Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Panentheism of Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Yisroel (Israel) ben Eliezer





“All that I have achieved,” the Baal Shem Tov once remarked, “I have achieved not through study, but through prayer”. Prayer, however, is not merely petitioning God to grant a request, nor even necessarily speaking to God, but rather (“cleaving”, dvekut)— the glorious feeling of ’Oneness with God Almighty’, the state of the soul wherein a man or woman gives up their consciousness of separate existence, and join their own selves to the Eternal Being of God Supreme. Such a state produces indescribable bliss, which is the foremost fruit of the true worship of God.





All matter is a manifestation of God - Since God is immanent in all things, all things must possess something good in which God manifests Himself as the source of good. For this reason, the Besht taught, every man must be considered good, and his sins must be explained, not condemned. One of his favorite sayings was that no man has sunk too low to be able to raise himself to God. Naturally, then, it was his chief endeavor to convince sinners that God stood as near to them as to the righteous, and that their misdeeds were chiefly the consequences of their folly. 

Whoever does not believe that God resides in all things, but separates God and them in his thoughts, has not the right conception of God. It is equally fallacious to think of a creation in time: creation, that is, God’s activity, has no end. God is ever active in the changes of nature: in fact, it is in these changes that God’s continuous creativeness consists.

The foundation-stone of Hasidism as laid by Besht is a strongly marked panentheistic conception of God. He declared the whole universe, mind and matter, to be a manifestation of the Divine Being; that this manifestation is not an emanation from God, as is the conception of the Kabbalah by Mitnagdim, for nothing can be separated from God: all things are rather forms in which God reveals Himself.

Since every act in life is a manifestation of God, and must perforce be divine, it is man’s duty so to live that the things called “earthly” may also become noble and pure, that is, divine

2 comments:

  1. Rod,
    While reading this, I was reminded of the reality of our present state. I was stirred inside, and I wanted to thank you for such a meaningful post. May we all learn from the thought and example of the BeShT, that our lives would serve to show everyone that G-d is love, He is with us, and we belong to Him!

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  2. I can only re-iterate the above comment. Thanks for an excellent, highly informative if not inspiring post.

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