The Besht Began the Work of Mashiach

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The Ba’al Shem Tov, the “Besht”, was only 5 years old when his father called him to his deathbed. Just before he passed away, the Besht’s father told his young son that he should not be afraid and that he should always see Hashem before him. Thus, when he needs something, he should not ask it of anybody – only from Hashem. And he should habituate himself to speak with Hashem in his own language, and walk only with Hashem. With these words, the five year old Besht then became orphaned of both parents, as his mother had already died at the time of his birth.

This story about his great-grandfather made such a strong impression on Rebbe Nachman when he was just a young boy that he incorporated this into his own service of Hashem – this practice of speaking to Hashem in his own language, on his own level, and in his own words and mother tongue (which was Yiddish). Later, Rebbe Nachman would insist on this practice of “Hitbodedut” to his followers.

In fact, Tefila & Hitbodedut constitute what is called “the holy ancient derech” – the holy ancient path or method. This was the derech of our Patriarchs, Prophets, masters, and all who “walked” with Hashem, since Adam and Noah.

Isaac, for instance, went out “to converse in the field” (Beresheet 24: 63). But the examples go on, from Yaacov Avinu, all of the Matriarchs, all of the Tribes, Yosef, Moshe, Kalev, Aaron, Pinchas, Yehoshua bin Nun, all of the Judges, Shimshon, Chana, Shmuel, Eliyahu, Elisha, all of the Prophets, King David, King Shlomo, Daniel, Mordechai and Esther, etc. all of the Anshei HaKnesset HaGedolah, Tannaim, Amoraim, the holy Ari, the holy Baal Shem Tov and all of his students. (For all the examples and their corresponding verses in the Tanach, please see the Introduction to Hishtapchut HaNefesh).

Moreover, the Geula is directly tied and dependent on Tefila & Hitbodedut (ibid, p. 35 citing Jeremiah 31: 9).

So, by Hitbodedut, the Besht and later his great-grandson Rebbe Nachman of Breslev were not paving a new derech in Judaism, but reviving and reinstating the ancient one, but for all Jews.

It is said that Mashiach will ‘cause the mute to speak’ and that that will be his main accomplishment and triumph. `Mashiach,’ the word itself, comes from the term “massiach ilmim” which means ‘causing the mute to speak’ (Likutei Moharan, The Writings of Rebbe Nachman, part II, section 83 – and btw, this passage is from one of the few surviving pages of Sefer HaNisraf).

That is, the word (from its letters) `Mashiach’ literally means, `one who causes to speak,’ i.e. causes others to speak.

But `speaking’ does not mean just any blah-blah out there. In fact, one can talk all day and way into overtime in meetings, presentations and other forms of spoken human interaction. One can even yap for hours on the phone and into the wee hours of the night. But if a person does not talk to Him, then he is defined as one of the `mute’ – spiritually mute.

The Ba’al Shem Tov, himself a descendant of King David, started Mashiach’s “job” and left an incredible legacy for us to complete the task of bringing Mashiach. May we merit just that & ASAP!

 

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