In a small town in Poland, there was an orphan shepherd boy who grew up knowing very little about being Jewish. One day, shortly before Yom Kippur, he met a group of people who were traveling to Mezibush to spend the holiday with the Baal Shem Tov. The boy decided to join them and soon, he was standing with the many people in the Baal Shem Tov's shul.
But the boy did not know how to daven - he couldn't even read the Aleph-Beis. He saw all the people davening earnestly from the depths of their hearts, and he also wanted to say something to HaShem that came from deep inside. So he drew a deep breath and let out the shrill whistle that he would sound every evening when he gathered the sheep from the fields. Right in the middle of davening on Yom Kippur, the shepherd boy whistled as loud as he could.
The people in the shul were shocked, but the Baal Shem Tov calmed them and said, "A terrible decree was hanging over us. The shepherd boy's whistle pierced the heavens and erased the decree. His whistle saved us, because it was sincere and came from the very bottom of his heart, where he feels love for HaShem even though he doesn't know or understand why."
The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of Chassidus. He taught people to serve HaShem with a sincere heart like the shepherd boy did. His students spread Chassidus to many Jews, teaching them that a Jew should serve HaShem with his heart.
The Baal Shem Tov's leading student was the Maggid of Mezeritch. One of the many people who came to study with him was the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe spread Chassidus throughout Russia. When the Russian government saw that many people were following his teachings, they arrested him. On Yud-Tes Kislev he was released, and this date became the Rosh HaShanah of Chassidus. From this day onward, the Alter Rebbe began spreading Chassidus even more than before.
The Alter Rebbe called himself the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. "I am his student's student," the Alter Rebbe said, "so I am like his spiritual grandchild. I am continuing his teachings."
But wait a minute, this seems to be a contradiction. The Baal Shem Tov taught that a Jew must serve HaShem with his heart. But we know that the Alter Rebbe called his own teachings, Chabad which stands for Chochmah, Binah and Daas - wisdom, understanding and knowledge. These are all things we do with our mind, not our heart. So how could the Alter Rebbe say that he is continuing the Baal Shem Tov's teachings? The Baal Shem Tov stressed the heart, and the Alter Rebbe stressed the mind.
Actually, there is no contradiction. The Baal Shem Tov was talking about a Jew's love for HaShem that comes from deep inside. This is what the connection between a Jew and HaShem is all about. This is the feeling that came out in the shepherd boy's whistle on Yom Kippur.
But in the hustle bustle of our everyday lives, we don't always feel this love. The Alter Rebbe teaches us that we shouldn't only wait for special times to make us feel this love for HaShem. We can bring out this every day.
How? By studying the Chabad Chassidus the Alter Rebbe taught. These teachings allow us to understand many deep things about HaShem and about our neshamos. When we study this, our minds will understand and this will make our hearts feel.
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. IV, Chai Elul)