A Fire in the Forest: The Life and Legacy of the Ba’al Shem Tov

About This Episode

Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (1698-1760), known as the Ba’al Shem Tov ("Master of the Good Name"), is one of the most beloved and celebrated figures in Jewish history, but also one of the most elusive. Today, Jews all over the world, and even many non-Jews, revere him as the founder of the Hasidic movement, and as a model of piety and mystical spirituality. Many also find it difficult to say why he is so important to them, and to characterize his unique contribution to Jewish spirituality.

A Fire in the Forest explores the life and legacy of the Ba'al Shem Tov through interviews with religious leaders and scholars, and on-location footage. Host and narrator Rabbi Marc Soloway travels to New York City, London and Boston to talk to rabbis, university professors and teachers of Hasidism. They discuss the Ba'al Shem Tov's important contributions to Jewish spirituality and the impact of his teachings on the religion today.