Baal Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

Jewish Mystical Rabbi, Founder of Hasidic Judaism

Author Quotes

A soul may descend to this world and live seventy or eighty years just in order to do a Jew a material favor, and certainly a spiritual one.

It is written, "For you (the people of Israel) shall be a desirable land, says G?d" (Malachi 3:12). Just as the greatest explorers will never uncover the limits of the great and valuable resources which the Almighty has placed within the earth, neither will anyone ever discover the limits of the great treasures which lie buried within a Jew - G?d's "desirable land."

The world is new to us every morning - this is God's gift; and every man should believe he is reborn each day.

As man acts, God reacts.

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.

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.

Before you can find God, you must lose yourself.

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 mitzvot. 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.

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Why? Because every human being has a root in the Unity, and to reject the minutest particle of the Unity is to reject it all.

"An angel of G-d appeared to [Moses] 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.

Cleaving to G-d is the master-key that opens all locks. Every Jew, including the most simple, possesses the ability to cleave to the words of Torah and prayer, thereby achieving the highest degrees of unity with G-d.

Mind is the foundation of man.

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.

"And Moses said: Let me move from here..." (Exodus 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."

Every single thing that a person sees or hears, is an instruction to him in his conduct in the service of G?d.

One must have total self-sacrifice and dedication for love of one's fellow, even towards a Jew whom one has never seen.

To love a fellow Jew is to love G?d. For it is written, "You are children of G?d" (Deuteronomy 14:1); when one loves the father, one loves his children.

"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.

Everyone is unique. Compare not yourself with anyone else lest you spoil God's curriculum.

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.

To pull a friend out of the mire, don't hesitate to get dirty.

"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.

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.

People should allow themselves the opportunity to really know what the unity of God means. To grasp a part of the nondivisible union is to grasp the whole.

Two Souls: From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven. And when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, their streams of light flow together, and a single brighter light goes forth from their united single being.

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Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer
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Jewish Mystical Rabbi, Founder of Hasidic Judaism