Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev

The most lovable figure in Hasidic folklore.

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In Hasidic panentheistic vein is Levi Yitzhak's remark on the first verse of Genesis:† 'The general principle is that the Creator, blessed be He, created the all and He is the all and His influence never ceases. For He extends His influence at every moment to His creatures, and to all worlds, to all palaces, to all angels, and to all the Holy Hayyot. And this is why we say (in our prayers) that He forms light and creates darkness and not that He formed light and created darkness; "forms" in the present tense. For at every moment He creates, at every moment He bestows vitality to all living creatures and all is from Him, blessed be He, and He is perfect and He includes all.'

Levi Yitzhak stresses particularly the need for humility. But for him true humility is attained not through a man thinking how unworthy he is, since in this process he is thinking of himself. True humility consists in profound contemplation on the majesty of God before whom all creatures are as naught.

The book of Proverbs says: 'An abomination of the Lord is every lofty heart' (Proverbs 16:5) from which it follows that pride is an idol, an abomination of which the Torah says: 'Thou shalt not bring an abomination into thy house (Deuteronomy 7:26).'

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.