
III. Inner Holiness
3. 'And for all of the children of Israel there was light in their
dwellings.' (Shemos 10.23)
The truth is that each Jew has within him a holy spark the like of
which is not found even in the Tzaddik. It is just that the 'light'
is not revealed the same with each person. [In some it is more
revealed then in others.]
For example, if a precious stone is lying in a pile of garbage the
light and shine of it is not revealed at all. However when one starts
to clean it from the stains and the garbage that covers it, the stone
begins to have a luster. When one cleans it well and especially when
one places it in a golden broach it shines very much.
This is the meaning of this verse:
The truth is that 'For all of the children of Israel there was
light.' There is to be found in each and every Jew this light.
The difference is 'In their dwellings.' [Heb. b'Moshovtam] This word
spells out the words, 'moshav tam.' [a complete resting place.] It
all depends on where this light is to be found. One must see to it
that it rests in a perfect and complete place.
[The meaning is that we all have a holy soul, and it is up to us to
purify ourselves so that the light of this holy soul will be able
shine.] (p. 63 sefer Ner Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin
and his children. This is from the holy Riziner.)
* * *
4. 'HaShem said to Moshe, "Come to Pharaoh."' (Shemos 6.6)
It has occurred to me that the gematria of the word 'come' [Heb. bo]
together with the word 'Pharaoh' equals the value of 'Moshiach.'
There is a remez to this in the words 'Come to Pharaoh.' The meaning
is that the value of the word 'come' should be placed with that of
'Pharaoh.' [Which together make the value of Moshiach.]
We can explain this according to what I have said many times. The
redemption from Egypt is the root of all the redemptions that the
Jewish people will have until the final redemption. All of the
salvations come out of this redemption [from Egypt.]
Just as a doctor tries to cure a sick person. He tries to make the
healing complete so that the sickness will not return. However since
it is something of this physical world it has a limit, and no
permanence. However the salvation of HaShem is for ever.
The redemption from Egypt is the source of the eternal redemption.
Even though after this redemption there occurred many difficult times
[where they needed again to be redeemed.] However the source of the
redemption is permanent. From it come all the redemptions and
The verse says in the beginning of the redemption from Egypt. [Moshe
asked what name he should relate to the Jewish people as being
HaShem's name. HaShem answered,] "I will be what I will be." Chazal
tell us that the meaning is that I will be with them in this
suffering and I will be with them in future sufferings. This shows
that from this redemption all the later redemptions will come. This
parsha* is the beginning of the redemption for every Jewish person
according to his source in the Torah. (p. 94 sefer Toras Emes
teachings of Rebbe Leibele Eigger of Lublin.)
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages
of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Drash: A method of Biblical interpretation ascribing moral or ethical
meaning to verses in the Torah.
gematria: The numerical value of the Hebrew letters.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad.
mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
Moshiach: Heb. Messiah
Parsha (Parshos): lit. 'portion' refers to the portion of the Torah
read each week.
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.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints
in the Torah for various concepts.
sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book.
Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English
Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
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
Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic
Z'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechorono LeVaracha (His memory is
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