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.

Pesach #1 I. Finding a little Chometz 1. The custom is to place 10 pieces of Chometz* in places where the person who is searching will find it. It seems to me that the reason for this holy custom is that the main removal of chometz refers to that of the Yetzer HaRah*. For that reason we place these pieces of chometz to show that there is still in each person some chometz, i.e. the Yetzer HaRah, as the verse says 'there is no Tzaddik who does not sin.' If a person will consider himself as if he has already corrected himself from everything, that is a sure sign that he has yet to begin in the service of HaShem*. (This I explained elsewhere with regards to the red heifer that was to be without any blemish, and which had never had a yoke placed upon it. This means that the one who thinks he is without blemish, it is a clear sign that he has not as yet accepted the yoke of heaven upon himself.) Likewise it says in the Chovos HaLavavos* that if one says that he has not sinned, it is certain that he has sinned more. For this reason we place the chometz to show that we have yet to rectify everything. (p. 136 sefer Avodos Yisroel teachings of Rebbe* Yisroel of Koznitz.) * * * II. Teachings on the Haggadah* 2. 'It is a mitzvah* for us to relate the story of the going out from Egypt.' The retelling of the stories in the Torah concerning the great and wondrous things HaShem has done for Israel has a virtue in them for each and every Jew who relates them when he is in need of help from HaShem. We see this from the verse which says, 'in order to place my signs [wonders] amongst them, and in order that you should tell them to your children... and they shall know that I am HaShem.' When the story is related there will be a remembrance and there shall again be a redemption in the land [as there was then. The telling of the story of HaShem's wonders causes that wonders be done to the one relating the story.] As it is said in Koheles*, 'What was will be.' The [relating of the] story of what was [in the past] is a preparation for what shall be. There shall be, once again, a redemption [from exile] in the land. (p. 37 Haggadah Bar Mayim Chaim Haggadah with teachings of Rebbe Chaim of Charnovitz.) * * * 3. 'And he, who stood up for our ancestors and us... not just one [time] alone...' We can understand this according to what it says in Pirkei Avos, 'Every disagreement that is not for the sake of heaven will not endure. This refers to the disagreement of Korach and his assembly.' In the holy sefer Noam Elimeilech he asks, why does it say 'Korach and his assembly' and not Korach and Moshe? The reason is that the wicked come from the source of separation, and they can never join themselves together in oneness and unity. For that reason the disagreement will not last, because in the end the wicked will turn against each other, and will strike each other. Because of this they will not be able to do anything bad to Israel. This is the meaning of 'And he, who stood up for our ancestors and us...' Why is this? [Because] not just one [time] alone...' i.e they had no oneness, no unity amongst themselves that they should be able to stand against us. As we have seen the verse refers to Israel as 'seventy soul' [singular and not souls plural] to show that they are as one. However this is not the case with the gentile nations, as we see that the children of Esav are called 'souls',plural, showing that they come from a place of separation [and not of oneness.] This is the meaning of what is said after this, 'But in every generation they stand', plural, because they have no unity with them. For that reason, 'The Holy One Blessed is He saved us from them.' (p. 71 Haggadah Ropshitz, Haggadah with teachings of Rebbe Naftuli of Ropshitz and his descendants. This was from Rebbe Meir of Dzikov author of the sefer Imrei Noam, the grandson of the Ropshitzer Rov.) * * * 4. 'Blessed is The Place' [A term used to refer to HaShem in Rabbinical works and also here in the Haggadah.] We need to understand why we refer to HaShem here as 'The Place' and in other places in the reciting of the Haggadah he is referred to explicitly by his name? Also why is it that here specifically it changes and calls HaShem, 'The Place'? We also need to understand why it says, 'The Torah speaks about [lit. against] four [types] of sons? It appears to me that we can explain it this way. We find that Chazal* teach 'HaShem is called the place of the world, but the world is not His place.' The reason is that this whole world is as nothing before him. HaShem creates this world, and sustains its existence. And the whole world is literally like nothingness. It is only that it exists due to His strength and His sustaining of the world. For that reason he is called 'Place.' Without Him there could be nothing, and there would be no 'place' for the world. The purpose of creation is the people Israel. Because of them the world was created. The Torah is the bridge between HaShem and Israel. Just like HaShem is the 'place' of the world, so the Torah is the source of everything, and [as Chazal say] the world was created with the Torah. For this reason just as it is the case that there is nothing that can effect HaShem [from the actions of this world] as it says in Eyov*, 'If I sin what can it do to You?.' The same is with regards to the Torah that was emanated from HaShem it also has no set place. Sometimes there is the idea of a 'sin for HaShem's sake' [as we see with regards to the fast Esther decreed that came out on Pesach.]. Also with the Torah anything and any sin can be rectified. Even completely wicked people are able to do tshuva* and turn their sins to merits. For that reason the Torah speaks about all types of people, since through the Torah everything can be rectified. The Torah can bring a general rectification for all types of people [and their sins.] (p. 17 Haggadah Divrei Chaim Haggadah with teachings of Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.) * * * 5. 'In order that you should remember the day that you went out of Egypt.' The idea is this. When the Jewish people went out of Egypt there was no difference between them and the Egyptians. As the verse says, 'one nation from another nation.' These were uncircumcised and these were uncircumcised. These grew long hair and these grew long hair. It was only that HaShem desired them, and had promised to redeem them. Only because of his great mercy he brought into their hearts from His holiness without any preparation on their part until they were on the level that he could take them out of Egypt. For that reason we are commanded to remember the Exodus from Egypt. This is not a remembrance with our mouths only. It should be impressed on the hearts of every Jew. If he should find himself tied to some desires, and he has no idea how to remove himself from them, he should not give up hope. He should have faith and wait for HaShem to take him out of his trouble. He should strengthen himself that he is not worse then Israel was when they were in Egypt where they were in the depths of uncleanliness. And there HaShem drew them out without any action of their own. [He should feel that] also for him HaShem will help. And for that reason we are commanded to remember. (p. 117 Haggadah Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen Haggadah with teachings of Rebbe Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin.) * * * 6. 'Kadash [make Kiddush] Erchatz' [wash the hands]. We can explain this according to what I have heard from my father ZT'L* when he explained the following teaching. Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel disagreed with regards to the lights of Channukah. Beis Hillel said that we add more and more [one the first night, then two etc] and Beis Shammai said we decrease less and less [eight the first night then seven etc.] He explained it this way. The verse says, 'go away from evil and do good.' It is better for a person to first turn from the evil that he has done and watch over his heart and soul that he should not violate any sin whether from the Torah or the Rabbis. Whether in action, speech or thought. Then he should grasp onto the good. He should learn Torah, serve HaShem, do the mitzvos and good deeds. However it says in the holy seforim that in our days where people are weak of heart and of understanding due to the many afflictions and sufferings that we have. If he was to wait to start doing good until he could turn from the evil he has done, he would pass all the years of his life. Therefore he should learn Torah, serve HaShem, do mitzvos and good deeds. He should be on the level of 'adding more and more' then he will eventually come to the 'go away from evil.' He will come to recognize the greatness of HaShem, and will come to fear him and fear to do any sin. This was the argument of Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai. Beis Shammai held that they should do 'less and less', i.e. they should first 'go away from evil.' Then they should 'do good.' That way they would become holy and purify themselves, and they will come to have a strong desire to learn Torah, serve HaShem, do mitzvos and good deeds. Beis Hillel said they should 'add more and more'. This is a remez* that they should add more and more to their service of HaShem, their learning of Torah, doing mitzvos and good deeds. Through this they will recognize the greatness of HaShem and will be ashamed to do any sin. With this we can understand what Chazal have made as a sign of the order of the Seder on the night of Pesach: Kadash, Erchatz. When we reach this night where there are so many mitzvos to do who can say in his heart that he has merited to purify his heart from his sins and he is on the level of 'go away from evil'? Therefore Chazal teach us the halacha is like Beis Hillel. First we have to make ourselves holy [Heb. kadash] with the holy mitzvos that we do this night. Then through them we can 'erchatz', we will be able to wash ourselves from any stain of a sin that we might have. (p. 34 Haggadah Spinka Haggadah with teachings from the Rebbes of Spinka. This was from Rebbe Yitzchok Isaac of Spinka.) * * * III. Pesach customs 7. Rebbe Yisroel of Hosyatin related once to Rabbi Yakov Rimlover the author of 'Kochav M'Yakov' that he heard from his father: 'The [author of] Degel [Machnah Ephraim the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov] said, "in Russia they have many extra stringencies for the holiday of Pesach. However they don't really please me. However one stringency seems very good to me. They prepare a barrel of water from the day before Pesach to use during the whole holiday. If you would ask me why I don't do that also. The reason is that I never saw this done by my grandfather [the Baal Shem Tov.]"' Rebbe Yisroel saw that he wished to ask him a question about the story. So he said, 'Nu?' Rabbi Yakov answered, 'It is easy to understand that if someone followed a stringency that he ONLY saw by his ancestor, but he himself didn't see any reason for it, I could understand this. [i.e. that he would do it.] However, if he saw that his ancestors were lenient in something, and he wished to be more stringent. Why shouldn't he?' [How can we say that he should refrain from being more stringent with himself?] Rebbe Yisroel answered, 'We see in the Talmud* (tractate Betza* 36b) that on Shabbos water dripped on a small millstone of Abbaya. He went to his Rebbe, Rabbah, and asked him what to do. [So as to avoid the stone being destroyed.] Rabbah told him, that since it would become something abhorrent to him [because of the smell while breaking up] he would be able to remove it. Abbaya objected that we cannot consider an object 'abhorrent' in this manner. In the end the millstone was destroyed, and Abbaya said that it happened because he didn't listen to his Rebbe.' From this we see that one should not be more stringent in something that his Rebbe was lenient in. (p. 28 vol. 2 sefer Ner Yisroel teachings from Yisroel of Rizhin and his descendants.) Zechisom Yugan Aleini v'Al Kol Yisroel --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: Betza: Tractate of the Talmud Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud Chometz: Hebrew for leavening Chovos HaLavavos: a moralistic and philosophical sefer Eyov: The Hebrew name for the book of Job Haggadah: Sefer that relates the story of the Exodus from Egypt and other things related to the night of Pesach. HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name Koheles: One of the books of the Tenach, called in English Ecclesiastes. mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah. 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. Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance 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 ZT'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik - Righteous person is a blessing.) ************************************************************** Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil