What is the true origin of this quote so often attributed to the Baal Shem Tov?:

From every human being there rises a light that reaches straight to heaven, and when two souls that are destined to be together find each other, the streams of light flow together and a single brighter light goes forth from that united being.

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    Commented Feb 1 at 11:19

1 Answer 1


Your exact quote in English appears to be from a story called, Two Souls, on page 71 of a book entitled, The Golden Mountain, which was published by Behrman House Publishers in 1932. It was an English translation by Meyer Levin and illustrated by Marek Szwarc.

According to the linked biography for Mr. Levin, he served in the United States Army in Europe as a member of Psychological Warfare Division (PSYOPS) in France during World War II. He was never a religiously observant Jew and considered himself to be a Leftist Progressive during the New Deal Era of the Roosevelt Administration.

Here is an interesting bio page for the illustrator which appears to have been the work of Mr. Levin following the passing of Mr. Szwarc. In it the translator, Meyer Levin explains how the two came to know each other and publish the book. It gives detail of the life and collected artwork of Mr. Szwarc and how he left pre-Holocaust Poland and settled in France to become an artist and converted to Catholicism. Details of his professional life, a published biography, together with a chronology and numerous photos of Szwarc's sculptures and paintings are linked to the page.

Many of the historical inaccuracies and misconceptions about the Ba'al Shem Tov that were prevalent in America in the 1940's and 1950's appear to be based on the forward to The Golden Mountain, which was written by Meyer Levin.

Based upon the content from the table of contents, it appears that this may have originated from the Hebrew original, כל ספורי הבעל שם טוב or שבחי הבעל שם טוב.

Here is a photo of the title page:enter image description here

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