From the Chabad website:
‘The first day of Shavuot this year – Sivan 6, 5770 – May 19, 2010 – marks the 250th anniversary of passing of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, founder of the chassidic movement.
‘Through his teachings – and perhaps even more so through his passionate love – the Baal Shem Tov permanently transformed the Jewish landscape. Forevermore changed was the Jewish perspective on G-d, the Torah, the Jewish nation, and every one of G-d’s creations—and the essential unity within all these previously-thought-to-be disparate components. ‘
As I wrote in this much-discussed post, I’m fascinated by the stories of the Baal Shem Tov (who is sometimes known as the Besht) and other parts of the Hasidic and Jewish mystical traditions. Two of my favourite ever books are the Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber and the Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov by Yitzhak Buxbaum. I try and read a story from one or other of them every morning and they always inspire me.
So here’s to the Besht, a wondrous man who brought so much light to the world and continues to guide and inspire. And happy Shavout to all my Jewish readers. Have a sweet one!