The Mystical Light of the Baal Shem Tov
On another occasion, the cantor told Reb Elimelech that when the Baal Shem Tov would look at any object, such as a bench or a table, he could tell all the thoughts that the craftsman had when he made that object. Reb Elimelech was astounded by this. Later in the conversation, the cantor told Reb Elimelech how the Baal Shem Tov could gaze from one end of the earth to the other.
Once, when his students were sitting with him, the Baal Shem Tov chuckled a little, as he often did. His students asked him why he chuckled. He said that in a certain city, in a very distant land, a nobleman had spent several years building a beautiful palace. And just a few minutes before, a Tzaddik had been on his way to the synagogue to pray. It had started to hail heavily, so the Tzaddik took shelter in the palace that the nobleman had spent so long building.
When the hail storm stopped, the Tzaddik left the palace and continued on to the synagogue. As soon as he left, the palace collapsed.
“How can I not laugh over how much G-d’s direction of the world is hidden? The purpose of this great building was to give shelter to this Tzaddik for a short while. During that time, the Tzaddik rectified all of the sparks of holiness that were in the stones which formed the sides of the palace. Once the sparks were rectified, the stones no longer needed to remain standing. That is why the palace immediately collapsed.”
Later, the cantor continued, we saw in the newspaper the story of that palace and its unexplained collapse. It had happened at the moment that the Baal Shem Tov had laughed.
Then, the cantor stood up and swore that once, while he and the other students studied Torah with the Baal Shem Tov, flames had risen around them. The flames remained until they were so purified that they heard the Torah from the Rebbe as the Children of Israel had received it at Mount Sinai – with thunder and lightening and the mighty blasts of the shofar! In fact, the cantor went on to say that because the sounds at Mount Sinai were Divine and never ceased. However, a person needed holiness and purity to hear them. Reb Elimelech replied, “I have not achieved that spiritual level. Though it comes as no surprise, that the spiritual service and holiness of our Master and Rebbe, Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov was extremely great. Moreover, his holy practices were from that pure place, the Nestur River, and from Achiya HaShiloni. Fortunate is the person who merits that state.”
The G-d-fearing who read this will understand that all the above-mentioned levels, or similar ones, were attained by Reb Elimelech.
From the Manuscripts of Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac of Komarno
Translation and Commentary by Translation and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore.
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