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.
This shiur has been dedicated in honor of:
The upcoming marriage of Zahava Klein to Yoseph Shachna Gottlieb
L'ilui Nishmas HaRav HaKodosh Rebbe Menachem Mendel ben Levi Yitzchok
Zeichor Tzaddik v'Kadosh l'Varachah
by Mr and Mrs Yehuda Klein
I. Who is a leader?
1. 'And the man who HaShem* will choose, he is the holy one.'
My grandfather [Rebbe* Chaim of Tzanz] said that the mistake of
Korach was that he wanted to be a Rebbe. [Not only that but] he
wanted that in Heaven they should agree to this. He found support for
this [idea, that from heaven they should agree,] from what it says in
the Talmud* [with regards to the setting of the first day of the new
month even if done in error.] 'Even if done by mistake, Even if done
on purpose' Therefore [Korach said to himself] 'I will take the 250
heads of the Sanhedrin* to be my Chasidim, and perforce from heaven
they will agree to me.' For this reason Moshe Rabbeinu* answered him,
'The man who HaShem will choose, he is the holy one.' The idea of a
'Rebbe' is not one that depends on a drash* from Chazal*. A Rebbe
cannot be anyone except the one who HaSHem chooses and not a Rebbe
chosen by the Chasidim. (p. 22 sefer Chemdah Genuza teachings of
Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz that were recorded by his grandson Rebbe Sinai
* * *
II. Who can praise
2. 'The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree... Planted in the house
of HaShem, in the courtyard of G-d he will bloom.' (Tehillim*
It is taught in the sefer Lekutei Torah [from the Arizal*] that the
last letters of the words, 'The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree'
[Heb. Tzaddik k'tamar yifroch] spells out the word 'Korach.' [The
meaning is] that in the future he will bloom, [which will happen] in
the days of the prophet Shmuel, who came from the descendants of
Korach. (Until here are his words.)
This verse in Tehillim is difficult to understand because it relates
the qualities of the Tzaddik, but not in the proper order. First it
says, 'Planted in the house of HaShem.' Then it says, 'In the
courtyard of G-d he will bloom.' Shouldn't the courtyard, which leads
into a house, come first?
We can explain this according to what appears in the Talmud.
'Navuchadnetzer prayed in his songs that all the songs that David
said in Tehillim should be praised. An angel came and struck him on
his mouth." It is difficult to understand in what way would he be
able to praise the songs of David. Many had sung them and they did
not praise them.
We can explain this according to what Chazal say in the Talmud, 'In
the place where a Baal Tshuva* stands even a complete Tzaddik is not
able to stand.' The meaning is that a Baal Tshuva, through his
tshuva*, is able to cause the souls of Israel that are on a very low
level to be raised up. This is something a complete Tzaddik is not
able to do. For this reason Navuchadnetzer desired to praise the
songs of David, since he was a Baal Tshuva.
We then have a question, why is it that the angel struck him on his
mouth? [It would appear that what he was doing was praiseworthy.]
However we can say that only when the person's soul comes from the
source of the Jewish souls. Then if he should sin and later do tshuva
HaShem will accept him. However if his soul has it's source in the
source of uncleanliness [then he cannot.] Therefore the angel came
and struck him on his mouth [as he was unclean and not worthy to
This is then the reason the verse:
'The Tzaddik will bloom like a palm tree' is a remez* for Korach and
the idea that he will eventually find rectification for his soul.
The verse explains the reason: 'Planted in the house of HaShem.' The
reason is because his soul has a holy source. It was planted in the
house of HaShem. [It is one of those from the source of the souls of
For this reason, 'In the courtyard of G-d it will bloom.' Little by
little it will find rectification, from one level to another. Until
'it will be fruitful in it's old age.' (p. 47 sefer Divrei Yechezkel.
Teachings of Rebbe Yechezkel Shraga of Shinov, a son of the Tzanzer
* * *
III. Power of the Torah*
3. 'All of Israel that surrounded them fled at their sound.'
We can explain the intention as follows. They fled [i.e. all the evil
things that attempt to attack Israel] because of their voice. [i.e.
the voice of Israel] This is, 'The voice is the voice of Yakov' which
refers to the [voice of their] learning Torah. The reason is that the
Torah protects and saves [those that learn it] from all manner of
suffering and punishment. (p. 34 vol 3 #8 Kerem Shlomoh a journal of
Torah and Chassidus. This teaching is from Rebbe Aharon of Tzanz, the
son of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.)
* * *
IV. Using both eyes
4. 'And Korach separated...' (Bamidbar 16.1)
Rashi* says, 'Korach was a wise person, so what did he see that made
him act so foolishly. His eyes [lit. his eye] caused him to stray.' I
heard in the name of the Holy Rebbe Boruch of Gorlitz Z'L [a son of
Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.] The error of Korach was that he only
considered 'one eye'; that of observing the greatness of HaShem. But
he did not considered the other 'eye', of observing his own
lowliness. [There is a famous teaching of the Rebbe Reb* Zushya that
everyone has two eyes, one to see the greatness of HaShem, the other
to see his own lowliness.] 'His eye caused him to stray' means the
one eye [that he used.] (p. 47 sefer Ateres Chaim a collection of
teachings of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz and his descendants.)
* * *
V. Moshe's humility
5. 'Moshe heard and he fell on his face.' (Bamidbar 16.1)
In the sefer Or HaChaim* is asks why does the verse need to say that
'He heard.' The verse already said that 'They said to them.' [i.e.
Moshe and Aharon] Would one every imagine that he didn't hear? Also
we need to understand what Moshe answered to them. 'In the morning
HaShem will make known who is His.' Why does he associate the answer
with the early morning"
The whole complaint of Korach was that all of the greatness and honor
that Moshe merited to achieve was because of Israel. That is what he
meant when he said, 'The whole congregation are all holy, and HaShem
is among them.' HaShem rests among them specifically because of their
holiness. It was only because of them and their merits that Moshe
achieved his greatness. Moshe also thought this way. [He felt that he
had achieved his status due to the merits of the Jewish people.] 'And
the man Moshe was very humble' and he held that his greatness came to
him 'from all the people that are on the face of the earth.' i.e.
Because of Israel. That is why it says, 'And Moshe heard.' That means
he also agreed with what Korach said. For that reason he fell on his
face, because he did not have what to answer. (p. 190 sefer Kedushas
Tzion. Teachings of Rebbe Ben Zion of Bobov, great-grandson of the
Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok
Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as
Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist
Baal Tshuva (Baalei Tshuva): Hebrew for someone who is a repentant
Bamidbar: Fourth book of the Torah. Called in English Numbers
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages
of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Chesed: Hebrew word meaning acts of mercy
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
mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of
referring to Moses.
Or HaChaim: Jewish Torah commentary
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.
remez: A method of Biblical interpretation based on finding hints
in the Torah for various concepts.
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the
Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in
which they lived.
Sanhedrin: 1. Tractate in the Talmud
2. Name of the highest level of the Jewish court system.
sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book.
Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms.
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
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
All rights reserved.
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