Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Baal Shem Tov

Its been a while since I posted and I want to apologize for that. I have been very busy studying for something and learning DAf Yomi which is very time consuming. Now that the "Holiday Season" is over I hope to have more frequent postings.

There is a famous teaching of the Baal Shem Tov that many people repeat and it was actually in one of the Jewish papers this past week. The teaching is as follows. The Baal Shem Tov says that when you see faults in other people, you see those faults because you have the same ones and it is like looking in the mirror. While this is a great inspirational teaching for someone who is doing teshuva, I want to pose the following questions about this teaching to see if anyone can answer them for me.

If I am sitting in shul and someone starts talking and disturbing my davening how am I seeing a reflection of myself? If I don't talk in shul I cannot understand this.

If I hear someone cursing and think they have a filthy mouth, how is that a reflection of me? I never curse or say dirty words.

There are plenty of things that I know I do and I see those faults in other people as well which I can recognize but the two things I posted are two things that I cannot figure out. Our goal in life is to constantly work on ourselves and try to come closer to Hashem so I am hoping I can figure these things out so I can continue to work on myself and only see good reflections in others.

18 comments:

Litvak said...

Hey, you're starting to think like a Litvak !

Congratulations, you're seeing the light.

Keep it up ! :)

Anonymous said...

This was discussed at Hirhurim a while ago - http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2006/09/i-see-dead-people.html

see posting and comments.

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

Good question. I don't see a problem with being bothered by someone talking during davening as long as you do not judge them. The judging of people is the problem. It is not our job to judge we don't know what their circumstances are in life. I don't have an answer. I have heard that and didn't know it was the Baal Shem Tov that said that. I was bothered by that because I don't agree that I have every fault I see in others, there must be a deeper explanation. Nice post! Glad to see you are back in business:)

Fo Fee said...

Maybe it is that you have a sense of arrogance, that you think you can sit there and judge and criticize others during davening, which in turn, is getting in the way of your true kavanah. Likewise, these people are also acting arrogantly by disturbing others' tefilot or by using language that makes others uncomfortable. Either way, both come from the same sense of arrogance: you all think you are better or above others.

kasamba said...

Good question!

FrumWithQuestions said...

Litvak- Welcome back, I have not heard from you in a while. I am not starting to think like a Litvak and I will explain why. I truly believe what the Ball Shem Tov said is true. It is just difficult to understand and see things the way he did which is why when something is not obvious you need to ask and hope someone can help you out.

SWFM- I am not judging when i hear someone talk but my davening is being disturbed. Unfortanatly according to the BST you do have the faults you see in others. For example, if you think someone is speaking to you in a rude way, it means that you have spoken to or speak to someone in the same rude way and it is just a reminder to you that you should not be rude.

FoFEE- I don't think it is arrogance just like I don't think it is judgement. People know you are not supposed to talk in shul, especially when most shuls have the sign all over the place that says Assur Ldaber bshaas Tefillah meaning that it is forbidden to talk during prayer. How is that arrogance if you don't talk and someone else does?

socialworker/frustrated mom said...

I didn't think you were judging just saying one shouldn't judge and I know thats what BST means but I still don't get it as you don't either. Still doesn't make sense to me in regards to certain instances when I can't see myself at fault.

Fo Fee said...

"it is that you have a sense of arrogance, that you think you can sit there and judge and criticize others during davening, which in turn, is getting in the way of your true kavanah"

Throughout your blog, you are so fixated on judging the kavanah and tefilot of others, and keep on stressing the fact what you are doing is right, and what most others do is wrong. That is arrogance.

Different people have different challenges in their lives. For some, it is extremely difficult to wake up for minyan in the morning, while for others, it is easy. Maybe they are receiving the same schar/reward for just attending minyan, albeit with some talking, as you might be receiving for having a quiet tefilah. Is it better that these people shouldn't come? Certainly not. Mitoch Sheloh Lishmah, Bah Lishmah. Maybe they will grow into the level that you have so easily achieved (of not talking), by seeing your example.

But, I maintain that I think it is wrong to sit and judge others' predicaments when you really can't understand the specific spiritual challenges that certain people face.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Fo Fee- I think you are reading my blog posts wrong. I am not being arrogant. I will explain why. If you are in college or some other school and you need to study, you go to the library because it is a quiet place where you won't get disturbed by talking and other noise. The same is true of shul. When you want to talk to Hashem, you go to a shul where you are expecting to be a quiet davening where you can concentrate on what you are saying and try to have your conversation with Hashem. If someone starts talking, then it disturbes you just like if you were in a library and someone starts to scream or blast music. Its the same thing. This is not arrogance but respect for Hashem and a synagogue. This is not judgement since I am not judging people I am telling them don't come to shul and ruin and disrespect the shul. Shulchan Aruch clearly states this. I think it is better for a person to daven at home than to go to shul and talk the whole time and ruin the davening of others.

D'varim P'shutim said...

FWQ - I believe that you might have to look a little deeper to see how these things manifest themselves in your own life. For example what is wrong with talking in shul ? inherently - not just because you are disturbing your neighbor? prob. along the lines that it is a zilzul in either Kavod beis hakaneses or kavod shamayim. Now the halachos of kavod beis hakneses are not as simple as people think - can we say for sure we are totally nizhar in these 2 areas ? I don't think it stops at the talking part. The same goes for cursing. are we so carefull about everything that comes out of our mouths ??? If you can truthfully say yes to these questions "Ashrei L'cha" if not I think a little more introspection is in order. B'hatzlacha

FrumWithQuestions said...

I must say that I never utter a curse. I try and watch my speech very carefully and I always comment to my wife whenever she curses, especially infront of my daughter. I strongly believe in the saying that humans are the only ones who got the gift of speech out of all the mammals. Because of that we have to recognize it as a gift as well as realizing when we don't use it properly we can be compared to an animal.

Anonymous said...

see likutei sichos from the lubavittcher rebbe volum 10 parshas noach for a clear explanation of the baal shem tovs teaching.

FrumWithQuestions said...

Anonymous - Thanks. Is there a place where I can see it in English online?

Anonymous said...

http://www.chabad.org/library/article.asp?AID=113632

Anonymous said...

http://www.chabad.org/parshah/article.asp?AID=437567

Anonymous said...

The meaning is really quite simple. It does not necessarily mean that you actually do/did the same thing. It could also be in a spiritual sense. Thus if you saw smeone worship idolatry, it does not necessarily mean you did the exact same thing, but on a different level. For example, "whoever flares up in anger is guilty of idolatry," "whoever is haughty is as if he worships idolatry" etc. Embarrassing someone is like murder; lashon hara is tantamount to murder, incest and idolatry etc. etc.
Honest Litvak

Anonymous said...

http://www.jewishworldreview.com/twerski/twerski_emor.php3

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