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7 Meshullam Feibush and the Maggid of Mezeritch As we have seen in the preceding chapters, one of the major sources for Meshullam Feibush's teachings is R. Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezeritch. The Maggid is identified as a disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov, the founder of the lineage whose teachings Meshullam Feibush upholds. Moreover, Dov Ber is clearly identified as one of the greatest Zaddiqim, who has perfected the quality of detachment from corporeality, attained experiential knowledge of God, and attained true devequt. Nevertheless, Meshullam Feibush differs with Dov Ber in his presentation of several key issues. Since the establishment of Hasidism in Galicia during the last two decades of the eighteenth century is generally attributed to the efforts of Dov Ber's disciples, the question of Meshullam Feibush's relationship to Dov Ber is an important one. In this chapter, we shall examine Meshullam Feibush's attitude towards the Maggid's teachings. The teachings which Meshullam Feibush attributes to Dov Ber may be divided into two general categories, those which are familiar from other sources and those which cannot at present be located in other collections. Three cases of the latter appear in our text. In one case, Meshullam Feibush refers to a teaching he has found in the manuscripts. And in truth it is written in the new writings of the Rav, Rabbi Dov Ber ... which are in my possession, that the indication that a prayer has found some favor before God is submission (hakl111a'ah), i.e., if submission remains in the heart after prayer, this is called the reshimu (imprint) of the prayer which is mentioned in the Lurianic writings .. .1 In view of the fact that Meshullam Feibush explicitly cites the manuscripts as the source of this teaching, it is surprising that it does not appear in any of the extant collections of Dov Ber's teachings. While an interpretation of the Lurianic concept of the reshimu does appear in several of Dov Ber's extant teachings, it is not to be found with this particular meaning.2 While it is difficult to rule out this teaching as authentic, it is important to note that Dov Ber's teachings do contain other criteria for determining the 164 Uniter of Heaven and Earth quality of one's prayer. These criteria tend to emphasize what occurs during the experience of prayer itself rather than its aftermath. For example, the uninterrupted character of devequt during prayer is emphasized.3 Meshullam Feibush's selection of the criterion of submission (hakhna'ah) after prayer rather than the quality of devequt during prayer is consistent with the general orientation of his teachings. His writings are directed to individuals whom he feels are incapable of fulfilling the extreme demands of Dov Ber's teachings. Thus, he emphasizes the effort to subdue one's desires and external interests and to direct one's thoughts toward God, rather than the various aspects of higher contemplative experience. The success of this effort during prayer is evident in the state of humility that remains even when the prayer has been completed. Also attributed to Dov Ber is a teaching concerning devequt which involves an interpretation of a verse that does not appear elsewhere. This teaching emphasizes the efficacy of devequt as an essential means for both subduing desires and repenting transgressions. And as the holy Rabbi, our Teacher and Master, Dov Ber ... said, this is the meaning of the verse, "YHVH is good for alI."4 It means that it is beneficial for a person to flee from every problem (Ie-kiwI davar) and to bring himself near to God. If he wishes to subdue his desires and [negative] qualities, it is only possible through accustoming himself and compelling his thought to cleave to God. Even if he is not able [to do so], nevertheless it is good [to make the effort]. Or, [in the case ofj one who wishes to turn from transgressions that he has committed ,. it is all [accomplished] through drawing near (hitqarevut) to God ...5 Although a comment on this particular verse does not seem to exist among the extant writings of Dov Ber, nevertheless the teaching that appears here does contain certain basic ideas that are readily found in his teachings. The association of repentance and devequt appears, for example in Maggid Devarav le-Ya'aqov: "one who repents requires awe and intimacy (hitqasherut) with the Creator, and above all, repentance is in the heart."6 As...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781438409658
Related ISBN
9780791438176
MARC Record
OCLC
42855920
Pages
309
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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