Known to the Jewish world as Master of The Good Name, he was a man who revolutionized our perception of how to live a spiritual life. He preached that not just the intellectually-inclined could come to know God’s love, but even a farmer and a non-educated person. He was a humanist in the truest sense of the word; a man whose love for everyone was manifested through his love for nature; a man who preached the sacredness of every moment, and celebrated each second in worship, since he believed that everything is holy because the spark of God is the soul in all that exists in the cosmos.
He was born in 1698 and died in 1760. Legend says his parents were poor and not very young when he was born. His father died when he was just five, but his last words were so powerful they stayed in the lad’s conscience forever.
“Fear absolutely no one or nothing but G-d, and love every single Jew no matter who he/she is and no matter what he/she is doing.”
This consequential teaching from his father was the genesis of his radical transformation of Jewish thought.
When he was a boy in yeshiva he often had a hard time concentrating because his mind was engulfed with a profoundly intimate fascination for the artistry of nature. He was very focused on the rapture of the Divine’s transcendent mastery that fuels all life.
As a young man he often left the city to meditate and pray in the forests. His approach to prayer was unique in Judaism in that he believed that God is the mysterious, esoteric, substance deep inside everything and is what unifies all of creation. He would meditate, putting all of his energy into a specific prayer and in doing so become one with the prayer, liberating his soul from the chamber of his body and releasing his essence into the kingdom of God, reuniting with the Source. This is the true purpose of prayer, he taught, to bring one’s self back to a place of universal singularity where one is a part of God.
This epiphany forged a new path to praising the Lord, a more progressive way so to speak. He preached that Judaism wasn’t just about learning what it means to be Jewish, but experiencing what it is to be Jewish – to celebrate every second, while one’s soul is interwoven with the cosmic soul of the One. He taught his talmidim to wake up early and meditate, entering a place where they were in participation with their souls, and that they must perform every commandment to the fullest.
The Divine spark that lives in each one of us is like a magnet and the Divine like a mysterious magnetic field encompassing the known and unknown. Hidden deep in our conscience is the magnet of our soul, often times buried underneath all the thoughts and perceptions that are influenced by our world and filtered by our earthly five senses. God’s magnetic field is infinitely eternal and functions at every moment. It becomes stronger with every act of compassion, every heartfelt emotion, every heartbreak, every feeling of loneliness. Any emotion that is detected and sensed through our sixth sense, our “Godly sense,” can trigger His presence into our lives, binding everything together spiritually and emotionally.
He revealed the importance of being in touch with the cosmic soul allowing us to come to know God, which will make us more sensitive to all that is present in our lives – the environment, how we treat fellow animals, our fellow men and women.
Once we enter this state of oneness and truth we will know it is our obligation to take care of the world. God made the universe and we make our earth. This is why we are made in the Divine’s image, because he handed earth over to Adam (humans) for us to live His reality.
Thus taught the Baal Shem Tov, the Master of the Good Name.Eli Davis
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