Founder of Hasidism
A Quest for the Historical Ba'al Shem Tov
Moshe Rosman is Professor of Jewish History at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. He has been a Fulbright-IREX fellow, a fellow of the Hebrew University's Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of Pennsylvania's Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, winner of the National Jewish Book Award (1996, 2009), the Zalman Shazar Prize (2000), the Jerzy Milewski Award (2000), and the Jordan Schnitzer Award (2010), and visiting professor at Yale and other universities. His books include The Lords' Jews: Jews and Magnates in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He is one of the principal authors of A New History of Hasidism.
Acknowledgements Note to Reader Introduction Part 1: Context 1 Ba'al Shem Tov 2 Hasidism before Hasidism 3 A Country in Decline? 4 Miedzboz: A Place in Time and Space 5 The Contentions of Life Part 2: Texts 6 The Holy Epistle 7 More Besht Correspondence 8 Testimonies 9 Life Stories 10 Light from the Archives Part 3: Images 11 A Person of his Time 12 From the Historical Besht to the Usable Besht: The Image of the Ba'al Shem Tov in Early Habad Afterword Notes Bibliography Index
'The only scholarly book, in any language, that deals with the figure of the Besht in a detailed, profound, and very documented manner. Dr Rosman has mapped the background of the life and activity of the Besht, using unknown material, penetrating analysis, and a broader perspective regarding Jewish history in Poland ... A very remarkable achievement.'
- Moshe Idel, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
'The subject is crucial; the approach is bold and brilliantly chosen. The result is a persuasive revision of a fundamental chapter in the Jewish experience.'
- Gershon Hundert, McGill University
FROM REVIEWS OF THE HARDBACK EDITION:
'In this quest for the historical Ba'al Shem Tov, Mr Rosman has brilliantly re-created a chapter of this alien world of our ancestors.'
- David Biale, Forward
'A model of sober scholarship that combines detective work and careful reasoning in quest of the man behind centuries of accumulated legends. Thanks to Rosman's careful historical analysis, we can now attach a recognizable biography to Israel ben Eliezer Miedzydoz and situate the man within his times.'
- Jewish Book World
'Rosman's painstakingly lucid investigation of the movement's putative founder ultimately and ironically deepens the movement's mystery ... Rosman's greatest innovation is his use of the kinds of archival materials - tax rolls, land registers, communal ordinances, and the like - usually overlooked by historians of theology. Through careful examination of the extant evidence, and a thorough investigation of the precise contours of the time and place of Besht's life and milieu, he arrives at the surprising, but compelling conclusion that the Besht, rather than being the rebel he is universally thought of, was in fact an established member of this community in Medzhibozh.'
- Jerusalem Report
Edition: 2nd Revised edition
Size: 235 × 155 × 28 mm
maps and tables
Publication: June 20, 2013
Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization