Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gossip- The Two-Way Mouth

The Two-Way Mouth

One day, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov instructed several of his disciples to embark on a journey. The Baal Shem Tov did not tell them where to go, nor did they ask; they allowed divine providence to direct their wagon where it may, confident that the destination and purpose of their trip would be revealed in due time.
After traveling for several hours, they stopped at a wayside inn to eat and rest. Now the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples were pious Jews who insisted on the highest standards of kashrut; when they learned that their host planned to serve them meat in their meal, they asked to see the shochet1 of the house, interrogated him as to his knowledge and piety and examined his knife for any possible blemishes. Their discussion of the kashrut standard of the food continued throughout the meal, as they inquired after the source of every ingredient in each dish set before them.
As they spoke and ate, a voice emerged from behind the oven, where an old beggar was resting amidst his bundles. “Dear Jews,” it called out, “are you as careful with what comes out of your mouth as you are with what enters into it?”
The party of chassidim concluded their meal in silence, climbed onto their wagon and turned it back toward Mezhibuzh. They now understood the purpose for which their master had dispatched them on their journey that morning.

Simple Prayers - Baal Shem Tov

The Rebbe Rashab based this interpretation on a story he heard from the Baal Shem Tov when he visited his holy resting place at Mezhibuzh. At that time the Baal Shem Tov related that on his 16th birthday (18 Elul, 5474/1714) he had found himself in a small village. The local innkeeper was a very simple person who hardly knew how to read the prayers, let alone understand what they meant. He was, however, a very G‑d-fearing individual. On all matters and at all times he would quote the same phrase in the Holy Tongue, “Blessed be He; may He be blessed forever.” His wife too would always say in Yiddish, “Praised be His holy Name.”
That day, in accordance with the age-old custom of meditating in solitude for some time on one’s birthday, the Baal Shem Tov went off by himself to the fields. He recited chapters of Tehillim and engaged in unifying the Divine Names that emanate from its holy verses.
“As I was immersed in this,” the Baal Shem Tov related, “and unaware of my surroundings, I suddenly saw Elijah the Prophet. There was a smile on his lips. I was taken aback. For when I had been with the tzaddik R. Meir, and also when I had been in the company of the hidden tzaddikim, I had merited to see Elijah, but this was the first time that I had merited his appearance while all alone. I wondered about it. And besides, why was he smiling?
“Elijah said to me: ‘You are toiling so mightily to have the proper mystical intentions in bringing about the Supernal Unions of the Divine Names that emanate from the verses of Tehillim. And Aharon Shlomo the innkeeper and his wife Zlata Rivkah know nothing of the Unifications that result from his “Blessed be He; may He be blessed forever,” and from her “Praised be His holy Name.” Yet the Divine harmonies they create resonate in all the heavens more than all the Unifications of the Holy Name that are effected by the mystical intentions of the greatest tzaddikim.’
“Elijah described to me,” continued the Baal Shem Tov, “the great pleasure, as it were, that results in heaven from the words of praise and adoration uttered by men, women and children. Especially so, when they come from the mouths of simple folk. And most especially, when these praises are offered consistently, for then these people are constantly united with G‑d in pure faith and with an undivided heart.”
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Having recounted this episode, the Rebbe Rashab added that it served as the basis for his additional interpretation of “breath untainted by sin” — that it applies not only to children but also to adults who act with pure faith and heartfelt simplicity, and who are thereby constantly united with G‑d, at all times and in all places.