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The Legend of the Baal-Shem Paperback – May 7, 1995


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Frequently Bought Together

The Legend of the Baal-Shem + Tales of the Hasidim: Book One: The Early Masters and Book Two: The Later Masters (v. 1-2) + I And Thou
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Product Details

  • Series: Mythos
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (May 7, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691043892
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691043890
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #657,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"The Legend of the Baal-Shem is not only a compilation of stories about the founder of modern Hasidism, but also acts as a key to help demystify the deep mystical tradition of Judaism. For those who like stories that reflect a piece of recent history, this is a good collection."--The Inner Directions Journal

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By benjamin on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Buber begins the book by giving an introduction to the Hasidim, the ultra-orthodox, mystically inclined branch of Judaism founded by Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, a.k.a. the Baal-Shem Tov (which literally means "master of the good name" = master of God's name). Buber then proceeds to relate 20 stories/legends about the Baal-Shem's life and teaching, followed by a glossary of the key terms in the book.
The wonderful thing about this book is its beautiful, poetic simplicity. The language is poetic, and the stories are profound because they show that in the middle of the 1700's, God became a vibrant, living reality to a group of common folk in eastern Europe. "God desires the heart," taught the Baal-Shem.
On a personal note, this book opened my eyes to a side of both life and God that I have never seen before. Live life with joy and humility, live it deeply and with passion. God rejoices and dances with us in our joy.
"God desires the heart." How simple, yet how utterly profound.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By "krchicago" on November 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Martin Buber (1878 - 1965) was a German Jewish philosopher-theologian and one of the most original and influential thinkers of the 20th Century. In this work, he does not set forth his own theology so much as trace one of its roots. "The [Hasidic] legend is the myth of I and Thou [the title of Buber's most famous work], of the caller and the called, the finite which enters into the infinite and the infinite which has need of the finite." (13) Buber provides a brief introduction and an essay on the spiritual life of the Hasidim (both written in somewhat difficult, mystical language), but the bulk of this book is Buber's retelling of 20 stories from the life of the Ba'al Shem Tov. The stories are beautiful, told in simple and direct language, and convey the lessons that the Ba'al Shem taught (or was taught -- the Ba'al Shem occasionally errs himself and has to be guided back to the correct path). The lessons are about living with dedication, uniting with God in joy, overcoming the evil impulse, and finding the holy in everything around us. Greet the day which enchains thee . . . art thou not already freed?
These stories are for everyone who is interested in the mystical experience. You will need to have some basic background in Kabbala to understand some aspects of some of the stories (the chapter on Kabbala in Barry Holtz' "Back to the Sources" is probably enough), and you may want to review the Glossary before starting on the stories if you are not familiar with basic Jewish religious terms. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
Buber is the Jewish teacher who more than any other helped bring the attention of the West to Hasidism. The Baal Shem Tov (1700-1760)is the founding teacher of Hasidism. In this work Buber tells twenty stories of the Baal Shem and reveals to us a world of deep faith, of deep connection of the Jew with nature and all creation, of the special hitlahavut or enthusiasm which the Hasid brings in his relation to the Divine. Buber is a Hasid of Hasidism, and he tells the stories of its great founder with the same kind of enthusiasm the movement itself generated throughout the Jewish world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James R. Starkey on August 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This classic by Martin Buber is really timeless. You can feel the inspiration tales of the Baal-Shem must have given future writers like; Shalom Aleichem, Singer, Potek and Buber himself. The tales are a little difficult to get your head around at first if you (like me) are not part of this world, but as I read on, the tales began to unfold like pieces to a puzzle. This book will be one I will want to read several times and later pick it up again some day like a favorite movie.
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