And now for something completely different

The following is an excerpt from Mevo Shearim, the sefer of Rabbi Kalman Kalmish Shapira, the Piazcezcna Rebbe, Chief Rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto. The “very rough and inadequate translation” has been provided by Rabbi Davide Lustigman of Yeshivat Simchat Shlomo — my chevruta.
It is my Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.


When the Baal Shem Tov zt’l had his aliat neshama in 5507 (Rosh HaShana, 1746), he entered the chamber of Moshiach and asked him, “when will sir come?” Moshiach answered him, “when your wellsprings spread forth,” as is known from the Holy Letter found at the end of Porat Yosef. The teachings of chassidut are the final stage of revelation of Torah that precedes the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days. They are the first rays of his holy light. The principal messianic revelation is described by the verse, “and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God, like the waters cover the sea,” and the foundation of the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov is the simple meaning, which he revealed in his holiness, zt’l, of the verse, “and the whole earth is filled with His glory.” Many challenged him and attacked him for this, saying that he was “physicalizing” the glory of That Which is Above, but our holy one, the Baal Shem Tov zt’l knew that not only was he not physicalizing, God forbid (and taking away from God’s glory), but, rather, he was increasing and revealing His glory and honor, blessed be He, by this. He was not only teaching a simple understanding of, or intellectual insight into, the verse, but rather, he was awakening the dawn that precedes Moshiach (from above). If they will not make room for the dawn, and the world will not become habituated to the dawn, then the sun of Moshiach, God forbid, will be prevented from rising. Therefore he proclaimed, in his holiness, and said that not only is there in every thing of the world, a godly vitality, and surrounding this godly vitality there is a material crust hiding it, but that this material, which to us appears to be just that, is actually godliness too. All that is needed are eyes to see and a body that is sanctified. Then, when you look at the world around you, you’ll be looking at God and God will be looking at you, “the whole earth is filled with His glory,” even the earthiness of the garment; and vessels, also, are filled with the illumination of His glory, blessed be He. This is the beginning of the fulfillment of the verse “and the world will be filled with the knowledge…” which will be fulfilled in its greatest manner in Messianic times, speedily in our days, that even the earth will be filled with knowledge of God.

5 thoughts on “And now for something completely different

  1. thanks for sharing this beautiful piece of chassidus, mobius. it’s a welcome relief from all the politics, even if that’s what we all usually come on here to talk about.

  2. yeah, some creative indentation might have made it more meaningful.
    Like, what did you take out of this torha? what does it mean to you that made it compelling enough to cut and paste over here?

  3. I dunno about this… recognizing the godliness in everything is a totally righteous endeavor, as in *spreading* the awareness of godliness to others. After all, you’ve got to know there’s godliness around you before you can relate to it *as* godliness.
    On the other hand, this “missionizing mission statement” is a little too Christian, too supersessionist, to be left alone. Who does the Ba’al Shem Tov think he is, that he alone holds the keys to the Messianic Age? Hundreds of generations of Jews worked and studied and lived Torah, Avodah, and Gemilut Chasadim long before Chasidut was invented. Chasidut is just one kind of Lurianic Kabala, which is just one kind of Kabala, which is just one kind of Mysticism, which is just one kind of Jewish approach. Thinking the this *portion of the whole* is the *whole itself* (a myopia that, in the theological realm, leads to avoda zara) is the kind of thing that leads to those Chabad shluchim who go off the wall, attempting to steer all Jews they encounter to their particular daled amot, frum and non-frum alike, completely ignorant of what halachic Judaism is like outside of Crown Heights.

  4. This is eactly the sort of stuff which makes me proud that most of my ancestors just said no to the Chassidic movement. Who needs this instensive Messianic gobbledeegook?
    And before y’all hurl Rambam’s 13 at me, just want to point out that there is precious little in the Torah overtly about Mashiach.
    Everyone back to if my ox gores your ox, please.

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