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There is a story where the Baal Shem Tov had a meditative experience and he "entered the chambers of Moshiach", and asked him "אימיתי קאתי מר" (When will the Master (you, Moshiach) come?), to which he answers "לכשיפצו מעיינותיך חוצה" (When your wellsprings spread forth (or outwards)).

This is the classic story which is told by many Chabad Chassidim, which underpins the belief that the spreading of the teachings of Chassidut will bring Moshiach, as the Baal Shem Tov's wellsprings are understood to be his teachings.

I have only heard this story from Chabad Chassidim, and it plays an integral role for them in their spiritual lives as well as outreach efforts.

So, my question is: What do other Chassidic groups say of this story? Is this story found in non-Chabad Chassidic works?

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I can answer the second question. I don't know if or how other Chassidic groups address it. The story is found in a letter written by the Baal Shem Tov printed in Keser Shem Tov (here it is in a decided non-Chabad print - it was printed by someone from Apt who apparently wouldn't consider himself a follower of the Maggid of Mesritch, let alone Chabad).

However reading the full story as described there, the Chabad interpretation is decidedly interpretative, not straight forward (it takes the principle and extends it beyond its original expression). Rabbi Sholom Ber Weingarten (a Chabad Shliach in Kansas) lays out the argument here.

The full story:

ושאלתי את פי משיח אימתי אתי מר והשיב בזאת תדע בעת שיתפרסם לימודך ויתגלה בעולם ויפוצו מעיינותיך חוצה מה שלמדתי אותך והשגת, ויכלו גם המה לעשות יחודים ועליות כמוך, ואז יכלו כל הקליפות, ויהי' עת רצון וישועה, ותמהתי ע"ז והי' לי צער גדול באריכות הזמן כל כך, מתי זה אפשר להיות, אך ממה שלמדתי בהיותי שם, שלשה דברים סגולות, ושלשה שמות הקדושים, והם בנקל ללמוד ולפרש, ונתקרר דעתי וחשבתי אפשר שעי"ז יוכלו גם אנשי גילי לבוא למדריגה ובחינה כמותי, דהיינו בהיותם יכולים לעלות וילמדו וישיגו כמו אני, ולא נתנה רשות כל ימי חיי לגלות זאת, ובקשתי עבורך ללמד אותך ולא הורשיתי כלל, ומושבע ועומד אני על זה

The Baal Shem Tov asked Moshiach when he will come, and the answer was when your teachings will be publicized and revealed in the world, and your wellsprings will spread out what I taught you and you understood, and they will be able to effect supernal unities and elevations like you are. Then all negativity will be destroyed and it will be an opportune and redemptive time.

The Baal Shem Tov himself was very pained by this answer until he received three Segulos and three holy names that are easy to teach and explain that would enable this, but he was not given permission to reveal them yet. (Presumably he never did).

The argument made by Rabbi Weingarten essentially is that the study of Chassidus in a way that is intellectually understood (the Chabad Chassidus approach) substitutes as a way to create these unities and accomplish this goal.

  • The argument by RSBW reminiscent of how some followers of the Vilna Gaon explain his strikingly similar statement that Moshiach will only come when everyone learns Kabbalah. – Yishai Dec 19 '14 at 17:05

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