Yoel Baal Shem

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Yoel Baal Shem (Hebrew: ר' יואל בעל שם הראשון‎) was an Orthodox Jewish scholar of Halacha and Kabbalah who lived in Zamość ([ˈzamɔɕt͡ɕ]; Yiddish: Zamoshtsh) during the 17th century. He became renowned as a Baal Shem (lit; Master of [Divine] Names) for performing miracles,[1] commanding demons [2] and authoring Kabalistic amulets.[3][4]


Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880–1950) writes in his memoirs [5] that Yoel’s father was Yisrael Yosef, a disciple of Rabbi Mordecai Yoffe. Sometime after the latter’s passing in 1612 he moved to Zamosc. A year after his arrival to Zamosc he had a son and named him Yoel. Yoel learned for 5 years in the Yeshiva of Rabbi Joel Sirkis (Hebrew: יואל סירקיש) (possibly in Liuboml) who was a Halachist and adherent of Kabbalah.

Yoel married before the age of 20 and started learning Kabbalah. Upon a dream, Yisrael Yosef sent his son Yoel to Prague to learn kabbalah from Rabbi Eliyahu Baal Shem. Yoel became one of the closest students of Rabbi Eliyahu Baal Shem who confided all his special teaching to him. Yoel returned to Zamosc and opened a Yeshiva there which became renowned for teaching both niglah and nistar.

Reb Yoel had a son Uri who learned in the Yeshiva of Rabbi David HaLevi Segal (author of the Turei Zahav) in Ostroh (Ukrainian: Остро́г; Russian: Остро́г, Ostrog, Polish: Ostróg). After the latters passing, he went to learn for another six years under Rabbi Avraham Gombiner (Hebrew: אברהם אבלי הלוי גומבינר) (author of Magen Avraham) in Kalisz.

Upon Uri’s marriage, Rabbi Yoel appointed him as Rosh yeshiva for Nigla studies, whilst he remained Rosh Yeshiva for Nistar. He was Rosh yeshiva for some 50 years.[5]

Teachings and Legacy[edit]

Rabbi Yoel Baal Shem (I) was the teacher of Rabbi Adam Baal Shem of Ropczyce [rɔpˈt͡ʂɨt͡sɛ] (Yiddish: ראָפּשיץ‎) who instructed Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov in Kabbalah.

Stories and teachings of Rabbi Yoel Baal Shem (I) can be found in various kabbalistic sefarim,[2][3][4] especially in two sefarim, Mifalos Elokim[6] and Toldos Adam[7] which earned the imprimatur of his grandson, Rabbi Yoel Baal Shem (II), the son of Uri.

Rabbi Yeshaya Heilprin, son of Yoel Helprin (II), was also a kabbalist and expert in kabbalistic amulets.[8]


  1. ^ "כנסת ישראל - פין, שמואל יוסף בן יצחק איזיק, 1818-1890 (page 1 of 704)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  2. ^ a b "קב הישר - חלק ב - קידנובר, צבי הירש בן אהרן שמואל (page 33 of 92)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  3. ^ a b "אהל דוד - חלק א - Sassoon, David Solomon, 1880-1942 (page 584 of 668)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  4. ^ a b "ספר זכירה ועניני סגולות - חלק א - Zekharyah, (page 1 of 76)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  5. ^ a b "2 - Lubavitcher Rabbi's Memoirs - שניאורסון (page 94 of 318)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  6. ^ "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: מפעלות אלקים -- מפעלות אלהים". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  7. ^ "HebrewBooks.org Sefer Detail: תולדות אדם -- אליהו בן יהודה אהרן, מחלם, 1520-1590". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  8. ^ "שפת אמת ולשון זהורית - עמדין, יעקב בן צבי (יעב"ץ) , 1698-1776 (page 236 of 237)". hebrewbooks.org. Retrieved 2014-02-10.