BackgroundHasidic philosophy begins with the teachings of Yisroel ben Eliezer known as the Baal Shem Tov and his successors (most notably Dov Ber the Maggid of Mezeritch and his students). These teachings consist of new interpretations of Judaism, but are especially built upon the Jewish mystical tradition, the . While the Jewish mystical tradition had long been reserved for a scholarly elite, Hasidic teachings are unique in their popular access, being aimed at the masses. Hasidism is thought to be a union of three different currents in Judaism: 1) Jewish law or '' ''; 2) Jewish legend and saying, the '' ''; and 3) Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah.Friedman, Maurice S. ''Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue''. Harper & Row Publishers. 1955. Pages 16-23. Hasidic teachings, often termed , are seen as having a similar method to that of the (the rabbinic homiletic literature). Hasidic exegesis differs from Kabbalistic schools as it focuses somewhat less on the '' sefirot'' and '' partzufim'' and more on binary types of oppositions (e.g. body and soul). On the other hand, Louis Jacobs stated that Hasidic teachings should not be described as as during the course of interpretation texts are taken completely out of context to yield desired conclusions, grammar and syntax are ignored, and ideas are read into the texts that they cannot possibly mean. The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov are founded on two key ideas: 1) religious pantheism (or panentheism), or the omnipresence of God, and 2) the idea of communion between God and man. The doctrines of the Baal Shem Tov include the teaching of the individual's duty to serve God in every aspect of his or her daily life, the concept of divine providence as extending to every individual and even to each particular in the inanimate world, the doctrine of Continuous Creation that the true reality of all things is the "word" of God brought all things into being and continuously keeps them in existence.Mindel, Nissan. ''Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi: Philosophy of Chabad''. Vol 1. Chabad Research Center - Kehot Publication Society. 1969. Pages 14-15. In line with the Kabbalah, the Baal Shem Tov taught that the end of worship of God is attachment to God (''devekut''), which primarily is the service of the heart rather than the mind. The Baal Shem Tov emphasized the rabbinic teaching "God desires the heart" as the obligation of intention of the heart (''kavanah'') in the fulfilment of the ''mitzvah, mitzvot''. Where the Baal Shem Tov departs from Kabbalah is his notion that ''devekut'' may be attained through even the sincere recitation of prayers and psalms.
Hasidic schools of thoughtSome Hasidic "courts", and not a few individual prominent masters, developed distinct philosophies with particular accentuation of various themes in the movement's general teachings. Several of these Hasidic schools had lasting influence over many dynasties, while others died with their proponents. In the doctrinal sphere, the dynasties may be divided along many lines. Some are characterized by ''rebbe''s who are predominantly Torah scholars and Posek, decisors, deriving their authority much like ordinary non-Hasidic rabbis do. Such "courts" place great emphasis on strict observance and study, and are among the most meticulous in the Orthodox world in practice. Prominent examples are the House of Sanz and its scions, such as Satmar (Hasidic dynasty), Satmar, or Belz (Hasidic dynasty), Belz. Other sects, like Vizhnitz (Hasidic dynasty), Vizhnitz, espouse a charismatic-populist line, centered on the admiration of the masses for the Righteous, his effervescent style of prayer and conduct and his purported miracle-working capabilities. Fewer still retain a high proportion of the mystical-spiritualist themes of early Hasidism, and encourage members to study much kabbalistic literature and (carefully) engage in the field. The various Ziditchover dynasties mostly adhere to this philosophy.Benjamin Brown
Popular TzadikismAmong the disciples of the Maggid of Mezeritch, Elimelech of Lizhensk (1717–1787), who founded Hasidic Judaism in Poland, Hasidism in Poland-Galicia, wrote the early Hasidic classic work ''Noam Elimelech'' (1788), which developed the role of the Hasidic into a full training of charismatic theurgic mystical "Popular/Practical Tzadikism". The work so cultivated the innovative social mysticism of leadership that it led to the proliferation of new Hasidic Tzadikim among leading disciples in Galicia and Poland. This populist "Mainstream Hasidism" praised the role of the elite tzadik in extreme formulations, which incurred the censorship of the Mitnagdim. The tzadik was depicted as the divine foundation of existence, who's task was to draw and elevate the common Jewish masses by charismatic appeal and theurgic intercession. He cultivated their faith and emotional deveikut to the divinity that the Tzadik represented on the material plane, as a collective of the divine sparks in each person's soul. Disciples who became the subsequent popular tzadikim leaders of Hasidic Judaism in Poland, Polish Hasidism include the Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin, the Maggid of Koznitz and Menachem Mendel of Rimanov.
PeshischaIn 1812, a schism occurred between the Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, Seer of Lublin and his prime disciple, the Yaakov Yitzchak Rabinowicz, Holy Jew of Przysucha (Peshischa in Yiddish), due to both personal and doctrinal disagreements. The Seer adopted a populist approach, centered on the Righteous' theurgical functions to draw the masses. He was famous for his lavish, enthusiastic conduct during prayer and worship, and extremely charismatic demeanour. He stressed that as ''tzaddiq'', his mission was to influence the common folk by absorbing Divine Light and satisfying their material needs, thus converting them to his cause and elating them. The Holy Jew pursued a more introspective course, maintaining that the ''rebbe''s duty was to serve as a spiritual mentor for a more elitist group, helping them to achieve a senseless state of contemplation, aiming to restore man to his oneness with God which Adam supposedly lost when he ate the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Tree of Knowledge. The Holy Jew and his successors did neither repudiate miracle working, nor did they eschew dramatic conduct; but they were much more restrained in general. The Peshischa School became dominant in Congress Poland, Central Poland, while populist Hasidism resembling the Lublin ethos often prevailed in Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, Galicia. One extreme and renowned philosopher who emerged from the Peshischa School was Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. Adopting an elitist, hard-line attitude, he openly denounced the folkly nature of other ''tzaddiqim'', and rejected financial support. Gathering a small group of devout scholars who sought to attain spiritual perfection, whom he often berated and mocked, he always stressed the importance of both somberness and totality, stating it was better to be fully wicked than only somewhat good.
ChabadThe Chabad school, also called Lyubavichi, Rudnyansky District, Smolensk Oblast, Lubavitch after the village in White Russia where it subsequently settled, was founded by Shneur Zalman of Liadi from among the circle of Dov Ber of Mezeritch, and was elaborated over 7 generations by his successors until the late 20th century. Chabad was originally the more inclusive term, as it also generated a number of short lived offshoots, but hereditary dynasticism defined the main branch, which became publicly prominent for its outreach to the wider Jewish world under the post-war leadership of the last Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Lubavitcher Rebbe. The term ''Chabad'', an acronym for the intellectual sephirot powers of the soul, defines the thought of the movement, which emphasises the role of inward intellectual and psychological contemplation of Hasidic mysticism, in contrast to mainstream Hasidic emotionalist faith and fervour. Chabad Rebbes, while not eschewing charismatic authority, emphasises their role as teachers and guides for the own internal work at divine contemplation of their followers. Chabad is an offshoot of Hasidism and a movement of its own, characterised by its own successively articulated orientations, and with its own extensive writings that are typified by the systematic nature of their thought, with their own conceptual language. Chabad is described in scholarship as the intellectual''The Jewish Religion - A Companion'', Louis Jacobs, Oxford University Press 1995, entry: Habad or philosophical school in Hasidism. These comparisons are qualified, however, by considerations that Chabad thought is not Jewish rationalism, rationalistic, as it builds its philosophical investigations of divinity upon Lurianic Kabbalah and other traditional Torah sources without independent reason from first principles; though incorporating Maimonides, Maimonidean and other medieval Jewish philosophy methods, most Chabad thought is presented in a Kabbalistic theosophical framework; its aim is inward mystical self-transformation applied to self-sacrifice in Halakha, Jewish observance, not philosophy, formal philosophical intellectualism; and Chabad thought retains Jewish mysticism, mystical revelation as its infinite intuitive divine essence source, drawn down into successively greater intellectual understanding by each leader of Chabad. In Chabad thought, the Kabbalah, Kabbalistic realm is mirrored in the internal life of man, so that it develops a conceptual spiritual psychology of human life. This enables the insights of mysticism, through ''Hitbonenut'' contemplation during prayer, to be translated into inward emotions and practical action, while forming a precise analogical understanding for philosophical articulation of divinity.''The Encyclopedia of Hasidism'', edited by Tzvi M. Rabinowicz, Aronson 1996, entry: Habad by Jonathan Sacks Chabad theology translates the esoteric symbols of Kabbalah into dialectical terms that intellectually study divinity through internal human psychological experience. The ultimate paradox contemplated in meditative Chabad prayer is its Acosmism, acosmic panentheism that leads to ''Bittul'' self-nullification and inward ''Hitpa'alut'' ecstasy. While each Chabad leader developed and deepened these contemplative themes, the thought of the last Rebbe treated Hasidic thought not as a self-contained mystical study, but much more widely as the inner unifying divine essence of Pardes (Jewish exegesis), all parts of Torah, expressed in analytical talks that united the exoteric and esoteric, mystical and rational of Judaism, and emphasised the corresponding unity of the whole Jewish people. In the theology of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the ultimate Atzmus, Divine essence, expressed through Hasidism's soul essence, is revealed in Mitzvot, practical action and Chabad mitzvah campaigns, Jewish outreach that makes a messianic dwelling for God.
BreslovAnother renowned school of Hasidic thought, distinct from mainstream Hasidism, was formulated by Nachman of Breslov (or Bratslav), a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. Nachman's creative and enigmatic individualism, coupled with the autobiographical communication of esoteric spirituality in his writings, ensured uniquely that his Breslov (Hasidic group), Breslov Hasidim continued to follow him till today, without appointing a successor. They remained controversial with other Hasidic groups as Nachman berated false wonder-working Tzadikim, distinguishing them from the true Tzadik of the generation who cleaves to God by prophetic perfection. Nachman assumed this role, and regarded himself as a new Kabbalistic revelation in succession to Isaac Luria and the Baal Shem Tov. His life and teachings relate to themes of messianic rectification, including the narration of intricate imaginative folk tales with Kabbalistic and Hasidic symbolism, and the writing of esoteric hidden works. Nachman's personality and thought comprise the anti-rational pole of Hasidism, deriding the logical limitations of medieval Jewish philosophy to reach mystical union and the revelation of the Kabbalistic Divine "Nothingness" Absolute.''Mysticism and Madness: The Religious Thought of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav'', Zvi Mark, Continuum 2009, Chapter 2 On the Character of Mystical Experiences, Chapter 7 The Ultimate Purpose of Knowing is that We Do Not Know, Chapter 8 "The Story of the Humble King" - On Laughter and Foolishness in the Service of God Imagination occupies a central position, drawing from Holy Spirit in Judaism, prophecy, and perfecting faith, new Torah revelation, melody, joy, laughter, simplicity, and Hitbodedut, personal secluded prayer, by casting away the rational mind. Actions of "smallness" (foolish madness) nullify the ego, and relate to the folly of material existence, and the comic playfulness of Mitzvot, Judaic observance, which like the world becomes only real and Divinely meaningful with the longing and cleaving to God of deveikut mysticism. Within Hasidism's paradox of Ayin and Yesh, Divine Immanence versus worldly reality, Nachman portrayed the Existentialism, existential world in grim colors, as a place devoid of God's perceived presence, which the soul transcends in mystical yearning. He mocked attempts to perceive the nature of infinite-finite dialectics and the manner in which God still occupies the Tzimtzum, Vacant Void of Creation albeit not, stating these were paradoxical, beyond human understanding. Cleaving to the one true who reaches above the void, simple faith, silence and melody confront the inevitable heresies of pre-Messianic finite reality. Mortals were in constant struggle to overcome their profane instincts, and had to free themselves from their limited intellects to see the world as it truly is. Recent scholarship has rejected earlier academic constructions of Rabbi Nachman's thought as an existentialist Hasidism of faith, versus the general movement's Hasidism of mysticism, establishing the dialectic ladder of mystical union (a mysticism of faith) that Breslovian faith communicates
The mystical borders of antinomianismIn the doctrine of the developed in early writings of the movement, a volatile, potentially antinomianism, antinomian aspect of "transgression for the Sake of Heaven" is found, expressed in terms of the Tzadik's states of "descent" and "smallness". For the Righteous to elevate the common masses, he must occasionally descend to their level, emulating their sins for holy motives. A related early theme is the "elevation of sinful thoughts" that enter the Tzadik's mind due to sins of the community. An antinomian strain relating to the conduct of the tzadik exists in the writings of the Yaakov Yitzchak of Lublin, Seer of Lublin, which were personal notes published posthumously. For the Seer, the masses must obey halakha (revealed Divine Will) with Fear of God, awe. The task of the tzadik is to cleave to God in love of God, love, whose charismatic glow shines to the masses. The Tzadik's ecstatic abilities uncover a Holy Spirit in Judaism, prophetic hidden Divine Will of ever new revelation, that can suspend the legislated former revelation of halakha for the sake of Heaven.Rachel Elior, ''The Mystical Origins of Hasidism'', Littman Library 2006, Chapter 11 Mystical Spirituality and Autonomous Leadership Tzvi Hirsh of Zidichov, a major Galician ''tzaddiq'', was a disciple of the Seer of Lublin, but combined his populist inclination with a strict observance even among his most common followers, and great pluralism in matters pertaining to mysticism, as those were eventually emanating from each person's unique soul. The tension between fixed Halakha, halakhic observance and the direct pluralist autonomy of personal mystical inspiration, a previously downplayed current in Hasidic thought, was explored fully in the thought of Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica (Ishbitze in Yiddish). Combining the personal autonomy, introspection and demand for authenticity of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, Kotzk with the mystical antinomian freedom of the Seer, he promulgated a radical understanding of Free will in theology, free will, which he considered illusory and derived directly from God. He argued that when one attained a sufficient spiritual level and could be certain evil thoughts did not derive from his animalistic soul, then sudden urges to transgress revealed Law were God-inspired and may be pursued. This Messianic conduct was restricted to elite Judah (son of Jacob), Yehuda Jews, rather than the community. Leiner saw this in unconventional exegesis of Biblical episodes that reversed standard interpretations, but in the Messianic era when the paradox will be revealed, all previous lives will be seen as determined by God. Expressing the true "depth" of multiplicity of levels in the Divine Will, and the consequent personal revelation, introspection and doubt, Leiner reversed the Talmudic phrase to exclude free will: "all is in the hands of Heaven, ''including'' a person's fear of God". In effect, however, Leiner regulated the antinomian potential of this mystical inspiration that recalled the Sabbatean religious anarchy, by rigorous self-analysis to ensure one's motives were truly heaven sent. His successors in the Izhbitza – Radzin (Hasidic dynasty), Izhbitza – Radzin dynasty de-emphasized it in their commentaries. Leiner's disciple Zadok HaKohen of Lublin continued the thought of his teacher, also developing a complex philosophic system which presented a dialectic nature in history, arguing that great progress had to be preceded by crisis and calamity.
God's immanenceThe most fundamental theme underlying all Hasidic theory is the immanence of God in the universe, often expressed in a phrase from the ''Tikunei haZohar'', "Leit Atar panuy mi-néya" (Aramaic: "no site is devoid of it"). Derived from Lurianic discourse, but greatly expanded in the Hasidic one, this panentheistic concept implies that literally all of creation is suffused with divinity. In the beginning, God had to contract (''Tzimtzum'') His omnipresence or infinity, the ''Ein Sof''. Thus, a Vacant Void (''Khalal panui'') was created, bereft from obvious presence, and therefore able to entertain free will, contradictions and other phenomena seemingly separate from God Himself, which would have been impossible within His original, perfect existence. Yet, the very reality of the world which was created therein is entirely dependent on its divine origin. Matter would have been null and void without the true, spiritual essence it possesses. Just the same, the infinite ''Ein Sof'' cannot manifest in the Vacant Void, and must limit itself in the guise of measurable corporeality that may be perceived.Rachel Elior
The ''Tzadik''While its mystical and ethical teachings are not easily sharply distinguished from those of other Jewish currents, the defining doctrine of Hasidism is that of the saintly leader, serving both as an ideal inspiration and an institutional figure around whom followers are organized. In the movement's sacral literature, this person is referred to as the ''Tzadik, Tzaddiq'', the Righteous One — often also known by the general honorific ''Admor'' (acronym of Hebrew for "our master, teacher and Rabbi"), granted to rabbis in general, or colloquially as ''rebbe''. The idea that, in every generation, there are righteous persons through whom the divine effluence is drawn to the material world is rooted in the kabbalistic thought, which also claims that one of them is supreme, the reincarnation of Moses. Hasidism elaborated the notion of the ''Tzaddiq'' into the basis of its entire system – so much that the very term gained an independent meaning within it, apart from the Tzadik, original which denoted God-fearing, highly observant people.David Assaf, ''The Regal Way: The Life and Times of Rabbi Israel of Ruzhin'', Stanford University Press (2002). pp. 101-104. When the sect began to attract following and expanded from a small circle of learned disciples to a mass movement, it became evident that its complex philosophy could be imparted only partially to the new rank and file. As even intellectuals struggled with the sublime dialectics of infinity and corporeality, there was little hope to have the common folk truly internalize these, not as mere abstractions to pay lip service to. Ideologues exhorted them to have faith, but the true answer, which marked their rise as a distinct sect, was the concept of the ''Tzaddiq''. A Hasidic master was to serve as a living embodiment of the recondite teachings. He was able to transcend matter, gain spiritual communion, Worship through Corporeality and fulfill all the theoretical ideals. As the vast majority of his flock could not do so themselves, they were to cleave to him instead, acquiring at least some semblance of those vicariously. His commanding and often — especially in the early generations — charismatic presence was to reassure the faithful and demonstrate the truth in Hasidic philosophy by countering doubts and despair. But more than spiritual welfare was concerned: Since it was believed he could ascend to the higher realms, the leader was able to harvest effluence and bring it down upon his adherents, providing them with very material benefits. "''The crystallization of that theurgical phase''", noted Glenn Dynner, "''marked Hasidism's evolution into a full-fledged social movement.''" In Hasidic discourse, the willingness of the leader to sacrifice the ecstasy and fulfillment of unity in God was deemed a heavy sacrifice undertook for the benefit of the congregation. His followers were to sustain and especially to obey him, as he possessed superior knowledge and insight gained through communion. The "descent of the Righteous" (''Yeridat ha-Tzaddiq'') into the matters of the world was depicted as identical with the need to save the sinners and redeem the sparks concealed in the most lowly places. Such a link between his functions as communal leader and spiritual guide legitimized the political power he wielded. It also prevented a retreat of Hasidic masters into hermitism and passivity, as many mystics before them did. Their worldly authority was perceived as part of their long-term mission to elevate the corporeal world back into divine infinity.Elior, pp. 66-68; Dynner, pp. 20-21. To a certain extent, the Saint even fulfilled for his congregation, and for it alone, a limited Messiah in Judaism, Messianic capacity in his lifetime. After the Sabbatean debacle, this moderate approach provided a safe outlet for the eschatological urges. At least two leaders radicalized in this sphere and caused severe controversy: Nachman of Breslov, who declared himself the only true ''Tzaddiq'', and Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom many of his followers believed to be the Messiah. The ''rebbe''s were subject to intense hagiography, even subtly compared with Biblical figures by employing prefiguration. It was argued that since followers could not "negate themselves" sufficiently to transcend matter, they should instead "negate themselves" in submission to the Saint (''hitbatlut la-Tzaddiq''), thus bonding with him and enabling themselves to access what he achieved in terms of spirituality. The Righteous served as a mystical bridge, drawing down effluence and elevating the prayers and petitions of his admirers. The Saintly forged a well-defined relationship with the masses: they provided the latter with inspiration, were consulted in all matters, and were expected to intercede on behalf of their adherents with God and ensure they gained financial prosperity, health and male offspring. The pattern still characterizes Hasidic sects, though prolonged routinization in many turned the ''rebbes'' into de facto political leaders of strong, institutionalized communities. The role of a Saint was obtained by charisma, erudition and appeal in the early days of Hasidism. But by the dawn of the 19th century, the Righteous began to claim legitimacy by descent to the masters of the past, arguing that since they linked matter with infinity, their abilities had to be associated with their own corporeal body. Therefore, it was accepted "there can be no ''Tzaddiq'' but the son of a ''Tzaddiq''". Virtually all modern sects maintain this hereditary principle. For example, the ''rebbe''s' families maintain endogamy and marry almost solely with scions of other dynasties.
Other concepts* ''Devekut'' (Hebrew: דביקות - "cleaving") – The "attachment" or "adherence" to God is a state of worship which goes beyond ecstasy (''hitlahavut''). ''Devekut'' is described as the state of self-transcendence into the divine. It is understood to be the highest goal of Jewish mystical striving. Some scholars have maintained that Hasidism is distinguished by its insistence that the starting point of religious life is complete adhesion to and communion with God. According to Gershom Scholem, the originality of Hasidism lies in the fact that the mystics of the movement did not simply cherish their attainment of ''devekut'' but undertook to teach its secrets to all. In Hasidism, ''devekut'' is an ideal to be striven for by both the saintly as well as the average Jew, though hasidic thinkers generally add that it is only the saint who can maintain a life of ''devekut'' and that his followers can be led to its approximation only through their attachment to the saintly man. Hasidism uses ''devekut'' in a more casual and general way, instructing its followers to seek a life of ''devekut'' where one's mind is always concentrating on God. Techniques for this purpose were inherited from the Kabbalah, including meditation on the four lettered name of God (''Y-H-V-H''). * ''Hispashtut hagashmiut'' ( he, התפשטות הגשמיות "divestment of corporeality") – This is understood as a spiritual practice where one regards his or her body as being ina state of union with the rest of the world. ''Hitpashtut hagashmiut'' is the stripping-away of materialism, allowing one to abolish his or her own selfhood (''yesh''), becoming a part of the divine will. ''Hitpashtut hagashmiut'' occurs during the height of the ''devekut'' experience, where the Hasid is able to dissolve the forces of the ego, making it possible for the soul to be reunited with its divine source. * Godliness in all Matter – Hasidism emphasises the previous Jewish mystical idea to extract and elevate the Divine in all material things, both animate and inanimate. As taught in earlier Kabbalistic teachings from Isaac Luria, all worldly matter is imbued with ''nitzotzot'' (Hebrew: ניצוצות), or divine sparks, which were disseminated through the "Breaking of the Vessels" (in Hebrew: שבירת הכלים), brought about through cosmic processes at the beginning of Creation. The Hasidic follower strives to elevate the sparks in all those material things that aid one's prayer, Torah study, religious commandments, and overall service of God. A related concept is the imperative to engage with the Divine through mundane acts, such as eating, sexual relations, and other day-to-day activities. Hasidism teaches that all actions can be utilized for the service of God when fulfilled with such intent. Eating can be elevated through reciting the proper blessings before and after, while maintaining the act's intent as that of keeping the body healthy for the continued service of God. Sexual relations can be elevated by abstaining from excessive pursuits of sexual pleasures, while maintaining focus on its core purposes in Jewish thought: procreation, as well as the independent purpose of deepening the love and bond between husband and wife, two positive commandments. Business transactions too, when conducted within the parameters of Jewish law and for the sake of monetary gain that will then be used for fulfilling commandments, serve a righteous purpose. Scholars refer to this concept as Hasidic pantheism. * ''Simcha'' (Hebrew: שִׂמְחָה - "joy") – Joy is considered an essential element of the Hasidic way of life. In the early stages of the Hasidic movement, before the name "Hasidim" was coined, one of the names used to refer to the followers of the new movement was ''di Freyliche'' ( yi, די פרייליכע), “the Happy”.Majesky, Shloma
ParablesHasidism often uses parables to reflect on mystical teachings. For example, the well-known parable of the "Prince and the Imaginary Walls" reflects a pantheistic or acosmistic theology and explores the relationship between the individual Jew and God.Polen, Nehemia. "Hasidic Derashah as Illuminated Exegesis." ''The Value of the Particular: Lessons from Judaism and the Modern Jewish Experience: Festschrift for Steven T. Katz on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday''. BRILL. 2015. Pages 55-70. Nachman of Breslov authored a number of well-known tales, or expanded parables. Nachman believed he drew these "tales of the ancient wisdom" from a higher wisdom, tapping into a deep archetypal imagination. One such tale is The Rooster Prince, a story of a prince who goes insane and believes that he is a rooster.
Early Hasidic worksWhile the Baal Shem Tov did not leave teachings in writing, many teachings, sayings and parables are recorded by his students, most notably in the ''Toldot Yaakov Yosef'' by Jacob Josef of Polonne, a disciple of the Baal Shem Tov. The teachings of the Baal Shem Tov's successor, Dov Ber the Maggid of Mezritch, were compiled in the work ''Maggid D'varav L'yaakov'' (compiled by Shlomo Lusk). Many of the Hasidic leaders of the third generation of Hasidism (students of Dov Ber) authored their own works, which are the basis for new Hasidic schools of thought. Among them are Elimelech of Lizhensk, who further developed the Hasidic doctrine of the Tzaddik (mystical leader) that gave rise to many Polish Hasidic dynasties, also notable are the teachings of his brother Meshulam Zushya of Anipoli, Zushya of Anipoli and Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, known in Hasidic legend as the defender of the people before the Heavenly Court. Shneur Zalman of Liadi initiated the Chabad school of intellectual Hasidism. Others include Nachman of Breslav known for his use of imaginative parables, and Menachem Mendel of Kotzk. Among the major tracts compiled by early Hasidic masters are: * ''Toldot Yaakov Yosef'', by Jacob Joseph of Polnoye (1780) * ''Magid Devarav L'Yaakov'', by Dovber of Mezritch, compiled by Shlomo of Lutzk (1781) * ''Noam Elimelech'', by Elimelech of Lizhensk (1788) * ''Tanya, Likutei Amarim (Tanya)'', by Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1796) * ''Kedushas Levi'', by Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (1798) * ''Meor Einayim'', by Menachem Nachum Twerski of Chernobyl (1798) * ''Likutei Moharan'', by Nachman of Breslov (1808) * ''Siduro Shel Shabbos'', by Hayyim Tyrer (1813) * ''Sippurei Ma'asiot'' by Nachman of Breslov (1816) - a book of parables reflecting mystical concepts
In Jewish scholarshipThe lengthy history of Hasidism, the numerous schools of thought therein, and particularly its use of the traditional medium of homiletic literature and sermons – comprising numerous references to earlier sources in the Pentateuch, Talmud and exegesis as a means to grounding oneself in tradition – as the almost sole channel to convey its ideas, all made the isolation of a common doctrine highly challenging to researchers. As noted by Joseph Dan, "''every attempt to present such a body of ideas has failed.''" Even motifs presented by scholars in the past as unique Hasidic contributions were later revealed to have been common among both their predecessors and opponents, all the more so regarding many other traits that are widely extant – these play, Dan added, "''a prominent role in modern non-Hasidic and anti-Hasidic writings as well''".Joseph Dan,
ImpactHasidic tradition and thought has gained admirers from outside its immediate following, and outside Orthodox Judaism, Orthodox Jewish belief, for its charismatic inspiration and kabbalistic insights. In the 20th Century, Neo-Hasidism renewed interest in Hasidism and Kaballah, where its reach extends beyond Orthodox Jews. Jewish existentialist philosopher Martin Buber spent five years in isolation studying Hasidic texts, having a profound impact on his later writing. Buber later brought Hasidism to the western world through his works on Hasidic tales. The thought of Abraham Isaac Kook, poetic mystic, theologian and figurehead of Religious Zionism, drew from both Hasidic thought and Lithuanian Talmudism. Gershom Scholem saw him as a classic inspired mystic of the 20th century. Kook's mystical concern for unity between false dichotomies of Aggada and Halakha, sacred and secular, reflects Hasidic Divine Immanence in all, and the union of polarities in Chabad thought. The influential thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel, scion of Polish Hasidic dynasties and a major traditionalist theologian in 20th century modern Jewish existentialism, drew from Hasidism. His writings, including studies of Hasidic masters, and Neo-Hasidism, saw Hasidism as the classic expression of Aggada, Aggadic tradition. Heschel held the Aggadah's theology, poetic exegesis and spirituality to be central to the meaning and history of Judaism. In literature, Hasidic spirituality influenced among others Elie Wiesel, Shmuel Yosef Agnon and Yiddish literature, Yiddish writers. Rajneesh was also influenced by Hasidism, and helped to extend popular awareness of the philosophy.
See also* Jewish meditation * Asceticism in Judaism * Misnagdim * Chabad philosophy * Neo-Hasidism * Nine and a Half Mystics
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