Great Chassidic/Hassidic sayings that inspire!

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On the day before Passover, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, while walking through the marketplace, met several Gentiles who were known to be smuggling goods across the border.
‘Do you have any smuggled silk’ he asked them.
‘We do’, they answered.
‘How many yards to you have’, he continued.
‘Don’t worry Rabbi,’ said the smuggler. ‘We have as much as you need.’
He left them and soon met a Jew.
‘Do you have any Hametz’, he asked.

‘Hametz?’ asked the astonished Jew. ‘Heaven forbid that a Jew should have Hametz after the sixth hour on Erev Pessach!’
Soon he met a second Jew and again asked, ‘Do you have any Hametz?’
‘What did you ask, Rabbi’, answered the distraught man. ‘Hametz at this time!” Am I not still a Jew?’
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak lifted his eyes toward Heaven and said ‘Master of the World, look down from Heaven and see how Your people Israel tremble at Your word and hasten to fulfill Your commandments. The Russian Tzar is a mighty and fearsome ruler who has many generals and guards and prisons to enforce his decrees. And he commands thousands of soldiers to protect the border to see that no merchandise is brought across it unlawfully. Nevertheless, daily they smuggle in all manner of merchandise and fear not to see it openly in the market. But You, O Lord, Who have no generals or guards or prisons, have simply written in Your Torah ‘There shall no leavened bread be seen with thee.’ And on Erev Pessach, long before the evening comes, there is not a trace of Hametz to be found among all of the people of Israel’.

The Ba’al Shem Tov, Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer Ba’al Shem Tov (the ‘Master of the Good Name’) was born in Podolia in 1700 and was known to be of humble origins. He was a synagogue sexton and an assistant teacher who spent several years in solitude and meditation. He became a ‘ba’al shem’ or miracle-worker, curing people with amulets and charms. The main tenets of his beliefs are known, but he left no written works apart from a few letters and several of his sayings that were noted by his disciples.

The Ba’al Shem Tov established contact with the ascetic kabbalists of his day. He guided the kabbalists away from seclusion to inclusion and leadership of the community. This was the new type of ‘tzadik’, or righteous leader. According to Hasidic belief, the tzadik is the foundation of the world, and could hasten salvation through his mentoring actions. The tzadik had an attachment to God, and acted as an intermediary between God and the people, bearing a responsibility for their spiritual well-being.

The basic assumption of Hasidism is that ‘there is no place empty of Him’. God is everywhere, divinity exists in everything. The central role of the tzadik is to release all of the divine elements that exist in the material world. Joy is a fundamental tenet of Hasidic teaching.

The Ba’al Shem Tov believed that his teachings could serve as a guide to the people and bring Redemption closer. He had a mystical vision on Rosh Hashana in 1747, in which he saw his soul ascending to heaven. He described the dream to his brother-in-law in a letter, in which he stated that the Messiah would come when the Ba’al Shem Tov’s teachings became widespread. He was not sure what path to take to achieve this goal, but when the Ba’al Shem Tov died in 1760, his teachings were well-known.

Rabbi Dov Baer, also known as ‘The Maggid’, the great Maggid of Hasidism, transferred the movement’s center from Podolia to Volhynia, and sent out emissaries to spread Hasidic teachings in Galicia, White Russia, Lithuania and central Poland.

Prayer was regarded as a central link to the upper spheres, and considered more important than religious study. The Hasidic movement also initiated prayers according to the Sephardi prayerbook, which had been adapted by Rabbi Isaac Luria in Tzfat. It was different than the established Ashkenazi version used by Polish Jews. The importance of kavanah – inner devotion- was stressed, including cries, movement and fervor during worship.

On the Sabbath, the Se’udah Shlishit (the third meal eaten on the Sabbath) was when the Rebbe would generally preach, tell stories about the tzadikim, and chant Hasidic melodies. It became customary to travel to the Rebbe on holidays and Sabbaths. Eventually, they designed their own special ceremony. The ‘Melaveh Malkah’, was a fourth meal where every word and story uttered by the Rebbe was treated with the utmost significance.

Some Hasidim made their way to the Holy Land, but many communities continued to grow in Poland, Belorus and Lithuania. Rabbi Shneour Zalman of Liadi was a great talmudic scholar who eventually formed his own school of Hasidic thought, known as Chabad, which is the Hebrew acronym for wisdom, understanding and knowledge.

From its inception, opposition to Hasidism began in Vilna, which was known as the ‘Jerusalem’ of Lithuania. Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon (genius) of Vilna banned contact with the Hasidim, and had them excommunicated. He opposed the Hasidic notion of the tzadik as idol-worshipping, and their beliefs as arrogant and valueless. The conflict between the Gaon of Vilna and the Hasidim continued for many years and even served as a pretext for the establishment of the great yeshivot (academies of Talmudic study) throughout the region.

To this day, large numbers of Jewish visitors continue to visit various sites of Hasidic interest in the Ukraine. Among the famous sites are: Uman, the burial place of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, and Gadyach location of the tomb of Shneur Zalman, the Alter Rebbe and founder of the Lubavitch Hasidic movement.

Famous Hasidic Quotations:

Ba’al Shem Tov:
“My teaching is based on three kinds of love: love of God, love of Torah and love of humanity.”
“Why do we say “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?” This is to teach you that Isaac and Jacob did not merely mimic the tradition of Abraham. Each encountered God in their own unique way.”
Rabbi Nachman ben Simcha of Bratslav:
“The world is a very narrow bridge. They key to crossing is to not be afraid.” “When you are about to leave Egypt-any Egypt-do not stop to think: how will I earn a living out there? One who stops to make provisions for the way will never get out of Egypt.”
“No matter where I go, it is always to Israel”.
“There are men who suffer terrible distress and are unable to tell what they feel in their hearts and they go their way and suffer and suffer. But if they meet one with a laughing face, he can revive them with his joy. And to revive a man is no slight thing.”
“He who is able to write a book and does not, it is as one who has lost a child”.

The Lubliner Rabbi:
“Better an insincere peace than a sincere quarrel”.

The Belzer Rabbi:
“Let a person do good deeds with the same zeal that an evil person does bad ones.”
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson:
“ In a sense, we have all wandered away from our true selves. Birth is the beginning of our soul’s journey, sent off from its divine source to live in an unnatural state, a land of materialism. Throughout our lives, therefore, we crave to be reunited with our real selves. We search for our soul, for the G-dly spark within ourselves. We long to reconnect with our source”.

From Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk:
“The Rabbi once asked Jacob of Radzyman: ‘What is the purpose of man’s creation” Jacob replied: “Man was created in order to perfect his soul”. The Kotsker shouted: “Jacob! Is this what we were taught in Przysucha?” “Man was created in order to increase God’s glory!”
“Where is God’s dwelling? God dwells wherever man lets Him in.”
“The prohibition against idolatry includes the prohibition against making idols out of the mitzvot. We should never imagine that the chief purpose of a mitzvah is its outer form; rather it is the inward meaning.”
Rabbi Simcha Bunim of Pzhysh:
“The sins which people commit-those are not their great crimes. Temptation is powerful, and strength is slight! The great crime is that people can turn at any moment and they do not do so.”

The Maggid of Mezrich:
“ We learn three things from a child:
1) Keep yourself busy.
2) You don’t need a reason to be happy.
3) If you want something cry and cry until you get it.”
Miscellaneous Hasidic sayings:
• Work for peace within your family, then within your street, and then within your community.
• It’s easier to abandon evil traits today than tomorrow.
• Three times the Torah asks us to love: twice in Leviticus we are commanded to love human beings: then in Deuteronomy our love is directed to the Holy One. Only after we have learned to love people can we come to love the Holy One. “
• People can see their reflection in water only when they bend down close to it; and the human heart too, must lean down to the heart of another so that it many see itself reflected there within.
• A rebbe was asked: “What purpose do atheists serve in this world?” He responded: “God created atheists so that people would not rely on God to help the poor or say that the poor and all those who suffer will receive their ultimate reward in the world to come.” (The doubt created by atheists encourages all Jews to conclude that when it comes to the less fortunate, we cannot rely on God’s help or future justice in the afterlife – we must help those in need today with our own hands.E.N.)
• Fools believe that the money which they have lying in their coffers is theirs, while the money they give away to charity is theirs no longer. Actually, quite the reverse is true. Only those possessions which are given away for sacred purposes remain one’s property, but those possessions which a man greedily amasses for himself are not his at all. Such gains will not remain with him for longer than a fleeting moment.
(For further information on the Yeshiva Movement, see Lithuania section.)

“He who completely believes Jewish folk tales is a fool;
he who completely dismisses them is an even greater fool.”

TO TELL THE STORY
In the days of the Ba’al Shem Tov, whenever a catastrophe threatened the Jewish people, the great master would go into a secret place in a nearby forest. There he would chant a prayer according to a special melody while standing under a densely branched tree he had known from the time both he and the tree were young. Thus the catastrophe would be averted.
Two generations hence, when enemies again rose up against the House of Israel, the Ba’al Shem Tov’s grandson, a famous Rabbi in his own right, would go into the same forest and say: “I cannot find the tree where my grandfather once prayed. But I know the right prayer and the proper melody.” And once again the Jews were saved.
The grandson’s grandson, another renowned scholar, moved too far from the forest to be able to visit whenever there was a need for divine intervention. Moreover, the words to the prayer his grandfather had once recited were now lost. Nevertheless, when the Jews were in mortal peril, he would hum the Ba’al Shem Tov’s melody. And this too was sufficient to avert the disaster.
In our days, the words to the prayer are forgotten, the melody is lost, and even if the forest still existed we could never again locate the exact spot where the Ba’al Shem Tov once stood under the densely branched tree. Yet we will continue to tell and retell the story of the forest, the melody and the ancient prayer. And this too will be sufficient.

ILLUSION & REALITY
One of the Besht’s (Ba’al Shem Tov) essential parables tells the following tale:
The king built a castle which he surrounded with concentric barriers, made up of high walls, each more formidable than the previous. Then he issued the following statement: Anyone who is able to find me will become my most trusted advisor, and elevated to the position of assistant to the King.
The first group of those who attempted to reach the King were scared off by fierce guards and wild animals that threatened them when they began to approach the castle. The second group was able to overcome their fear, but were offered lavish riches when they reached the second wall. They too succumbed, and went no further.
Only the King’s son, who loved him so much, whose only desire was to see his father’s face, kept going. But, finally he too, was overwhelmed by the obstacles. He cried out: Father please help me! In a moment, all the walls disappeared, and the King was standing right next to him.
Moral: All obstacles in life are an illusion; God is right in front of you if you truly seek him.
ENDLESS LOVE
A father complained to the Ba’al Shem Tov that his son had forsaken God. ‘Rabbi, what shall I do’, he asked.
‘Love him more than ever’.

HOW GOD FEELS
A little boy went out to play hide-and-seek with his friends. He went out to hide, but all of his friends left and he found himself alone. He ran crying to his grandfather and told him what happened. His grandfather started crying, too. He told his gransdson: ’That is exactly how God feels. Because He too is hiding, and no-one is looking for him.”

INNOVATION & TRADITION
A newly appointed Hasidic Rabbi was challenged by his Hasidim for innovations he was introducing. They complained that he was violating the tradition that had been passed down to him by his father, the previous Rebbe. The young Rebbe replied: ’By introducing my new ideas, I am being loyal to the tradition of my father. He was an original human being who followed the dictates of his heart and so am I.”

NOT A TRACE
On the day before Passover, Rabbi Levi Yitzhak, while walking through the marketplace, met several Gentiles who were known to be smuggling goods across the border.
‘Do you have any smuggled silk’ he asked them.
‘We do’, they answered.
‘How many yards to you have’, he continued.
‘Don’t worry Rabbi,’ said the smuggler. ‘We have as much as you need.’
He left them and soon met a Jew.
‘Do you have any Hametz’, he asked.

‘Hametz?’ asked the astonished Jew. ‘Heaven forbid that a Jew should have Hametz after the sixth hour on Erev Pessach!’
Soon he met a second Jew and again asked, ‘Do you have any Hametz?’
‘What did you ask, Rabbi’, answered the distraught man. ‘Hametz at this time!” Am I not still a Jew?’
Rabbi Levi Yitzhak lifted his eyes toward Heaven and said ‘Master of the World, look down from Heaven and see how Your people Israel tremble at Your word and hasten to fulfill Your commandments. The Russian Tzar is a mighty and fearsome ruler who has many generals and guards and prisons to enforce his decrees. And he commands thousands of soldiers to protect the border to see that no merchandise is brought across it unlawfully. Nevertheless, daily they smuggle in all manner of merchandise and fear not to see it openly in the market. But You, O Lord, Who have no generals or guards or prisons, have simply written in Your Torah ‘There shall no leavened bread be seen with thee.’ And on Erev Pessach, long before the evening comes, there is not a trace of Hametz to be found among all of the people of Israel’.

THE ULTIMATE QUESTION
Reb Zusya of Hanipol once said: When I reach the seat of judgement, I am not afraid that I will be asked: ‘Zusya why were you not like Moses, why were you not like Rabbi Akiva?’ I am afraid that I will be asked: ’Zusya! Why were you not Zusya!!!’

THE FORGOTTEN ART
There once was a king who so loved music, he hired musicians who shared his passion for music to play each morning before him. And the king delighted in hearing their music.
When the musicians died, their sons sought to take their places. But, alas, they had neither mastered the art of their fathers nor had they kept their instruments in proper condition. Worse still, the sons no longer loved the king as did their fathers but set their eyes only upon the reward, blindly following their fathers’ custom of arriving early each morning at the palace to perform. But the harsh sounds that emerged were so offensive to the ear, that after a time the king no longer listened to their music.
Still, there were among the sons of the old musicians, those who were determined to correct the situation. They set about the difficult task of relearning the forgotten art. Before coming to the king, they would now first try to tune their instruments, and in so doing would often arrive late. Upon entering the king’s court and hearing the racket of the other musicians who were already present, they sought out an obscure corner for themselves where they could play undisturbed in accordance with their ability. They gathered each morning to perform, remaining long after the other musicians had departed so that they might improve their skill. Long before leaving their homes for the palace each morning they continued to struggle with their poor instruments.
The king was aware of their efforts and it was good in his eyes. For even though they did not play with the same talent as their fathers, still they strove, within their limits, to once more bring joy to the king. Thus was their music received by the king with favour.

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8 thoughts on “Great Chassidic/Hassidic sayings that inspire!

  1. Soon the holiday of Pesach (Passover), celebrating the Exodus from Egypt. Please see below all the laws (in comments) that you need to know in order to Prepare Your House for Pesach 5774 (Based on the Halachic Rulings of Rabbi Shlomo Gissinger Shlita, Rav in Lakewood NJ) and please be kind and donate. This is a time of giving money for the poor so they can buy wheat for Matzos etc… (continued below) This is the first law to learn and the most important on Pesach/Passover as we are a nation based and built on KINDNESS>>>!

    This coming Passover, (don’t you passover), the Jaffa Institute is hosting a Pesach Seder for 500 impoverished Ethiopian immigrants in the Bet Shemesh Educational Center’s beautiful new dining hall. For many of these families, this will be the first Seder of their lives; an experience never to be forgotten.

    And join our new blogs with some creative contribution to help us all be inspired ! http://midnightabbi1eligoldsmith.wordpress.com/
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    Please send an email with your blog post – umuse613@gmail.com
    e.g. for your inspirational stories, band music, vids, poems, news, views, umuse…

    Please feel free to contact Eli Goldsmith
    Israel 00972-57-317-5856
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    This link is almost the main stage for all the important sites we recommend you to see http://t.co/0whRPzX

    For all our crucial work to make a difference with your help for the youth and world at large, “to live inspired!”

    Jews in Egypt were not only enslaved physically but also spiritually. At that time, they were at their lowest spiritual level.

    Their physical liberation from Egypt also freed them from their spiritual limitations. As a result, the Jewish people were able to attain great spiritual heights through the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

  2. SAVE THE DATE

    The Jaffa Institute’s 30 Year Celebration
    &
    Commemorating 20 years since Zonik Shaham’s passing

    Thursday, May 10th, 2012
    The Rittenhouse
    Philadelphia, PA

    Honorees:
    Robert Schwartz
    Maj-Gen. (res.) Yoram Yair (YaYa)

    Chairpersons:
    Elliot Rosen, Chairman
    Mark Solomon, Co-Chairman

    Dr. David J. Portowicz
    Chairman and Founder

    Invitation to follow

  3. Please, do you have the author of the quote: “People can see their reflection in water only when they bend down close to it; and the human heart too, must lean down to the heart of another so that it may see itself reflected there within.”

  4. Reblogged this on Midnightrabbi inspires and commented:

    My most popular daily blog is a big Surprise and just tells you what people are searching for nowadays i.e. The Lubliner Rabbi: “Better an insincere peace than a sincere quarrel”.

  5. […] Read more… 2,995 more words <-Great Chassidic/Hassidic sayings that inspire! […]

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