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. Making HaShem* forgive sins
1. I heard from my father (Rebbe* Feivish of Brazan) Z'L* who related
the following in the name of my grandfather, the Rebbe of Ropshitz
It says in the prayers of Yom Kippur, 'The King who pardons and
forgives our sins and removes our iniquities every year.' There is a
parable to a man who had a special fruit, and had two sons. He showed
the fruit to his sons and said 'see how beautiful it is'. Each of the
sons asked that he should be given the fruit.
However, one of them was wise, and he started to make the blessing,
'Blessed are You HaShem... who makes the fruit of the tree. Then his
father had to give it to him [since to not do so would mean that the
son had done a sin by making a blessing when not needed.]
It is the same with this blessing where we say that HaShem pardons
and forgives our sins. He has to do it, otherwise it would be causing
us to make a blessing that is not needed, which would be a sin.
(sefer Imrei Yehuda teachings of Rebbe Avraham Zarach Yehuda Aryeh
Leibish of Brazan)
* * *
II. Oneness on Yom Kippur
2. The Mishnah* says that with regards to 'sins between a person and
his fellow man Yom Kippur will not atone for them until his friend
has become reconciled [with him].
On Yom Kippur the Jewish people become like a single person. Since
this day is the unique day of all the days. So also the Jewish souls
become like one unique soul. The truth is that all the Jews are
really close to each other [and it should not be just on this day
that they become like one], but due to their sins they become
separated [one from another]. As the verse says, 'your sins have
separated you from your G-d.'
There are sins that cause a separation between a man and G-d, and
there are others that cause a separation between man and his fellow
man. This separation between man and man is a real one, just as it is
with regards to HaShem [where the separation is real]. It is
necessary that these two separations be rectified.
When it says 'sins between a man and his fellow man' this does not
mean only stealing and things like that. It means any type of sin
that causes a separation between men, like 'do not hate your brother
in your heart' and others sins like this.
'Until your friend is reconciled with you', means until he should
return and love you again [as he had before the sin], as it says,
'you shall love your neighbor as yourself' that is the main teaching
of the Torah*.
On Yom Kippur, since sins are being forgiven, the Jewish people
become as one. Therefore the second tablets of the commandments were
given on that day [Yom Kippur], as the previous ones were broken
because of the sin of the golden calf. But when Moshe Rabbeinu* came
down from the mountain 'Moshe gathered' and returned them to their
'oneness' with each other. The whole Torah depends on this oneness
[among the Jewish people] as the Torah is called 'the inheritance of
the congregation of Yaakov*.' This is what is meant by the 'main
teaching of the Torah'. (p. 86 vol 5 sefer Sefas Emes teachings of
Rebbe Yehuda Aryeh Leib of Ger)
* * *
III. Repenting on Yom KIppur
3. Rebbe Shalom of Belz used to say the following the eve of Yom
The Talmud says, (Shabbos* 34a) 'Three things a person must ask in
his house the eve before Shabbos as it begins to get dark. [1. Heb.
asartem] Did you take tithes? [2. Heb. aravtem] Did you make an
Eruv*? [3. Heb. Hadliko as haNeros] Did you light the Shabbos lights?
If it is true [that we should do this] on the eve of Shabbos, it is
even more so on the eve of the Shabbos of Shabboses [Yom Kippur] that
we should say these three things.
Therefore 'asartem?': in a short amount of time the 10 [Heb. eser]
days of repentance will have passed. Aravtem?: also the eve [Heb
erev] of Yom Kippur is ending. Did you like the Shabbos lights? The
lights of Yom Kippur are already lit, and still we have not returned
in tshuva* before HaShem.
The Rebbe used to add before Kol Nidrei* in the big shul [in
Belz] in a loud voice. 'OY, we have erred, we have wronged, we have
sinned' When they heard this they were all struck with fear and they
started to become inspired to tshuva. (p. 61 sefer Yirach H'Aysunim
teachings of the Rebbes of Belz)
* * *
IV. What to cry about.
4. Rebbe Berish of Radoshitz ZT'L told a story of a villager who came
to the big city for the day of Yom Kippur. He saw that the Beis
HaKnesses* was filled with people who were crying and praying. He
also wanted to cry and pray, but he was not able to because his house
was filled with all kinds of goods and he really didn't need
Then he remembered that he left a piece of meat out and that it was
probably spoiled. So he started to cry over the meat. As he was
crying he started to think and have thoughts of repentance in his
heart. From then, on for the whole day of Yom Kippur, he cried over
his sins. (p. 35 part 2 sefer Dibros Chaim teachings of Rebbe Berish
* * *
V. 'If not now when?'
5. The Holy Rebbe of Tzanz used to tell parables during the third
meal of Shabbos during the month of Elul which proceeds Rosh
HaShanah. One of them was:
The Rebbe Reb* Zushya used to cry out during the month of Elul,
'Zushya Zushya, when are you going to do tshuva?' He answered
himself, 'From now on I will do tshuva.' He then continued to ask
himself, 'Zushya Zushya, didn't you say yesterday that from now on
you were going to do tshuva and you didn't do it?' He then answered,
'But now I really mean that I will do tshuva.' (p. 266 sefer Otzar
HaChaim customs of the Holy Rebbe Chaim of Tzanz.)
Beis HaKnesses: Jewish house of worship
Eruv: A legal act that causes different residences to be considered as one.
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
Kol Nidrei: First prayer of Yom KIppur
Mishnah: An ancient Jewish work made of specific laws.
Moshe Rabbeinu: Hebrew for Moses our teacher. A common Jewish way of
referring to Moses.
Rebbe: Leader of a Chassidic group
Rebbe Reb: A title added to a few special Rebbes as a sign of their
higher spiritual stature.
Shabbos: Tractate in the Talmud
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
Yaakov: Hebrew for Jacob
Yom Kippur: The Day of Atonement, the most holy day of the Jewish year.
Z'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechorono LeVaracha (His memory is
Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman (email@example.com)
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