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"Chai Elul" - the 18th day of the month of Elul - is the birthday, in 1648, of the founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. It is also the day on which his " spiritual grandson," the founder of Chabad, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was born, in 1745

Chai Elul

Chai Elul

Birth of a movement


"Chai Elul" — the 18th day of the Hebrew month of Elul — is a most significant date on the Chassidic calendar. The founder of Chassidism, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, was born on this date, in 1698. It is also the day, 36 years later, on which the Baal Shem Tov began to publicly disseminate his teachings, after many years as a member of the society of "hidden tzaddikim" during which he lived disguised as a simple innkeeper and clay-digger, his greatness known only to a very small circle of fellow mystics and disciples.

Elul 18 is also the birthday — in 1745 — of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, who often referred to himself as the Baal Shem Tov's "spiritual grandson" (Rabbi Schneur Zalman was the disciple of Rabbi Israel's disciple, Rabbi DovBer of Mezeritch). After gaining fame as a child prodigy and young Talmudic genius, Rabbi Schneur Zalman journeyed to Mezeritch to study under the tutelage of the Baal Shem Tov's successor—as he later explained, "to study I knew somewhat, but I needed to learn how to pray"--and was soon accepted into the intimate circle of Rabbi DovBer's leading disciples. Rabbi Schneur Zalman established the "Chabad" branch of Chassidism, which emphasizes in-depth study and intense contemplation as the key to vitalizing the entire person, from sublime mind to practical deed.

Who gave permission to reveal the secrets of millennia?
For millennia, these were secrets, only to be revealed to a select few. What changed that allowed the Baal Shem Tov to reveal them, and his student's disciple to open the floodgates?
A Chai Elul story
"Life" may be extremely difficult to define, but it is instantly recognizable
You existed before you were born, and you're not going to be doing anything useful for a while; so what, exactly, are we celebrating?
A culture of emotional comatoseness and lethargy plagued Jewish living, until the Baal Shem Tov inspired a mass “re-Jew-venation.”
Spiritually, we must internalize the balanced discernment of the mountain climber—simultaneously contented at seeing how far we’ve come and tenaciously eyeing the next mountain we must scale.
The 18th of Elul commemorates the birth of the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Shneur Zalman, both pioneers in revealing the secrets of the Kabbalah, which brought a new life and energy to Judaism.
The 18th of Elul is the birthday of two “great luminaries,” the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe. From the moment of birth, a person’s mission begins. He becomes an active force in the lives of others, and day by day his ability to interact with the world increases. Those blessed with exceptional spiritual capacities immediately radiate holiness around them; they are destined to elevate the world to remarkable divine heights.
The Baal Shem Tov, birthdays & real life
What does it mean to be a living being? How does that apply to the mission I’ve been assigned in life?
Video | 2:19
The Life of Elul
How the 18th of Elul enlivens a somber month
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vicki stone portland September 22, 2016

our son was born on Chai Elul, and we are very involved with our community's Chabad. in fact, today is his birthday (BH)! Reply