Menu

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

177) THE WRITINGS UNDER THE STONE:

    

                                         LETTERS FROM THE CHERSON GENIZA
                             -Translated into English for the first time by Rabbi Gavin Michal.


[For a general introduction to the Cherson Geniza see here]


INTRODUCTION (As per HaTamim): 



LETTER (Apparently the letter from R. Adam Baal Shem was one single letter comprised 76 separate leaves or pages) FROM THE HONORABLE AND HOLY, OUR TEACHER, THE TEACHER, THE RABBI, RABBI YISRAEL, THE BAAL SHEM TOV, OF BLESSED MEMORY - MAY THE MEMORY OF THE TZADIK AND HOLY (MAN) BE FOR A BLESSING IN THE LIFE OF THE WORLD TO COME, MAY HIS SOUL BE IN THE HIDDEN HEIGHTS, MAY HIS MEMORY PROTECT US - TO HIS BROTHER-IN-LAW, OUR TEACHER THE RABBI GERSHON KITOVER, OF BLESSED MEMORY.

IN THIS LETTER (which follows), THE BAAL SHEM TOV, OF BLESSED MEMORY, COPIES THE WRITINGS WHICH HE FOUND (According to this introduction, the letter was therefore never actually delivered directly to the Baal Shem Tov, by R. Adam Baal Shem.) FROM R. ADAM BAAL SHEM OF ROPSHITZ, IN THE (EXACT) FORMAT (I.e. On 76 separate leaves) AS THE LETTER (ADDRESSED) TO HIM.

…………...............................................................................................................................................

UNNUMBERED DOCUMENT:

 B”H

I hereby (declare that I am) copying, for the honorable and holy one (I.e. R. Gershon Kitover), n"y, all of the 76 leaves, letter for letter, from the holy handwriting of the G-dly (rabbi), my teacher and rabbi, Rabbi Adam Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory, in my own handwriting. And it follows:

…….....................................................................................................................................................

UNNUMBERED DOCUMENT:



B”H (Leaf 1)

Sunday (Parshat) Eikev, Ropshitz.

To the Honorable Hidden One, to whom all secrets are revealed, the rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael, son of our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, from Akop, n"y.

(This is the first leaf which I received from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov, and I am copying it for you [R. Gershon Kitover]. From:) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust...

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 25/a:



B"H (Leaf 2)

...Even though I do not know where your honorable dwelling place is, (I do know) however that we have drunk from one wellspring (and that) we both have one rabbi and one teacher - your teacher is my teacher[1], and he has revealed to me (the extent) of your greatness:

(Achiya haShiloni said) that through you, all the broken vessels[2] are repaired and filled (with light).

And through you they (the vessels) are (then) elevated (back) to their source (and to) the lofty place from whence they were hewn...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 26/a:



B"H (Leaf 3)

...I have therefore found strength for me to reveal to you two awesome stories which I almost saw with my own eyes:

By this I mean - one event I actually saw with my eyes, and the second story I heard from our holy teacher and rabbi.

These are (the stories)...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 27/a:



B"H (Leaf 4)

...I heard (the following story) from our holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni, as told) in his (own) words:

In the year 5333 (1573), in the holy city of Safed - may it be rebuilt and re-established speedily and in our days, Amen - there was a (simple) Jew who only knew how to pray. Nothing more.

However, he was wholehearted in his deeds and walked humbly...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 28/a:




B"H (5)

...It once happened during the (middle of the) night, while he (the humble man from Safed) was performing Chatzot (the Midnight prayer mourning the destruction of the Temple), that he heard someone knocking at his door.

He asked who it was and the response came that it was Eliyahu haNavi (Elijah the Prophet) - may he be remembered for good.

He (then) let him in...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 29/a:


B”H (6)

...As soon as he came inside his house, it became (filled with) light (illuminating) all its corners.

And (the house) was filled with joy and happiness to the extent that the children began dancing (around) in their carriages.

The Jew (i.e. the homeowner) said...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 30/a:


B"H (Leaf 7)

...to him: “Sit down, my teacher, may you live.”

He (Eliyahu haNavi) sat down and enquired in the following words:

“I have come to you to reveal to you the end (of days and) the year of the (arrival of) Messiah - on the condition that you inform me on one matter…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 31/a:


B”H (Leaf 8):

...(and that is:) What was it that you did on the day of your Bat Mitzvah? - Because from that (moment on) it was decreed from Above that you would merit (to witness) a revelation of my (i.e. Eliyahu haNavi’s) presence…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 32/a:

B"H (Leaf 9)

...and that I (Eliyahu haNavi) will reveal to you hidden secrets.

The Jew answered: ‘What I did, I did only for G-d - blessed be He - so how can I now reveal it to anyone other than G-d, blessed be He.

And if…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................


DOCUMENT 33/a:


B"H (Leaf 10)

… you, honorable and holy one, my teacher and rabbi, do not want to reveal (the secrets) to me, then you do not have to.

I have (received) a tradition that what a Jew does should be hidden as much as possible from (other) people and should only be (known to) G-d, blessed be He...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 34/a:

B"H (11)

...Suddenly Eliyahu, of blessed memory, disappeared from him.

And from Above, there was a great noise as a result of the wholeheartedness of that man, who (was prepared) to answer back (and dismiss) Eliyahu haNavi, of blessed memory.

And since (the homeowner acted) solely for the sake of Heaven (with no ulterior or selfish motives)...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 35/a:


B"H (Leaf 12)

...it was decreed, with the sanction of the Heavenly Court, that Eliyahu haNavi, of blessed memory, shall (nevertheless) indeed reveal himself to him, and shall teach him Torah, and reveal to him the hidden secrets.

And so it was. Eliyahu, of blessed memory…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 36/a:
B"H (Leaf 13)

...revealed himself to him, and taught him and revealed many secrets of the holy Torah.

(To the extent that) he became unique in the generation, a wholehearted righteous man who walked humbly.

No one was aware of his holiness and greatness...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 37/a:

B"H (Leaf 14)

...(In time) the day arrived when he became old and he passed away from this world.

Those above (in heaven), gave him (as a reward for his righteousness, a place) in the very same chamber as where the holy forefathers were (situated).

However, the (Heavenly) defence made a commotion because (they argued that) he deserved (even) more worthy reward…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 38/a:
B"H (leaf 15)

...because he was such an exceptionally righteous man and (because) he hid himself away (to such an extent) that no one would know about him.

And all (he did) was (for reasons of) the deepest truth and solely for the sake of Heaven.

(For these reasons) he deserved to receive an even greater reward.

The Heavenly Court (therefore) ruled as follows...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 39/a:
B"H (Leaf 16)

…”Since the world had not (yet) merited to benefit from the fragrance of his Torah (as no one knew about him) - this holy soul shall return to earth and Heaven will force that soul to be revealed.

And this (soul) will…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 40/a:
B"H (Leaf 17)

...reveal a new path to the world.

And the world will be filled with knowledge in order to draw the end (i.e. the Messianic era) closer.”

And so it was.

That soul came back to this world, and Heaven will (now) force it to reveal itself, without (having to provide) any answers…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 41/a:
B"H (Leaf 18)

...And now I (Adam Baal Shem Tov) hereby inform you in the name of our holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni), that you, honorable and holy one, may you live, are that holy soul.

And that you came into this world for a second time in order to fragrance and purify the world with a pure and holy spirit.

And soon (your) new light will be manifest…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 42/a:
B"H (Leaf 19)

...within the hearts of each individual.

And through you shall the name of Heaven be sanctified.

And the redemption will be soon, speedily and in our days. Amen. So may it be (His will).

-This was the first story I heard from my honorable and holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni).

From the one who loves your soul, your colleague, who doesn't know you (as R. Adam had not met the Besht) but requests your wellbeing,

Adam Baal Shem Tov of Ropshitz.

(The Besht continues now in his own words:) Thus far I have copied, letter for letter from the holy handwriting of the rabbi…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 43/a:
B"H (Leaf 20)

… R. Adam Baal Shem Tov, of blessed memory.

(The Besht explains to his brother-in-law that:) Now I will begin, G-d willing, to copy for you, honorable and holy one, in my own handwriting, letter by letter, the second story which he (R. Adam) wrote to me - which he saw with his own holy eyes:

From your brother-in-law, who is bound to you in great love, forever,

Who requests your well-being at all times, with a yearning heart and soul,

Yisrael, son of our teacher and rabbi, Eliezer Baal Shem, of Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

THE SECOND STORY:

(As with the first story, this one too was originally narrated and written down by R. Adam Baal Shem, and now transcribed ‘letter by letter’ by R. Yisrael Baal Shem and sent to his brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kitover.)

DOCUMENT 44/a:

B"H (Leaf 21)

Once, during the holy Shabbat morning (service), during the reading of the Torah, my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) revealed himself to me (R. Adam), in the synagogue.

And he told me that on (that) Motzaei Shabbat, immediately after Havdalah, I should (be ready) to travel with him to the holy community of Lvov.

And…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 45/a:
B”H (Leaf 22)

...immediately after Havdalah he (Achiya haShiloni) came to me, to my house, and told me that the wagon was ready to travel.

And he told me to specifically travel in my holy Shabbat clothes, as I was (already) wearing.

And I (additionally) put on my overcoat…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 46/a:
B”H (Leaf 23)

...and we sat in the wagon. My holy teacher and rabbi sat on my right but did not speak to me at all.

All (he did, was to tell) the wagon driver to travel.

And the distance (from my home) to Lvov was about 70 Parsaot.

And immediately after starting the journey, my holy teacher and rabbi told me to sing a certain melody (about) ‘Eliyahu (haNavi)’.

As soon as I had completed the melody…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 47/a:
B”H (24)

...we (had already) arrived at the holy community of Lvov (at an inn).

And I was in wonder as this was the first time I had witnessed Kefitzat haDerech (‘the shrinking of the way’) in actuality.

And my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) said to me (R. Adam) in the (following) words:  “(My) child, why is this surprising to you? Do you know who the wagon driver is?

If you knew who he…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 48/a:
B”H (Leaf 25)

…was, you would have sat in the wagon in fear and trepidation - as I did.

After that, my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) gave me permission to drink a cup of hot (beverage) on (that) Motzaei Shabbat Kodesh.

And the innkeepers gave me a cup of hot (beverage) and I drank.

And then my holy teacher and rabbi…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 49/a:
B"H (Leaf 26)

…(began) walking from east to west (throughout) the room, and continued to pace up and down for two hours - and (throughout that time) he did not talk to me at all - except that, without exaggeration, his holy face that burned like a pillar of fire.

I (just) stood in my place like a marble (statue) and did not move to the right or left...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 50/a:


B”H (Leaf 27)

...Then, suddenly, the door opened and an old man of very large stature, entered.

And my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) walked over to him, and took hold of his holy garment and said in the following words:

“Welcome to R. Eliezer (father of R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov) who merited to have a son who is one in a generation...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

UNNUMBERED DOCUMENT:
B"H (Leaf 28)

…(both in this) lower world as well as in all (the supernal) worlds.

Sit down Rav Eliezer!”

And the Rabbi Eliezer answered (Achiya haShiloni):

“Our holy master, teacher and rabbi (surely) knows that I am no longer from this world.

- And (in the other world) there is no sitting or standing etc.”

And my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) answered him (R. Eliezer)...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 52/a:
B"H (29)

...in the following words:

“Did not the angels, when they descended to earth and were with Avraham Avinu, also eat - in keeping (with the adage) that one should not depart (from the custom of the place)?”

(So) R. Eliezer sat down.

And my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya hsShiloni) asked him what he requested.

And R. Eliezer answered in the following words...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 53/a:
B”H (Leaf 30)

…“My petition and request is (that), because it has (already been) some time that my son, the hidden (mystic) Yisraelikel[3] is not giving me any rest.

Almost every day he tells me that our honorable and holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) tells him to reveal himself, and has even designated the time (for the revelation).

But he (my son)...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 54/a:
B"H (Leaf 31)

...unfortunately does not want to (reveal himself).

Ask he (R. Yisrael) asks me to request of you (Achiya haShiloni, to leave him alone) - and (now) perhaps my (request) to you will be effective.”

Thus far (were) the words of R. Eliezer (to Achiya haShiloni at the inn).

(R. Adam now continues the narrative:)

My holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) responded (to R. Eliezer) in the following words:

“Should he (your son R. Yisrael) bother you another time, then tell him in my name…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

………..................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 55/a:
B"H (Leaf 32)

...that he must become revealed because thus has the Heavenly Court already decreed.

And should he not reveal himself, then he has nothing to do in this world, G-d forbid.

(This is) because…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 56/a:
B"H (33)

…his entire purpose for coming into this world is to reveal himself and to spread the fountains (of his teachings) to the outside (world).”

He (Achiya haShiloni) then pointed to me (R. Adam) and said in the following words:

“And he, Adam, knows the whole story as to why he (R. Yisrael) came into this world…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 57/a:
B”H (Leaf 34)

…and in (the fullness of) time, I (Achiya haShiloni) will give permission to my student Adam, may he live, to reveal the entire incident (to R. Yisrael - informing him that he is in fact the reincarnation of that humble Jew from Safed), from the beginning to the end.

Through this (disclosure) he (R. Yisrael) will understand that I (Achiya haShiloni) am right (in putting pressure on him to reveal himself)...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 58/a:
B"H (Leaf 35)

...And (he will also understand) that my (other) student, Mordechai haTzadik, n"y, is (also) right.

And (furthermore, you R. Adam must) tell him (R. Yisrael), in my name, that should he not reveal himself (then) he shall no longer see my face (as I shall no longer visit him).”

Thus far the words of my (R. Adam’s) holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni).

And (then suddenly) R. Eliezer of blessed memory, vanished and disappeared.

And I (R. Adam, remained) standing…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 59/a:
B"H (Leaf 36)

...in wonder and amazement at all that I had seen with my eyes on that Motzaei Shabbat - which was truly awesome and wondrous.

And after (this incident), my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) told me to make a Melave Malkah (a festive meal in honor of the departure of the Shabbat) - and (thereafter) he sent me (on my way) back home - and he remained in Lvov because he (still) had (work) to do there…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

UNNUMBERED DOCUMENT:
B"H (Leaf 37)

...And I (R. Adam) responded to my holy teacher and rabbi that I was fearful of travelling alone at night.

And he answered me in the following words:

“Do not fear anyone except the Holy One blessed be He and (according to Pesachim 22b the word ‘et’ comes) to include the scholarly rabbis.

And immediately after the feast of the Melave Malkah, my holy teacher and rabbi took hold of me with his hands - and came out with me into the street, and behold there was the wagon that we had travelled in,  together with the holy wagon driver…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 61/a:


B”H (38)

...who was standing ready (to leave).

And my teacher and rabbi blessed me (with the) Priestly Blessing.

And he made me sit in the wagon.

And we journeyed.

And the holy (wagon driver) made the horses gallop.

He did not talk to me at all.  And I too sat and remained silent during the twenty minutes (of the journey).

And then I (found myself back) in my city at one hour after midnight (on that) Motzaei Shabbat…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 62/a:
B"H (Leaf 39)

… And then on (the following) Monday my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) appeared (again) to me and told me that his holy heart was troubled, lest and if the holy Nistar, R. Yisrael, n"y, would not, G-d forbid, reveal himself.

And my holy teacher and rabbi had already decided to inform you (R. Yisrael) through your father (R. Eliezer) of blessed memory, that you (R. Yisrael) would not see him (Achiya haShiloni) again from that time on…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

……....................................................................................................................................................

UNNUMBERED DOCUMENT:
B"H (leaf 40)

...until (and on condition upon) your revelation.

Therefore, my holy teacher and rabbi instructed me to inform you (R. Yisrael) - because upon me the matter depended – that I inform (you) the abovementioned holy hidden (mystic) R. Yisrael, n"y. (I.e. that you, R. Yisrael, will no longer be visited by Achiya haShiloni).

And (the problem is that) I don't know and am unaware of your whereabouts, and where you are situated.

And (the other problem is that) my holy teacher and rabbi has (also) vanished from me.

So, therefore, (not having any other solution) I have decided in my heart to travel to the holy community of Risha, where…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 64/a:
B"H (Leaf 41)

...my (other) dear friend, the holy Rabbi Mordechai the Tzadik, n"y, is to be found.

And he most certainly will know where your, the above mentioned R. Yisrael’s, honorable and holy (hiding) place is.

(So) I travelled to the holy community of Risha and low and behold, by reasons (only known) by Heaven, he (R. Mordechai) had already left (Risha) and (had gone to) the country of Germany.

So now I also don't know where his - the holy R. Mordechai the Tzadik’s - holy place is either...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 65/a:
B"H (Leaf 42)

…The fact of the matter is that everything I have determined to do in order to establish the whereabouts of your (hiding) place, honorable and holy one, n"y, has been in vain.

I (therefore) realized that this (must be) the word (will) of G-d and that He must be directing this through Providence, which is hidden and concealed from man and only revealed to Him…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 66/a:
B"H (Leaf 43)

...So I (R. Adam) waited for my holy rabbi and teacher (Achiya haShiloni) to appear to me but my hope was in vain.

Months passed and I did not see him.

So I began to travel from place to place and from village to village in search of (you) the above-mentioned holy Nistar, R. Yisrael.

I searched but did not find you.

Eventually, I decided to withdraw from the matter because before G-d, blessed be He,…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 67/a:
B"H (Leaf 44)

...it is clear and certain, that with all my 248 limbs and my 365 sinews (an expression for ‘my entire being’) I was totally committed with great dedication to fulfilling the instruction of my holy teacher and rabbi.

However, (now) I resolutely realize that it is from Heaven that I am not (destined) to see you face to face.

What more can I do?

So I decided to…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 68/a:
B”H (45)

...return to my home and what will be will be.

All is for good, for I see the hand of G-d in this (matter) and from Him comes no bad only ‘the good’.

The suddenly, one night while I was sleeping at the inn, I saw my honorable and holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) in a dream and he said to me in the following words:

“I see,…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 69/a:
B"H (Leaf 46)

...Adam, that it is from Heaven that the two of you (R. Adam and R. Yisrael) are prevented from getting together.

The reason for this is known only to the Infinite One, whom no thought can grasp at all. And He is the Cause of all causes.

Therefore, my advice to you is…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 70/a:

B"H (Leaf 47)

...that you should put everything down in your own handwriting and give (the writings) to your son - and he himself will be able, G-d willing, to be successful in (locating R. Yisrael and) handing over the writings to him.”

And he (Achiya haShiloni) again….

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 71/a:
B"H (48)

...repeated (his suggestion) to me.

Then he disappeared.

I woke up (from the dream) and immediately continued travelling until G-d, blessed be He, brought me (back) to my home safely - where I, thank G-d, found my family together and alive and well.

I immediately began to write (the writings and this letter) and it…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 72/a:
B"H (Leaf 49)

...took about a week for me to complete all the writings[4] and (these two) important stories (contained within) my letter (addressed) to you, honorable and holy one (R. Yisrael), may you live.

And (then) I handed (them all) over to my dear son, the son of my heart, may he live, (in order that) he continue to search for you, honorable and holy one, n"y...

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 73/a:
B"H (Leaf 50)

...And my son, may he live, left on his journey which took two months.

And he returned (unsuccessful because) he could not find you, honorable and holy one, y"n.

Then I decided (once more) in my heart to leave the matter (of attempting to find you) alone, for various reasons, and (I determined that) what will be will be because I am not responsible, G-d forbid, in this (endeavour of trying to find you).

(Furthermore) I did all within my capability…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 74/a:
B"H (51)

...And then my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni) appeared to me and told me that he was unable, under any circumstances, to reveal to me where your (hiding) place is, honorable and holy one (R. Yisrael), may you live.

The only (hint he could give) was that you were secluding yourself on a daily basis amongst the mountains around the holy community of Kitov.

Consequently, his (only further) faithful advice was that I send….

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…….....................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 75/a:
B"H (Leaf 52)

…all the writings once more, through (the agency) of my son, may he live. And my son, n"y, will hide them under a (certain) stone, amongst the mountains which surround the holy community of Kitov.

This way, with G-d’s help, they (the writings) will surely reach your holy hand.

I was very happy (with this advice) and I had complete faith that, G-d willing…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 76/a:
B"H (Leaf 53)

...I would be successful in this (matter).
And that through this I would be able to fulfil the instruction of my honorable and holy teacher and rabbi.

So I gave all the writings, including (this letter containing) the two essential stories, over to my son’s hand, and I have now sent them (in order that they be) hidden under the stone amongst the above-mentioned mountains.

And my constant (sincere) prayer…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 77/a:
B"H (Leaf 54)

...to G-d, blessed be He, is for you (R. Yisrael) to find (these writings) there (under the rock) - and (that you) fulfil all that is written in them as instructed by (our) honorable and holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni, namely): that you reveal (yourself) and purify the world and all that fills it, with your holy lips (i.e. teachings).

And then (will be fulfilled the prophecy) that: “All the earth will be filled with the knowledge of G-d.”[5]

And through (your revelation) will the redemption be quickened…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 78/a:
B”H (Leaf 55)

...speedily and in our days. Amen, so may it be (G-d’s) will.

As for my insignificant self, even though I do not know you (as we have never met), I request of you, honorable and holy one, may you live, that you do not, G-d forbid, refuse (this instruction from Achiya haShiloni) - as this is indeed the will of (G-d) blessed (be He).

This being the case, what difference does it make either way (for you, whether you remain in hiding or whether you reveal yourself) you will still fulfil the desires of G-d, blessed be He…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 79/a:
B"H (Leaf 56)

…(This is) particularly so, since according to the Kabbalah of our holy master, teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni), the (future) rectification of all of Israel depends on it (i.e. your revelation) - as does the rectification of the (entire) world. Enough said.

From the beloved of your soul, who is bound to you with great bonds of much love and strong (feelings of) compassion - even though I have never met you,

Adam Baal Shem Tov from Ropshitz.

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................


NOTE: - Thus far the letter which R. Yisrael Baal Shem Tov received from R. Adam Baal Shem, and which he copied leaf by leaf and sent to his brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kittover.

Now R. Yisrael continues the writing, this time in his own words, to his brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kitover. He continues to adopt the leaf by leaf format:


DOCUMENT 80/a:
B"H (Leaf 57)

Therefore I (R. Yisrael) have copied for you (R. Gershon), letter for letter, the two awesome stories (recorded in R. Adam’s letter to me) exactly as it was written and (exactly according to its) language, from the (original) holy handwriting of the holy man of G-d, etc, our teacher the rabbi, R. Adam Baal Shem Tov - which I found under a certain rock amongst the mountains, about a month after he (R. Adam’s son) hid them (there).

And now I shall begin…

(Another leaf from my teacher R. Adam Baal Shem Tov as copied by myself,) your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 81/a:
B"H (Leaf 58)

...to reveal how I found them.

And certainly you, honorable and holy one, my brother-in-law, n”y, will drink your fill of grace (from this story) because great and awesome causes were affected for me to have found them, with the help of G-d blessed be He.

Behold, once on a Sunday morning, when I came to…(the name of the place has become illegible due to the age of the original document), as was my custom in order to meditate (Hitboded in Hebrew) there amongst the mountains close to Kitov…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 82/a:
B"H (Leaf 59)

Behold, a certain non-Jewish shepherd (Voliach?) was herding his flock on a particular mountain - and when he saw me sitting on a rock amongst the mountains, he called out to me loudly; “Poni Poni”, which in his language is; “Mr Mr”, and (beckoned) that I go over to him…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 83/a:
B"H (Leaf 60)

…And I realized that he was calling to me to him for some urgent matter.

And I walked over to him on the mountain and he said to me in the following words in the language of Voliach?

“ys[6], during the (last) month while I was herding the flock on the top of the mountain I saw a certain Jewish man arrive between the two mountains…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 84/a:
B"H (Leaf 61)

…and he was looking for a certain place between the large rocks which rest here.

And he took from his sack a bundle of many papers and hid them under a large rock, which I will show you.

And (all this time) he was unaware that I was watching him.

And then he went…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 85/a:
B"H (62)

...on his way.

However, (in truth) he only went (away) a (short) distance and sat (and waited) on a(nother) rock.

I didn't know he was (still there) sitting and watching and I had only assumed that he had gone on his way.

So I came down the mountain and went to the place where he had hidden the papers, and I rolled (away) the stone and attempted to take them (the papers)...

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 86/a:
B"H (Leaf 63)
...But the Jew saw and was watching - and started shouting out to me in a loud voice that I not touch them (the papers) - and started approaching me.

And I was overcome with great fear and trepidation and ran to the top of the mountain, to the pasture land, and he (followed and) came after me to the (top of) the mountain…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 87/a:
B"H (Leaf 64)

...and said to me in the following words:

 ‘Know that these papers are… (The original text is illegible due to its age) holy.

And any hand that touches them, besides the rabbi Yisraeli, who secludes himself in these places, shall wither.

Therefore, I warn you not to touch them, and (I charge you with the responsibility) to ensure that no one else touches them either…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 88/a:

B"H (Leaf 65)

...I ask you that if you perhaps know that rabbi Yisreali, you inform him of all this, and show him the place where (these papers) are resting, under the rock.

And for your (effort) I shall give you 50 Polish Grash.’

He gave me (the money) and behold up to this day I have not seen you. And now, having seen you, I am revealing to you…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

…......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 89/a:
B"H (66)

...all the above.

And if we descend to the valley, I shall show you the hiding place and the stone.”

-Thus far the words of the shepherd.

Then immediately the two of us descended the mountain and he (the shepherd) showed me the (hiding) place.

And I rolled away the stone and found that all he (the shepherd) had told me was truthful...

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 90/a:
B"H (Leaf 67)

...And I also gave him 50 Polish Grash for his effort.

And I told him not to mention any of this to any human being.

Behold, when I read the holy writings I enjoyed them immensely.

However, my holy brother-in-law (Note: Remember these leaves were copied by R. Yisrael and sent to his brother-in-law, R. Gershon Kitover), when I read the two stories (contained herein) the hairs on my head stood up…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 91/a:
B"H (Leaf 68)

...for I am not comfortable with this at all, that I should reveal myself and take on such a weighty matter like this, to elevate Klal Yisrael…(The original text is illegible due to its age) to the root of its Nefesh, Rauch, Neshama (designations for spiritual attributes of the soul) - for who am I?

Surely there are greater…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 92/a:
B"H (Leaf 69)

...and better (candidates) than me, without a doubt.

But, my very dear and beloved brother-in-law, what can I do, since the matter has come from G-d, may he be blessed.

And particularly since my honorable and holy teacher and rabbi (probably a reference to Achiya haShiloni) agrees with this…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 93/a:
B"H (70)

…and (Achiya haShiloni) further made a holy pronouncement that he will not appear to me until I listen to the word of G-d who speaks from his throat.

Therefore I decided in my heart to reveal (myself to the world)...

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 94/a:
B"H (71)

...But there is one condition (and that is): That you, holy and honorable one (R Gershon Kitover), y”n, join with me in a partnership (and stand with me) on that day (that I reveal myself).

Without this (support from you) it is impossible, under any circumstances in the world (for me to do this)...

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 95/a:
B"H (Leaf 72)

...Therefore I await your speedy and holy response (confirming) which day and which place (we will join for the announcement). For not all times and places are (auspiciously) the same…

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 96/a:
B"H (Leaf 73)

…I know for an absolute certainty, that I shall (have to endure) accusers and denounces (who will) oppose my revelation.

But by G-d I have been promised that they (the detractors) shall fall like straw before the holy wind of my holy teacher and rabbi (Achiya haShiloni).

Your brother-in-law, Yisrael from Telust.

….......................................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 97/a:
B"H (Leaf 74)

...From me, your brother-in-law, who is embarrassed by my deeds, (and) who is humbled and crushed (in the face of) the fear of the (larger) community - Enough said - who requests your well-being constantly and awaits your speedy (response) in writing from your holy hand:

Yisrael of Telusk.

(P. S.: Send) through your agency, greetings to all the members of your household, may they live.

……………............................................................................................................................................



THE SECRET WRITINGS:

What follows are more letters from the Cherson Geniza, relating to the ‘secret writings’:





DOCUMENT 210/a:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to his son informing him of the existence of a certain holy Nistar (hidden mystic) called Yisrael. The father asks his son to locate R. Yisrael and to tell him to journey to Eretz Yisrael, Additionally, he should also tell him that he has 48 sheets of unspecified writings for him:



B”H
Friday (Parshat) Miketz 5491 (1731)

To my dear beautiful son, righteous and wholehearted, may you live:

I have received your letter and wish to inform[7] you that there is certainly a holy Nistar (hidden mystic), whose name is: our teacher the rabbi, Rabbi Yisrael.

However, I do not know where he is and I have (unspecified) writings in my possession (which I need to) give over to his holy hand.

Because this I have been commanded (to do) by the mouth of the Powerful One.

Therefore, hearken to my voice (and) search after him. And if you (happen to) find him, inform him that (I have) in my possession[8] (some) holy writings.

Inform him (R. Yisrael) of my place (of domicile).

As a good sign (or courtesy), give over to him the (following) statement from the holy Zohar, from Parshat Chayei Sarah: “Come and see: When Israel (an allusion to Israel Baal Shem Tov) was in the Holy Land, they were able to draw down (spiritual) paths from above (heaven) to below (earth). Etc.

Therefore, in my view, he (R. Yisrael) should set his mind (on travelling to) the Holy Land.

Thus shall you give over to the holy (Nistar, R. Yisrael).

From your father,

Adam Baal Shem Tov from Ropshitz.

(P. s.:) Inform him that I have in my possession, 48 sheets for him.

…………...............................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 20/c:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem Tov to the Baal Shem Tov, whom he hadn't met, informing him that he had handed over unspecified writings and secrets to unnamed individuals who would transfer them to him:



B”H
Wednesday (Parshat) Matot 5491 (1731)

To the Holy Rabbi, who descended from Heaven to shine, and to shine on earth and on those who dwell upon it, a Pillar of Fire, our Teacher and Rabbi, Yisrael, son of the Rabbi, Rabbi Eliezer, may you live, from Akop:

You should know that all the secrets and the writings, I have handed over (to unspecified individuals to give to) you.

And I have made them (the unspecified individuals) swear, that (the secrets and writings) shall reach only you.

I do not know you[9].

But your teacher, the Baal Chay[10] of blessed memory, Achiya haShiloni, informed me that I must hand over all the secrets only to you.

The general matter[11] (is as follows):

Without you, the world would be destroyed, Heaven forefend.

But because, as it states: “no one will be left behind”[12] - and in your merit, since you (spiritually) purify the air of the world - you maintain its existence.

G-d created (the world) and you maintain it. The sign (that this is true is the statement) “And a tzadik is the foundation of the world.”[13]

From the one who loves your soul and blesses you with all good. Sela.

Adam Baal Shem Tov from Ropshitz.

………………..........................................................................................................................................

DOCUMENT 52/c:

Letter from R. Adam Baal Shem to the Baal Shem Tov asking him to inform him of his hiding place:



B”H
Sunday (Parshat) Noach 5492 (1732).

To the Holy Rabbi, Mr Yisrael, the Pure[14] Nistar (Hidden Mystic).

Make known to me where your (hiding) place is.

Even your teacher (Achiya haShiloni) has hidden your (hiding) place from me.

How can this be?

Adam from Ropshitz, known as Baal Shem Tov.

..........................................................................................................................................................






[1] This would, most likely, be a reference to Achiya haShiloni. This is significant because here we see that R. Adam Baal Shem Tov was also taught, apparently, by this mystical prophet who had lived in the times of King Solomon.
[2] This is a reference to the Kabbalistic concept of ‘Shevirat haKeilim’ or ‘Broken Vessels.
[3] A term of endearment for Yisrael, the Baal Shem Tov.
[4] There appears to have been other writings in addition to the ‘two stories’ contained in this letter of 76 leaves. See also Document 76/a.
[5] Chabakkuk 2:14
[6] I am unsure what this abbreviation stands for.
[7] The text probably should read ve’lehevey, which literally means ‘and let it’ - be known to you. (The last ‘vav’ should probably read as a yud’.)
[8] T"y is an abbreviation for tachat yadi, which literally means ‘under my hand’.
[9] This is interesting because according to the date of this letter the Baal Shem Tov would have been about 31 years old, and had not yet met R. Adam Baal Shem, whom he calls his ‘Teacher’. In fact, according to the letters, it appears the two never ever met.
[10] An expression used to describe Achiya haShiloni.
[11] Another reading could be ‘the bottom line is:’
[12] Samuel II 14:14.
[13] Proverbs 10:25.
[14] The assumption is that the ‘tet’ is an abbreviation for ‘tahor’ which means pure.