The Fire of the Ba’al Shem Tov
Wednesdays, January 4, 11, 18, 25 & February 1, 2023
5:00 – 6:30 pm Pacific Time
The Hasidic movement established by Israel son of Eliezer, the Ba’al Shem Tov, in the eighteenth century was nothing less than a spiritual revolution for Eastern European Jewry. The Jewish community of Eastern Europe was, for the most part, impoverished financially, socially, and spiritually. Many of the rabbis of the time had little interest in the simple Jews of the shtetl, and taught that intellectual acumen and Talmud study were the paths to piety. In response, the Ba’al Shem Tov, a mystic, charismatic teacher, shaman, and healer, taught that the path to God was through living with an open, joyful heart, with compassion for others, and that deveikut – attaching oneself to the Divine – is available to every person, even by means of enjoying physical pleasures.
Together we will explore the essential teachings and profound spiritual path of the Ba’al Shem Tov through texts, stories told about him, and contemporary scholarship. In addition to discussion and inquiry, we’ll utilize both chant and meditation to deepen our understanding of his ideas and how they might speak to us on our spiritual journeys.
All texts will be in English and no special background is required. All you need to bring is your curiosity, and an open heart and mind.
Sponsored by Orot: Center for New Jewish Learning, Chicago