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Unformatted text preview: Given the name Ba'al Shem Tov, which means Master of the Good Name , he began to preach that God accepts prayer not only through scholarship and study but also through piety, love, prayer, and worship full of song and dance. He emphasized the mystical presence of God in everything. It was very important, he said, to be cheerful. Serving God cannot be done in an atmosphere of gloom. A Jew who is conscious of God's closeness is automatically happy. In addition, the Ba'al Shem Tov decreed that excessive fasting and self-denial are worthless goals. It is far better to enjoy God's blessings and be grateful for them. One should not deny material possessions. "The smoke of my pipe," the Ba'al Shem Tov said, "can be an offering of incense to God." The Ba'al Shem Tov expressed himself by using simple sayings and stories that the people listening...
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- Fall '11