Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Ba'al Shem Tov

Wikipedia's entry on the R.Yisrael ben Eliezer, the Ba'al Shem Tov, includes this famous portrait:

Only trouble is, this isn't a portrait of the Ba'al Shem Tov. It's a portrait of Hayyim Shmuel Yaakov Falk (1708-1782), the so-called Ba'al Shem of London. A copy of this portrait has been widely circulated as one of the Besh"t (there is no such portrait) for a very long time.

According to the Jewish Encylopedia the portrait was painted by John Singleton Copley, but David B. Ruderman disputes this (I don't know on what basis, but I suppose he did his homework):

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