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


Judging others

'With righteousness shall you judge your fellow.' (V'yikra* 19.15)

Chazal* say that you should 'judge your fellow in a favorable light.'
[With regards to this] I have received the following teaching in the
name of the Baal Shem Tov:

The verse says, 'Rescue me from all my sins, do not disgrace me
before a vile person.' [The meaning is] when you see the vile actions
of a wicked person, who has done a serious sin, you should judge him
favorably. You should assume he did it because of his Yetzer HaRah*
that burns within him, and from his lack of recognition of the
seriousness of the sin. From these and other reasons [he was unable
to control himself.]

By so doing the person saves himself from a negative judgement from
HaShem*.  Why?  Because the truth is that since he has seen something
vile in his fellow he should know that there is to be found in him a
sin that is similar to this [even if it is minor and insignificant.]
For that reason he is being judged [by being shown this person's
serious sin.] If you will find some point of merit to this person,
there will likewise be found for you a merit [when you are judged.]
Just as you have not brought a negative judgement upon this person,
who due to the burning desire of his Yetzer Harah that is in him, has
done this serious sin, you will fulfil the verses, 'Do not incline
the judgement of a poor man in his dispute.' This means when he has
disputed with his Yetzer [and succumbed you have not judged him
negatively] but you have searched for some point of merit for him.

The person who sees another sin is being put through a very great
test.  We have learned that there is nothing decreed upon a person
except if he has pronounced that judgement from his own mouth.
Certainly he will not judge himself unfavorably. Therefore they show
him a comparable sin in another person, and he makes a judgement of
that person. In so doing he seals his own fate. (p. 425 sefer Baal
Shem Tov, teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.)

                                * * *

Loving those that harm you.

'You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am HaShem' (V'yikra

When I was young I asked my Rebbe*, the Rebbe Reb* Shmelke of
Nikolsburg, 'How is it possible to fulfil the mitzvah* of loving your
fellow when he has done something evil to you?' He gave me a very
wise answer that is easy to understand.

He said that it is known from the seforim* that all the souls of
Israel are united together like one soul. Sometimes it happens that a
person will by accident strike himself. If the person would then take
a stick and hit his hand or feet, the part of his body that had
struck him, we would all look upon him as one who was mentally
deficient.  Why should he be hurting himself more?

The same is here. He is actually one soul with his friend. This
friend acted that way through his own lack of understanding. if he
should do something to this person, it is as if he did something to
himself. [Instead of being angry and doing something to this person]
he should realize that everything is from HaShem, and He has many
agents to do his will. (p. 197 sefer Imrei Shmuel teachings of the
Rebbe Reb Shmelke of Nikolsburg.)

                                * * *

Loving a fellow Jew

'You shall love your fellow as yourself, I am HaShem' (V'yikra

The end of the verse 'I am HaShem' is difficult to understand.  [What
is the reason the verse adds this?] We can understand it this way.  A
person is supposed to love his fellow exactly like himself.  And the
same is with the other person. He is supposed to love him completely.
The word 'love' [Heb. ahava] actually indicates this. The reason is
that the word 'ahava' is the same gematria* of the Hebrew word for
'one' [Heb.  echad] - 13. This is a remez* that each person is
supposed to love his fellow completely as if they were really one

If he loves his fellow in this manner, and his fellow loves him in
this manner, then they have made the name of HaShem. This is because
two times 'ahava' [2 x 13] has the same value of the four-letter name
of HaShem [26]. This is the meaning of 'You shall love your fellow as
yourself, I am HaShem.' When a Jew loves another completely and they
are as one, then they complete the name of HaShem. (p. 148 sefer
Ahavas Shalom, teachings of Rebbe Mendel of Kosov.)

                                * * *

Source of holiness

'You shall be holy because I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.' (V'yikra

We can explain this verse according to the teaching that appears in
the Talmud*, 'There are three partners in [the birth] of a person,
The Holy One Blessed is He, his father and his mother.' It is
explained there that the portion of HaShem is the nashamah* that He
has placed in him. The portion of the father and mother is the
physical body of the person.

This is what HaShem says: 'You should be holy because I am holy.' The
meaning is that [your holiness comes] from the portion that you have
which is from Me. You nashamos were stored under the Throne of Glory,
and it is pure with all manner of purity. Because of my portion you
should have no fear [that you will not be able to be holy.]

Only, 'Each person should fear his mother and his father.' [This
means that] each person should have fear because of the portion that
comes from his father and mother. That is his physical body, which
draws him to all kinds of evil desires. With this portion you need to
serve [HaShem] and watch [over it, so that you will not come to sin.]
(p. 116 sefer Ner Yisroel. Teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin and
his descendants. This is from Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin.)

                                * * *

Being prepared for holiness

'You shall be holy because I, Hashem your G-d, am holy.' (V'yikra

[The word] 'Holy' [Heb. kedoshim] is a word which implies [a need
for] preparation. (As Tosephos* explains with regards to the word
'mekadeshos', where he explains that the word means to prepare.)

This means that a person always needs to be prepared to be a vessel
to receive holiness from HaShem. [This is] 'Because I, Hashem, am
holy. The meaning of this is that HaShem [is saying that] he is
prepared and waiting all the time to bestow holiness and all types of
good things.  However what is holding this back is [that] the one who
will receive [it is not prepared.]

This is similar to what we learn from the story of the Rebbe Reb
Elimeilech ZY'A*. He asked in heaven, why it was that they did not
answer [our prayers?] They sent him to go to the Maggid* of Mezritch
(who at that time was already in the world of truth.) [He went and
asked] why it was that they did not answer [our prayers all the time.
The Maggid] answered that from above no evil descends into this
world, G-d forbid. Only all types of good things descend to Israel.
[The problem is that] when it comes down below [to this world] the
one receiving it turns it into evil.

For this reason the Torah commands, 'You shall be holy.' You should
attempt to be prepared to receive the good that comes down below and
not cause damage to it by making it turn evil, G-d forbid. (p. 116
sefer Ner Yisroel. Teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin and his
descendants. This is from Rebbe Avraham Yakov of Sadagura.)

                                * * *


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

Maggid: In Europe this was a person who would give sermons on moral
  subjects. Many of the first Rebbes was Maggidim (pl. of Maggid).
mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.

nashama(nashamos): Hebrew word for soul.

Reb: A title added to a persons name as a sign of respect.
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.

Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tosephos: commentary on the talmud by the talmidim of Rashi

V'yikra: Hebrew for the book of Leviticus

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

ZY'A: Hebrew initials for Zechiso Yugan Aleini, His merit should
   protect us

Copyright (c) 1999 by Moshe Shulman  (
All rights reserved.
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