The Baal Shem Tov and Teaching the Noahide Laws

“It’s Time to Put the Angel Michael to the Side”

The following story of the Baal Shem Tov on the last day of Passover is quoted from the book “The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov,” p. 301-302.

It was the Baal Shem Tov’s custom on the final day of Passover to make a feast with matzah and four cups of wine for the last meal of the holiday and invite everybody. During the feast, he would distribute his matzahs (that he baked or that were baked for him) to everyone present, even the simple people, to eat. He called this “The Feast of the King Messiah.” Whereas the seders at the beginning of Passover look back to the first redemption from Egypt, this special feast at the end of the holiday looks forward to the final redemption and the coming of the Messiah.

Once, during this feast, the Besht [the acronym name for the Baal Shem Tov] said, “It’s time to put the angel Michael to the side. … My master and teacher, the Baal Hai [the Biblical prophet Ahiya HaShaloni], said to me, ‘It’s necessary to work with the nations of the world,’ to transform them. So It’s time to put the angel Michael to the side.”

One of his close disciples asked, “Master, explain your meaining further.” The Besht continued:

“The angel Michael is the angel-prince of Israel. One of his main tasks is to justify and praise the Jewish people, to defend them against their detractors in heaven. Tzaddikim [completely righteous individuals] take on themselves this angelic task; they too always defend the Jewish people from their enemies and detractors on earth by justifying their faults and praising them before G-d and arguing their merits before the heavenly court. But for the Messiah to come, the nations too must be transformed. On the final day of Passover, when the Messiah’s light is revealed, when the whole creation strives for fulfillment and all limitations become apparent, it becomes clear that even the angel Michael and his heavenly defense of the Jewish people are limited.

Michael is supposed to be the angel of the whole world, not just of the Jewish people. But he hasn’t fulfilled his task. And neither has the Jewish people, who are supposed to be a kingdom of priests for the whole world and a light to the nations. Jews must now find justifications and good things to say about the Gentiles too, not only about Israel. Michael’s exclusive focus on the Jewish people, the chosen people, must be put aside, for the final redemption and the work of the Messiah must also involve transforming the nations of the world. At the least [!], that means that the Jewish people must teach the Gentiles the seven mitzvot [Divine commandments] of the Children of Noah. May the redemption come soon in our day!”

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