Sunday, June 05, 2005

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A Baal Shem Tov Story - Spiritual Impact

It's a custom to tell stories of tzaddikim (the righteous sages) during melava malka (the post-Shabbos meal). The custom among hassidim is to tell Baal Shem Tov stories, or stories of other rebbaim (grand rabbi's). Sheva Tov (a good week)...

A Baal Shem Tov story. Many miraculous stories are told about the saintly Baal Shem Tov (literally the Master of the Good Name), who brought the path of hassidus, great insights into kabbalah, and hope to a generation of embattled Jews (teaching that every soul has a immeasurable and special value and every person should be treasured). Are all the miraculous stories the literal truth? Of course not. But could they be, with such a saintly man, literally yes...

Two Jews living in Mezibush (the home village of the Baal Shem Tov) were constantly fighting with one another. Once when they were in synagogue, the pair erupted into a fierce argument, which quickly flared out of proportion. "I will tear you apart like a fish!" one roared.

Summoning his students together, the Baal Shem Tov ordered them to stand near him, shut their eyes, and place their arms on each other. The Baal Shem Tov then placed his arms on the shoulders of the two students flanking him, and the entire group recoiled in shock. Screaming in alarm, they watched helplessly as the threatening individual tore his friend into shreds!

The Baal Shem Tov removed his hands and the vision dissipated. The students clearly understood the Rebbe's message: every physical word carries tremendous spiritual weight and reverberates with spiritual significance. Hence, in the spiritual spheres, this angry threat had been translated into real action!

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