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And just maybe Reb Zusha had an added agenda in proposing the exile. He well understood his brother’s remarkable and singular talents and spiritual capabilities – but they were all dormant potential. A future leader for those times would not blossom if he were locked inside his books and the four amos of halacha. The situation required an individual who intimately knew his people, and their afflictions and suffering.

The Baal Shem Tov did not go from the study hall to shepherd his people. He spent years traversing the land in order to learn and understand the people and their needs. When the Baal Shem Tov assumed the mantle of leadership he was no stranger to his brethren, nor were they to him. Likewise, before Reb Dov Ber, who succeeded the Baal Shem Tov, was restricted to crutches, he would travel the countryside as an itinerant maggid.

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Hence, dispatching Reb Elimelech to uplift the people would be his apprenticeship for the leadership of chassidus, reasoned Reb Zusha. And indeed, across the length and breadth of the Polish landscape, the brothers wandered, bringing the word of the Lord to those that were either unfamiliar, or needed to be reminded. The holy brothers, in a manner all their own, made focusing upon God a central part of people’s lives.

(To be continued)

Chodesh tov – have a pleasant month!

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