Sefer Baal Shem Tov
The Baal Shem Tov’s Teachings on the Torah
“Behold, I have taught you rules and laws, as the L-rd G-d has commanded me, that you should keep them, in the land to which you are coming to possess. You shall observe them and do them.” (Devarim 4:60)
“Observe them” – this is Mishnah.1 “And do them” as it implies. Rashi
You should be pure-hearted in your service of G-d. The main thing is not to forget [the essential] things, to study a certain amount of mussar every day2, and to see that you are always attached to good character traits and proper behavior. Do not let a day go by without doing a mitzvah, whether it is easy or difficult to perform. This is alluded to in [the Mishnah]: Be as careful (zahir) in the performance of a minor mitzvah as of a major one.”3 “Zahir” as in the words:”And the wise shall shine (yaZhiRu) as the brightness of the firmament.”(Daniel 12:3) That is, the soul should shine and radiate [in the performance] of a minor mitzvah just as it does with a major one. For G-d desires the heart.4
Tzivos HaRivash, p. 2a
1I.e. the study of the Oral Torah, so as not to forget it.
2A general term for inspirational and ethical literature, such as ShaÂ¡arei Teshuva or Reishis Chochmah. (The Baal Shem Tov predated the mussar movement of R. Yisroel Salant by about a hundred years.)
3Pirkei Avos 2:1.
Translation and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore.
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