DIVINE LIGHT – 5th Elul, 5769
The Mystical Light of the Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno (1766-1834) said that my teacher and father-in-law, Rabbi Avraham Mordechai of Finshtov, had told him that one of the disciples of the Baal Shem Tov asked the Rebbe, “What will be my livelihood?”
The Baal Shem Tov responded, “You will be a cantor.” The surprised disciple exclaimed, “But Rebbe, I can’t sing!”
The Baal Shem Tov replied, “I will bind you to the World of Melody.”
The man became the greatest cantor in the world. Once, this cantor came to Rebbe Reb Elimelech of Lizensk (A disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, 1717- 1787). An intense discussion ensued between the Rebbe and his son, the Tzaddik Reb Elazar, over whether or not to honor the cantor with leading the Kabbalas Shabbos service. Reb Elimelech was afraid that the cantor would disrupt him from the state of holiness he normally experienced during the Shabbos prayers.
Finally, they decided to honor the cantor and his two accompanists with leading the Kabbalas Shabbos service. Their decision was a result of their great awe of the Baal Shem Tov, for the cantor was known as “the Cantor of the Baal Shem Tov.” Out of respect for the Baal Shem Tov, they decided to honor him, and whatever would be, would be.
When the cantor and his two accompanists began to sing the prayers to welcome Shabbos, Reb Elimelech sent word that the second accompanist should stop singing, and only the cantor and the remaining accompanist should continue. Afterward, he ordered even the cantor and accompanist to stop, for he was afraid that he would be annihilated in the Divine light emanating from their singing.
“On subsequent Shabbosim, Reb Elimelech showed honor to the cantor, but because of his fear, he would not allow him to pray before the congregation.”
From the Manuscripts of Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno
Translation and Commentary by Translation and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore.
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