Israel Ben Eliezer, later known as The Baal Shem Tov (The Master of the Divine Name, var. Master of the Good Name), was born on August 27, 1698 to Rabbi Eliezer and his wife Sarah. They lived in the small village Okup on the Russian-Polish border. Both Rabbi Eliezer and Sarah were already very old when their first child, Israel was born.
Baal Shem means “Possessor or Master of The (Divine) Name”, which contemporaries and subsequent followers conferred upon him. Martin Buber (in Tales of the Hasidim) explained more kindly: ‘One who lives with and for this fellow-men on the foundation of his relationship with the Divine’.
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