One of the sad chapters in Jewish history is when desperation about the Jewish plight made Jews have delusions of Messianic arrivals. When life is bitter, when it seems poverty has cast its harshest chains upon a person and when anti-Semitism smacks the Jew across the face again and again, some Jews will escape into fantasy of Messianic age, long before Moshiach arrives. It happens again and again, with folks proclaiming this one or that one the newly found Moshiach.
During the advent of the Chassidic movement, one such individual about whom folks deluded themselves into thinking was Moshiach was Jacob Frank. His followers were called Frankists, and long debates were had about what to do with these misguided Jews. The Baal Shem Tov thought them salvageable…up until the point in history where, en masse and following the example of Frank himself, they converted away from the Jewish faith. Then, the Baal Shem Tov expounded a very important message for us to internalize. The Baal Shem Tov explains that in human anatomy, so long as a body’s limb is connected to the body, it might be diseased, it might be damaged, but it is hopeful that perhaps it could be healed. However, once a limb is amputated, that’s it! The limb is gone, no longer able to be saved.
When dealing with sinners, know, so long as they still identify with their essence of being a Jew, they still have a chance of being healed. Keep the attachment there, my friends, through thick and thin.