Once in the Carpathian mountains, he met Oleksa Dovbush, leader of the rebels of Galicia, and helped him hide from his pursuers. In gratitude, Dovbush gave him as a present the most valuable thing he had — his smoking pipe.
There were many legends about him: how he fought a werewolf, and that he could even summon Satan and the spirit of fire. It is no longer possible to separate the truth from fiction.
It is only known for certain that that person became the founding father of Hasidism and that happened in the middle of the 18th century in Medzhybizh of the Khmelnytskyi region. His name was the Baal Shem Tov (Besht). Of the eight largest communities of contemporary Hasidim, half come from Ukraine. They were founded by the disciples of the first Hasid Besht.
There are about 130,000 Hasidic families in the world. It is the 261st anniversary of the Baal Shem Tov’s death this year, and, were it not for the global quarantine, thousands of Hasids from all over the world would have gathered at his tomb to commemorate the most revered Tzaddik of all Hasids.
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