Yitzhak Buxbaum

The Baal Shem Tov was a gifted singer with an expressive voice. He considered singing a service of God, for music touches the soul and produces an outpouring of the soul. He often led his disciples in song especially at the Sabbath table and during the Kabbalah Shabbat, the prayers on the receiving of the Sabbath on Fridays, just before sunset. Sometimes he asked them to close their eyes and put their hands on each other's shoulders as they sang so that they were all connected in a sacred circle. He used to say:

When you put you hand on your brother's shoulder, you physically express your resolve to fulfill the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

The Baal Shem Tov also danced before God as a divine service. And he revived the circle dance among the Jewish people. In a circle, all are equal; there is no first and no last.

One the Baal Shem Tov sang and danced with his disciples for hours on Shabbat evening after the meal. When he sat down to rest for a while, his disciples surrounded him and he said,

By means of music you can attain joy and cleaving with the Infinite One, Blessed by He. The holy Zohar says that there are heavenly palaces whose gates are only opened by song. But you have to sing before God, and let the Shechinah sing through you. When you dance, dance before God. I tell you, the dances of a Jew are prayers and the purpose of dancing is to lift up the holy sparks. In a sacred dance, the lower rung of spirituality is raised up to the higher. The Rabbis say:

In the future, the Holy One, Blessed by He, will make a cirlce dance for the Tsaddikim in the Garden of Eden. He will sit in their midst and each will point with his finger to God in the center, as the verse says:

It will be said on that day: This is our God, this is the One for whom we waited, that He would save us. This is the Lord for whom we waited, and we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation!
I tell you, if we dance with real faith, we can taste now in our circle dancing that great day in the future. May it come soon in our time, Amen!