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.

Amor I. Holiness 1. 'It shall be a holy convocation for you.'[Heb. l'chem] (V'yikra* 23.7) The word 'for you' [Heb. l'chem] refers to temporal things. As Chazal* say [with regards to Yom Tov*] 'half for HaShem* and half for you.' [i.e. half of the day should be used in the service of HaShem, and half should be used in enjoying the Yom Tov.] Therefore the verse says, 'It shall be holy for you.' [This means] even in those things that are in the class of 'for you' [i.e. temporal things] should also be on the level of 'holy.' That is why the Torah* allows work related to food preparation only. [This shows that one may prepare food as this is something that should also be made holy.] (p. 54 sefer Toras Chaim teachings of Rebbe* Chaim of Kosov.) * * * II. Starting to serve HaShem 2. 'Every native [born Israelite] shall dwell in booths. ' (V'yikra 23.42) The Holy Rabbi Yehoshua Asher of Perisov [son of Rebbe Yakov Yitzchok of Peshischa] said that this verse is a remez* that even the person who has yet to enter into the service of HaShem. [The one for whom] the sun has yet to shine upon. [Who] has only accepted upon himself that from now on he will begin to serve HaShem with all of his heart. The word 'native' [Heb azrach] refers to the future, [meaning] that from today on he will begin to shine [Heb. hizrach] in the service of HaShem. The verse is assuring him that he will merit to sit in booths. This is the booth of HaShem which is a remez the holy light from above [that shines on those who serve HaShem] as it says in the seforim*. (p. 41 sefer Toras HaYehudi HaKodesh teachings of Rebbe Yakov Yitzchok, the Yid HaKodesh of Peshischa and his descendants.) * * * III. What to take 3. 'You shall take for yourself on the first day.' (V'yikra 23.40) The explanation [of this verse] is that a person should take himself with sincerity. He should be a 'fruit of a goodly tree' before HaShem. [The meaning of this] is according to [what the Torah says] a man is a tree of the field. 'Branches of a palm tree.' This is a remez to the fear [of HaShem.] 'And twigs of a pleated tree.] This is a remez for humility, the level of a 'twig.' 'Brook willows.' This is a remez for self-mortifications, and [immersions in] a mikvah*. 'And you shall rejoice before HaShem your G-d.' You should rejoice when you perform the mitzvos to the point that you cause a joy and inspiration Above, before HaShem your G-d. [You should do this until it reaches] until the throne of glory. Then it will be that any bad judgments that are prepared will be 'sweetened' because of the joy Above [that came from your doing the mitzvos.] (p. 17 sefer Maamer Mordechai teachings of Rebbe Mordechai of Nedvorna) * * * IV. Worrying 4. 'Speak to the priests the sons of Aharon and say to them you should not contaminate yourself for a dead person amongst the people.' (V'yikra 21.1) It says in the Midrash Rabbah*, 'Rabbi Tanchum said, "The speech of HaShem is pure speech"' It appears to me that we can explain this Midrash* according to what it says in the verse, 'Only goodness and mercy should pursue me.' [The meaning of this verse is that] a person should always worry over his sins. If he should be bestowed [from HaShem] with a great deal of good. He should worry that perhaps he is one of those about whom it says, 'He repays them to his face in this world'. And he should do tshuva*. That is the meaning of the verse 'Only goodness and mercy should pursue me.' [Goodness and mercy] should be considered by him as [if they are] pursuing him. Perhaps HaShem is giving him his portion in this world [and he has nothing left for the world to come.] This is also what the verse says, 'The speech of HaShem is pure speech.' The word 'speech' [Heb. amoros] is a soft language which is a remez for mercy. They are to purify his soul. [This is because] when he has a great deal of good and he worries because of that. He will certainly see to it that he will rectify [his actions] and purify his soul. This is the meaning of 'pure speech.' This is also the meaning of 'Speak to the priests...' There is a remez to the midah* of chesed* in 'Speak to the priests.' This is only so that 'You should not contaminate yourself [lit. your soul] for a dead person amongst the people.' The meaning is that you should not contaminate your soul even if you have to go amongst the people. You should be careful to purify your soul. (p. 201 sefer Tzamach Tzaddik teachings of Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Viznitz.) * * * V. Purifying the soul 5. 'If a man will eat of the Holy things by accident, he shall add to it a fifth [of it's value] and give the holy to the kohen.' (V'yikra 21.1) The Holy Torah is giving us a remez to teach us musar* for the person who has marred his soul [through sinning] by accident and how he can correct himself. This is the intention [of the verse:] 'If a man will eat.' [If he will] lose his portion in holiness through some sin that he has done by accident. (The Merciful One should help us.) The verse is telling us that he has [something he can do] to correct his portion of holiness, [i.e. his soul] which he has marred through his unintentional sin. 'He shall add.' [Heb. v'yosef] The letters of this word are the same as 'Yosef' which refers to the midah of Yesod [attachment to HaShem.] 'It's fifth.' These are the five holy midos that are above Yesod, which is the sixth midah, that of Yosef. [He should attach himself to all of these midos.] If he merits to this then 'He shall give the holy to the kohen.' Then it shall be in his power to give over the holy portion in him [i.e. his soul] that he has marred, to the Tzaddik* of his generation, who is a kohen to G-d. [He does this] in order to repair his soul. It should be as it was before he sinned. HaShem should help us that we should merit to do tshuvah, truthfully with a complete heart, and to be shined upon with the light of life. (p. 26 sefer Imrei Baruch teachings of Rebbe Baruch of Viznitz.) * * * VI. Recognizing that everything is for the good. 6. 'Speak to the priests the sons of Aharon and say to them you should not contaminate yourself for a dead person amongst the people.' (V'yikra 21.1) The person who serves HaShem is the called a 'priest.' He sees that everything that happens in this world is not by accident, but is the result of HaShem's guidance. It is [likewise] known [to all] that the will of HaShem is to do good for all of his creation. For a person such as this [who recognizes that all is from HaShem] it is possible that he will come to complain about HaShem's actions if he sees that something happens which does not appear 'good'. However [it is not the same] for the person who thinks that things just happen [without HaShem's guidance.] He will not come to have such complaints when he observes things that appear contrary to HaShem's will. [This is] because he thinks that all things can just happen by chance. However the one who thinks that everything is from HaShem can have complaints. For that reason the verse warns the priests, i.e. the servants of HaShem, that they should not contaminate themselves. This means that they should not have complaints about the actions of HaShem. The reason is] that it will contaminate them. i.e. their complaints about HaShem [will contaminate them.] The main source of these complaints [against HaShem] comes from seeing things that appear contrary to His compassion, whether it be some type of loss, or the withholding of some good. (As is known from the Zohar*.) Therefore HaShem commanded, 'speak to the priests and say to them' quietly (as the Zohar says.) Softly speak to the servants of HaShem that they shouldn't have complaints against HaShem when they see things that appear to be contrary to His compassion. The reason is that he always has in mind the good. Even when He acts in a way that seems opposite of His mercy, it is also for the good. (p. 122 sefer Mi Hashiloach teachings of Rebbe Mordechai Yosef of Izbitza) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: 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 HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad. Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations Midrash Rabbah: Major Midrashic work on the Torah mikvah: Hebrew word referring to a ritual bath used for purification musar: Hebrew for moral instruction. 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. sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book. 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 Rebbe. 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 Yom Tov(Yomim Tovim): Hebrew name for 'holiday' Zohar: Hebrew/Aramaic Rabbinical Kabbalistical work that is one of the most important sources for Kabbalah, and was very influential with Chasidim --------------------------------------------------------------------- Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil