How A Simple Jew Saved A Town By His Pure Tehillim


In the days of the Baal Shem Tov, a certain Jewish community was once decreed to be destroyed, G-d forbid.

The Baal Shem Tov summoned two colleagues, tzaddikim nistarim (hidden tzaddikim), Reb Mordecai and Reb Kehot. Together, they would constitute a Beit Din (Jewish court) and could consider how to annul this terrible decree.

Frequently, the Baal Shem tov employed the services of these two men, sending Reb Kehot on particularly demanding assignments… The Baal Shem Tov performed aliyat haneshamah (ascent of the soul) and learned that the decree was final and could not be rescinded.

As he returned, passing the chambers in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden Above), he noticed one chamber suffused with an unusual brilliance.  This was the chamber belonging to a villager who said the entire Tehillim five times daily. The brilliance emanated from the sparkling words of his heartfelt Tehillim.

The Baal Shem Tov traveled to the home of this villager and asked him: “Would you sacrifice your share in the World to Come if you knew that you could save a Jewish community?”“If I have any share in the World to Come, I give it up,” was his immediate response.And so, the decree was summarily annulled.This villager said Tehillim continually – while chopping wood or doing any sot of work he kept on reciting Tehillim.

Quite conceivably since he was uneducted, he wasn’t scrupulous about his immediate environment and said Tehillim in places where one should not. But he didn’t know the din (law) and his intentions were pure so his Tehillim was effective. This purity of intention brings to mind the story of Rabbi Akiva, who heard someone reciting Shema but slightly mispronouncing the last word.

So, Rabbi Akiva explained to the untutored man the distorted meaning of his pronunciation. Now the poor fellow was in a dilemma. He could neither continue with his mistaken pronunciation nor could he master the proper one. Having no other choice, he simply stopped saying Shema.

This diminished the delight Above, the pleasure derived from the fellow’s way of saying Shema, since his intentions had been pure.We can infer from these stories the value of repeating words of Torah. Just imagine, a tradesman, a glazier lets say, awakens early in the morning, says his prayers, eats his breakfast, takes his glass and tool in hand, and goes out seeking some work to earn a few groschen (coins). If he would only repeat words of Torah while going about, he would illuminate every place he passed!


Shavuot* is the yahrzeit of two great luminaries, King David, author of the Book of Tehillim (Psalms) and the Baal Shem Tov.

*Shavuot is an appropriate time for a reminder about the importance of reciting Chitas and Shabbat Mevorchim Tehillim. The Previous Rebbe made the following statement as an introduction to this story:“Studying a passage of Chumash every day with the commentary of Rashi (reading the first Aliyah of the coming Shabbat on Sunday, the second on Monday, and so on), reciting the daily chapters of Tehillim every day, reciting the entire Book of Tehillim on Shabbat Mevarchim (the Shabbat that blesses the new Jewish month), these things must be carefully observed. Doing so impacts the individual, his children and his grandchildren.” – Hayom Yom 25th of Shevat

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