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Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Did you know that the most powerful prayer in the world can be said by anyone, even without knowing how to read or pray? * On the HaYom Yom for Gimmel Tammuz by Bing AI

The mitzva of loving our fellow Jews as ourselves is not only a moral duty, but also a spiritual one. It enables us to approach G‑d with sincerity and devotion, and to receive His blessings in return. The importance of this mitzva was illustrated by a story that happened with the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chasidism.

One day, the Baal Shem Tov was traveling with his disciples in a wagon. They came across a Jewish innkeeper who was very poor and ignorant. He did not know how to read or pray, and he barely observed any mitzvot. The Baal Shem Tov asked him if he had any guests in his inn. The innkeeper said no, but he invited the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples to stay with him.

The Baal Shem Tov agreed, and they entered the inn. The innkeeper prepared a simple meal for them, and then asked the Baal Shem Tov to lead them in the evening prayer. The Baal Shem Tov agreed, and they all stood up to pray. However, the innkeeper did not join them. He stood in a corner and whispered something to himself.

The Baal Shem Tov noticed this and asked him what he was doing. The innkeeper said that he did not know how to pray, but he had learned from his father a special prayer that he recited every night. He said that his father had told him that this prayer was very powerful and pleasing to G‑d.

The Baal Shem Tov asked him to share his prayer with them. The innkeeper said that his prayer was as follows: "Master of the Universe, I do not know who You are or where You are. I do not know how to serve You or praise You. I do not know what You want from me or what You expect of me. But I know one thing: You have many children in this world, and they are all Your beloved ones. And I love them all as myself. Master of the Universe, please love me as I love them."

The Baal Shem Tov was moved to tears by this prayer. He hugged the innkeeper and said: "My dear brother, you have just taught me the essence of Judaism. Your prayer is more precious than any other prayer in the world. You have fulfilled the greatest mitzva of loving your fellowman as yourself, and through this you have connected yourself to G‑d in the deepest way possible. May G‑d bless you and your family with abundance and happiness."

The Baal Shem Tov then turned to his disciples and said: "Learn from this simple Jew how to pray and how to live. Do not judge anyone by their outward appearance or knowledge. Do not look down on anyone or despise anyone. Rather, love every Jew as yourself, and you will find favor in G‑d's eyes."

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