Baal Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

Jewish Mystical Rabbi, Founder of Hasidic Judaism

Author Quotes

"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.

"Love your fellow as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18) is an interpretation of and commentary on "Love the L-rd, your G-d" (Deuteronomy 6:5). He who loves a fellow Jew loves G-d, because the Jew has within himself a "part of G-d Above" (Job 31:2; see Tanya ch. 2). When one loves a fellow Jew, he loves the Jew's inner essence, and thereby loves G-d.

For any of us to come to the understanding that we are common and unlearned is the accomplishment of a lifetime.

The Baal Shem Tov was orphaned from his father, the hidden tzaddik Rabbi Eliezer, at the age of five. The last words spoken to him by his holy father before his passing were: "Yisrolik, fear nothing but G?d alone. Love every single Jew, without exception, with the full depth of your heart and with the fire of your soul, no matter who he is or how he behaves."

We should not laugh at the person who becoming caught up in his prayer bends his body or moves about in strange ways. Perhaps he moves in this manner to wave off unwelcome thoughts that would interrupt the prayer. Would we find it funny if we saw a person drowning going through strange motions doing whatever was necessary to save his life?

"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.

For my sake, the entire world was created.

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."

When a father complains that his son has taken to evil ways, what should he do? Love him more than ever.

"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."

From every human being there rises a light.

The Baal Shem Tov's love of a fellow Jew was beyond imagination. His successor, the Maggid of Mezeritch, said: If only we could kiss a Torah-scroll with the same love that my Master kissed the children when he took them to school as a teacher's assistant.

Whenever feeling downcast, each person should vitally remember, "For my sake, the entire world was created."

"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.

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