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.

Terumah I. What type of offering to make. 1. 'They should take to Me an offering.' (Shemos* 25.2) The Midrash* Tanchuma* says on this verse: "'They should take to me an offering.' The Holy One Blessed is He said to Israel, 'The Torah* is mine. The judgments are mine. You should take them. You should take ME with them. As the verse says, "They should take to me an offering."' It doesn't say, 'You should take an offering.' But it says, 'You should take to me an offering.'" [The word 'to me' indicates that HaShem is also to be taken.] This whole teaching is very difficult to understand. I have heard with regards to the teaching of Chazal* in the Talmud*: 'This world is like a wedding hall.' The meaning of this teaching is that with a wedding there are various types of jobs that need to be done in order for the wedding to be made. Some are easy and some are difficult. However the whole purpose of all of this work is the word 'to me' that the chason* says to the Kallah* when he betroths her. [When giving her the ring he says,] 'You are betrothed to me...' If the chason does not say the words 'to me' he has done absolutely nothing. The same is with all of the affairs of a person in this world, from the beginning of his life to the end. [The purpose is] that he should be attached to HaShem*. That is the meaning of the words 'to me.' [The meaning of the teaching of Chazal is that the world is like a wedding hall where the purpose is the saying of the word 'to me.' Which refers to one being attached to HaShem.] With this we can understand the Midrash. They should take the Torah, which is an offering [Heb. terumah] to raise them up [Heb. hisromam] and to become great. Likewise they should do the commands to become great. In order to have a livelihood, to be a judge or a Rav*. However the main purpose is 'They should take to me' with the offering. [Not only should they learn the Torah and have the rewards of learning, but they should also be attached to HaShem.] (p. 312 sefer Tzifonis Peneach teachings of Rebbe* Yakov Yosef of Polnoye) * * * II. Attaching to HaShem 2. 'They should take to Me an offering.' (Shemos 25.2) After this verse it says, 'They shall take my offering.' It seems we can say that the word 'offering' [Heb. terumah] has two meanings. [First] the Targum* translates it as 'separate.' There is another explanation [that it is from] the word 'to raise up.' [Heb. harma] [There is no contradiction here as] the truth is that it is not possible for anyone to be raised up and to attach himself to HaShem until he first separates himself from all the physical things of this world. That is the meaning of 'They should take to Me an offering.' If a person wishes to take himself. As the verse says, 'Make for me a mikdash* and I will dwell in them.' If a person will make of himself a mikdash then HaShem will dwell in him the light of HaShem. 'They shall take to Me.' If they desire to take Me so that I can dwell within them. 'An offering.' They must first separate themselves from all their desires for things of this world. After that they will be able to be raised up higher and higher. They will become a dwelling place for HaShem. And HaShem will dwell within them. How can they do this? 'From each man according to what his heart desires, they shall take my offering.' The word 'From' [Heb m'es] is the same letters as the word 'truth.' [Heb. emes] He needs to unify and join himself to the truth. The word 'each' refers to the various levels [one can use to serve HaShem. The words] truth and 'Each man' [refer to when] he will unify himself to all these good midos*. Then he will be able to accept 'My offering.' [He will be raised up and attached to HaShem.] (p.125 sefer Beis Aharon teachings of Rebbe Aharon of Karlin.) * * * III. Having a desire for the mitzvos* 3. 'They should take to Me an offering. ' (Shemos 25.2) The Midrash teaches, 'When Israel said, "We will do and we will hear" immediately HaShem said, "They should take to Me an offering."' It seems the word 'immediately' needs some explanation. I saw in the sefer 'Ner Yisroel' in the name of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan. The verse says, 'And they stood under the mountain.' [The Talmud teaches] 'From this we see that HaShem held the mountain over them like a roof [and said if they will accept the Torah fine, if not this will be their grave.] Tosephos* asks the question, since they already said willing 'We will do and we will hear' why was there a need to hold the mountain over their heads? He answers that it was because of the noise from the lightening and thunder. We can understand the simple meaning of this teaching as follows. We see many times when the congregation is inspired to do a good thing. Generally they will pray and all of them will take upon themselves to help out in this good thing. One of them with his physical strength and another with his money. And when they have this inspiration, most if not all of them intend to fulfil what they have promised. However with the passing of time, until this thing can be put into action, they forget their responsibility and they become cold to the whole affair. And even if they will do what they promised, they will not do it with the same enthusiasm they had when they accepted upon themselves to do this good thing. They will do it as one who is forced. Therefore the Midrash says, 'immediately.' This teaches us the idea I stated above. Immediately when they had the inspiration, and they proclaimed 'We will do and we will hear.' HaShem came and commanded them to build the mishkan*. This was done so that they shouldn't wait longer then needed [and they would have the same strong inspiration when they made the mishkan as they had when they accepted the mitzvos of the Torah.] (p. 37 sefer Panim M'eirim teachings of Rebbe Meir of Premishlan.) * * * IV. Fear and Love 4. 'They should take to Me an offering.' (Shemos 25.2) We need to understand what is the meaning of the word 'They should take.' We can explain it this way. It is known from the teachings of Chazal that 'If you have learned much Torah you should not think well of yourself because of that.' Likewise 'You should not make a crown of it [the Torah] to consider yourself great from it.' You should learn Torah for HaShem's sake in order that from the Torah you should come to the love and the fear of HaShem. As the verse says, 'And now what does HaShem your G-d ask of you except that you should fear Him...' Everything that HaShem asks of you [i.e. learning Torah and doing mitzvos] is only in order that you should fear HaShem your G-d. This is because, as the verse says, 'The end result when all is considered: fear G-d.' The Tekunei Zohar* likewise teaches, 'Torah without fear and love [for HaShem] does not rise up.' Therefore the verse tells us, 'They should take.' [Heb. v'Yikchi] This means when they learn Torah, which is called a good portion. [Heb. leikach] All of their intentions should be 'to me an offering.' [In order that] they should reach the level of 'loftiness.' They should understand the loftiness of HaShem. And from that they will attain fear. After this it says, 'From each man according to the desire of his heart.' This means, if he can not rise to this level by himself, the verse is giving him an idea how to reach it. 'From each man' refers to the Tzaddikim* of the generation. 'According to the desire of his heart.' The desire of his heart is for HaShem. From this 'They should take my offering.' From this they are able to take and to learn this level [of service.] (p. 57 sefer Beis Yitzchok teachings of Rebbe Yitzchok of Vorki and his descendants. This is a teaching of Rebbe Yakov Dovid of Amshinov.) * * * V. Turning from evil and doing good. 5. 'They should take to Me an offering. From each man...' (Shemos 25.2) The word 'an offering' [Heb. terumah] can be explained in two ways. 1. separation 2. something that is raised up. These two ideas are a remez* for the service of HaShem of 'turn from evil' which is separation. And 'do good.' When one does what is good he will be raised up and purify his mind and heart in all his deeds. The 'separation' which refers to 'turn from evil' refers to the negative mitzvos [those things one is forbidden to do.] He should separate himself from bad actions and be careful [to refrain] from violating any of the negative mitzvos. The 'raising up' that comes to a person by 'doing good' refers to [his following] the positive mitzvos. For this reason it is good that the verse uses a language of 'terumah' [lit an offering] which indicates a 'raising up' and the positive mitzvos. And the Targum writes 'separate' which is a remez for the negative mitzvos. We find that the written Torah informs us to 'rise up and act.' While the Oral torah (of which the Targum is a part) tells us to 'sit and not act.' The Torah tells us, 'You shall love your fellow as yourself.' While the Oral Torah says, 'That which you dislike do not do to your fellow' which is the level of the negative Mitzvos. (p. 96 sefer Ner Yisroel teachings of Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin and his descendants. This is a teching of Rebbe Avraham Yakov of Sadagur) --------------------------------------------------------------------- Glossary: Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist chason: Hebrew/Yiddish for a man who is engaged to be married 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 halacha: Hebrew word meaning 'law' HaShem: Noun used in place of G-d. Lit. The Name kallah: Hebrew/Yiddish for bride midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad. Midrash: Rabbinical work with homiletic interpretations mikdash: Hebrew of temple, lit. place of holiness mishkan: Hebrew for tabernacle mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah. 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. Shemos: Second book of the Torah. Called Exodus in English Talmud: An ancient work of Jewish law. Tanchuma: One of the Rabbinical Midrashic works Targum: Aramaic translation of the Torah Tehillim: Hebrew name for Psalms. 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 Tosephos: commentary on the talmud by the talmidim of Rashi Tzaddik (Tzaddikim): lit. Righteous. Another name for a Chassidic Rebbe. ZY'A: Hebrew initials for Zechiso Yugan Aleini, His merit should protect us ************************************************************** Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil