The Blessings of a Teacher


I have written about her before. Carol Rose. The second blog entry of Kosher Granola. You can read it here:

I realize all the time how lucky I am to have someone like her in my life. Someone who take the time to forward little lessons and teachings and tradition to me. I don't even know if she is aware that she is the only access I have to these things. That they come at times that are pertinent. That they give me the opportunity to grow as a person.

This week, she sent to me two teachings from Rabbi Yitzhak Buxbaum. These teachings are actually teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. I read that Buxbaum regards the Baal Shem Tov as his personal rebbe. He comes across not as acedemic, poetic or literary; instead, he tells the stories as they are--retelling the tales of his spiritual master.

What follows are the two tales that were passed on to me this week by Carol Rose, stories from R'Yitzhak Buxbaum.

Two Paths

The Baal Shem Tov's two great disciples, the Maggid of Mezritch and Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz, both transmitted the way of the Besht but they had two different paths.

a) The Maggid taught his disciples to contemplate the upper worlds, and to direct their deeds on earth in accordance with that heavenly pattern.

b) In Koretz, the Rebbe taught his disciples to contemplate the doings in this world--everything that exists and everything that happens-- and to discover the divine aspect concealed in every speck of dust, in the flight of every bird, and in the movement of abreeze.

Once, when the Koretzer was taking a stroll, he saw two children playing with nuts, and he stood and watched them, curious to know the rules of the game. Afterward, he taught his disciples awesome secrets concealed in the children's game, such as the issue of who wins and who loses, to teach his disciples that nothing that happens below is by chance; everything, even to the smallest detail, the least event, is according to a heavenly pattern.

Parshat Pinchas, pp. 61, 64

Three Kinds of D'vekut

The Baal Shem Tov taught that everyone experiences times of expanded consciousness and times of constricted consciousness; our mental state ebbs and flows.

The great early rebbe, Rebbe Abraham of Kalisk, taught that when we are in a state of expanded consciousness, we can attain d'vekut (connection) with G-d. And when we are in a state of constricted consciousness is the time to seek d'vekut (connection) or with our fellow human beings.

There are three kinds of d'vekut described by the rabbis: there is d'vekut with G-d, d'vekut with the sages; and d'vekut with one's friends or community of peers.

Rabbi Abraham teaches that even a sage who is in a state of constricted consciousness should then cleave to a friend or friends who are themselves cleaving to G-d (or the Divine) and that will elevate him or her again to a state of expanded consciousness.

Studies in Eastern European Jewish mysticism & Hasidism page 160