Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Baal Shem Tov, given name Yisroel ben Eliezer

Jewish Mystical Rabbi, Founder of Hasidic Judaism

"Pray not for material prosperity: a partition rises when the material is introduced into the spiritual."

"Life in this world is an end in itself."

"The ideal of man is to be a revelation himself, clearly to recognize himself as a manifestation of God."

"The world is full of wonders and miracles but man takes his little hand and covers his eyes and sees nothing."

"There is no room for God in him who is full of himself."

"A minor saint is capable of loving minor sinners. A great saint loves great sinners."

"There is no sphere in heaven where the soul remains a shorter time than in the sphere of merit; there is none where it abides longer than in the sphere of grace (love)."

"When God wants to punish a man, He deprives him of faith."

"Pray only for the suppression of evil, and never for one’s material well-being, for a separating veil arises if one admit the material into the spiritual."

"Unless we believe that God renews the work of creation every day, our prayers and obeying of the commandments grow old and accustomed, and tedious."

"“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."

"There no doubt is good in all the bitter woes that come upon us, because evil cannot proceed from God."

"Each prayer has it own proper meaning and it is therefore the specific key to a door in the Divine Palace, but a broken heart is an axe which opens all the gates."

"Everything above and below is one unity."

"Each penitent thought is a voice of God."

"Let your prayer be a window to heaven."

"If a man accepts everything that happens to him in this world with love, then he will have both the physical world and also the higher world of the soul."

"If you want to help pull a friend out of the mire, don't hesitate to get a little dirty."

"If a man has beheld evil, he may know that it was shown to him in order that he learn his own guilt and repent; for what is shown to him is also within him."

"Sadness is a great obstacle to serving the Almighty. A person who has transgressed should not become excessively sad since this will prevent him from further spiritual growth. One should feel deep regret for the wrong he has done and then continue to feel joy in his relationship with the Almighty since he has sincere regret and is resolved not to repeat his transgression."

"Our heart is the altar. In every occupation let a spark of the holy fire remain within you, so that you may fan it into a flame."

"The Almighty has sent you into this world on an appointed errand. It is His will that you accomplish your errand in a state of joy. Sadness implies an unwillingness on your part to carry out the Almighty’s will."

"Forgetfulness is the way to exile. Remembrance is the way to redemption."

""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."

""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."

""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."

""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.""

""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.""

""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."

""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."

""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."

""Torah that is unaccompanied by labor will ultimately cease" (Ethics of the Fathers 2:2). The "labor" of which the Mishnah speaks is the labor of loving one's fellow Jew."

""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."

""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."

"As man acts, God reacts."

"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."

"A broom sweeps clean, and itself becomes soiled; cleanse yourself of those offenses of which you may feel guilty."

"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."

"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."

"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."

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

"For my sake, the entire world was created."

"From every human being there rises a light."

"G?d's love of each and every Jew is infinitely greater than the love of elderly parents to their only child born to them in their later years."

"Before you can find God, you must lose yourself."

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

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

"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."

"He who is full of joy is full of love."

"I am going out one door, and shall go through another."