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.
                           Hoshanah Rabbah*

I. A good Seal

1. Rashi* in his commentary on the Parsha of Lech explains, "'And you
will be a blessing.' You could think that we should seal the [first]
blessing [of the Shemonah Esra*] with [a reference] to all [of the
patriarchs.] The verse teaches us, 'And you will be a blessing.' With
you [Avraham] they will seal the blessing." We can explain Rashi's
commentary here as a remez*.

Hoshanah Rabbah is the day of the Seal, and the completion of the
judgement [of the month of Tishrei.] On it the decree goes out from
the King's house.[i.e. from HaShem*.]

We can give an explanation of the reason why it was chosen that the
day that the Seal should be completed on the Yom Tov* of Sukkos*.
The Talmud* teaches, 'Tshuva* from fear causes intentional sins to be
made into unintentional ones. Tshuva from love causes the intentional
sins to be made into merits.'

It is known what was taught by the holy Rebbe* of Berditchev with
regards to the teaching of Chazal* that [the first day of Sukkos] is
the 'first day with regards to counting of sins.' He explained that
during the Ten days of Repentance* the Jewish people do tshuva from
fear. At that time their intentional sins become unintentional sins.
When it comes the Yom Tov of Sukkos, [which is called] the time of
our joy, they are inspired to do tshuva from love. That turns those
sins into merits.

Therefore it was good that the completion of the Seal was set for the
Yom Tov of Sukkos. At that time they could be certain that the decree
that would go out would be a good one, since all their sins had been
turned into merits through their tshuva from love.

It is well known that Avraham served HaShem with the midah* of love.
As the prophet says, 'the seed of Avraham who loved Me.' Rashi
explains that the verse means, 'He did not recognize Me from reproof,
and not from having learned of Me from his parents.  [But he
recognized me] from love.

This is what HaShem said to Avraham, 'With you they will seal.' This
means specifically with the midah of love, that [comes] from you,
the Jewish people will be sealed with a good decree on the day of
Hoshanah Rabbah. This is because their doing tshuva from love will
turn their sins to merits. (#91 p.39 Kibutz Kerem Shlomoh a journal
of Torah and Chassidus. This teaching is from the Bobover Rov*

                           Shemini Atzeres*

I. Why an extra day

1. There is a parable that appears in the Midrash*. 'There was a king
who made a feast... He said to them stay with me one more day. it is
hard for me to separate from you. This is what the verse says, "The
eighth day is a day of assemble for you."'

It would appear to be difficult [to understand this Midrash.] What is
accomplished by their staying one extra day and then leaving?
Wouldn't the king's desire for them become greater [after this day]
and it would be even harder for him to separate from them.

[The meaning is as follows.] The truth is that on Sukkos through [the
performances] of the mitzvos* of [sitting in the] Sukkah, and
[shaking] the four species, one brings upon oneself a great holiness.
When the days of doing these mitzvos passes, due to his refraining
from doing these actions it is possible for all the holiness that he
acquired from these actions to be lost.

For that reason HaShem said to remain 'with me' one more day. [This
means] specifically 'with Me.' Without any specific mitzvah they can
remain attached to HaShem on the day of Shemini Atzeres. Because of
this [command] the connection will be stronger, and endure forever.
They will not be separated for the rest of the year. [All of this is]
because of the holiness of the Yom Tov that brings them into all
these levels of holiness. We remain connected Above. As the verse
says, 'Those of you who are attached to HaShem are all alive today.'

This is the meaning of the verse, 'The eighth day is a day of
assembly for you.' Specifically 'for you.' [In order that you should
remain attached to the holiness that was attained during the days of
the Yom Tov of Sukkos.] (p. 168 sefer Toras Emes teachings of Rebbe
Leibel Eiger of Lublin.]

                                * * *

II. The greatness of Shemini Atzeres

2. [The Talmud teaches] 'the day of rain is greater then the day that
heaven and earth were created.' There is a remez in this teaching to
an idea which has been explained [in many seforim] that we need to
join together the last days of the Yomim Tovim to Rosh HaShanah*.
This is to fulfil the verse, 'to rejoice with fear.' [The rejoicing
should be with fear and one should] not make the rejoicing one of

This teaching of the Talmud, 'the day of rain' is a remez for Shemini
Atzeres.  This is the day that we make a blessing for rain. [This is
a prayer that we make asking HaShem to send rain when it is needed.]

'The day that heaven and earth were created' refers to Rosh HaShanah
the day on which heaven and earth were created. The day of Rosh
HaShanah is also called 'the day of blowing.' The gematria* of the
words 'heaven' [Heb. Shemayim] 'earth' [Heb. Aretz] are the same as
'blowing.' [Heb teruah] This means that the day of Shemini Atzeres is
as great as the day of Rosh HaShanah. (p. 60b sefer Ateres Yehoshua.
Teachings of Rebbe Yehoshua of Dzikov.)

                           Simchas Torah*

1.  In the fifth hakafah*, which is for Aharon HaKohen*, it says,
'The supporter of the fallen, answer us on the day we call.' We can
explain the idea of this as follows. The word 'supporter' [Heb.
Somach] spells out the first letters of the words 'forgiveness,'
[Heb. selichah] 'pardon' [Heb. machilah] 'atonement.' [Heb. kaporah]

The person who sins before HaShem is called 'fallen' (G-d forbid.)
When Aharon HaKohen did the service in the Beis HaMikdash* with fear,
awe, holiness, and purity. The person who sinned was atoned for. From
this [service of Aharon] he is supported and raised up from his
'fallen' [condition.] Therefore in this hakafah which is for Aharon
HaKohen we say, 'The supporter of the fallen, answer us on the day we
call.' (#41 p35 Kibutz Kerem Shlomoh a journal of Torah and
Chassidus. This teaching is from Rebbe Eliezer of Dzikov)

                                * * *

2. In the hakofos for the night of Simchas Torah we say [in the
piyyut Yadid Nefesh], 'Worthy One, please arouse your mercy, and
please take pity on the son of your beloved. Because it has been so
long that I have intensely desired to see the splendor of Your

We can explain this according to what the Talmud says, 'Everything is
in the hands of HaShem except for the fear of HaShem.'

Even though HaShem has given this [fear of HaShem] into the hands of
man, and it is controlled by their freewill. They still have the
power to ask from HaShem that He help them to do His will. HaShem
should help him that their will should be inspired to choose what is

This is the meaning of the doubled wording 'intensely desired.' It is
a reference to the having a will to do His will. (Year 4 #1 p33
Kibutz Kerem Shlomoh a journal of Torah and Chassidus. This teaching
is from Rebbe Yehoshua of Belz)

Zechisom Yugan Aleini v'Al Kol Yisroel


Aharon HaKohen: Heb from Aharon the Priest. Refers to the brother of

Beis HaMikdash: Heb. The Holy Temple

Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages
   of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud

gematria: Numerical value of the letters of the Hebrew words

hakafah: The dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah
HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name
Hoshanah Rabbah: Last day of the intermediate days of Succos. It is
   considered to be similar to Yom Kippur in that it is a time of

midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad.
Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations
mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah.

Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach.
Rav: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the
  Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in
  which they lived.
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.
Rosh HaShanah: 1. Heb. New Year Holiday at the beginning of the year.
  2. A tractate of the Talmud
Rov: An official rabbi who renders legal decisions. Many of the
  Rebbes were both a Rebbe of Chasidim, and the Rov of the city in
  which they lived.

Shemonah Esra: Lit. 18. refers to the 18 blessings of the main prayer
   said three times a day.
Shemini Atzeres: Eighth day of the holiday of Succos. it is a holiday
   for itself
Shlita: Hebrew Initials for the words: Sh'Yichiya L'Aruch Yomim Tovim
   Amen. (He should have a good long life amen)
Simchas Torah: Second day of Shemini Atzeres (in Israel there is only
   a single day), where one celebrates the completion of the readings
   of the Torah for that year.
Sukkos: Holiday after Yom Kippur where people sit in booths

Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law.
Ten Days of Repentance: Ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur
Tshuva: Hebrew word for repentance

Yom Tov(Yomim Tovim): Hebrew name for 'holiday'

Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman  (
All rights reserved.
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