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Sunday, 20 August 2017

139) WHY DID THE BAAL SHEM TOV REFUSE TO DISCLOSE HIS HIDING PLACE TO HIS TEACHER? (And other fascinating letters)



LETTERS FROM THE CHERSON GENIZA TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH FOR THE FIRST TIME. PART 9.

See here and here for an introduction.
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INTRODUCTION TO THIS SERIES OF LETTERS:

This series of letters, written between 1731 and 1733, show how the Baal Shem Tov was literally hiding from his teacher, R. Adam Baal Shem Tov. From the tenor and tone of the letters one can understand that the Baal Shem Tov was reluctant to come out of hiding: -R. Adam tells his student that the latter is the subject of sections of the Zohar which deal with the creation of the world and that he embodied the ‘secret light’ of creation. -R. Adam threatens his student that if he remains in hiding the world will literally be destroyed! -R. Adam informs his student that even Achiya haShiloni[1] will disown him if he doesn’t come out of hiding within a year. 

This must have placed an unimaginable spiritual burden on the shoulders of the Baal Shem Tov who, understandably, refused to divulge is location to his teacher[2]

This puts paid to the notion that the Baal Shem Tov suddenly and voluntarily decided to come out of seclusion during his thirties, and reveal himself to the world. According to these letters it seems quite clear that not only was he coaxed into confronting the world but he was actually threatened rather sharply to do so.

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DOCUMENT 41:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov informing him that the latter is the ‘hidden light’ referred to in the Zohar:

Letter 14.

B”H

Tuesday (Parshat) Veyeitze 5491 (1731).

To the hidden one who was sent from Heaven, the rabbi Mr Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi Eliezer.

It is taught in the holy Zohar, (Parshat) Vayeitze:

‘Come and see;
When the Holy One blessed be He wanted to create the world, He took one hidden light and from that light emerged and illuminated etc. etc.’[3]

Know that you that this light is you, my son Israel, in whom I glorify.

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 272:

Letter from the Baal Shem Tov to his brother-in-law R. Gershon Kitover asking him to pawn the former’s coat in order to raise some money for the forthcoming festival of Peasch:

B”H

Wednesday (Parshat) Vayeitze 5491 (1731).

To my brother-in-law the famous holy rabbi and gaon etc., our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Gershon (Kitover) n’y.

You know, honourable and elevated Torah (personality) that the holy festival days are actualizing and approaching.

And I have no means to spend on the holy festival.

(So) I am sending you my coat to pledge (pawn) in Brodie and you will send me the money.

From your brother-in-law who blesses you with (greetings for a) Kosher festival (of Pesach),
Yisroelik of Akop.

(P.s.) My wife inquires after your wellbeing. 
             
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DOCUMENT 53:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov telling him of bad times ahead but, nevertheless, he must still do what he has to do:

Letter 27.

B”H

Tuesday (Parshat) Eikev 5491 (1731).

To the righteous (one) of the world amongst the Nistarim (Hidden ones) Mr[4] Yisrael n’y.

Know that many travails are about to befall you but with G-d’s will man and his enemies will make peace.

You (must just) do what you have to do and G-d will accept your good way. Amen.

From Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 55:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov telling him he met the latter’s brother-in-law (R. Gershon Kitover) but that he refuses to divulge his (the Baal Shem Tov’s) whereabouts:


Letter 29.

B”H

Thursday[5] 5491 (1731) LePeret Katan.[6]     
    
To the hidden (one) whose paths (whereabouts) are not (even) known to the eagle, holy and awesome is your name, Yisrael, may you live.

I saw your brother-in-law, the rabbi and holy gaon (R. Gershon Kitover) n’y, and even he hid from me your (secret) holy dwelling place.

Why?

But I consoled myself with the (fact that) even Jacob our father did not know the (dwelling) place of his son Joseph.... (for...)[7] years. Enough said.

From the (one) connected to you with (bonds of) love,

Adam Baal Shem Tov.

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DOCUMENT 276:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov informing him that even though he doesn’t know where the Baal Shem Tov is hiding, he knows all else including the fact that during the forthcoming year he will reveal himself to the world:



Letter 26.

B”H

The Ten days of Repentence 5493 (1733).

To the holy and hidden Mr Yisrael, son of the rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, may you live.

Know that all the travails that are (about) to befall you are revealed to me.

And during the forthcoming year you will be revealed (to the world). G-d willing.

G-d will certainly protect you from all travails and (may He) lay out for you (only) kindness.
Enough said.

See the holy Zohar (Parshat) Vayeishev (where it says:)

‘The Tzadik will (undergo) much evil and G-d will save him from all (that evil)’
It is not written (that evil will befall) ‘to the Tzadik’ but (simply) Tzadik.
When the holy one blessed be He befriends the (tzadik) etc., they merit to be separated.[8]’ End quote from the Zohar. Enough said.

Know that if I knew your (hiding) place you would be revealed (to the world) immediately. But it is only from Heaven that your (hiding) place is not known to me.

Nor is it known to your (other) teacher Achiya haShiloni.[9]

May there be peace now with you, and also with the (other) hidden one, the holy Mr Mordechai the Tzadik[10], may he live.

From myself, who loves you but does not know you.[11]

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 41:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov instructing him to reveal himself to the world and warning him of dire consequences if he doesn’t listen:

Letter 17.

B”H

(Parshat) Vayeitze 5493 (1733).

To the holy hidden one, Mr Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Eliezer, n’y.
Know that the time has arrived for you to reveal yourself (to the world).

But if (you do ) not (listen), the (whole) world will be destroyed.

And the sign (than I am speaking the truth) is that tonight you saw your teacher, Achiya haShiloni[12], in a dream.

From,

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 45:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov stating that he sees that the latter is refusing to reveal himself to the world and as a consequence,  the world will go into a spiritual deficit if he does not listen:


Letter 18.

B”H

Wednesday (Parshat) Vayeishev 5493 (1733).

To the hidden one[13], the righteous (who is the) foundation of the world, my teacher and rabbi[14], Yisrael, n’y, of Akop.

It is evident that you are refusing in the matter (of revealing yourself to the world).

But on the life of your head, I swear that if you do not reveal (yourself) you will be empowering the opposite side (i.e. the side of evil). Enough said.

As a consequence you are causing the entire world to (go into spiritual) deficit. Heaven forefend.

Adam Baal Shem Tov from Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 42:  
      
Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov quoting the Zohar and suggesting the latter is the subject of its teaching:



Letter 15.

B”H

(Parshat) Vayikra 5493 (1733).

To the holy Mr Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Eliezer, n’y.

The One who loves justice and doesn’t neglect His pious (ones).

It is taught in the holy Zohar:

‘It is written pious (in the singular[15]).’

Know that you (are the one who is the subject of this verse) and G-d is with you and G-d will not forsake you. 

For you are the pious one (through which) G-d will work wonders. And (may you) listen when He calls for you.

Enough said.

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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DOCUMENT 46:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov informing him that even the latter’s (other) teacher, Achiya haShiloni, is annoyed at him for not revealing himself:


Letter 20.

B”H

5493 (1733)

To the hidden one, the holy Mr Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Eliezer, n’y.

Your teacher[16] was with me this night.

And he said in the following holy words: If you refuse to reveal yourself at least over the next year, may it descend upon us for good, then you shall (no longer) be (considered) within his court.

From,

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

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[1] The other (mystical) teacher of the Baal Shem Tov, who according to Chassidic tradition was the biblical prophet from the time of King Solomon.
[2] We also see that the Baal Shem Tov was not hiding alone as there is a reference to R. Mordechai the Tzadik, who appears to have been with him. We also see that somehow he also managed to hide from his mystical teacher Achiya haShiloni. (Doc 276).
[3] The actual text reads: “Now when G-d was about to create the world, He produced a secret spark from which there issued and radiated all the lights which are disclosed. First there spread from it those lights which constitute the upper world. Then it continued its radiation, and the Artificer made it into a light without brightness, and thus He made the lower world. And by reason of it being a light, but without illumination, it feels itself attracted towards [156b] the upper world.”
[4] In the text the nun seems to be a mistake.
[5] The name of the weekly Torah portion is missing.
[6] A calendar designation.
[7]Text missing.
[8] I couldn’t find the reference in the Zohar to this.
[9] A prophet from the days of King Solomon.
[10] It seems that R. Mordechai was hiding together with the Baal Shem Tov.
[11] Or: ‘but does not know where you are.’ Later on, however, we do see evidence that R. Adam had in fact not yet ever met his student.
[12] A prophet from the days of King Solomon.
[13] This expression is used in the previous letter as well and may allude to the fact that at this time the Baal Shem Tov was physically hiding from him.
[14] This is a very significant term because it represents the transition of R. Adam Baal Shem Tov reverting from teacher to student.
[15]Chassido (His pious one) as opposed to Chassidav (His pious ones).
[16] Achiya haShiloni, a prophet from the time of Solomon.

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