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"In what way is my worship important to G·d?"

1:14 "If I Am Not…"

1:14 "If I Am Not…"

1:14 "If I Am Not…"
"In what way is my worship important to G·d?"

"If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am for myself, what am I?" (Pirkei Avot 1:14)

The Baal Shem Tov taught that the words: "If I am not..." mean: if I have negated my existence to G·d, then no foreign thoughts can distract me."

In prayer, one must be completely divorced from physicality...

In prayer, one must be completely divorced from physicality, and not feel one's existence in this world. This is the meaning of: "If I am not for myself, who is for me?" Meaning, when I come to the level that I neither know or feel "if I am for myself" - that is, to not know or feel if I am in this world or not - then I will certainly not be afraid of foreign thoughts. For which foreign thoughts can approach me when I am separated from this world? This is, "who is for me?" - meaning to say, which foreign thought can approach me?

However, "When I am for myself," that is, when I consider myself as a separate entity in this world, then the opposite is true - I am not considered anything. This is the meaning of "What am I?" That is: "In what way am I important, and in what way is my worship important to G·d? For foreign thoughts will distract me,1 and it is as though I am not in this world at all. For a person is created to serve G·d, which I can not due to these thoughts." This also explains what the Sages said: "If I am here, all are here."2 (Succah 53a)

[Tzava'at HaRivash, p. 7a, 12a; translation and commentary by Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Shore for //;
A fine annotated translation into English by Rabbi J. I. Schochet of Tzava'at HaRivash is available from—KOL]

When a person has a sense of ego and independent self, he becomes subject to extraneous thoughts in prayer. [See Tanya Ch. 27, that only 100% pure tzadikim are free of such thoughts; the rest of us have to learn to overcome them by not giving any attention to them. – KOL]
This statement was made by Hillel the Elder, who is also the source of the statement in Pirkei Avot, above.
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov [“Master of the Good Name”], 1698–1760. A unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the chassidic movement, and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He passed away on the festival of Shavuot in 1760. He wrote no books, although many contain his teachings. (Also referred to as “the BeShT,” from an acronym of Baal Shem Tov.)
Rabbi Eliezer Shore, the translator, studied in yeshivot in New York and Israel for many years. He currently lives in Jerusalem, where he is a writer, storyteller, and Torah teacher.
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Mary Hachita, NM January 25, 2015

What is the source for the quote at top ? Why is second part intrerpreted literally, but first part does not even seem anything like the words spoken?
Where is it written that ,If I am not, is a complete thought. Thank you Reply

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