May 27, 2009


From Dovid Sears, “The Path of the Baal Shem Tov” (Jason Aronson), p. 120. This teaching is from Rabbi Aharon of Zhelikhov, author of Kesser Shem Tov (“Crown of a Good Name”), which is the first anthology of the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings gleaned from the works of Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye; however, it exemplifies the founder of the Chassidic movement’s spiritual approach.

Rabbi Aharon of Zhelikhov on Silence

“And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moshe said, ‘Rise up, 0 God, and let Your enemies be dispersed, and let those that hate You flee from Your Presence.’ And when it rested, he said, ‘Return, O God, to the myriads of thousands of Israel’ “ (Numbers 10:35-36).

There is a type of Divine service through movement (tenu’ah), which includes all the positive commandments, Torah study, and prayer; and they all entail various mystical unifications. However, there is another type of Divine service by means of resting (menuchah). One sits alone in silence and contemplates God’s loftiness. This relates to the World of Thought, which is also called the World of Rest; for one enters into a state of stillness. When one wishes to experience deveykus (mystical cleaving), he should sit quietly, with holy thoughts, in a state of awe and attachment to God (Ohr Ganuz L'Tzaddikim, B’ha'alosecha).