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Chabad: What Is Chassidus?

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Chabad: What Is Chassidus?

After his liberation from Czarist prison on the 19th of Kislev, 1798, the Alter Rebbe recounted that the souls of his masters, the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid of Mezritch, had visited him in prison, explaining that his ordeal on earth was the result of a decree against him in Heaven above, because of his widespread dissemination of Chasidic teachings. When he asked if he should stop teaching, his masters replied: “On the contrary. Your liberation from prison will be the Heavenly sign that you must not only continue, you must increase!”
Lubavitcher Rebbe, Chassidism, Kislev 19, Chabad-Lubavitch
Chabad: What Is Chassidus?
Disc 95, Program 379

Event Date: 4 Tevet 5746 - December 16, 1985

After his liberation from Czarist prison on the 19th of Kislev, 1798, the Alter Rebbe recounted that the souls of his masters, the Baal Shem Tov and Maggid of Mezritch, had visited him in prison, explaining that his ordeal on earth was the result of a decree against him in Heaven above, because of his widespread dissemination of Chasidic teachings. When he asked if he should stop teaching, his masters replied: “On the contrary. Your liberation from prison will be the Heavenly sign that you must not only continue, you must increase!”

Originally, the Chasidic masters offered the masses only small “drops” of secret Divine wisdom. But in the years leading up to his arrest, the Alter Rebbe introduced the intellectual approach to Chasidus: Chabad. The Zohar predicts that as Moshiach nears, people will be “sustained” by Kabbalah. When one uses the intellect to comprehend G-dliness, the knowledge of G-d becomes sustenance for the soul – the soul is “sustained” by it.

Maimonides rules that every Jew will ultimately become a Chasid. A Chasid is someone who studies G-dly wisdom in a way that it “sustains” him. And, Maimonides says, this will be the occupation of every Jew when Moshiach comes, for “The knowledge of G-d will fill the earth like water covers the sea.”

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