Circle of the Baal Shem Tov

The is the second entry in which we are using multiple people and the 18th (half way marker) towards the discovery of #The36. The concept of “The Circle” comes from a book written by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. He explores a few men who were close, even if adversely,¬† to the Baal Shem Tov:

  1. Rabbi Pinhas of Korzec
  2. Rabbi Gershon Kutover
  3. Rabbi Nahman of Kosow
  4. Rabbi Isaac of Drohobycz


These were all interesting individuals are crucial to understanding the full life and impact of the Baal Shem Tov. However, I am not adding any of the four to our list of The 36. These were wise men who understood Kabbalah, Hasidut and Torah very well. But the stand right outside the uniqueness of the Lamed Vavnickim.

Rabbi Pinhas lived in seclusion¬† and while that is often a trait of a Lamed Vavnick, from reading Heschel’s book it seems to have been forced. Rabbi Pinhas, who desperately wanted to meet the Baal Shem Tov did on 3 occasions.

Rabbi Gerhson was the Baal Shem Tov’s brother-in-law. He was a contributor to Hasidism and close to the Baal Shem Tov. He was an expert Kabbalist who probably stood the closest to the status of a Lamed Vavnick trying to learn its full attributes and abilities.

Rabbi Nahman of Kosow, according to Heschel’s book, was not a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov rather for many years Rabbi Nahman of Kosow was his opposition. Legend does say that Rabbi Nahman of Kosow repaired many souls by teaching the proper way to pious individuals who lost their way.

Finally, much of Rabbi Isaac of Drohobycz ‘s life was unknown but he was one of the founder’s of Hasidism and revered in literature. Unfortunately, Heschel notes that Rabbi Isaac caused the Baal Shem Tov much pain through denial and harmful words, although he did see the Baal Shem Tov perform miracles.