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. Expanded understanding.
1. "When HaShem will extend your boundary... according to the desire
of your soul you shall eat meat." (Devorim* 12:20)
[Serving HaShem*] with fear causes [one's mind] to feel restricted.
While [serving HaShem] with love causes [one's mind] to be expanded
and uplifted. In this manner I have heard the explanation of the
verse 'When HaShem will extend your boundary.' You should have
enthusiasm [in the service of HaShem.] I have heard in the name of
Rebbe Yechiel Mechel of maggid* of Zlotchov, by so doing you will
come to have an expansion of your heart in the service of HaShem.
(p. 79 sefer Malki b'Kodesh teachings of Rebbe Yechiel Mechel the
maggid of Zlotchov.)
* * *
II. Overcoming one's physical nature.
2. "When HaShem will extend your boundary as he has promised you, and
you will say 'I want to eat meat.'" (Devorim 12:20)
It is well known that every person has a part of him tied to the
physical world and a part that is spiritual. The spiritual part is
the opposite of the part tied to the physical world. This is because
the physical part desires physical things and the spiritual part
desires to break the power of physicality and increase the power of
If a person merits to achieve the level where his understanding is
expanded, then he will understand and comprehend how disgusting the
desire for physical things is when it is compared to the desire for
spiritual things. Then the power of his spiritual desires will
destroy the desire for physical things.
The truth is that the way for one to break the power of physical
desires is through performance of the mitzvos* of HaShem. The more
the soul desires to do the will of HaShem, the desires for this
physical world become disgusting in his eyes. His whole desire will
be for spiritual things. His heart will only desire to do the will of
His Father who is in Heaven, because that is an eternal pleasure.
This is the meaning of the verse:
'When HaShem will extend your boundary.' This refers to the boundary
of ones mind. He shall have an expansion of understanding, and he
will understand and have success in [attaining] the fear of HaShem.
"And you will say 'I want to eat meat.'" [The word 'I want to eat']
is written without a 'vav' [Heb. achlah] which is similar to the word
meaning 'I will destroy.' [Heb. akalah] This means that he desires to
destroy and break his desires for physical things, which are called
[in this verse] 'meat.' The meaning of this is that it is always the
case that the desire of the soul is to destroy the desire for
physical things. The holy Torah* teaches us that all his actions
should only be to fulfil the will of his soul, which is learning
Torah, doing mitzvos, good deeds and the fear of HaShem. From doing
that he will break and nullify his physical nature.
That is 'according to the desire of your soul you shall eat meat.'
This comes about because of your doing the desire of your soul. From
this you will destroy the physical nature called 'meat.' All your
desires will be for the mitzvos of HaShem. To have enjoyment from
them. The eternal enjoyment, as I said above.
The end of this verse 'according to the desire of your soul you shall
eat meat' indicates that he should come to such a level of purity
that his physical body will also be enflamed to the service of
HaShem. He will receive joy from the service of HaShem, and from the
mitzvos that he does. His body will also receive of this enjoyment,
since it's will agrees to this service of HaShem.
This is what the verse means 'according to the desire of your soul.'
According to the desire of your soul for the service of HaShem.
'You shall eat meat.' This implies enjoyment, indicating that the
physical body will also have enjoyment in the desire of the soul, as
I said above. (p. 128 sefer Mevasar Tzedek teachings of Rebbe Yisachar
Ber of Zlotchov a talmid* of Rebbe Yechiel Mechel, the maggid of
* * *
III. Becoming Children
3. 'You are children to HaShem your G-d.' (Devorim 14.1)
Children you will be to HaShem. [When is this?] Only if you watch
yourself so that He should be your G-d. [When you have a recognition
that HaShem is your G-d, then you will be His children.] (p.26 sefer
Rashpei Aish teachings of Rebbe Mordechai of Neshchiz a talmid of
Rebbe Yechiel Mechel, the maggid of Zlotchov.)
* * *
IV. The source of blessings
4. 'The blessing when you will listen to the mitzvos of HaShem.'
We can explain this verse according [to the teaching of Chazal*] a
mitzvah brings another mitzvah. We see that the mitzvah itself is the
level of a blessing, a little causes a lot. [A mitzvah which is a
small thing, causes a great reward.] It becomes the source of
blessings, and the reward [for doing it] is very great.
[Chazal teach us] 'there is no reward for the mitzvos in this world',
[the reward is in the world to come. However] we are able to do the
mitzvos in this world. As it is written 'Today' to do them and not
tomorrow. The truth is that the Tzaddikim* get more spiritual
strength and enjoyment from the mitzvos then from the reward. This
is the level of [what Chazal teach] 'It is better one hour in this
world of tshuva* and good deeds then the whole world to come.'
The opposite is with a sin. It brings another sin, G-d forbid, and
becomes the source of curses. For this reason it says, 'The blessing
when you shall listen.' You should hear and contemplate [the idea]
that it is possible for you to become a source of blessings. (p. 192
sefer Mordechai B'Shaar HaMelech, teachings of Rebbe Mordechai of
Zavil a descendant of Rebbe Yechiel Mechel, maggid of Zlotchov.)
* * *
5 'You are children to HaShem your G-d.' (Devorim 14.1)
The earlier commentators have asked, Why is it that there is no
mention in the Torah of the future reward and the world to come. That
[reward in the world to come] is the main [reward,] the foundation,
and everything depends on it.
In the Torah we find the idea of Gan Eden* [which is the reward of
the world to come.] Also the Torah says [with regards to the Jewish
people] 'You are children to HaShem.'
The difference between a 'child' and a 'servant' is that a servant
has to work hard for his reward. However everything that a father has
belongs to his son as long as he does not rebel against him and is
[For this reason] it does not make sense to refer to a reward for a
son for his service since everything is his anyway. If he does his
father's will he becomes the master of the house himself and inherits
everything. [For this reason there is no need to discuss the reward
in the world to come, since the Jewish people are called G-d's
children. Hence everything that He has belongs to them as long as
they do His will.] (p. 221 sefer Toras M'HaRash, teachings of Rebbe
Shlomoh of Zavil a descendant of Rebbe Yechiel Mechel, maggid of
Beis HaMedrash: Jewish house of study
Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages
of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud
Devorim: Fifth book of the Torah. Called in English 'Deuteronomy'.
Gan Eden: Hebrew name for paradise
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.
Morah Moreinu: lit. 'Teacher, our teacher' a honorific title given to
great Rabbis when they are called up for the reading of the Torah.
Mori: Hebrew for my teacher.
musar: Hebrew for moral instruction.
Shalom Aleichem: lit. 'peace to you' an expression of welcome in
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
Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance
Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic
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