# 356 (s5764-50) 15 Elul 5764

A Simple But Good Inscription

"I expected regular angels," apologized the Baal Shem Tov to the tzadik Rabbi Yitzchak of Drohovitch, "not angels of fire."

A Simple But Good Inscription


It came to the attention of the tzadik, Rabbi Yitzchak of Drohovitch, that Rabbi Yisrael, the Baal Shem Tov ("Master of the Good Name"] was employing very powerful kameyos (amulets, often inscribed with the mystical names of G-d), and accomplishing healings and other miracles. Rabbi Yitzchak was extremely displeased at the use of the holy names, and he uttered the phrase, "He who makes use of the [the power of] holy names shall pass away." Immediately, the amulets, which had up to then been so effective, became totally useless.

Complaints about the inefficacy of his amulets reached the Baal Shem Tov's ears, and when he investigated, he discovered that R. Yitzchak's words had rendered them useless. So the Baal Shem Tov exerted his tremendous powers of concentration and caused R. Yitzchak to become confused as to which day of the week it was. At the time, R. Yitzchak was traveling and when he arrived in Medziboz, the town of the Baal Shem Tov, on Friday afternoon, he mistakenly thought it was Thursday. Being in no particular hurry, he prayed, had a bite to eat and lay down for a nap.

When he awoke, he was shocked to find the entire staff of the inn preparing for the holy Sabbath. "What is going on?" he inquired. "Why are you already prepared for Shabbat, when it's only Thursday afternoon?"
"No, you are mistaken, it is almost Shabbat," everyone assured him. But R. Yitzchak wouldn't believe them. Only when he went outside and saw the street filled with Jews running this way and that to finish their last-minute preparations for the holy day did he conclude that it was indeed Shabbat eve.
R. Yitzchak hurried back to the inn to quickly ready himself for the holy day, but his preparations were interrupted by a visitor - none other than the Baal Shem Tov himself!

"I beg of you to join me for Shabbat," the Baal Shem Tov implored, but R. Yitzchak declined, saying that the innkeeper had already prepared for him.
"Don't worry," said the Baal Shem Tov. "I have already spoken to the innkeeper, and he forgives your change in plans."
"But, I am accustomed on Shabbat to eat until I am completely satiated," R. Yitzchak objected. "I'm afraid you won't have enough food for me."
"Don't worry at all; I have prepared a lot of food," the Baal Shem Tov assured him. Finally, R. Yitzchak ran out of excuses, and had no choice but to accept the Baal Shem Tov's invitation.

When R. Yitzchak said he was accustomed to eat huge amounts, he wasn't exaggerating, for he fasted the entire week, from Shabbat to Shabbat. At the Shabbat meal he had an enormous silver platter, engraved with G-d's name, upon which he heaped food. Every week, after he recited the kiddush, he placed the laden platter before him and devoured everything served at each course.

When he finished the portion of food set before him at the Baal Shem Tov's Shabbat table, he reprimanded the Baal Shem Tov, saying, "You promised to serve me enough to fill myself, but I am still hungry and there is no food available!"
"I am truly sorry," replied the Baal Shem Tov. "I expected angels, but I did not anticipate serafim ("fiery angels" -- spiritual beings that "consume" everything in their path)!"

When the Sabbath ended, the Baal Shem Tov approached his guest and asked, "Why have you seen fit to remove the efficacy from my kameyos?"
"It is forbidden to make use of the holy names of G-d in such a manner," R. Yitzchak replied.
"You are mistaken, for I do not use the holy names. All I write in my amulets is my own name - Yisroel ben Sara."

R. Yitzchak was shocked; he found such a statement difficult to believe. It was only when the Baal Shem Tov opened one of the amulets and showed it to R. Yitzchak that the tzadik could believe that such extraordinary healings and other miracles could result from amulets that did not contain the holy names of G-d. He was so overwhelmed by this discovery that he at once restored the potency to the kameyos, saying, "Alm-ghty G-d, if such wonders can come from the name of this man alone, why should You mind?"

[Adapted by Yrachmiel Tilles from the rendition of his friend
Tzvi Meir Cohn on www.baalshemtov.com]

Biographical note:
Rabbi Yisrael, the Baal Shem Tov ["master of the good Name"], a unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the Chassidic movement and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He passed away on the festival of Shavuot in 1760. He wrote no books, although many claim to contain his teachings. One available in English is the excellent annotated translation of Tzava'at Harivash, published by Kehos. An ongoing online translation of Sefer Baal Shem Tov can be found on www.baalshemtov.com.
Rabbi Yitzchak of Drohovitch-a leading kabbalist in his generation and father of R. Yechiel Michel Zlotchov (1731-1786), became a major disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. He first went to the Besht as a boy with his father.


Yrachmiel Tilles is co-founder and associate director of Ascent-of-Safed, and editor of Ascent Quarterly and the AscentOfSafed.com and KabbalaOnline.org websites. He has hundreds of published stories to his credit.

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