KESER SHEM TOV

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 37.

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

The purpose of light-hearted conversation before Torah study is because human consciousness vacillates between a constricted state of mind, called “katnut [immature] ha’mochin,” and an expanded state of mind, called “gadlut [mature] ha’mochin.” These different states of mind are alluded to in the verse, “The chayot/angels run to and fro.”1 In order to rise from a constricted state of “immaturity” to an expanded state of “maturity,” one can make use of light-hearted jesting, thus opening his mind to learning and coming closer to G-d.2

Hence, the Talmud3 tells of two saintly men who would jest with people in order to alleviate their suffering, after which there was coming together of hearts, and they were able to elevate them.4

This is also alluded to in the verse, “[Abraham] took his two youths with him, and his son, Isaac,” for by using jest5with holy intentions, one is able to elevate the years6 of one’s youth7 with him as well.

1Ezekiel 1:14. This means that the angels are in constant fluctuation between proximity to, and distance from G-d, and this is mirrored in the fluctuation of human consciousness, as said here. The need for this fluctuation is so that the created being be able to maintain its sense of existence as seemingly separate from G-d, for if it were to come to the absolute realization and experience that it in reality, it is non-existent outside of G-d, it would indeed lose this seemingly “independent” existence and be swallowed by the Divine Existence. This spiritual phenomenon is mirrored in the waning and waxing in the physical world, as is evident from the moon’s cycles, the waves of the ocean, and all the inherent cycles that we find at all levels in the natural world.
2Rebbe Nachman speaks profusely about how joy opens the mind and frees it of the bonds and constrictions of the normal states of consciousness, proclaiming, “It is a great mitzvah to always be happy!” (LM I 89; 222; 282; II 10; 24). Indeed, modern research has verified that a happy state of mind has very positive effects on the brain and hence on the entire body. But the point made here is to use this positive and expansive state of body/mind to come closer to G-d. On a deeper level, this very state of being is itself a proximity to G-d, as is for that matter any type of pleasure, since it is G-d’s intention to provide us with pleasure, and all pleasures are in fact a constriction of Himself, so to speak, the Source of all pleasures.
3Tractate Ta’anit 22a.
4Toldoth Yaakov Yoseph.
5As known, Isaac’s name comes from the root of laughing, and indeed, his mother Sarah gave him this name with that intention – “Whoever hears [that I gave birth at such an advanced age] will laugh” (Genesis 12:6).
6The Hebrew word for two can also mean years.
7“Youth” here refers to one’s immature consciousness.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

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KESER SHEM TOV

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

Section 259

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

One should pray as if he were awakening the dawn, and not the dawn awakening him.

This means that one should toil diligently and gradually in the preliminary prayers until reaching Baruch Sheamar. This first section is parallel to the world of Assiyah, which is the lowest, the home of the kelipoth. Then, one should intensify one’s concentration from Baruch She’Amar until Yishtabach, and this section is parallel to the world of Yetzirah, in which the kelipos are few. Then, from Yishtabach until the Silent Shemoneh Esreh Prayer, one should concentrate yet further. Finally, in the Shemoneh Esreh, which represents a state of embrace and union, one should be completely detached from all physical sensation.1

If one follows this path, then one has first created mayin nukvin,2 and only afterwards are the mayin dikhrin aroused, which gives “birth” to a “male.”

However, if a person is aroused spontaneously his prayer might be rejected. The way to rectify when such spontaneous arousal comes over a person, is to arouse deep regret and fear, and to then pray from the depths of one’s heart.

This is meaning of the verse, “One who finds a woman”[the mayin nukvin] – first – “has found good,” and then, “will obtain favor from G-d.”3
Toldoth Akharei 6, tazriyah 1

1Orach Chaim #98
2Toldos tazriyah 1
3Proverbs 18:22

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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KESER SHEM TOV 26th Av, 5769

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 35.

“Once, the king of beasts, the lion, became enraged with his subjects. They gathered together to decide how to appease him, and the fox said that he would lead them to the lion, since he knew three hundred parables with which to persuade him. They all followed, and little by little, the fox said that he had forgotten a portion of his parables, and by the time they reached the lion, he said that he had forgotten everything. Therefore, he said, each one should approach the king and appease him to the best of his abilities.”

The fox’s intention from the beginning, though, was only that they all follow him and surrender to the king, which is why he initially claimed what he did.

Similarly, the Baal Shem Tov urged people not to rely on the prayers of the prayer leaders on the Days of Awe, but that each individual should pray for himself.1

1Ezekiel 1:14.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

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KESER SHEM TOV

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 32.

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

Today I arrived at the well.”1

The Divine Name connected with translocation is found in the acronym of these words.2

“If she was speaking with someone in the market. . . “3

This teaching can be understood with another one: “The one who reviews his lessons one hundred times is not comparable to the one who reviews his lessons one hundred and one times,”4 that is, one hundred times with One – with G-d. Hence, a person must be able to remain with One – with G-d – even when one is speaking mundane conversation in the market: he must be able to see G-d in that conversation.5

1Genesis 24:42
2The Hebrew letters, are connected because these same letters form the acronym of the words, referring to G-d’s creating the heavens and the earth. This alludes to the singular Force that connects the earth with the heavens, meaning that the Supernal Light is evident even in the darkness on earth. From G-d’s perspective, this is of course always true, but in order for it to be true from our perspective, this truth must be a vivid reality in one’s life. When this is so, one is close to G-d, and as such, is not limited by the normal constrictions of time and space (Sod Yesharim II 72b).
3Tractate Ketubos 13:1.
4Tractate Chagigah 9b.
5This teaching was probably placed together with the previous one because the verse, “Today I arrived at the well,” which contains an allusion to the Divine Name and to what was said in n. #2, was said in mundane conversation, thus meaning that it was expressed while maintaining G-d- consciousness.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

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KESER SHEM TOV

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 33.

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

“A person should always be accustomed to say, ‘Everything that G-d does is for the best’,”1 as did Rabbi Akiba, whereas Nachum Ish Gamzu would always say, “This too is for the good.”2

The Baal Shem Tov taught: Nachum said, “This too is for the good,” because he was able to actually transform the strict judgments at their source by finding some purposeful kindness in those specific judgments, and then everything was immediately transformed to an act of Divine kindness. The average person, though, who is unable to find the Divine kindness hidden in the source of judgment, should nevertheless always be accustomed to say in general, “Everything that G-d does is for the best,” even though he does not understand how this is true.

1Tractate Berakhoth 60b.
2Tractate Taanith 21a.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

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KESER SHEM TOV

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 34.

“Sometimes, violation of Torah is its observance. We learn this from G-d’s telling Moses after his breaking the Tablets, ‘That you broke,’1 which implies approval for his having broken them.”2

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

How can violating the Torah possibly enhance its observance? This can understood with the fact that all things yearn to return to their source. Therefore, when one eats, drinks, or is otherwise involved in mundane affairs, he is “violating” the Torah by his not studying it or explicitly serving G-d at that time. His soul then has a chance to rest from its enthusiasm, and it gathers new strength to return to an even higher level of closeness to G-d. This spiritual phenomenon is alluded to in the verse, “The chayoth/angels run to and fro,”3 and this is why “violating” the Torah sometimes is its observance.4

1Exodus 34:1.
2Tractate Menachoth 99b.
3Ezekiel 1:14.
4Toldot Yaakov Yoseph, Tazria 2; Devarim 2. There are two reasons why this must be so. Firstly, if one were not to periodically “cool down” from intense spiritual experiences, one might reach a stage whereat one’s soul would become so united with G-d that it would completely lose its separateness, at which point it would not be able to return to the physical body. Another reason is because perpetual pleasure loses its glamour, and becomes boredom. Thus, if one were constantly experiencing peak spiritual pleasures, they would no longer be pleasurable experiences. And regarding why one then rises to even more intense experiences, this is because the anguish of separation intensifies the pleasure of return.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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Source: The Baal Shem Tov Foundation

I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

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KESER SHEM TOV 12th Av, 5769

 

KESER SHEM TOV

The Baal Shem Tov Times

Anthology of the Teachings of the Baal Shem Tov

KST 33.

The Baal Shem Tov taught:

“A person should always be accustomed to say, ‘Everything that G-d does is for the best’,”1 as did Rabbi Akiba, whereas Nachum Ish Gamzu would always say, “This too is for the good.”2

The Baal Shem Tov taught: Nachum said, “This too is for the good,” because he was able to actually transform the strict judgments at their source by finding some purposeful kindness in those specific judgments, and then everything was immediately transformed to an act of Divine kindness. The average person, though, who is unable to find the Divine kindness hidden in the source of judgment, should nevertheless always be accustomed to say in general, “Everything that G-d does is for the best,” even though he does not understand how this is true.

1Tractate Berakhoth 60b.
2Tractate Taanith 21a.

Translation and commentary by Rabbi Yehoshua Starrett.

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Source: The Baal Shem Tov Foundation

I will greatly appreciate your donations to the Baal Shem Tov Foundation. All of the money they receive is used to operate their websites (www.BaalShemTov.com and www.Mezuzah.net), produce and distribute the weekly Baal Shem Tov Times, and translate original sources of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov including, Keser Shem Tov and Sefer Baal Shem Tov. Their future plans include rebuilding the Baal Shem Tov website, promoting the World Wide Mezuzah Campaign and offering a number of tele-classes about the life and teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.

Please click here for your Tax Exempt donation.

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