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.

Pesach #2 I. Shabbos Chol HaMoed* 1. 'The song of songs that is to Shlomoh.' It appears to me that we can understand this according to what it says in the Alsheich* on the prayer, 'a great king who is glorified with praise.' For this merit that we have in being able to praise His great name, we should glorify HaShem. That is the meaning of 'who is glorified with praise.' We glorify HaShem because we have merited to praise Him. This is the meaning of 'The song of songs that is to Shlomoh.' We sing because we have merited to sing to His great name. This is a beloved song, more then any other song that we have merited to sing. We sing a song to HaShem that we have merited to sing to His great name. We sing a song for all the songs that are for Shlomoh [which Chazal* say refers to HaShem.] * Another explanation is that the perfect service to HaShem is when one has a burning desire for Him continually. This is the joy one has that he has merited to be one of HaShem's servants, who does His will. HaShem has many types of holy angels who serve Him above, but He has chosen men formed from dust [to serve Him.] There is nothing greater than this. The truth is that the Tzaddikim* serve HaShem even with their eating, drinking and sleeping. But this is not the perfect service of HaShem. The perfect service is to have his soul attached to HaShem with prayer, song and praises. This is the meaning of 'song of songs.' We need to sing to Him that we have merited to say songs and praises before Him. 'That is to Shlomoh.' This refers to the perfect [Heb. shlamos] service, which is not the case with eating, drinking and sleeping. (p. 64b sefer Kedushas Levi teachings of Rebbe* Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev.) * * * 2. 'Your two breast are like two fawns' [Heb. afarim. Rashi* says this refers to Moshe and Aharon.] We can understand this according to what Chazal have taught, that in the merit of his humility Moshe merited to receive the Torah. We can also say that Avraham Aveinu* who [Chazal teach us] fulfilled all the Torah likewise did so in the merit of his humility, as he said, 'I am dust [Heb. afar] and ashes.' It is well known that no one will be able to rise to the level of Moshe, as it says, 'there will not arise one like Moshe.' Chazal have said, 'a person should say when will my actions approach those of my ancestors.' [When will I act in a way that is similar to them. We can approach them, but not be on the same level.] This is then the meaning of the verse, 'Your two breasts' this means the two Torahs, the written and the oral Torah. They shall be observed by you like two fawns [Heb. afarim]. Like [the two people who considered themselves] dust [Heb. afar]. As Avraham said he was 'dust and ashes'. Because of that [i.e. your humility] you will merit to the Torah. According to your level of humility you will merit to the Torah as the Torah is compared to a deer. This is what the verse says after that, 'who graze [their sheep] like roses.' As the Talmud* says, "those who say the Shema* in the morning and at night fulfil the mitzvah of 'and you shall occupy yourself with it [learning Torah] day and night." This is 'who graze [their sheep] like roses. The Zohar* tells us that 'roses' means the recitation of the Shema. [Those who serve with humility will merit to learn the Torah.] (p. 301 Haggadah* Or Shevos Yamim Haggadah with teachings of Chassidic Rebbes. This is from Rebbe Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sedelkov the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov.) * * * II. Shevi'i Shel Pesach* 3. 'And they believed in HaShem and Moshe His servant.' I heard in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that the reason why one has to travel to the Tzaddik in his generation and it is not sufficient to learn from seforim* is openly stated in the Torah. The verse says, 'HaShem said to Moshe, write this as a book of remembrance and place it in the ears of Yehoshua.' Even though HaShem said to write it in a sefer that should have been enough. However even with it written down the verse says that Moshe should tell it over to Yehoshua. He should speak to him, one to another. That is because the main thing is what one hears from the Tzaddik of that generation. Moshe was the Tzaddik of that generation. The Midrash* teaches on the verse, 'Now Israel, listen to the judgments...' This can be compared to a king who has two crowns which he gave to his son. With time the son lost one of the crowns. The king said to his son, be careful and don't lose the second crown since you have already lost the first one. (Look there at what the Midrash says.) The same is with Israel. They had two crowns: 'we will hear' and 'we will do'. After the sin of the golden calf they lost the crown of 'we will do.' There was only left for them the crown of 'we will hear.' Therefore HaShem warned the Jewish people, 'Now Israel LISTEN to my judgments...' This means to say that they should be careful of the second crown as they had already lost the first one. Therefore when you learn in a sefer which is the level of 'we will do' [learning is an action] it does not have the power to inspire [to the service of HaShem] so much. This is because the crown of 'we will do' has been lost. However if you hear from a Tzaddik, the level of 'we will hear', which is the crown that they still have, it will stay with him. Therefore it is necessary to go to the Tzaddik in his generation and make a connection with him. (p. 88 Haggadah Baal Shem Tov. Haggadah with teachings from the Baal Shem Tov.) * * * 4. Chazal say that [acquiring a] livelihood is as difficult as the splitting of the Yom Suf*. I heard an explanation of this by the Rebbe Reb* Bunim of Peshischa ZT'L*. He said that by the sea not one of the Jewish people even considered that it was possible for the sea to split and that they would pass through it. Each one had considered another way for them to be saved from this trouble. But HaShem saved them in this particular manner that did not occur to them at all. It is the same way with one's livelihood. HaShem provides for each and every person in a way that he would never have considered. There are two methods that HaShem uses to run things in this world. The first is according to the actions of the person. As the Baal Shem Tov taught on the verse, 'HaShem is your shadow.' Just like a shadow does what the person does, so HaShem deals with the person according to his actions. The second method is that HaShem is good both to those who are good and those who are evil. This comes from the great mercy that HaShem has towards all of creation. We find that HaShem used the second method in Egypt where the Jewish people were not worthy that HaShem should do for them miracles. But HaShem desired for their good that they should be redeemed. The redemption from Egypt was based on the compassion of HaShem and not because of their actions. This is the meaning of the verse in the song, 'why do you scream out to Me, tell the children of Israel to move on.' The Zohar says that 'to Me' refers to the place that is the source of His compassion without any regard for the actions of those below. That is the meaning of the verse, 'And HaShem saved Israel in that day from the hands of the Egyptians.' [The name 'HaShem' refers to his compassion.] As we say, 'From His place compassion spreads out.' The livelihood of a person is also like this as Chazal teach, children, life and a livelihood do not depend on merits. HaShem alone, from His own desire, will give to each person a livelihood and food, and it is not based on his own merits. This is the meaning of '[acquiring a] livelihood is as difficult as the splitting of the Yom Suf.' They both come the same way without regard for the actions of the people involved. (p. 88 Haggadah Akedas Yitzchok Haggadah with teachings of Rebbe Yitzchok Menachem of Alexander.) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: Alsheich: Jewish Biblical commentator Rabbi Moshe Al Sheich Avraham Aveinu: Hebrew name of Abraham Chazal: Hebrew initials for: Chochmenu Zichrona Levaracha (Our sages of Blessed memory) Used to refer to Rabbis of the Talmud Chol HaMoed: Intermediate days of a holiday Haggadah: Sefer that relates the story of the Exodus from Egypt and other things related to the night of Pesach. Kiddish: Ceremony performed on Friday night over a cup of wine. Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations Rashi: The primary commentary on the Tenach. 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. 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. sefer(seforim): A Jewish religious book. Shema: Main Jewish prayer of the confession of faith. Contains 3 parshas. Devorim 6.5-9; 11.13-21 and Bamidbar 15.37-41 Shevi'i Shel Pesach: Seventh day of the holiday of Pesach Talmid (Talmidim): Disciples of a Rebbe. Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law. Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe. Yom Suf: Hebrew 'sea of reeds'. Zohar: Hebrew/Aramaic Rabbinical Kabbalistical work that is one of the most important sources for Kabbalah, and was very influential with Chasidim ZT'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechor Tzaddik LeVaracha (The memory of a Tzaddik - Righteous person is a blessing.) ************************************************************** Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil