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(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.


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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For Martin Buber, who, for much of the twentieth century, transmitted Hassidism from Eastern Europe to the "West," found that each letter contained "world, soul, and divinity." (42) These disparate elements of the letter need to be joined in the divine sphere otherwise true rapture will not ensue (ibid.).
As historian Andrew Heinze observes, Reform Judaism, the Ethical Culture movement, Modern Orthodoxy, the Musar movement and the rise of Habad Hassidism were--albeit with very different theological objectives--"all passionate attempts to create moral and spiritual systems that addressed the psychic needs of the individual in a new way." (25) Indeed, although a clinical approach to Jewish pastoral care remained lacking, (26) in the ensuing decades, no rabbi could avoid the broader cultural shift.
Belz Hassidism, which was nearly wiped out in the Holocaust, is named for the Western Ukrainian town of Belz, near the Polish border.
Doktor portrays the birth of the Hasidic movement in Poland in the second half of the seventeenth century as an outcome of messianic craving and as a pure elitist society, but after several splits and transformations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Hassidism became a mass movement, in the late eighteenth century.
The brides and grooms who were married in Orthodox rituals belong to the Vizhnits Hassidism group (3 interviews), modern-Orthodox group (11 interviews), and secular group (10 interviews).
Further, there is some Gnosticism in all neo-Platonic views from Paul's Jewish contemporary, Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-40 CE) onward, including kabbalistic speculation, e.g., in the classic of Hassidism, the Tanya or Likkutei Amorim.
For a more contemporary vision of neo-Hasidism more relevant to Carlebach, see Reb Zalman Schachter, Fragments of a Future Scroll: Hassidism for the Here and Now (Germantown, Pa.: Leaves of Grass Press, 1975); Yaakov Ariel, "Hasidism in the Age of Aquarius: The House of Love and Prayer in San Francisco, 1967-1977"; Tomer Persico, "Neo-Hasidic Revival: Expressivist Uses of Traditional Lore," Modern Judaism (August, 2014): 287-308; and, most recently, my "Between Paradigm Shift Judaism and Neo-Hasidism: The New Metaphysics of Jewish Renewal," Tikkun magazine (Winter, 2015).
This century brings the birth of Hassidism and the messianic movements of Shabbetai Zvi, Jacob Frank, and others, who in many ways are the precursors to the scholastic achievements of the Vilna Gaon and Moses Mendelssohn in the eighteenth century.
Khattab also tried out Satmar Hassidism for a few years and then membership in the Shas Party before becoming a Muslim.
One needs to know a good deal about Hassidism (and especially about Nahum of Bratzlav) in the first case and about right wing ultra-Orthodoxy in the second." (50) To understand some of the other stories in Englander's collection, the reader must be familiar with Orthodox customs regarding married women's hair ("The Wig"), with the mythical shtetl of Chelm ("The Tumblers"), and with the history of Yiddish poetry in Russia ("The Twenty-seventh Man"), among many other Jewish and Judaic topics.