Friday, July 2, 2010

In the Footsteps of the Ba'al Shem Tov

"In the Footsteps of the Ba'al Shem Tov" is a wonderful new exhibition that just opened at the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, at the Givat Ram campus.
It marks 250 years since the death of the Ba'al Shem Tov, the great mystic considered the founder of Hasidic Judaism, and 200 years since the passing of his great-grandson, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

For James' Weekend Reflections there is something reflected in this copy of Rabbi Nachman's kiddush cup.
And a man followed by a boy, walking outside, are reflected in duplicate in (and by?) the display case.
With a bit of reflection under it, this is a faithful copy of the original chair of Reb Nachman which was carved in about 1808.
For the amazing story of how it was saved from destruction, please see
It is told that shortly after the shohet of Teplik (in the Ukraine) finished carving the chair and presented it to Nachman as a gift, that night Reb Nachman dreamed (or had a vision) that someone brought him a throne, surrounded by fire.
Everyone, men, women, and children, came to see it. Engraved on that throne were all the world's creatures, along with their mates.
And as the people turned to go, bonds were formed between them and marriages were arranged at once, for each had been able to find his mate.
And in the dream Reb Nachman sat down on the chair, and all at once he found himself flying through the heavens, and before him he saw Jerusalem, glowing like a jewel in the distance. It was indescribably beautiful, and as he approached it, he woke up.
. . . And they told him he would be a matchmaker.


Boom Nisanart said...

Love the first one : )

Dr M said...

Thank you for this wonderful post! It reminds me of one of the Rabbi's sayings:

The world is new to us every morning--this is God's gift; and every man should believe he is reborn each day.
--Baal Shem Tov

Hilda said...

The story of the chair is wonderful, Dina! Again, thank you. You know I love stories. The carving of the chair itself is magnificent too.

Leif Hagen said...

Those are two amazing pieces of artwork! Such a "throne!"

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

You are such a wealth of Jewish history. The story reminds me a little bit of Noah's Arc, the pairing up, but the element to overcome was water, as opposed to fire!!!


Kay said...

This is such a great story, Dina. That amazing chair is truly beautiful. It is in such excellent condition.

Ann said...

so much work had been done to crave such a beautiful chair.

VP said...

I can imagine dismantling the chair wasn't easy, but restoring it after all those years was probably even more difficult.

Anonymous said...

This guy had it all.

I sometimes wonder what the archaeologists will dig up about me in 500 years? What can I leave here that would make them want to even look? I need some guidelines and wonder why you don't write a book about leaving a legacy with digging up.

Dina said...

Boom Nisanart shalom. Glad you like it.

Dr. M, thanks for that wonderful saying. It is great.

Hilda, thank YOU for reading. :)

Leif, such a throne is right!

Jan, two by two?
But I understood this fire around the chair to be a good, holy kind of fire.

Kay, you and Art could have restored that chair, with all your experience.

Ann, yes, it was a labor of love of the shochat (the kosher butcher/slaughterer) for his beloved rabbi.

VP, I guess! I can't even imagine.

Abe, a good point to ponder.
Hmm, I am sure your legacy worth digging up will be (among many other works) your prolific blog posts. I hope CDs and computers will survive as well as the ostracons of old.

James said...

Very cool. The more I look the more reflections I see.

Pietro said...

Very beautiful reflection post, and informative too.

Louis la Vache said...

Dina, you continue to amaze and delight «Louis» with your informative posts. What a unique presentation of Weekend Reflections!