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.

H'Azinu I. Who is 'I' 1. 'See that I, I am He...' (Devorim* 32.39) I heard from the holy, godly man, Rebbe* Dov Ber [the Maggid* of Mezritch] an explanation of the verse 'See that I, I am He...' He said that there is not a single thing in this world which can say 'I,' [Indicating] that it is a something. This is because everything in this world is like nothing before Him. It says this in the Tekunei HaZohar*, 'If you would remove [your power] from them, they would remain like bodies without a nashama*.' And as it says there, 'You give life to all things.' Only HaShem* can be called 'I'. This is because only He does not need any other creatures. He brings all things into existence. This is what the verse says: 'See' that only HaShem is worthy to be called 'I'. But no other human or creature can be called 'I' since they are all nothing. (p. 256 sefer Toras HaMaggid teachings of the Rebbe Reb* Ber, Maggid of Mezritch) * * * II. Teaching the people 2. 'Listen O Heaven and I will speak, And the earth should hear the words of my mouth.' (Devorim 32.1) The holy Rebbe of Apt asked with regards to this verse. The word 'listen' is a command, while the word 'hear' implies that it will be heard in any case. However the truth is that Moshe when he wanted to exhort the Jewish people, he understood that he was very far separated from their level [of understanding of HaShem. They were separated from each other] as far as the heaven is separated from the earth. For that reason he wondered how he would be able to exhort them so that they would hear the words he would be saying and that the words should penetrate into their hearts? For this reason Moshe started by first speaking to the nashamos of the Jewish people. He reached the source of the nashamos of the Jewish people. Each one according to their loftiness. And when he spoke to their nashamos, their bodies would feel below and they would hear his exhortations. This is the meaning of the verse: 'Listen O Heaven and I will speak.' This refers to the nashamos. 'And the earth should hear.' Their physical nature [Heb. artzious] should hear of their own. [By speaking to their nashamos their bodies would hear his words.] (Until here are his words.) * The Tzaddik* further stated that the word 'listen' [Heb H'azenu] is the same meaning as the word 'ears' [Heb. aznayim. As in 'ears for] the Torah*. As it says that Shlomoh made 'ears' to [understand] the Torah and many parables. Through them they would understand the meanings [of the Torah.] For this reason Moshe, the godly man who was very far from the ways of men, when he desired to teach the Torah to the Jewish people he needed to cloth them in many garments, and in many parables so that the people would be able to hear his words and understand them. This is the meaning of the verse: 'Listen O Heaven.' It is necessary for me to make for you 'ears' [in order for you to understand] the Torah. In order that 'And the earth should hear.' These are the people who should understand 'the words of my mouth.' And he said [further] 'My teachings drop like the rain.' This means that in the beginning they are hard like the falling rain. As Chazal* teach, 'The day of rain is as difficult as the Day of Judgement.' However in the end when they will be used to them, 'My words will flow like dew.' This refers to words spoken in quiet. The meaning being that in the beginning the Torah will be revealed to them quietly, and the secrets of the Torah will be slowly revealed to them. (p. 125 sefer Sifsei Tzaddikim teachings from various Chassidic Rebbes.) * * * III. Prayer 3. 'Listen O Heaven and I will speak.' (Devorim 32.1) The holy Rebbe said that Moshe said these words as a prayer. 'Master of the Universe. When I pray to you with regards to a Jewish person. Whether with regards to a thing which depends on the heavens or with regards to a thing which depends on the workings of the world. The heavens should listen to my words. And the Earth should hear the words of my mouth.' This means that what I decree should he heard and established. He added [on a verse which appears later in the parsha*] 'When I call out the name of HaShem.' This means when I call to HaShem in prayer. Then the heavens and the earth 'ascribe greatness to HaShem.' This is because when my prayers are accepted there comes from that a sanctification of HaShem's name, and the name of heaven is made great in this world. [This is because people see that there is a G-d who answers prayers.] [The verse says] 'a faithful G-d, and there is no iniquity in Him.' The holy Rebbe said [with regards to] this [verse] before he died. The main point of the Torah is to know that HaShem is a faithful G-d, and there is no iniquity in Him. And if you will ask me why do we need all the Torah? It would have been enough if HaShem had just said this verse on Mount Sinai. The answer is that a person cannot come to this understanding if he doesn't learn and keep all that is in the Torah from the beginning to the end. (p. 36 sefer Baros HaMayim teachings of Rebbe Tzvi Hersh of Riminov.) * * * IV. Faith in HaShem 4. 'HaShem alone guided them.' (Devorim 32.12) We can explain this verse according to what I quoted in the name of the Rambam* in the parsha of V'Yelech. [He said that] when a person is attached to faith in HaShem he merits that he will be guarded from above, and no evil will be able to happen to him. This is what the verse means: 'HaShem alone guided them.' In order to keep them from any evil thing. This is when 'there is no other god with them.' I.e. when they are attached only to HaShem with their faith. (p.89b sefer Divrei Emunah II teachings of Rebbe Avraham Yitzchok, the Toldos Aharon Rebbe.) * * * V. Shabbos 5. In the sefer* Divrei Tzaddikim it says that the reason we eat eggs, onions and beans on Shabbos is to remember that Moshe died on Shabbos. Therefore we eat three things [that are foods for mourners] because of the three Tzaddikim who died on Shabbos. Moshe, Dovid, Yosef. Zechisom Yugan Aleini v'Al Kol Yisroel --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: 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'. 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). nashama(nashamos): Hebrew word for soul. Parsha (Parshos): lit. 'portion' refers to the portion of the Torah read each week. Rambam: Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon also called Maimonides 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. sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book. Tekunei Zohar: The most esoteric section of the Zohar 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 Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe. ************************************************************** Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil