I recently heard the following story a few times and was wondering if anyone had a source for the story. The story is that the Baal Shem Tov said that if you see a fellow Jew breaking Shabbos it reflects upon a trait inside you; maybe there is something in you that represents Chillul Shabbos. Does anyone have a source for the Baal Shem Tov saying this? If you want to know one of the places I heard it from, check out the link at the bottom. I understand the guy quotes the words but he does not give a source.


  • 2
    I've heard it quoted differently -- that the faults you see in others are the ones you have yourself...
    – gt6989b
    Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 21:26
  • either way it's a beautiful quote. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 21:43
  • I've also heard this story, b'shem the BeShT. I'd be interested to see if there's a more specific source. Commented Jun 12, 2013 at 23:55
  • @gt6989b Indeed that is the line the eulogizer quotes the young Satmar Rav quoting the Ba'al Shem Tov paraphrasing the mishna.
    – WAF
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 1:22
  • To the person who down-voted me: May I ask why you did so?
    – Bochur613
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 0:27

3 Answers 3


From Sefer Ba'al Shem Tov al HaTorah, Parshat Breishit, #127 (quoting Arvei Nahal parshat Lekh and Amtahat Binyamin on Kohelet) :

הבעל שם טוב אמר כי איש אשר הוא נקי לגמרי ולא פגם כלל מעולם אפילו כל שהוא, אי אפשר לו לראות רע בשום אדם או שישמע מרע שיעשה שום אדם כי לא יזמין לו ה' יתברך לראות רע או לשמוע שום רע. לכן כשרואה האדם איזה איש שעושה רע, או שמספרים לפניו מאיזה איש שעשה רע, ידע בבירור שיש בו שמץ מנהו מאותו הדבר עצמו. ואף אם הוא צדיק, מכל מקום יש בו קצת דקצת מאותו עניין, והזמין לו ה' יתברך ראייה זו או שמיעה זו כדי שישים אל לבו לשוב ולתקן הפגם ההוא ועל ידי זה ישוב גם האיש הזה העושה רע, כי הוא תלוי בו. ולכן אין לאדם לדבר לשון הרע על חברו אף שראה אותו עובר עברה או ששמע מאיש מהימן שעשה עברה, דהא מזה שהוא ראה או שמע הדבר ההוא, מזה יראה שמסתמא גם בו בעצמו יש מקצת מאותו הדבר, ומוטל עליו לתקן אצלו הדבר ההוא, ועל ידי זה יתוקן גם האיש העושה רע וכו

The Ba'al Shem Tov said: A person who his completely innocent, and has never blemished anything at all, cannot see bad in any human being or hear a report of bad in any human being. This is because God does not arrange for him to see or hear of any badness. And therefore if you perceive that some individual is doing bad, or if you are told of some person doing bad, you need to know clearly that you have in you some speck of that particular badness itself. And even if you are a saint, even so, you have in you some fraction of a fraction of that thing, and God has summoned this perception or tale so that you notice that blemish in yourself and restore yourself and fix it. (Through doing that, the other person you first perceived is also fixed, because he is dependent on you.) And therefore you should not speak negatively about your fellow even if you saw him committing a transgression, or heard from a trustworthy source that he committed a transgression, because the fact of your perceiving or hearing this indicates the probability that you have in you something of that transgression and it is your duty to fix that thing within you (and through that to fix the other person too).

In Heikhal HaBrakhah, parshat Shlah, chapter 15 verse 32, (link to page in hebrewbooks), quoted in footnote 108 to the passage above in Ba'al Shem Tov al HaTorah:

כידוע שפעם אחד ראה אחד מהמוני עם שחילל שבת, והיה מתאנח מאוד על זה באיזה ענין חילל הוא שבת שיראה זה מחלל שבת, והראהו מן השמים ששימש עצמו עם תלמיד חכם שנקרא שבת, ובזה נחשב לאיש כמותו חילול שבת

As is know, once he [the Ba'al Shem Tov] saw one of the common people desecrating the Sabbath and he sighed profoundly about this, thinking in what aspect he himself had desecrated the Sabbath that would lead to his seeing this person desecrating the SAbbath. And they showed him from heaven that once he made servile use of a torah scholar who is called Sabbath. And in this way, for a person on his level, it was reckoned a desecration of the Sabbath.

  • Perfect! Can you possibly link the second source to a website i.e. Hebrewbooks?
    – Bochur613
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 2:59
  • okay, added link
    – paquda
    Commented Jun 14, 2013 at 3:16

While I've heard of this concept before in the name of the Baal Shem Tov, I had never heard that there was a specific story about chillul shabbos. The Lubavitcher Rebbe quotes this teaching in a sicha on parshas Noach. The footnote there says:

Meor Einayim, Parshas Chukas. See also Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Parshas Terumah and other sources.

The Meor Einayim and the Toldos Yaakov Yosef are by R' Menachem Nachum Twersky and R' Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye, respectively. They were both disciples of the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky, himself a descendant of the Meor Einayim, sources this from the Ohev Yisrael, although this would seem to be a later source.


Source in Jewish Literature

The Talmud (kiddushin 70b) states that one who stigmatizes another is guilty of the same:

ותני: כל הפוסל - פסול, ואינו מדבר בשבחא לעולם, ואמר שמואל: במומו פוסל

He who declares [others] unfit is [himself] unfit, and never speaks good [of anyone]; and Samuel said: With his own blemish he stigmatizes [others] as unfit.’ (Soncino Translation).

This does not say that he is necessarily worse, though.

Source that the Baal Shem Tov said it

This is also discussed by R. Ya'akov Yosef haCohen, a student of the Ba'al Shem Tov in his Toldot Ya'akov Yosef the first Hassidic book to ever be published (1780), in Parshat Shoftim where he quotes the Ba'al Shem Tov himself:

שנותן דופי בבני אדם למצוא בהם מום וחסרון, ובפרט ששונא לעובדי ה' אז וודאי יש בו מום, כמאמר הש"ס בקדושין (ע א) ההוא דקרי לאינשי עבדי וכו', דכל הפוסל במומו פוסל וכו', ומסתמא אדם זה בו כל דבר רע, כמו ששמעתי ממורי זלה"ה

To summarize: one who criticizes others can be presumed to have every negative characteristic. In this the Ba'al Shem Tov extends the Talmud's statement that he possesses the same negative characteristics.

This idea is later cited in the Baal Shem Tov's collected comments to the Torah (B'reishit: 126):

קכו. שנינו (נגעים ב', ה') כל הנגעים אדם רואה חוץ מנגעי עצמו, ופירש הבעל שם טוב הקדוש, כל הנגעים שאדם רואה חוץ, זה נמשך מנגעי עצמו, כמאמר רבותינו ז"ל (קידושין ע' א) כל הפוסל במומו פוסל: (דברי שלום פרשת קרח דף נ"ו ע"ב

There the Baal Shem Tov is cited as having homiletically explained the statement that "one may examine anyone's leprosy except one's own" (Negaim 2:5) that that which one perceived as negative in others, stems from his possessing the same fault.

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