It is often noted by commentators on the Torah that whereas Abraham was a charismatic leader, his son, Isaac, was an introvert who spent much of his time studying. This same comparison could be made between the founder of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (aka the Besht), and his successor, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch (c. 1704-1772).

The first time the Maggid of Mezeritch, as he came to be known, met the Besht, he nearly walked away. Having lived his life in poverty, the Maggid had many health problems and it was suggested that he visit the Besht, who was known as a healer. Although the Maggid was not a follower of the new Chassidic way of thinking, he went for Shabbat. During Shabbat, he was completely unimpressed with the divrei Torah (Torah statements) that the Besht offered. As he prepared to leave after Shabbat, the Besht called him in and privately revealed the very deep spiritual meaning of his earlier statements. Needless to say, the Maggid stayed.

Not long after the Besht’s passing, the Maggid became recognized as the leader of the growing Chassidic movement. Because he was disabled in one foot, he did not travel and his disciples gathered around him. His closest students were sequestered with him during the week, but on Shabbat he made himself available to all. Although he himself never published his Torah thoughts, his teachings were preserved in writing by his disciples and later published.

Perhaps the Maggid’s greatest contribution to the future of Chassidut was his dispersion of his students. As he approached his last days, he told each of his main disciples, based on each individual’s personality, where to settle to be the most effective. These students came to lead their own Chassidic courts and to advance the revolutionary development of the Chassidic movement that the Besht had begun.

The 19th of Kislev, today, is the yahrtzeit of the Maggid of Mezeritch.

Copyright © 2011 National Jewish Outreach Program. All rights reserved.

One Comment
  1. I am dismayed that it is not possible to do a search on jdate for people connecting with Chassidut in some way Chassidut? What is that?
    Chassidut connects the mind and the heart. A quote I read recently “Chassidut teaches the heart to think and the mind to feel.”

    When I began learning and connecting with Chassidut about 7 years ago, it was what made me realize what is truly meaningful in Judaism as it applies to my own life- at last- a dimension within Judaism that I could truly connect with in the present.
    I was seeking answers from this religion I was born into- for questions I had about how to reconcile many harsh realities in this world – things that I had witnessed or experienced and was disheartened about.
    My Jewish education and experience up until then did not provide this understanding or a world view that I could relate to on a deep level.

    Maybe you would ask why would I be on jdate and not Frumster or something similar?
    I was hoping to find jdate expansive enough to enable me to connect with my beshert!!
    I don’t seem to fit into either of these sites! At least that is how it seems when I try to search via keywords for people here with similar sensibilities .

    It would seem that I am not “frum” enough for the strictly frum world and perhaps too much so for everyone else.

    If jDate had a better and well-functioning keyword search perhaps my experience would be much better here! As it stands it is designated as “Beta” which in this case amounts to being virtually useless. This is kind of shocking to me- to not make it a priority to upgrade the Keyword search to be fully working. Without that, jdate is a waste of precious time and money (for me)

    Yes I am culturally Jewish (!) but that is not enough for me to have it be meaningful in a deep way in my own life .. that is mostly what I see here. Perhaps there is more but the jDate website in its present state makes it very difficult for me to find out.

    Are there any plans to rectify this..and to bring the Keyword search out of Beta and into fully functioning?
    Devorah-(arisngrDevorah on jdate)

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