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The Baal Shem Tov taught that a sin in itself is only the bite of the snake. The real damage comes from the venom that spreads afterwards, saying, “What a worthless thing you are. Look what you’ve done! Now you’re really lost.”

With those few words, all the gates of hell open wide.

By Tzvi Freeman
From the wisdom of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory; words and condensation by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman. Subscribe and get your dose daily. Or order Rabbi Freeman’s book, Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, click here.
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Karin Kruger Oklahoma City, OK/USA January 2, 2018

Aftermath I took the time to watch eXtreme Weeding, as suggested by Rabbi Freeman on 9-16-08. I have always been a fan of Rabbi Infinity and KabbalaToons!

Besides the concept of weeding being an easily visualized metaphor, it also provides a solution - again in simple terms if one keeps weeding in mind.

The image of being bitten my a poisonous snake is also an excellent metaphor - the bite is bad, the spreading of poison into a body is worse.

This is an incredible start of a second new year! Reply

Marsha Agoura, ca January 2, 2018
in response to Karin Kruger:

Where can I find Xtreme weeding suggested by Rabbi Freeman??? Reply Staff January 2, 2018
in response to Marsha:

You can find it here Reply

Karin Kruger Oklahoma City, OK/USA January 2, 2018
in response to Marsha:

Marsha, I was going to tell you to scroll down in comments to the date I provided; that is why I posted the date. :-)

Todah rabah to the Chabad team for providing the answer! Reply

Marsha ca January 2, 2018
in response to Staff:

Thank you👍🏼 Reply

Marsha Agoura, ca January 2, 2018

I thought we didn’t believe in hell. Please cite a source of reference to the word. Reply

Tzvi Freeman January 2, 2018
in response to Marsha:

In Hebrew, it's called Gehinnom.

Here's a few references out of many: Kiddushin 4.14, Avot 1.5; 5.19, 20, Tosefta t. Bereshith 6.15, and Babylonian Talmud Rosh Hashanah 16b:7a; b. Bereshith 28b.

We have an article on the topic by Rabbi Aron Moss: Do Jews Believe in Hell Reply

Marsha ca January 2, 2018
in response to Tzvi Freeman:

Thank you👍🏼 Reply

Anonymous Montreal May 11, 2014

The Tree Yes, these are the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and less than. Just tasting the fruit brings the loss of being able to serve GOD with joy for a very long time. Reply

Tzvi Freeman May 4, 2014

Re: Hell and Heaven are not Judaic concepts. Classical sacred Jewish texts are replete with references to heaven and hell.

You can do a search on our site with the keywords "Heaven and Hell" Reply

S United Kingdom January 2, 2018
in response to Tzvi Freeman:

Respectfully Rabbi,

Why use these phrases if they are not part of Judaism?

Removing the final sentence, does not lessen the impact of what is being said. Reply

Benyamin Gerard Oakhurst, NJ May 4, 2014

Clarification you can find the sources at your local Chabad center in the book, as mentioned, put together by R. Freeman, "Bringing Heaven Down to Earth". The book and this saying are not R. Freeman's teachings, but teachings of the Baal Shem Tov brought down by the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Also, you can pick up the anecdotal, "The Scroll", at your Chabad center and online, advertised in the right hand of the screen, which contains many more of these and other columns. Reply

LR NY May 4, 2014

Hell and Heaven are not Judaic concepts. Is Hell a concept of Judaism!?

Just shows how outside influences mold perceptions. Reply

Daniel ben Tzvi Harold New York, NY December 29, 2011

Returning to Lesson. I too would love a source to that saying of the Besht. Is there one? Can someone please pass it along? I'd be most grateful. Reply

Anonymous September 8, 2011

Aftermath The Title says it All! Counting the cost. Expensive. Thank you for posting it. Reply

Anonymous, Phils. September 7, 2011

Daily Dose You quotation for the daily dose seemed too abstract for my simple mind. sometimes it is very hard for me to comprehend the real meaning. Maybe I would accept that I am less enligthened about the deepest meaning, however I do apreciate you sending me all these message. Thank you very much. More power to you. Regards Reply

Daniela Israel September 7, 2011

the name "daily dose" is perfect !!!!!!!!!! This "daily dose" is indeed my daily dose of strenght and inspiration and joy. Please do not stop !!! Reply

Anonymous w September 6, 2011

Rodin Rodin sculpted " The Gates of Hell ". You can see the large version in his garden ( Rodin Museum - Paris ) or a smaller version inside the gallery. In either instance a few feet away are the large and smaller version of " The Thinker ".

This article jogs my memory of the imagery in those stones: once you lay your eyes on Rodin's ultra ugly version of the gates of Hell, you see the abyss and are relieved to walk away. As thinkers we can get out of the internal living hell by various means, starting with Torah learning, mitzvot and prayer amongst others. Or as the Rabbi puts it, " get on with life ". Don't look back. Or as Bob Dylan's lyric goes, better to position yourself to " Knock on Heaven's Door. " Another song that has been sung by many a fine singer on solemn occasions is Leonard Cohen's " Hallelujah ". Lately, there have been some sensational and intriguing artworks accompanying R. Tzvi's columns.

Trick is to surround yourself with beauty, not ugliness. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL September 6, 2011

question Hi R' Tzvi,

I am please G_d doing a write-up on this topic.

Is there a source to that saying of the Besht?
It would be very helpful.
Thanks so much. Reply

Anonymous brooklyn, ny September 6, 2011

Aftermath "Commiting a transgression isn't the greatest
crime, after all temptation is a powerful force. The greatest crime is that you can turn your life around at any moment and choose not to do so".

Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P'shischa Reply

Tzvi Harold Kansas City, Missouri September 6, 2011

FORGIVING OURSELVES We should forgive ourselves after or during Teshuva; Some time! And go on and learn to do whats the next right thing.
After all if Hashem forgive us. Who are we not to forgive ourselves?! We connect with G-d through Torah and mitzvahs. Let's keep doing what we are doing. Reply

Anonymous September 6, 2011

close That bite from the snake sounds a bit like " Life is hard. Then you die. " Either way, you have to scrounge around for happiness/comfort and hope to find it before dire results confront/confound you. Reply

Anonymous September 17, 2008

thanks thank you for explaining that to me and all.. Reply

Tzvi Freeman Thornhill, Ontario September 16, 2008

Re: expand? In one word, it's called "guilt". Not the kind of guilt that propels you towards change and real growth, but the kind that just sits there and eats away at you, like a termite eats at the beams of a house until there is nothing left to hold it up and it simply collapses under its own weight.

So too, this gnawing sense of "what a failure I am" can rip a person apart from the inside.

What then should a person who has messed up do? Rather than sink further into preoccupation with himself, he should be getting out of his self and his habits. He should say, "Look, I failed. I'm human. Now I'm going to work harder so it doesn't happen again."

And then get on with life

See eXtreme Weeding. Reply

Anonymous manchester, uk September 16, 2008

expand? please can this be expanded upon? in what way are the gates of hell opened? why? what is this damage? this topic hits a nerve and i want to know more! Reply