Hasidism Reappraised

Edited by Ada Rapoport-Albert

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ISBN: 9781874774358

Publication: January 1, 1998

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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Hasidism has been a seminal force and source of controversy in the Jewish world since its inception in the second half of the eighteenth century. Indeed, almost every ideological trend that has made itself felt among Jews since that time-from Zionism and Orthodoxy to contemporary Jewish feminism and movements within the yeshiva world-has claimed to have derived some inspiration from this vibrant movement. While this is sure testimony to its vitality and originality, it has also given rise to many misconceptions as to what hasidism is about. This major work, the first comprehensive critical study of hasidism in English, offers a wide-ranging treatment of the subject in all its aspects by what is effectively the entire present generation of scholars working in the field. With contributions ranging from the history of theology and of ideas through social and economic history to contemporary sociology, Hasidism Reappraised encompasses a complete field of modern scholarship in a discipline that is central to the understanding of modern Jewish history and the contemporary Jewish world. The twenty-eight authors who have contributed to the main body of the book are almost without exception established scholars with international reputations. The volume as a whole is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Weiss, and its opening section assesses his contribution to the study of hasidism in the context of his relationship with Gershom Scholem and Scholem's long-standing influence on the field. The remaining contributions are arranged thematically under seven headings: the social history of hasidism; the social functions of mystical ideals in the hasidic movement; distinctive outlooks and schools of thought within hasidism; the hasidic tale; the history of hasidic historiography; contemporary hasidism; and the present state of research on hasidism. The book also incorporates an extensive introduction that places the various articles in their intellectual context, as well as a bibliography of hasidic sources and contemporary scholarly literature. Hasidism Reappraised shows an intellectual world at an important juncture in its development and points to the direction in which scholarly study of hasidism is likely to develop in the years to come. CONTRIBUTOR: Jacob Barnai, Israel Bartal, Joseph Dan, Rachel Elior, Immanuel Etkes, Shmuel Ettinger, Morris M. Faierstein, Roland Goetschel, Arthur Green, Zeev Gries, Karl Erich GROZINGER, Moshe Hallamish, Gershon David Hundert, Moshe Idel, Louis Jacobs, Jacob Katz, Naftali Loewenthal, Daniel Meijers, Yehoshua Mondshine, Gedaliah Nigal, Mendel Piekarz, Ada Rapoport-Albert, Moshe J. Rosman, Bracha Sack, Yoseph Salmon, Chone Shmeruk, Sara Ora Heller Wilensky, Elliot R. Wolfson

Ada Rapoport-Albert is Professor of Jewish Studies and former Head of the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London. She is the author of a number of studies on the history of hasidism.

Notes on contributors

Part I Joseph G. Weiss as a Student of Hasidism
1 Joseph G. Weiss: A Personal Appraisal - JACOB KATZ
2 Joseph Weiss: Letters to Ora - SARA ORA HELLER WILENSKY

Part II Towards a New Social History of Hasidism
3 The Conditions in Jewish Society in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the Middle Decades of the Eighteenth Century - GERSHON DAVID HUNDERT
4 Social Conflicts in Miedzyboz in the Generation of the Besht - MOSHE J. ROSMAN
5 Hasidism and the Kahal in Eastern Europe - SHMUEL ETTINGER
6 Hasidism after 1772: Structural Continuity and Change - ADA RAPOPORT- ALBERT
7 The Hasidic Managing Editor as an Agent of Culture - ZEEV GRIES

Part III The Social Function of Mystical Ideals in Hasidism
8 The Zaddik: The Interrelationship between religious Doctrine and Social Organization - IMMANUEL ETKES
9 The Paradigms of Yesh and Ayin in Hasidic Thought - RACHEL ELIOR
10 Walking as a Sacred Duty: Theological Transformation of Social Reality in Early Hasidism - ELLIOT R. WOLFSON
11 Hasidism and the Dogma of the Decline of the Generations - LOUIS JACOBS
12 Personal Redemption in Hasidism - MORRIS M. FAIERSTEIN
13 Hasidism as a Socio-religious Movement on the Evidence of Devekut - MENDEL PIEKARZ

Part IV Distinctive Outlooks and Schools of Thought within Hasidism
14 The Influence of Reshit hokhmah on the Teachings of the Maggid of Mezhirech - BRACHA SACK
15 Torah lishmah as a Central Concept in the Degel mahaneh Efrayim of Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow - ROLAND GOETSCHEL
16 The Teachings of R. Menahem Mendel of Vitebsk - MOSHE HALLAMISH
17 Habad Approaches to Contemplative Prayer, 1790-1920 - NAFTALI LOEWENTHAL
18 The Fluidity of Categories in Hasidism: Averah lishmah in the Teachings of R. Zevi Elimelekh of Dynow - YEHOSHUA MONDSHINE
19 R. Naphtali Zevi of Ropczyce (the 'Ropshitser') as a Hasidic Leader - YOSEPH SALMON

Part V The Hasidic Tale
20 New Light on the Hasidic Tale and its Sources - GEDALIAH NIGAL
21 The Source Value of the Basic Recensions of Shivhei haBesht - KARL ERICH GRA-ZINGER

Part VI The History of Hasidic Historiography
22 The Imprint of Haskalah Literature on the Historiography of Hasidism - ISRAEL BARTAL
23 The Historiography of the Hasidic Immigration to Erets Yisrael - JACOB BARNAI
24 Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem on Hasidism: A Critical Appraisal - MOSHE IDEL
25 Yitzhak Schiper's Study of Hasidism in Poland - CHONE SHMERUK

Part VII Contemporary Hasidism
26 Hasidism: The Third Century - JOSEPH DAN
27 Differences in Attitudes to Study and Work between Present-day Hasidism and Mitnaggedim: A Sociological View - DANIEL MEIJERS

Part VIII The Present State of Research on Hasidism: An Overview
28 Early Hasidism: Some Old/New Questions - ARTHUR GREEN
29 The Study of Hasidism: past Trends and New Directions - IMMANUEL ETKES


'Ce fort volume ... Cet ouvrage represente sans conteste une etape importante pour la connaissance du hasidisme.'
- Jacques Gutwirth, Archives des Sciences Sociales des Religions

'A magnificent account of that phenomenon from the Jewish past-Hasidism. Not only is it a consummate work of scholarship, but the editor has drawn together some of the personal relationships between scholars to show how this has also been the yeast in the splendid lekakh. Before all else, a word of praise for the editor ... to be read as well as to be dipped into and also to have as a major reference work. Trawling the index alone kept me fascinated for many evenings. Some wealthy Jews build synagogues, Jewish centres, but Louis Thomas Sidney Littman, who founded the Littman Library for the love of God and in memory of his father, gave us the wisest gift of all. Our richest past. His memory for a blessing. Ada Rapoport-Albert is an Israeli lecturer at University College, London. She is a considerable editor, writer, and scholar, and by all personal accounts an inspired teacher.'
- Alex Auswaks, Jerusalem Post

'Probably the most important analytical study of the Hasidic movement to have appeared in the English language, and it can be read with profit by anyone seriously interested in Jewish history.'
- Edgar Samuel, Jewish Historical Studies

'Undoubtedly of great value for our knowledge of hasidism.'
- Jacques Gutwirth, Jewish Journal of Sociology

'An opportunity to encounter virtually all the most important trends in the study of Hasidism and to move beyond the approaches and theories that have until now constituted conventional wisdom ... It is a volume that will be essential for anyone with a serious interest in Hasidism and indeed for any Judaica collection.'
- Miles Krassen, Journal of Jewish Studies

'Handsome collection of twenty-eight essays by world-ranking scholars ... comprehensive indeed, and profound, articulate, often gripping, and frequently counter to conventional wisdom ... amply rewarded by the superb job of translating, editing and reducing to easily readable length ... a reflection of major watersheds in the study of Hasidism.'
- Lewis Glinert, Le'ela

Format: Paperback

Edition: New edition

Size: 156 × 234 × 27 mm

538 Pages

ISBN: 9781874774358

Publication: January 1, 1998

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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