A man who makes efforts to cleave to God has no time to think of unimportant matters; when he constantly serves the Creator, he has no time to be vain…. If a man should suddenly be faced by a beautiful woman, or by any other of the fair and lovely objects of this world, he should immediately think to himself: Where does this beauty come from, if not from the divine power which permeates the world? It follows that the source of this beauty is on high. Why, then, should I be drawn after a part? It would be better for me to be drawn after the All, the Source and Root of all partial beauty. When a man tastes something good and sweet, he should realize that the sweetness on high is the power which sustains it. Perception of any good quality is an experience of the Eternal, praised be He. — from The Testament of Israel Baal-Shem Tov


Rabbi Israel Baal-Shem Tov (1698–1760) was a Jewish mystic and founder of Hasidic Judaism. Through his scholarship and his saintliness, Rabbi Israel eventually won over a larger and larger following — especially among influential rabbis of the time. Hasidism sees existence as a manifestation of the Divine Being; therefore, all human activity, not just what was prescribed by The Law, should be undertaken in the spirit of worship. While he left no written works behind, The Testament of Israel Baal-Shem Tov, published 33 years after his death, is a compilation of his teachings.

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