Despite the best efforts of spirited Magidim, preachers who attempted to inspire and influence the populace, because of the lingering effects of the Chmielnicki massacres and the Shabbtai Tzvi heresy, mid eighteenth century Eastern Europe, especially in the Ukraine and Podolia, was in the throes of a steep spiritual decline, a virtual Dark Age. This age, however, also produced the antidote for much of its ills in the form of a man who went on to launch a great spiritual revolution, giving hope and meaning to millions of Jews to this day, and reinvigorating a Jewry that, in many areas, was on the brink of spiritual disintegration. His name was Rav Yisrael ben Eliezer, or Yisrael Baal Shem Tov, the Possessor of the Good Name, the Besht, for short. His life and teachings are the subject of this lecture.
Click the Play button for an excerpt of this lecture
Click Here for a preview of the included handout (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)