Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism

BookStudies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism

Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


November 1st, 1997

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Joseph Weiss (1918–69) showed a single-minded commitment to identifying and describing the mystical element in hasidism and to unravelling the spiritual and historical meaning of the hasidic movement. The studies collected here are still quoted in every serious study of hasidism. Joseph Dan’s Introduction, written specially for this paperback edition, examines Weiss’s scholarship both in the context of subsequent scholarly research and in the light of the resurgence of hasidism since the Second World War. He concludes that many of Weiss’s detailed, perceptive, and empathetic studies are as relevant to understanding developments in the contemporary hasidic world as they are for understanding the emergence and growth of hasidism in the eighteenth century.

‘One can savour each essay on its own for its enduring qualities and perceptions regardless of the passing of time . . . The scholarship is profound, the notes are extensive, but it is also open to all inquiring minds and we must be grateful for its re-publication at this time.’
Albert H. Friedlander, European Judaism

‘A special strength of Weiss's scholarship is his ability to connect the specific to the general . . . All this is achieved through a skilful and judicious reading of frequently tendentious and contentious Hasidic sources. This work will be of interest to historians of religion in general, and to students of the Jewish experience in Eastern Europe in particular.’
John D. Klier, Slavonic Review

‘An impressive collection . . . conveys the authoritative views of one of the leading experts on Hasidism.’
Geza Vermes, Society for Old Testament Study Newsletter

Author Information

Joseph Weiss was Professor of Jewish Studies, University College London, from 1966 until his death in 1969. David Goldstein, late Curator of Hebrew Books and Manuscripts at the British Library, was awarded the Webber Prize 1987 for this translation shortly before he died. Joseph Dan is Emeritus Gershom Scholem Professor of Kabbalah, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Half Title 2
Title Page 4
Note on Sources8
Note on Pronunciation8
Introduction to the Paperback Edition Joseph Weiss Today10
Editor's Introduction22
Publisher's Note24
Studies in East European Jewish Mysticism and Hasidism 26
Some Notes on the Social Background of Early Hasidism 28
A Circle of Pneumatics in Pre-Hasidism52
Contemplative Mysticism and "Faith" in Hasidic Piety68
Torah Study in Early Hasidism81
The Kavvanoth of Prayer in Early Hasidism 120
Petitionary Prayer in Early Hasidism151
Contemplation as Solitude156
Contemplation as Self-Abandonment in the Writings of Hayyim Haika of Amdura 167
R. Abraham Kalisker's Concept of Communion with God and Men 180
The Authorship and Literary Unity of the Darkhei Yesharim 195
The Saddik—Altering the Divine Will208
The Hasidic Way of Habad 219
Some Notes on Ecstasy in Habad Hasidism227
A Late Jewish Utopia of Religious Freedom 234
Sense and Nonsense in Defining Judaism—The Strange Case of Nahaman of Brazlav274