Videos about the Baal Shemtov here. [chabad.org]
The story of the Baal ShemTov's Life can be found here. [chabad.org]
Some teachings of the Baal ShemTov, followed by a story ~
Everything is by Divine Providence. If a leaf is turned over by a breeze, it is only because this has been specifically ordained by G‑d to serve a particular function within the purpose of creation.
Every single thing that a person sees or hears, is an instruction to him in his conduct in the service of G‑d.
A sigh emitted because of a fellow's pain, breaks all the impenetrable barriers of the heavenly “accusers”. And when a person rejoices in the joy of his fellow and blesses him, it is as dear to G‑d and accepted by Him as the prayers of Rabbi Yishmael the High Priest in the Holy of Holies.
Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, so will be the image you perceive. But should you look upon your fellow and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering - you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.
Our Sages have said that “Slander kills all three” - the subject of the slander, the one who relates it, and the listener. This is all in spiritual terms, which is more severe than physical murder.
"An angel of G‑d appeared to in a flame of fire amidst the thorn-bush; and he saw that, behold, and the bush burned with fire, but was not consumed“ (Exodus 3:2). It is in the simple folk - the ”lowly“ thorn-bush - that this insatiable Divine flame is found, for theirs is an unquenchable thirst for G‑dliness, Torah and its commandments.
”And Moses said: Let me move from here…“ (ibid. 3:3). Even a completely righteous individual such as Moses is not to be content with his spiritual achievements; he, too, must constantly ascend from ”here“ to ”there.“
There are two levels in the study of Torah, Torah of the mind and Torah of the heart. The mind cogitates, comprehends and understands; the heart feels. I have come to reveal Torah as it extends to the heart as well.
G‑d commanded Noah to ”Enter into the teivah“ (literally ”ark“, but also ”word“). One should enter into and cleave to the letters and words of Torah and prayer. This will protect the person and his entire extended family, enabling them to receive from G‑d all their necessities.
The Baal Shem Tov was very fond of light, and said, ”Or (light) is the numerical equivalent of raz ('secret'). Whoever knows the ‘secret’ in every thing can bring illumination.“
”Conceal shall I conceal My face on that day“ (Deuteronomy 31:18). Galut (the Exile) is a twofold concealment, wherein the concealment itself is concealed. So great is this concealment, that one is not even aware of the concealment; one may even come to think of the darkness as light.
”Shall a man conceal himself in hidden places and I will not to see him?“ (Jeremiah 23:24). The Baal Shem Tov interpreted this verse thus: Should ”a man conceal himself in hidden places and I“ - i.e., he retains his ego, his ”I“ - then, says G‑d, ”I will not see him.“
”G‑d is your shadow“ (Psalms 121:5) - Just as a person's shadow entirely mimics his actions, so does G‑d, as it were, entirely reciprocate our deeds.
”Who alone performs great wonders“ (Psalms 136:4) - All that G‑d does is ”great wonders.“ Most wondrous of all these wonders are those of which He alone is cognizant.
It is written: ”When you will see the donkey of your enemy collapsing under its burden, and you are inclined to refrain from aiding him, you shall nevertheless aid him“ (Exodus 23:5). The Baal Shem Tov applied this instruction to the body and the material self (chamor, ”donkey“, also means ”materiality“). Initially - the Torah is saying - you may see your body as your enemy, resisting your soul's objectives, collapsing under the ”burden“ of the mitzvos (commandments.) You may therefore be inclined to fight the body by denying its needs and mortifying it. Says the Torah: You must aid your soul's ”enemy“. Purify the body, refine it, do not break it.
”Seek peace and pursue it“ (Psalms 34:15) - One must seek and pursue means of making peace and establishing harmony between the material world and the G‑dly life-force that vitalizes it.
”The earth shall rest a Sabbath to G‑d“ (Leviticus 25:2) - Give earthiness a rest; permeate it with the Sabbath of spirituality and holiness.
”Your beginning shall be small, and your end shall flourish exceedingly“ (Job 8:7) - Small and inauspicious beginnings are often crucial for the person to flourish exceedingly in the end.
The Torah (Numbers 33) enumerates the 42 encampments in ”the journeys of the Children of Israel who came out of Egypt.“ Each and every one of us goes through our own personal forty-two journeys in life, beginning with our ”exodus,“ our birth, passing through the many way-stations in our lives, and concluding upon reaching the promised celestial ”Land of Life.“
Tishrei, the month of the new year, is blessed by G‑d Himself, on the Shabbat of Blessing, the last Shabbat in the previous month of Elul. With this power, the people of Israel bless the other months eleven times a year.
It is written, ”You stand upright this day before the L-rd your G‑d“ (Deuteronomy 29:9). ”This day" refers to Rosh Hashanah which is the day of judgment. Yet you remain standing firmly upright, meaning you will be vindicated in judgment.
I asked the Moshiach, “When will you come?” and he said to me: “When your wellsprings shall spread to the outside.”
By Yerachmiel Tilles
A young scholar came to Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov with a question. He had discovered a contradiction in the teachings of the sages, and wanted to hear how the chassidic master would resolve it. On the one hand, the Talmud states that a person’s parnassah (income and livelihood) for the entire year is determined on Rosh Hashanah. On the other hand, it also declares that “a person is judged each day” for his livelihood. Was this not a contradiction?
The Baal Shem Tov led the young Talmudist to the window, pointing to a water-carrier who was passing by, with a pole across his back and a pail of water tied at each end. “Come, let’s go speak with him,” he invited.
“Feivel, how are you doing today, my friend?” the Baal Shem Tov asked solicitously. “How is your health and how is your parnassah?”
“Thank G‑d, I’m fine,” replied the water-carrier, but then sighed unhappily. He complained about how difficult it was to carry such heavy pails all day, and yet he barely made enough money to survive. Not only that, but the local children teased him, and sometimes tipped over his pails.
The Baal Shem Tov responded with a few commiserating words and a parting blessing. He and the student then returned to the house.
“I don’t understand,” said the young man, still perplexed. “How does what he said answer my question?”
The Baal Shem Tov smiled. “Come again tomorrow at this time and you’ll see.”
The next day, they stood at the Baal Shem Tov’s window, waiting for the water-carrier to pass by. As soon as they spotted him, they quickly went out to speak to him again.
“Nu, Feivel, how are things today?” asked the Baal Shem Tov.
“Thank G‑d, I can’t complain,” answered the water-carrier cheerfully. “I have steady business—after all, everyone needs water. I’m not rich, but I get by. The pails are heavy, but praise G‑d, I have a strong back.”
“And what about the children who bother you?” the Baal Shem Tov persisted.
“Children!” laughed the water-carrier. “G‑d bless them! Children are supposed to be mischievous, aren’t they? Besides, I can always buy them off with a bit of candy.”
The water-carrier continued on his way with a wave, and the Baal Shem Tov turned to his visitor. “Do you see? He did the same thing yesterday and today and made the same amount of money, yet his feelings about it were completely different. It is true that a person’s income for the entire year is fixed irrevocably on Rosh Hashanah. But how we receive our daily allotment differs each day, depending on the daily judgment.”
5771 Kvarim Trip -- Medzhibuzh 2
Videos about the Baal Shemtov here. [chabad.org]