March 2, 2009


From “In Praise of the Baal Shem Tov (Shivchey Baal Shem Tov),” translated by David Ben-Amos and Jerome Mintz (Jason Aronson).

The Baal Shem Tov’s Seclusion

Now I will relate the great events which I heard from my father-in-law, God bless his memory, concerning how the Baal Shem Tov was revealed.

He lived in a small village and made his living by keeping a tavern. After he brought brandy to his wife he would cross the river Prut and retire into seclusion in a house-like crevice that was cut into the mountain. He used to take one loaf of bread for one meal and eat once a week. He endured this way of life for several years. On the eve of the holy Sabbath he used to return home. His brother-in-law, Rabbi Gershon of Kuty (Yiddish: Kitov), thought him to be an ignorant and boorish person, and he used to try to persuade his sister to obtain a divorce from him. But she refused since she knew his secret but did not reveal it to anybody.