Hasidism


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Hasidism

or

Chassidism

(both: hăs`ĭdĭz'əm, khă–) [Heb.,=the pious], Jewish religious movement founded in Poland in the 18th cent. by Baal-Shem-TovBaal-Shem-Tov
, c.1698–1760, Jewish founder of modern Hasidism, b. Ukraine. His life is the subject of many tales that circulated even before his death. Originally named Israel ben Eliezer, he is said to have been born of elderly, poor parents and to have been orphaned at
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. Its name derives from HasidimHasidim
or Chassidim
[Heb.,=the pious], term used by the rabbis to describe those Jews who maintained the highest standard of religious observance and moral action. The term has been applied to movements at three distinct times.
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. Hasidism, which stressed the mercy of God and encouraged joyous religious expression through music and dance, spread rapidly. Baal-shem-tov taught that purity of heart is more pleasing to God than learning. He drew his teaching chiefly from Jewish legend and aroused much opposition among Talmudists, who in 1772, pronounced the movement heretical. Hasidism shows the influence of the Lurianic kabbalah (see kabbalahkabbalah
or cabala
[Heb.,=reception], esoteric system of interpretation of the Scriptures based upon a tradition claimed to have been handed down orally from Abraham.
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; Luria, Isaac ben SolomonLuria or Loria, Isaac ben Solomon
, 1534–72, Jewish kabbalist, surnamed Ashkenazi, called Ari [lion] by his followers, b. Jerusalem. In his 20s he spent seven years in seclusion, intensely studying the kabbalah.
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). After the death of the Baal-shem-tov, the single most important characteristic of the movement—the leadership role of the zaddik—developed. The zaddik, the charismatic leader around whom various Hasidic groups gather, serves as an intermediary between his followers and God. Leadership is passed from father to son (or in some cases to son-in-law). By the 1830s the majority of Jews in Ukraine, Galicia, and central Poland were Hasidic, as were substantial minorities in Belarus and Hungary. In the 20th and 21st cent., Hasidim have been the staunchest defenders of tradition against increasing secularism in Jewish life. Since the HolocaustHolocaust
, name given to the period of persecution and extermination of European Jews by Nazi Germany. Romani (Gypsies), homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, the disabled, and others were also victims of the Holocaust.
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, the main centers of Hasidism are in the United States and Israel. The most notable Hasidic community in the United States is composed of the followers of the Lubavitcher rebbe, who are noted for their outreach to other Jews as well as for their messianic fervor. Romantic reworkings of Hasidic doctrine by Yiddish writer I. L. PeretzPeretz or Perez, Isaac Loeb
, 1852–1915, Jewish poet, novelist, playwright, and lawyer, b. Zamosc, Poland.
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, theologian Martin BuberBuber, Martin
, 1878–1965, Jewish philosopher, b. Vienna. Educated at German universities, he was active in Zionist affairs, and he taught philosophy and religion at the Univ. of Frankfurt-am-Main (1924–33).
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, and others have become popular outside traditional Hasidic circles.

Bibliography

See G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1946, repr. 1961); M. Buber, Hasidism and Modern Man (tr., 1958, repr. 1966) and The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (tr., 1960); E. Wiesel, Souls on Fire (1972); H. Rabinowicz, Hasidism and the State of Israel (1982) and Hasidism: The Movement and Its Masters (1988); G. D. Hundert, ed., Essential Papers on Hasidism (1991).

Hasidism

 

a mystical religious tendency in Judaism that arose in the first half of the 18th century among the Jewish population of Volyn’, Podolia, and Galicia in opposition to official Judaism, and to the rabbinate in particular. The founder of Hasidism was Israel Bal Shem Tob (1700–60), known as the Besht.

Hasidism is characterized by religious fanaticism, belief in miracles, and adherence to the teachings of the zaddiks (holy seers), who are allegedly in communication with god as well as being gifted with supernatural powers and having all creation in their control. The zaddiks, like the rabbis, were fanatically opposed to any education of the popular masses; they also had a fanatic hatred of the revolutionary movement. Based on this similarity of views, the Hasidic movement gradually found a way to compromise with the rabbinate and was recognized by the synagogue.

References in periodicals archive ?
They provide us with the opportunity to examine the impact of Shalom's Hasidism on his account of the Arab as the other.
Yet for all the common spiritualization of Hasidism, Orthodox thinkers rejected what they felt was a faux "neo-Hasidism" that detached its spirit from ritual observance.
For Professor Leibowitz, it did not matter how pervasive these notions stemming from Greek thought and mysticism may have become, due to the increasing influence of Hasidism in Jewish life; it was still foreign and contradicted true Jewish belief.
There was a bitter struggle in Lithuania, led by Elijah ben Solomon Zalman of Vilna, who opposed Hasidic "ecstasy, visions, and miracles, their dangerous lies and idolatrous worship." In the 1770s and 1780s there were bans (harem) against Hasidism. Hasids and their opponents denounced each other to authorities, which led to arrests.
Biale stated: "But there were those among his most influential disciples who rejected this understanding of his teaching in the half century after his death." He then recounted the ascetic views of some members of this group: Mendel of Kotzk, perhaps the most extreme ascetic in the whole history of Hasidism, ...
Although Mollie never actually dances in drag, dance and drag are two of the means by which she asserts a modern American identity and resists the strict gender and sex codes of Hasidism. She dons men's clothes during a family celebration so that she can sit with the boys (fig.
Yiddish communities, especially after the pogroms of the 1880s had marked the failure of assimilation, chose to remain autonomous within the Diaspora, and this tradition stressed the mystical interpretation of ancient texts (Hasidism) rather than the rationalism of the Haskalah.
The Chabad-Lubavitch movement, which is based in Crown Heights, N.Y., is a branch of Hasidism, a religious discipline within Orthodox Judaism that was founded by 18th-century mystics.
Taubes also dismisses Scholem's negative evaluation of Hasidism. Noting the negative effects of the messianic movement and particularly of its extremist Frankist branch, Taubes endorses the interiorization and spiritualization of the messianic hopes in Hasidism (8), along with their quietist implications.
From the Oral Community to Written Documents Hasidism is a revivalist religious movement that started in the regions of Ukraine in the mid-18th century.
"How could anyone reconcile the agony of the Holocaust with Hasidism, a dancing religion that teaches love, joy and celebration?" Ackerman asks.
Stated more simply, Wiesel's Hasidism teaches that through speech and action, man can become the language of God.