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.


I. Hearing the heavenly voice

1. 'The matter that is too difficult for you, you shall bring to me
and I shall hear it.' (Devorim 1.17)

There are a number of questions with regards to this verse. First,
the verse should have said 'the matter that is difficult you shall
bring to me'.  What is the meaning of 'for you.' [These words do not
add anything to the verse.] Also it should have said, 'I will make it
known.' Why does it say, 'I shall hear it.'

It appears to me that this verse is trying to teach us something that
is very difficult for us to believe. [That is:] is it possible for us
to hear the call from Above that is announced to inspire the hearts
of Israel to do tshuva*, as Chazal* have taught many times with
regards to this voice in the Talmud* and the Zohar*.

With regards to this announcement the verse says 'The matter that is
difficult.' [Meaning] that it is an obstruction 'for you.' This
refers to that announcement, which is called [this] 'matter.' It is
difficult for you to believe that this announcement can be heard by
people. The obstruction is from 'you.' [You are the one who finds it
hard to believe that it is possible.]

A persons preoccupation with his physical desires will cause a wall
of separation, causing him to be unable to hear this voice.  This is
what the verse means when it says, 'you shall bring to me.' They
should approach to the level of Moshe. As it says [with regards to
Moshe] 'Take off the shoes from your feet'. This refers to his
removing from himself all of his physical desires, in order to purify
them.  Then, 'I shall hear it.' Through attaining this level of
Moshe, [separating from his physical nature,] he is able to hear
[this voice.] That is the meaning 'I will hear it.' [Through the
level of Moshe he will be able to hear this voice.] (p.  495 sefer
Baal Shem Tov teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)

                                * * *

II. Blessings

2. 'May HaShem* the G-d of your fathers add to you a thousand times
yourselves and bless you as he promised.' (Devorim 1.11)

Rashi* explains that [Moshe] said to them, ['This blessing] is from
me, but He [HaShem] should bless you as He has promised'. There is a
well known [and obvious] question about Rashi's explanation. Why did
Moshe have to bless them when HaShem had already given them a
limitless blessing? Is it possible to add to a blessing that has no

We can explain this according to what I have heard from my holy
Uncle, the holy grandfather Rebbe* Meshulim Zushya ZTvK'L* [of
Anapoli.] He explained the verse in Tehillim*, 'May HaShem increase
you, increase you and your children.' The question with this verse is
also well known [and obvious.] If HaShem is increasing the person,
then his children and grandchildren are also included. Why does the
verse add 'and your children?'

He explained this to mean that HaShem should increase 'HaShem' to
you.  The meaning being that HaShem should increase his holiness upon
you and bestow upon you prophecy, Ruach HaKodesh* and the knowledge
of the Torah. This blessing should also be upon your children.

With this we can explain our verse. When our ancestors stood before
Moshe each of them received of Moshe from his understanding [of the
Torah] according to his level and the source of his soul. Moshe was
the 'power' of HaShem to Israel. [He was in HaShem's place and was
the conduit for all of HaShem's blessings both physical and

This is the meaning of 'May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to
you.' He should add understanding, the portion of HaShem, upon them a
thousand times more then they have received today.

Because of this it is easy to understand how our ancestors could
think that Moshe was talking about physical blessings. For this
reason they asked him, 'Why have you put a limit on the blessings
from HaShem?' [They first had no limit and now he was saying 1000

Moshe answered them that they had misunderstood his intention. He was
only blessing them from [what was] 'his own' [to give.] That means
his level of understanding that he could bestow upon them. They had
thought he meant the physical blessings, but Moshe's intention was
for spiritual blessings. (p. 108 sefer Menoras Zahav teachings of
Rebbe Meshulim Zushya of Anapoli.)

                                * * *

III. The results of ones actions

3. 'HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of
heaven in greatness.' (Devorim 1.10)

The Midrash* says, "Moshe asked [of HaShem] 'Why do you not compare

them to the sun and the moon which [appear] larger then the stars?'
HaShem told him, 'The sun and the moon will in the future be ashamed.
Where do we see this? The verse says, "The moon will be humiliated
and the sun will be ashamed." But the stars will have no shame. Where
do we see this? The verse says, "I am in the midst of Israel, I am
HaShem your G-d and there is none other."'"

[This Midrash is very difficult to understand. The second verse
doesn't seem to relate at all to what the Midrash is trying to teach.]

The sun and the moon refer to those actions that a person does with
his wisdom and his understanding. [Wisdom {Heb. Chochmah} is compared
to the sun. Just as the sun has it's own light, wisdom is a thing
which comes of itself. Understanding {Heb. Binah} is compared to the
moon because just as the moon has no light of it's own, understanding
involves taking one thing and seeing the consequences of it.] All
those things that are based on a man's knowledge will eventually be
nullified. The stars refer to those things in which HaShem has
enlightened a man, and he follows according to the light of HaShem.
These will never be nullified.  [This is the meaning of the second
verse of the Midrash.  The stars refers to that level when HaShem is
among them, which can never be nullified.] (p. 173 sefer Mi
HaShiloach teachings of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza.)


4. 'HaShem your G-d has multiplied you and your are like the stars of
heaven in greatness. May HaShem the G-d of your fathers add to you a
thousand times yourselves and bless you as he promised.' (Devorim

It is explained in sefer Mi HaShiloach that the stars refer to those
mitzvos* where HaShem has enlightened the person [in his performance
of them. They are not done through his own knowledge, but through an
enlightenment from HaShem.] This is what the Midrash say, 'The stars
will not ever be ashamed.' [See the teaching #3]

[We can further explain these verses.] With regards to the stars it
says 'Your G-d.' This is because this enlightenment that comes upon a
person is due to the merit of his actions. However with regards to
the blessing of HaShem it says 'The G-d of your fathers.' This is the
additional blessings which come from the choice that HaShem made to
choose the Jewish people [from all the nations. This is not something
which depends on a person's own actions.] For this the merit of the
patriarchs has to be added.  (p. 52 sefer Beis Yakov teachings of
Rebbe Yakov of Izbitza-Radzyn the son of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of

                                * * *

IV. Purpose of Prayer

5. 'Enough of your circling this mountain, turn yourselves north.'
(Devorim 2.3)

We can explain this verse as teaching us musar*. The main function
and purpose of our prayers and service to HaShem, in this bitter
exile that we find ourselves in and in which we have suffered almost
2000 years, is for His holy Shechina* which is with us in exile. As
the verse says, 'In all their sufferings He suffered.'

We need to pour out our supplications before HaShem that He should
reveal the glory of His Kingship upon us immediately. And there
should come a redemption [from exile] for the Shechina. And all the
sins that occurred during the exile should be rectified. We should
not pray in order that we should have good things [but the main
prayers should be for the Shechina.]

This is what the Torah wants to teach us. 'Enough of your circling
this mountain.' The word 'mountain' [Heb. har] is the same gematria*
as the Hebrew words for 'Medea', 'Greece', 'Babylonia' and 'Rome.'
[The four exiles.] The meaning of this verse is that it has certainly
been a long time that they have been going around and around in
exile. [It is time that it be ended.] (p. 51b sefer Or Mala teachings
of Rebbe Yisroel Tzvi of Kason HY'D. He was murdered by the Nazis on
3 Sivan 5704 - May 25 1944)



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
Devorim: Fifth book of the Torah. Called in English 'Deuteronomy'.

gematria: Numerical value of the letters of the Hebrew words

HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name

Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations
mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.
musar: Hebrew for moral instruction.

Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
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.
Ruach HaKodesh: Heb spirit of holiness. Refers to one who can see
  events, and understand things that are not apparent to the human

Shechina: Hebrew word denoting the divine presence.
Shulchan Aruch: 15th/16th century book of Jewish law

Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
Tikkun Chatzos: A special prayer said at midnight to mourn for the
   destruction of the temple.
Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance
Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic
Tzimus: A dish made of carrots cooked in honey.

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
ZTvK'L: Hebrew initials of the words:Zechor Tzaddik veKadosh
   LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik - Righteous man and a Kodosh -
   a holy man is a blessing)

Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman  (
All rights reserved.
Issur Hasugas Givil

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