Hasidic Judaism

Hasidic Judaism

Overview


Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" (literally "loving kindness
Chesed
The Hebrew noun khesed or chesed is the Hebrew word for "kindness." It is also commonly translated as "loving-kindness," or "love." Love is a central Jewish value, and leads to many particular commandments. Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and Jewish theology...

", IPA: ħɑsiduθ, χɑsidus), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. It was founded in 18th century Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 Judaism.
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Hasidic Judaism or Hasidism, from the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 —Ḥasidut in Sephardi, Chasidus in Ashkenazi, meaning "piety" (literally "loving kindness
Chesed
The Hebrew noun khesed or chesed is the Hebrew word for "kindness." It is also commonly translated as "loving-kindness," or "love." Love is a central Jewish value, and leads to many particular commandments. Chesed is central to Jewish ethics and Jewish theology...

", IPA: ħɑsiduθ, χɑsidus), is a branch of Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 that promotes spirituality and joy through the popularisation and internalisation of Jewish mysticism as the fundamental aspects of the Jewish faith
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. It was founded in 18th century Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe is the eastern part of Europe. The term has widely disparate geopolitical, geographical, cultural and socioeconomic readings, which makes it highly context-dependent and even volatile, and there are "almost as many definitions of Eastern Europe as there are scholars of the region"...

 by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 Judaism. His example began the characteristic veneration of leadership
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 in Hasidism as embodiments and intercessors of Divinity
Tzadik
Tzadik/Zadik/Sadiq is a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q , which means "justice" or "righteousness", also the root of Tzedakah...

 for the followers. Opposite to this, Hasidic teachings cherished the sincerity and concealed holiness of the unlettered common folk, and their equality with the scholarly elite. The emphasis on the Immanent Divine presence in everything gave new value to prayer and deeds of kindness, alongside Rabbinic supremacy of study
Torah study
Torah study is the study by Jewish people of the Torah, Hebrew Bible, Talmud, responsa, rabbinic literature and similar works, all of which are Judaism's religious texts...

, and replaced historical mystical (kabbalistic)
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 and ethical (musar)
Musar literature
Musar literature is the term used for didactic Jewish ethical literature which describes virtues and vices and the path towards perfection in a methodical way.- Definition of Musar literature :...

 asceticism
Asceticism in Judaism
Asceticism is a term derived from the Greek verb ἀσκέω, meaning "to practise strenuously," "to exercise." Athletes were therefore said to go through ascetic training, and to be ascetics....

 and admonishment
Maggid
Maggid , sometimes spelled as magid, is a traditional Eastern European Jewish religious itinerant preacher, skilled as a narrator of Torah and religious stories. A preacher of the more scholarly sort was called a "darshan", and usually occupied the official position of rabbi...

 with optimism, encouragement, and daily fervour. This populist emotional revival accompanied the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical Divine Panentheism
Panentheism
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it...

, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of mystical thought. The adjustment of Jewish values sought to add to required standards of ritual observance, while relaxing others where inspiration predominated. Its communal gatherings celebrated soulful song
Nigun
A nigun or niggun is a form of Jewish religious song or tune sung by groups. It is vocal music, often with repetitive sounds such as "bim-bim-bam" or "ai-ai-ai!" instead of formal lyrics. Sometimes, Bible verses or quotes from other classical Jewish texts are sung repetitively to form a nigun...

 and storytelling as forms of mystical devotion.

Hasidism comprises part of contemporary Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, alongside the previous Talmudic Lithuanian-Yeshiva
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

 approach and the Oriental Sephardi tradition. Its charismatic mysticism has inspired non-Orthodox Neo-Hasidic thinkers and influenced wider modern Jewish denominations
Jewish denominations
Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

, while its scholarly thought
Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus , alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations of Judaism, and mysticism articulated by the modern Hasidic movement...

 has interested contemporary academic study
Gershom Scholem
Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

. Each Hasidic dynasty follows its own principles; thus Hasidic Judaism is not one movement, but a collection of separate individual groups with some commonality. There are approximately 30 larger Hasidic groups, and several hundred minor groups. Though there is no one version of Hasidism, individual Hasidic groups often share with each other underlying philosophy, worship practices, dress, and songs.

Prelude


In Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

, where the bulk of Eastern European Jewry had established itself since the 13th century, two branches of Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 had emerged: those who opposed the study of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 (Jewish mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

) and those who supported it. This schism became particularly acute after the Messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi
Sabbatai Zevi
Sabbatai Zevi, , was a Sephardic Rabbi and kabbalist who claimed to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. He was the founder of the Jewish Sabbatean movement...

 in the 17th century. Leanings to mystical doctrines and sectarianism
Sectarianism
Sectarianism, according to one definition, is bigotry, discrimination or hatred arising from attaching importance to perceived differences between subdivisions within a group, such as between different denominations of a religion, class, regional or factions of a political movement.The ideological...

 showed themselves prominently among the Jews of the south-eastern provinces of Poland, while in the Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n provinces, anti-kabbalist orthodox leaders held sway. In part, this division in modes of thought reflected social differences between the northern (Lithuanian
Lithuanian Jews
Lithuanian Jews or Litvaks are Jews with roots in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania:...

) Jews and the southern Jews of Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. In Lithuania the Jewish masses mainly lived in densely populated towns where anti-kabbalistic rabbinical academic culture (in the yeshivot
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

) flourished, while in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 the Jews tended to live scattered in villages far removed from intellectual centers. In these villages, the influence of the kabbalists prevailed.

Pessimism in the south became more intense after the Cossacks' Uprising (1648–1654) under Chmielnicki
Bohdan Khmelnytsky
Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

 and the turbulent times
The Deluge (Polish history)
The term Deluge denotes a series of mid-17th century campaigns in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. In a wider sense it applies to the period between the Khmelnytsky Uprising of 1648 and the Truce of Andrusovo in 1667, thus comprising the Polish–Lithuanian theaters of the Russo-Polish and...

 in Poland (1648–1660), which ruined the Jewry of South East Poland, but did not much affect that of Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

. The general population of Poland itself declined and economic chaos reigned, especially due to these events and the subsequent Turkish Invasion
Polish-Ottoman War (1672–1676)
Polish–Ottoman War or Second Polish–Ottoman War was a war between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire, as part of the Great Turkish War. It ended in 1676 with the Treaty of Żurawno and the Commonwealth ceding control of most of its Ukraine territories to the...

 which left this region depopulated and barren. After the Polish magnates regained control of southern Rus in the last decade of the 17th century, an economic renaissance ensued. The magnates began a massive rebuilding and repopulation effort while being generally welcoming and benevolent towards the Jews. A type of frontier environment ensued where new people and new ideas were encouraged. The state of the Jews of what would later become southern Russia created a favorable field for mystical movements and religious sectarianism, which spread in the area from the middle of the 18th to the middle of the 19th century.

Besides these influences, deep-seated causes produced among many Jews a discontent with Rabbinism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 and a gravitation toward mysticism
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

. Rabbinism, which in Poland had become transformed into a system of religious formalism, no longer provided a satisfactory religious experience to many Jews. Although traditional Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 had adopted some features of Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, it adapted them to fit its own system: it added to its own ritualism the asceticism of the "practical kabbalists" just across the border in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, who saw the essence of earthly existence only in fasting, in penance, and in spiritual sadness. Such a combination of religious practices, suitable for individuals and hermits, did not suit the bulk of the Jews.

Mystical individuals arose, outside the Rabbinic establishment, called Nistarim or Baal Shem
Baal Shem
The traditional Baal Shem healer and exorcist used Kabbalistic methods in sanctity. Nistarim mystical brotherhoods sought wider outreach, from which Hasidism emerged...

 ("Masters of the Name" of God, used for practical kabbalistic intervention and miracles), who sought to offer the downtrodden masses spiritual and physical encouragement, and practical healing. The image of these charismatic figures, often wandering among the people, became shaped by the Kabbalistic legend of the Lamed Vav Tzadikim (36 hidden righteous people who sustain the world). From these circles of spiritual inspiration, the early Hasidic movement arose, led by Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov, in 18th Century Podolia
Podolia
The region of Podolia is an historical region in the west-central and south-west portions of present-day Ukraine, corresponding to Khmelnytskyi Oblast and Vinnytsia Oblast. Northern Transnistria, in Moldova, is also a part of Podolia...

 (now Ukraine). He attracted to his cause the preceding followers of the ways of the Nistorim, who saw in his teachings a new direction in reviving and consoling the masses.

At the time in Jewish Eastern Europe were also public preachers ("Maggidim"), who would visit the shuls (synagogues) of the shtetls (towns and villages). During their Sabbath sermons, they would sometimes seek to encourage Jewish observance with ethical promises and warnings of Heaven and Hell. In their addresses, they also supported the communal Rabbi in helping to teach those who could not learn the spiritual and practical life of Jewish learning, and offered personal examples of Jewish conduct. The Baal Shem Tov opposed their use of ethical admonishments of punishment, which lacked love and inner spiritual values. Under the Hasidic movement, ideas of reward and punishment were avoided, and were replaced by the spiritual life of dveikus (cleaving) to God in all daily conduct. The Baal Shem Tov, and Hasidism, also opposed the earlier mystical and ethical ascetic paths of fasting and self-mortification, seeking to serve God by infusing physical activities with new spiritual inspiration.

Israel ben Eliezer



The founder of Hasidism, Israel ben Eliezer (1698–1760), became known as the "Master of the Good Name" (the "Baal Shem Tov", abbreviated as the "Besht"). Following on from the earlier communal tradition of Baal Shem
Baal Shem
The traditional Baal Shem healer and exorcist used Kabbalistic methods in sanctity. Nistarim mystical brotherhoods sought wider outreach, from which Hasidism emerged...

, his fame as a healer spread not only among the Jews, but also among the non-Jewish peasants and the Polish nobles
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

. The hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 of oral stories about his life, that were posthumously compiled in writing by his disciples, describe his spiritual powers and knowledge, miracle working, and ability to predict the future. In turn, these notions were passed on to his saintly students and successors, and shaped the Hasidic doctrine of the Tzaddik or Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 (righteous leader who channels Divine sustenance to his followers). The particular Hasidic emphasis and interpretation of this earlier Jewish and Kabbalistic concept, became one of the ideas that singled it out from non-Hasidic Judaism. The Hasidic concept of a Rebbe also combines their role as a teacher of Judaism and as a charismatic spiritual example. To their followers they teach Hasidic mysticism and interpretations of Biblical and Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

.

The traditional accounts of his biography, describe the beginnings of his life as a public teacher and leader of the Jewish people from his 36th birthday. His role and unique talent as a teacher and communicator of mystical revival began a new era in Jewish mysticism. To the common people, the Besht appeared wholly admirable. Characterized by an extraordinary sincerity and simplicity, he sought to meet the spiritual needs of the masses. He taught them that true Divine service consisted not only of religious scholarship, but also of a sincere love of God combined with warm faith and belief in the efficacy of prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

; that the ordinary person filled with a sincere belief in God, and whose prayers come from the heart, is more acceptable to God than someone versed in and fully observant of Jewish law who lacks inspiration in his divine service. This democratization of Judaism attracted to the teachings of the Besht not only the common people, but also the scholars whom the rabbinical scholasticism
Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100–1500, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending orthodoxy in an increasingly pluralistic context...

 and ascetic Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 failed to satisfy.

About 1740 the Besht established himself in the Ukrainian
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 town of Mezhebuzh
Medzhybizh
Medzhybizh, previously known as Mezhybozhe, population 1731, is a town in the Khmelnytskyi Oblast of western Ukraine. It is located in the Letychivsky Raion , 25 kilometres from the Khmelnytskyi on the main highway between Khmelnytskyi and Vinnytsia at the confluence of the Southern Buh and...

. He gathered about him numerous disciples and followers, whom he initiated into the secrets of his teachings not by systematic exposition, but by means of sayings and parables that contained both easily graspable insights, for the laymen, and profound Kabbalistic depth, for the great scholars. These sayings spread by oral transmission; later the founder's disciples set them in writing, developing the thoughts of their master into a system. The Besht himself wrote nothing.

The seminal teachings of the Baal Shem Tov captured new ideas and interpretations of Judaism, and were articulated and developed by his students and successors. These ideas offered the unlearned a folk spiritual revival, while also giving the scholarly elite a new depth and approach to mysticism. Hasidism gave a ready response to the burning desire of the common people, in the simple, stimulating, and comforting faith it awakened in them. The scholars attracted to Hasidism, also sought to learn selfless humility and simple sincerity from the common folk. In contrast to other sectarian teaching, early Hasidism aimed not at dogmatic or ritual reform, but at a deeper psychological one. It aimed to change not the belief, but the believer. By means of psychological suggestion, it created a new type of religious man, a type that placed emotion above reason and rites, and religious exaltation above knowledge. Traditional devotion to Jewish study and scholarship was not replaced, but was spiritualised as a means to cleave to God. The unlearned common folk were given spiritual enlivenment, as their sincerity also made them close to God.

The spread of Hasidism



Israel ben Eliezer's disciples attracted many followers, who themselves established numerous Hasidic courts across Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. After the Besht's death, followers continued his cause, under the leadership of the Maggid
Maggid
Maggid , sometimes spelled as magid, is a traditional Eastern European Jewish religious itinerant preacher, skilled as a narrator of Torah and religious stories. A preacher of the more scholarly sort was called a "darshan", and usually occupied the official position of rabbi...

, Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritch
Dovber of Mezeritch
Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezeritch was a disciple of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism, and was chosen as his successor to lead the early movement...

. From his court students went forth; they in turn attracted many Jews to Hasidism, and many of them came to study in Mezritch (Mezhirichi
Mezhirichi
Mezhirichi is a village in the Korets Raion of the Rivne Oblast, Ukraine. It is located in western Ukraine, 13 miles W of Korets, 27 miles E of Rivne.- Names :Mezhirichi is also known as , , .- Jewish life in Mezhirichi :...

) with Dov Ber personally. By the 1830s the majority of Jews in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

, Galicia, and central Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 were Hasidic, as were substantial minorities in Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

, Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 and Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. Hasidic Judaism began coming to Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 and then to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 during the large waves of Jewish emigration in the 1880s.

After the passing of Rabbi Dov Ber, his inner circle of followers, known as the "Chevraya Kadisha," the Holy Fellowship, agreed to divide up the whole of Europe into different territories, and have each one charged with disseminating Hasidic teachings in his designated area.

Hasidism branched out into two main divisions: (1) in Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 and in Galicia
Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria
The Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria was a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire, and Austria–Hungary from 1772 to 1918 .This historical region in eastern Central Europe is currently divided between Poland and Ukraine...

 (Central Europe) and (2) in Litta (Greater Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

 from the time when it encompassed Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

). Three disciples of Dov Ber of Mezritch (Elimelech of Lizhensk
Elimelech of Lizhensk
Elimelech Weisblum of Lizhensk , a Rabbi and one of the great founding Rebbes of the Hasidic movement, was known after his hometown, Leżajsk near Rzeszów in Poland...

, Levi Yitzchak of Berdychev, and Menachem Nachum of Chernobyl), besides the grandson of the Besht, Boruch of Tulchin (later R' Boruch of Mezhbizh), directed the first of these divisions. Elimelech of Lizhensk fully developed the belief in Tzaddikism as a fundamental doctrine of Hasidism. In his book No'am Elimelekh he conveys the idea of the Tzadik
Tzadik
Tzadik/Zadik/Sadiq is a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q , which means "justice" or "righteousness", also the root of Tzedakah...

 ("righteous one") as the mediator between God and the common people, and suggests that through him God sends to the faithful earthly blessings in the three traditional categories: health and life, a livelihood, and children, on the condition, however, that the Hasidim support the Tzaddik by pecuniary contributions ("pidyonos"), in order to enable the holy man to become completely absorbed in the contemplation of God. Lithuanian Hasidim followed Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, who founded Habad Hasidism, and Rabbi Aharon of Karlin. The intellectual Habad method of Schneur Zalman, developed the mind, in contrast to general Hasidism, as the fundamental route to Hasidic spirituality. This articulation can therefore fully incorporate the other dimensions of Judaism, such as Jewish Philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 and Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

. The Maggid directed Schneur Zalman to spread Hasidism in Belarus, as his intellectual articulation could appeal to the Rabbinic opposition in Vilna. Consequently, it posed more of a threat to the Mitnagdim, and Schneur Zalman was arrested and imprisoned in Saint Petersburg by the Tzarist government on false charges, instigated by some of the Jewish opposition. Habad tradition sees the reason for the imprisonment as a result of Heavenly opposition to his new, broader, intellectual dissemination of Hasidic thought, and his exoneration as vindication from Heaven to begin fully spreading the teachings of Hasidus.

Subsequent influential and famous Hasidic thinkers and leaders include Nachman of Breslov
Nachman of Breslov
Nachman of Breslov , also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Reb Nachman Breslover , Nachman from Uman , was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement....

, in Ukraine, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe was a Hasidic rabbi and leader.-Life:Born to a non-Hasidic family in Goraj near Lublin, Poland, he became attracted to Hasidim in his youth. He was known for having acquired impressive Talmudic and Kabbalistic knowledge at a...

 in Poland, and Yisroel Friedman of Ruzhyn in Russia. Nachman of Breslov is seen as the most imaginatively creative Hasidic thinker, while Menachem Mendel of Kotzk overturned the traditional view of the Tzaddik, in pursuit of truthful introspection and integrity. The spiritual meaning of Tzaddikic grandeur reached its fullest form in the regal majesty of the court of Yisroel Friedman. In the 19th Century flourishing of Hasidism, leadership succession usually became dynastic, rather than inherited by the greatest or most charismatic student. Each Hasidic court established itself in the scattered shtetls across Eastern Europe, and adopted their names, often in Yiddish form, for their approach to Hasidic thought and life. Where the Hasidic approach of a group was profound or influential, the spiritual vitality of their leadership remained charismatic or great, such as in the Polish dynasty of Ger
Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

 (derived from Menachem Mendel of Kotzk), or the Belarusian dynasty of Lubavitch (the intellectual branch of Hasidism founded by Schneur Zalman of Liadi). In these examples, often their leaders combined Hasidic spirituality with traditional Rabbinic
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 greatness of scholarship in Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

. This synthesis helped dissolve much of the early opposition to Hasidism by the Rabbinic civilization of Lithuanian Jewish Orthodoxy.

Rabbinic opposition





Early on, a serious schism
Schism (religion)
A schism , from Greek σχίσμα, skhísma , is a division between people, usually belonging to an organization or movement religious denomination. The word is most frequently applied to a break of communion between two sections of Christianity that were previously a single body, or to a division within...

 evolved between the Hasidic and non-Hasidic Jews. Those Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an Jews who rejected the Hasidic movement dubbed themselves misnagdim
Misnagdim
Misnagdim or Mitnagdim is a Hebrew word meaning "opponents". It is the plural of misnaged or mitnaged. Most prominent among the Misnagdim was Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman , commonly known as the Vilna Gaon or the Gra...

(literally, "opponents"). Critics of Hasidic Judaism:
  • decried the apparently novel Hasidic emphasis on different aspects of Jewish law
    Halakha
    Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

    ;
  • found problematic the overwhelming exuberance of Hasidic worship;
  • expressed concern that Hasidism might become a deviant messianic
    Messianic Jewish theology
    Messianic Jewish theology is the study of God and Scripture from the perspective of Messianic Judaism, considered by most Christians and Jews to be a form of Christianity.-Core doctrines:...

     sect (similar to what had occurred among the followers of Jesus
    Jesus
    Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

     of Nazareth, Sabbatai Zevi
    Sabbatai Zevi
    Sabbatai Zevi, , was a Sephardic Rabbi and kabbalist who claimed to be the long-awaited Jewish Messiah. He was the founder of the Jewish Sabbatean movement...

     and Jacob Frank
    Jacob Frank
    Jacob Frank was an 18th century Jewish religious leader who claimed to be the reincarnation of the self-proclaimed messiah Sabbatai Zevi and also of the biblical patriarch Jacob...

    ).


Some other important differences between hasidim and misnagdim included:
  • Hasidism believed in miracle workers; they believed that the Ba'al Shem Tov and some of his disciples literally performed miracles. Stories of their miracles became a part of Hasidic literature. The Misnagdim held such views as heretical
    Heresy
    Heresy is a controversial or novel change to a system of beliefs, especially a religion, that conflicts with established dogma. It is distinct from apostasy, which is the formal denunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, and blasphemy, which is irreverence toward religion...

    , based on classical rabbinic works such as Saadia Gaon
    Saadia Gaon
    Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon was a prominent rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and exegete of the Geonic period.The first important rabbinic figure to write extensively in Arabic, he is considered the founder of Judeo-Arabic literature...

    's Emunoth ve-Deoth
    Emunoth ve-Deoth
    Emunoth ve-Deoth or Emunoth w'D'oth written by Rabbi Saadia Gaon - originally Kitāb ul-ʾamānāt wal-iʿtiqādāt - was the first systematic presentation and philosophic foundation of the dogmas of Judaism. The work is prefaced by an introduction and has ten chapters; it was completed in 933...

    . (Ultimately, their descendants were to regularly tell similar stories about respected Misnagdic leaders.)
  • Hasidic philosophy (chasidus) holds as a core belief that God permeates all physical objects in nature, including all living beings. According to the sixth Lubavitcher
    Chabad
    Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

     rebbe, Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, Baal Shem Tov used to say, that God is all and all is God. In opposition many Jewish religious rationalists misunderstood this seemingly pantheistic
    Pantheism
    Pantheism is the view that the Universe and God are identical. Pantheists thus do not believe in a personal, anthropomorphic or creator god. The word derives from the Greek meaning "all" and the Greek meaning "God". As such, Pantheism denotes the idea that "God" is best seen as a process of...

     doctrine as a violation against the Maimonidean
    Maimonides
    Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

     principle of faith that God is not physical, and thus considered it heretical. In fact, Hasidic philosophy, especially the Chabad school, views all physical and psychological phenomena as relative and illusionary; God, the absolute reality in itself, is beyond all physical or even spiritual concepts and boundaries.
  • Hasidism teaches that there are sparks of goodness in all things, which can be redeemed to perfect the world. Many held such a view to be false and dangerous.


On a more prosaic level, other misnagdim regarded hasidim as pursuing a less scholarly approach to Judaism, and opposed the movement for this reason. At one point Hasidic Jews were put in cherem
Cherem
Cherem , is the highest ecclesiastical censure in the Jewish community. It is the total exclusion of a person from the Jewish community. It is a form of shunning, and is similar to excommunication in the Catholic Church...

(a Jewish form of communal excommunication); after years of bitter acrimony, a rapprochement occurred between Hasidic Jews and their opponents within Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

. The reconciliation took place in response to the perceived even greater threat of the Haskala, or Jewish Enlightenment. Despite this, the distinctions between the various sects of Hasidim and other Orthodox Jews remain, although now, there is almost no conflict between these two groups.

19th century consolidation and changes in Jewish society



The mid-19th century saw the founding burst of Hasidic leadership and innovative spirituality channelled into consolidated Hasidic dynastic courts. The original founding figures of Hasidism reinvigorated traditional Jewish society by charismatic example and teaching. Under the Maggid, leadership became organised into a structured movement. The subsequent leadership, now dispersed across Eastern Europe, became most often passed down through select family descent. Each court became known after the shtetl
Shtetl
A shtetl was typically a small town with a large Jewish population in Central and Eastern Europe until The Holocaust. Shtetls were mainly found in the areas which constituted the 19th century Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire, the Congress Kingdom of Poland, Galicia and Romania...

 of origin, encapsulating the thought and style of Hasidism of each group. This focus could allow deeper development of each distinctive path in Hasidism, while alternatively diminishing the founding revolutionary impulse. In the organised Hasidic society, the Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 superseded the traditional legal authority and influence of the Beth din
Beth din
A beth din, bet din, beit din or beis din is a rabbinical court of Judaism. In ancient times, it was the building block of the legal system in the Biblical Land of Israel...

 and Rav
Rav
Rav is the Hebrew word for rabbi. For a more nuanced discussion see semicha. The term is also frequently used by Orthodox Jews to refer to one's own rabbi....

 that had formerly led communal and personal welfare.

In the mid-19th-century the influence of modern changes in Jewish society arrived East from the Western European secularising Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

 (Jewish "Intellectualism") movement. While the unsuccessful 1812 French invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

 by Napoleon had sought to bring Jewish emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 from the non-Jewish political structures of Poland and Russia, Haskalah sought to reform and rationalise Jewish thought and life from within the Jewish community, to form an image of Jewish observance in the character of non-Jewish modernity. In this it differed from the Deist philosophical impulse of the European Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

. Haskalah focused special hostility to the mysticism of Hasidism, publishing critiques and satires of Hasidic fervour. The emergent early Reform movement in Judaism
Reform movement in Judaism
The Reform movement in Judaism, originally named Reformed Society of Israelites, for Promoting true Principles of Judaism, according to its Purity and Spirit, is a historic and on-going religious and social movement that originated simultaneously in the early nineteenth century in the United States...

 rejected traditional Halachic methodology of Talmudic thought, and dismissed Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

. Later 20th century non-Orthodox Jewish denominations
Jewish denominations
Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

 would rediscover value in traditional thought and observance, and a Neo-Hasidic adoption of Hasidic mysticism. When the attempts of the Maskilim in influencing Hasidic and Mitnagdic pious thought in Eastern Europe met with little success, they sought to enlist non-Jewish governmental decrees in their educational aims. To the intensely inward focused spiritualities of Judaism in Eastern Europe and its leadership, the campaigns of the Maskilim represented the antithesis of their fervour, thought and societies. In Germany, an Orthodox synthesis between the best of Western thought and committed Jewish learning was developed by Samson Raphael Hirsch
Samson Raphael Hirsch
Samson Raphael Hirsch was a German rabbi best known as the intellectual founder of the Torah im Derech Eretz school of contemporary Orthodox Judaism...

. The Eastern Judaisms of Hasidic and Lithuanian leadership saw his proposition as possible only as a last resort in the already assimilating environment of Germany. The threat of Haskalah helped heal the division between Hasidism and Mitnagdim, as they saw a common goal in protecting sincere Jewish observance of the common folk, and the elite traditional thought and learning of the great Yeshiva
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 academies and Hasidic courts.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, more radical secular ideologies reached traditional Jewish society in Eastern Europe. These Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements
Jewish political movements refer to the organized efforts of Jews to build their own political parties or otherwise represent their interest in politics outside of the Jewish community...

 sought to replace adherence to Judaism with beliefs in Jewish socialism or nationalism. Here too synthesis could sometimes be made from radical aspects
Anarchism and Orthodox Judaism
-Background:This article describes some views of notable Orthodox Jewish figures who supported anarchism, as well as various themes within the scope of the Orthodox Jewish tradition or among the practicing Orthodox Jews that are generally considered important from the anarchist worldview...

 of Hasidic thought, or from the later development of Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism
Religious Zionism is an ideology that combines Zionism and Jewish religious faith...

. However, mainstream Hasidic and Mitnagdic leadership was opposed to any replacement of Talmudic and Hasidic thought and fervour from its centrality in Eastern European Judaism. The development of Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus , alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations of Judaism, and mysticism articulated by the modern Hasidic movement...

 in its diverse expressions offered consolation to the unlearned, while satisfying the mystical thirst and theological depth of elite students. Its inner spiritual concepts underscored the Rabbinic rejection of secular ideologies. Orthodoxy responded with political organisation under the Agudah
World Agudath Israel
World Agudath Israel , usually known as the Aguda, was established in the early twentieth century as the political arm of Ashkenazi Torah Judaism, in succession to Agudas Shlumei Emunei Yisroel...

, while the ethical Mussar movement
Mussar movement
The Musar movement is a Jewish ethical, educational and cultural movement that developed in 19th century Eastern Europe, particularly among Orthodox Lithuanian Jews. The Hebrew term Musar , is from the book of Proverbs 1:2 meaning instruction, discipline, or conduct...

 amongst non-Hasidic Lithuanian Jews offered spiritual psychological development as an alternative to outward political involvement, and allowed a bridge to the mysticism of Hasidic thought.

In the Soviet Union and the Holocaust


The Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

 revolution and the rise of Communism in Russia saw the disintegration of the Hasidic centers such as Lubavitch, Breslov
Breslow
Breslow may refer to:*Breslow's depth, prognostic factor in melanoma of the skin-People:*Craig Breslow , major league baseball pitcher*Lou Breslow , screenwriter and film director*Marc Breslow, television director...

, Chernobyl and Ruzhin.

Many Hasidim, primarily those following the Chabad school, but also the Tshernobler Rebbe and the Ribnitzer Rebbe, remained in the Soviet Union (primarily in Russia), intent on preserving Judaism as a religion in the face of increasing Soviet opposition. With yeshivos
Yeshiva
Yeshiva is a Jewish educational institution that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, primarily the Talmud and Torah study. Study is usually done through daily shiurim and in study pairs called chavrutas...

 and instruction in Hebrew outlawed, synagogues seized by the government and transformed into secular community centers, and Jewish circumcision
Circumcision
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....

 forbidden to all members of the Communist Party, most Hasidim took part in the general Jewish religious underground movement. Many became so-called "wandering clerics", traveling from village to village and functioning as chazzanim
Hazzan
A hazzan or chazzan is a Jewish cantor, a musician trained in the vocal arts who helps lead the congregation in songful prayer.There are many rules relating to how a cantor should lead services, but the idea of a cantor as a paid professional does not exist in classical rabbinic sources...

, shochtim
Shechita
Shechita is the ritual slaughter of mammals and birds according to Jewish dietary laws...

, mohel
Mohel
A mohel is a Jewish person trained in the practice of brit milah "covenant of circumcision."-Etymology of the Hebrew and Aramaic term:...

s, and rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s wherever such services were needed. These figures were often imprisoned and sometimes executed.

The Nazi invasion into the interior of European Russia in 1941 destroyed the remaining Hasidic communities in the former Pale of Settlement
Pale of Settlement
The Pale of Settlement was the term given to a region of Imperial Russia, in which permanent residency by Jews was allowed, and beyond which Jewish permanent residency was generally prohibited...

 under the first mass destruction of the Holocaust. The Hasidic communities were therefore disproportionatly decimated. Subsequently, the Hasidim of Central Europe were transported to the Nazi camps in occupied Poland. Some Hasidic leaders, reluctant to leave their followers, found late exit to safety. Some survived in the camps, personifying spirituality against the adversity. Together with the accounts of others in the ghettos and on the way to "sanctifying God" through their martydom, their stories form a new literature of Hasidic Holocaust tales. Hasidic mystical persectives on Holocaust theology
Holocaust theology
Holocaust theology refers to a body of theological and philosophical debate and reflection, and related literature, primarily within Judaism, that attempts to come to grips with various conflicting views about the role of God in the universe and the human world in light of the Holocaust of the late...

 are less well known than more Westernised Jewish theologians.

Post War rebuilding of Hasidic life


The Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 brought final destruction to all Hasidic centers of Eastern Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Most survivors moved eventually to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 or to America, and established new centers of Hasidic Judaism modeled after their original communities.

Some of the larger and more well-known Hasidic sects that still exist include Belz
Belz (Hasidic dynasty)
Belz is a Hasidic dynasty named for the town of Belz in Western Ukraine, near the Polish border. The town has existed since at least the 10th century, with the Jewish community being established during the 14th century. The town became home to Hasidic Judaism in the early 19th century...

, Bobov, Breslov
Breslov (Hasidic dynasty)
Breslov is a branch of Hasidic Judaism founded by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism...

, Ger
Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

, Lubavitch (Chabad)
Chabad
Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

, Munkacs, Puppa
Puppa (Hasidic dynasty)
Puppa is the name of a Hasidic dynasty within Judaism. The dynasty is named after the town of its origin , also known in Hungarian as Pápa. Before World War II, Puppa had an important yeshiva which produced many well-known Orthodox rabbis in Hungary. The whole community was deported to Auschwitz...

, Sanz (Klausenburg)
Klausenburg (Hasidic dynasty)
Klausenburg , also known as Sanz-Klausenburg, is a Hasidic dynasty that originated in the Transylvanian city of Cluj-Napoca , Romania....

, Satmar
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

, Skver
Skver (Hasidic dynasty)
Skver is the name of a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rebbe Yitzchok Twerski in the city of Skver . Followers of the rebbes of Skver are called Skverer hasidim....

, Spinka
Spinka (Hasidic dynasty)
Spinka is the name of a Hasidic group within Orthodox Judaism. The group originated in a city called Săpânţa , Maramureş, Romania, near the Hungarian border.-Spinka rebbes:...

 and Vizhnitz
Vizhnitz (Hasidic dynasty)
Vizhnitz is the name of a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rebbe Menachem Mendel Hager. Vizhnitz is the Yiddish name of Vyzhnytsia, a village in present-day Ukraine.Followers of the rebbes of Vizhnitz are called Vizhnitzer chasidim....

.

The largest groups in Israel today are Ger, Chabad, Belz, Satmar, Breslov, Vizhnitz, Seret-Vizhnitz, Nadvorna, and Toldos Aharon. In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 the largest are Satmar
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

, Bobov, and Lubavitch all centered in Brooklyn
Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 (Reb Aharon's Satmar camp is centered in Kiryas Joel, while Reb Zalman is Williamsburg) and Skver (New Square
New Square, New York
New Square is an all-Hasidic village in the Town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States located north of Hillcrest; east of Viola; south of New Hempstead and west of New City...

) in Rockland County
Rockland County, New York
Rockland County is a suburban county 15 miles to the northwest of Manhattan and part of the New York City Metropolitan Area, in the U.S. state of New York. It is the southernmost county in New York west of the Hudson River, and the smallest county in New York outside of New York City. The...

, New York. Large Hasidic communities also exist in the Outremont borough of Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

; Pikesville and Northwest Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

, Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

; Lakewood, New Jersey; Bathurst Street in North York, Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

; London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

; Antwerp; Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

; the Fairfax
Fairfax District, Los Angeles, California
The Fairfax District is an area of neighborhoods in the Mid-City West area of Los Angeles, California.- Geography :It is roughly bordered by West Hollywood on the north, Highland Avenue on the east, West Hollywood and Beverly Hills on the west and Wilshire Boulevard on the south...

 neighborhood of Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

; the Sherman Park
Sherman Park
Sherman Park is a sixty-acre park in the New City neighborhood of Chicago. It was designed by Daniel Burnham, John Charles Olmsted, and Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and opened in 1905. It takes its name from John B...

 neighborhood of Milwaukee; and St. Louis Park
St. Louis Park, Minnesota
As of the census of 2000, there were 44,126 people, 20,782 households, and 10,557 families residing in the city. The population density was 4,122.5 persons per square mile . There were 21,140 housing units at an average density of 1,975.0 per square mile...

, a Minneapolis suburb.

There are probably close to a million Hasidic Jews worldwide. The two main Hasidic communities in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 are located in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

. In New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 the neighborhoods include Borough Park, Williamsburg
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Williamsburg is a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, bordering Greenpoint to the north, Bedford-Stuyvesant to the south, Bushwick to the east and the East River to the west. The neighborhood is part of Brooklyn Community Board 1. The neighborhood is served by the NYPD's 90th ...

, and Crown Heights
Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Crown Heights is a neighborhood in the central portion of the New York City borough of Brooklyn. The main thoroughfare through this neighborhood is Eastern Parkway, a tree-lined boulevard designed by Frederick Law Olmsted extending two miles east-west.Originally, the area was known as Crow Hill....

 in the borough of Brooklyn, and Monsey
Monsey, New York
Monsey is a hamlet , in the Town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States located north of the state of New Jersey; east of Suffern; south of Airmont and west of Nanuet...

, Monroe
Monroe (village), New York
Monroe is a village in Orange County, New York, United States. The population was 7,780 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Poughkeepsie–Newburgh–Middletown, NY Metropolitan Statistical Area as well as the larger New York–Newark–Bridgeport, NY-NJ-CT-PA Combined Statistical...

, and New Square
New Square, New York
New Square is an all-Hasidic village in the Town of Ramapo, Rockland County, New York, United States located north of Hillcrest; east of Viola; south of New Hempstead and west of New City...

 which are farther upstate. In Los Angeles
Los Ángeles
Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

 the neighborhoods include Hancock Park, La Brea-Beverly, the Fairfax District, Valley Village and the Pico-Robertson area. There is also a sizable and growing Hasidic community in Lakewood, New Jersey, which was once a center of mainly Litvish and Yeshiva Orthodox Jews and other areas of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

. Outside of the United States the largest Hasidic community is in Israel, located mainly in Jerusalem and its adjacent areas, such as Ramat Beit Shemesh and also the religious city of Bnei Brak. The vast majority of Hasidic Jews live either in the United States or Israel but there exist large communities in Canada (Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

), Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 (mostly in Stamford Hill
Stamford Hill
Stamford Hill is a place in the north of the London Borough of Hackney, England, near the border with Haringey. It is home to Europe's largest Hasidic Jewish and Adeni Jewish community.Stamford Hill is NNE of Charing Cross.-History:...

) and Belgium (Antwerp) also. Hasidic Jews normally have large families and as a result are experiencing tremendous growth.

A 2009 article published by the University of Florida
University of Florida
The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

 stated that the growth of Hasidic Judaism may cause Jewish politics in the US to shift towards the political right.

Hasidic thought


Beginning in 12th and 13th Century Provence and Spain, Kabbalah
Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

 (the main Jewish mysticism) began to be taught to small circles of advanced students. This metaphysical
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

 and exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

, offered an esoteric, imaginative, spiritual alternative to mainstream Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 and Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

. Its greatest expression was in the Scriptural commentary, the Zohar
Zohar
The Zohar is the foundational work in the literature of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah. It is a group of books including commentary on the mystical aspects of the Torah and scriptural interpretations as well as material on Mysticism, mythical cosmogony, and mystical psychology...

. Medieval Kabbalah taught new doctrines of the ten sefirot (emanations that reveal and mediate the unknowable Divine essence), the identification of the last sefirah with the earlier Rabbinic notion of the shechina (Divine presence) as a feminine aspect of God, and the harmonious shefa (substaining flow of Divine creation through the Heavenly realms until this world) that is dependent on each person's righteousness. In 16th century Safed, a special community of great Jewish thinkers developed, that brought new synthesis to Kabbalah. Above all, Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria , also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi acronym "The Ari" "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal", meaning "The Lion", was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine...

 taught new and radical doctrines of the primordial process of creation, that became accepted as the complete structure of traditional Jewish metaphysics. These ideas described an initial tzimtzum
Tzimtzum
Tzimtzum is a term used in the kabbalistic teaching of Isaac Luria, explaining his concept that God began the process of creation by "contracting" his infinite light in order to allow for a "conceptual space" in which a finite and seemingly independent world could exist...

(constriction of the Divine Infinity that allowed creation to take place) and its cosmic purposes, a subsequent catastrophe called "Shevirat Hakelim" (the "Breaking of the Vessels") that resulted in the present unredeemed world, and the messianic process of Tikkun
Tikkun olam
Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means "repairing the world." In Judaism, the concept of tikkun olam originated in the early rabbinic period...

 (metaphysical rectification) of this, that each individual helps complete in their spiritual life. While these notions were esoteric, they also deeply supported mainstream Rabbinic Judaism, as the shefa and the tikkun were automatically fulfilled by all Jews through normative Jewish observance, whether they were aware of their deeper significance or not. As a result, and especially in reaction to the sufferings and exiles of Jewish history, the Kabbalah became the mainstream traditional Jewish theology, and inspired a hold on wider Jewish cultural imagination. While its terminology entered the daily liturgy, its subtle and advanced concepts, that could be misunderstood by spiritual novices, kept its committed study to a scholarly elite. The mainstream acceptance of Kabbalah, can be seen by the mass following that the false messiah Shabbetai Zvi gained. His mystical heresy and apostasy, awakened a Rabbinic restriction on Jewish mystical activity for the wider population.

The Baal Shem Tov and his successors, inherited this Rabbinic suspicion of their teachings, as they sought to awaken a popular, mystical revival for the simple Jewish folk, as well as offering scholarly mysticism a new soulful direction. The new teachings of Hasidism left aside the abstract, subtle, advanced focus of Kabbalah on the Divine manifestations and Heavenly realms. Kabbalah describes the full, esoteric, complicated structures of the interaction of God and Creation. Among it traditional names is the "Chochma Nistorah" (hidden wisdom) of the Torah. Kabbalistic terminology is necessary to describe the traditional Jewish processes of metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

. It is used extensively in the more involved Hasidic writings, but the aim of this is different than in Kabbalah. The new teachings of Hasidism look to the simple, inner Divine soul, that it sees as permeating all and also transcending all. Hasidic thought bases itself on earlier Kabbalistic theology, but relates its ideas to the psychology and experience of man, so that Jewish mysticism can awaken a personal experience and perception of the Divine. Gershom Scholem
Gershom Scholem
Gerhard Scholem who, after his immigration from Germany to Palestine, changed his name to Gershom Scholem , was a German-born Israeli Jewish philosopher and historian, born and raised in Germany...

, who established the 20th century academic study of Jewish mysticism, describes Hasidism as the "internalisation of Kabbalah". The Baal Shem Tov and his successors saw Divine immanence in all Creation, that gave a full expression to panentheistic traces in earlier Kabbalah (Panentheism teaches that "All is within God". This is different from Pantheism, which is heretical in Judaism, as it denies a personal God, and Divine transcendence outside Creation. Panentheism sees Creation as Divinity, but only the immanent revelation of a transcendent, infinite God). This encounter with God could be found by all Jews, as Hasidism elevated sincerity and soulful devekus (cleaving to God), as the most direct path to spirituality. Traditionally, Jewish study, especially of Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, gives the main route to Jewish spirituality. Hasidism did not seek to replace the essential endeavour of study, but rather to infuse and connect it with devekus. Common folk, to whom study may have been inaccessible, found spirituality and joy in Hasidic mysticism, while great scholars of Talmud and Kabbalah, were also attracted to its new depth and interpretation.
The Baal Shem Tov spread Hasidism by means of simple, soulful teachings, parables and stories. These offered Jewish mysticism to the unlearned, while the close circle of saintly followers around him understood their deeper, profound significance. The Baal Shem Tov was a man of the people, while his successor Dov Ber of Mezeritch devoted himself to creating the third generation of great Hasidic leaders. As the theological and sociological architect of the Hasidic movement, Dov Ber elucidated the underlying profound meanings of Hasidic thought, and its theological contributions to Judaism. He appointed his students in the "Hevra Kaddisha" (Holy Society) to become the future leaders of Hasidism in the different regions of Eastern Europe. Alternative interpretations of Hasidic thought arose, centred in schools of Hasidic dynasties. Hasidism stressed the new doctrine of the Rebbe
Rebbe
Rebbe , which means master, teacher, or mentor, is a Yiddish word derived from the Hebrew word Rabbi. It often refers to the leader of a Hasidic Jewish movement...

 or Tzaddik (saintly leader), through whom Divine influence is channelled. In some Hasidic paths the Tzaddik elevates his followers through charismatic conduct, while other groups emphasise his role primarily as teacher. Many creative thinkers of Hasidic mysticism established the variety of Hasidic approaches. Because the Tzaddik offers to his followers a microcosm of the Messianic redemption, mainstream Hasidism toned down the Messianic elements to Jewish mysticism, that had endangered Shabbetai Zvi. Nonetheless, infusing Hasidism from the time of the Baal Shem Tov onwards is a Messianic self understanding that has come to the fore on some occasions, and in more idealogical circles. These include Hasidic activity around the 1812 French invasion of Russia
French invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...

 and responses of Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Menachem Mendel of Kotzk
Menachem Mendel Morgensztern of Kotzk, better known as the Kotzker Rebbe was a Hasidic rabbi and leader.-Life:Born to a non-Hasidic family in Goraj near Lublin, Poland, he became attracted to Hasidim in his youth. He was known for having acquired impressive Talmudic and Kabbalistic knowledge at a...

 and Mordechai Yosef Leiner
Mordechai Yosef Leiner
Mordechai Yosef Leiner of Izbica was a rabbinic Hasidic thinker and founder of the Izhbitza-Radzyn dynasty of Hasidic Judaism.Rabbi Mordechai Yosef was born in Tomashov in 1801 to his father Reb Yaakov the son of Reb Mordechai of Sekul, a descendant of Rabbi Shoul Wahl. At the age two he became...

 to Messianic speculation concerning 1840. Hasidic dynasties coexist in the principle that each Tzaddik's leadership does not overstep into another's court. In the early 19th century, Nachman of Breslav led his marginal circle in the most distinctive veneration in Hasidism, arousing hostility from other leaders. This Messianic drive was paralleled on a mass scale by Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
Menachem Mendel Schneerson , known as the Lubavitcher Rebbe or just the Rebbe among his followers, was a prominent Hasidic rabbi who was the seventh and last Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. He was fifth in a direct paternal line to the third Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Menachem Mendel...

 of Chabad in recent times. Through its emotional and intellectual aspects, Hasidism offered Jewish life a new spiritual revival. Within Jewish study, Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus , alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations of Judaism, and mysticism articulated by the modern Hasidic movement...

 gave earlier Jewish thought new interpretations, that can synthesise and spiritualise the other dimensions of Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

. In its intellectual articulations, Hasidic philosophy can bridge Jewish mysticism with mainstream Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

. It enabled the mystical dimensions of Judaism to be articulated in a form that was accessible for the first time to the whole Jewish community. Hasidic spirituality and thought has also had appeal and influence outside the Hasidic movement, and outside of Orthodox Judaism. In the 20th Century, the academic interest in Jewish mysticism, and Neo-Hasidism
Neo-Hasidism
Neo-Hasidism is a name frequently given to the significant revival of interest in Hasidic Judaism on the part of non-Orthodox Jews in different decades due to the writings of non-Orthodox teachers of Hasidic Judaism like Martin Buber, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Lawrence Kushner, Zalman...

 have offered spiritual contributions to many Jewish denominations
Jewish denominations
Jewish religious movements , sometimes called "denominations" or "branches", include different groups which have developed among Jews from ancient times and especially in the modern era among Ashkenazi Jews living in anglophone countries...

. With the encounter of Judaism with Modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

, different philosophical and denominational views emerged on the meanings of Judaism and Jewish identity. It has been said that the three figures of the Baal Shem Tov (Hasidic spirituality), the Vilna Gaon
Vilna Gaon
Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer, known as the Vilna Gaon or Elijah of Vilna and simply by his Hebrew acronym Gra or Elijah Ben Solomon, , was a Talmudist, halachist, kabbalist, and the foremost leader of non-hasidic Jewry of the past few centuries...

 (Lithuanian Jewish Orthodox scholarship), and Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn
Moses Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher to whose ideas the renaissance of European Jews, Haskalah is indebted...

 (founding influence on the Haskalah
Haskalah
Haskalah , the Jewish Enlightenment, was a movement among European Jews in the 18th–19th centuries that advocated adopting enlightenment values, pressing for better integration into European society, and increasing education in secular studies, Hebrew language, and Jewish history...

 movement), have together shaped the diverse Jewish articulations today.

Characteristic ideas



The teachings of Hasidism are founded on two theoretical conceptions: (1) religious Panentheism
Panentheism
Panentheism is a belief system which posits that God exists, interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it...

, or the omnipresence of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

, and (2) the idea of Devekus, communion between God and man. "Man," says the Besht (Baal Shem Tov), "must always bear in mind that God is omnipresent and is always with him; that God is the most subtle matter everywhere diffused... Let man realize that when he is looking at material things he is in reality gazing at the image of the Deity which is present in all things. With this in mind man will always serve God even in small matters."

Deveikus (communion) refers to the belief that an unbroken relationship takes place between the world of God and the world of humanity. According to it, not only does the Deity influence the acts of man, but also that man exerts an influence on the will of the Deity. Every act and word of man produces a corresponding effect in the upper spheres. From this conception is derived the chief practical principle of Hasidism, cleaving to God for the purpose of uniting with the source of life and of influencing it. This communion is achieved through the concentration of thoughts on God, and consulting Him in all the affairs of life.

The tzadik
Tzadik
Tzadik/Zadik/Sadiq is a title given to personalities in Jewish tradition considered righteous, such as Biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q , which means "justice" or "righteousness", also the root of Tzedakah...

(righteous person) is in constant communion with God, even in their worldly affairs, since they also feel His presence in daily life. A special form of communion with God is prayer. In order to render this union complete the prayer must be full of fervor, ecstatic, and the soul of the person who prays must, during their devotions, detach itself from its material dwelling. For the attainment of ecstasy, recourse can be had to mechanical means, to enthusiastic bodily motions, to shouting and singing. According to the Besht, the path to God is in sincerity and fervour, rather than cold intellectual reasoning. Learning of Jewish texts and halakhic
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 lore are important ways to approach God, but ultimately are useful as a means of producing an exalted religious elevation and communion. It is often more helpful to read books of moral and spiritual inspiration, than to engage in over-analytical approaches in study of the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 and Rabbinical literature. In the performance of rites the mood of the believer is of more importance than the externals, so therefore formalism and superfluous ceremonial details are an impediment. In later Hasidic articulations, a synthesis was made with the value of traditional, Lithuanian study and analysis. Many Hasidic Masters gained admiration from the non-Hasidic world, for being great scholars of Talmudic and Rabbinic works. The intellectual school of Chabad
Chabad
Chabad or Chabad-Lubavitch is a major branch of Hasidic Judaism.Chabad may also refer to:*Chabad-Strashelye, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism*Chabad-Kapust or Kapust, a defunct branch of the Chabad school of Hasidic Judaism...

, founded by Schneur Zalman of Liadi, can be seen as a separate offshoot of general Hasidism. Mainstream Hasidism gives special emphasis to emotions, so that study of the "revealed" or "inner" dimensions of Judaism can inspire greater faith and emotional fervour, as well as knowledge of Rabbinic thought. In Chabad, Schneur Zalman emphasised the mind as the route to internalysing the emotions of the heart more fully. The systematic analysis of Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy
Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus , alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations of Judaism, and mysticism articulated by the modern Hasidic movement...

 in Chabad can integrate and synthesise "revealed" Jewish thought with the mystical.

Aims of Hasidic thought


Hasidic philosophy teaches a method of contemplating on God, as well as the inner significance of the Mitzvot (commandments and rituals of Torah law). Hasidic philosophy has four main goals:
  1. Revival: At the time when Rabbi Yisrael Ba'al Shem Tov founded Hasidism, the Jews were physically crushed by massacres (in particular, those of the Cossack leader Chmelnitzki
    Bohdan Khmelnytsky
    Bohdan Zynoviy Mykhailovych Khmelnytsky was a hetman of the Zaporozhian Cossack Hetmanate of Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth . He led an uprising against the Commonwealth and its magnates which resulted in the creation of a Cossack state...

     in 1648–1649) and poverty, and spiritually crushed by the disappointment engendered by the false messiahs. This unfortunate combination caused religious observance to seriously wane. This was especially true in Eastern Europe, where Hasidism began. Hasidism came to revive the Jews physically and spiritually. It focused on helping Jews establish themselves financially, and then lifting their moral and religious observance through its teachings.
  2. Piety: A Hasid, in classic Torah
    Torah
    Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

     literature, refers to one of piety beyond the letter of the law. Hasidism demands and aims at cultivating this extra degree of piety.
  3. Refinement: Hasidism teaches that one should not merely strive to improve one's character by learning new habits and manners. Rather a person should completely change the quality, depth and maturity of one's nature. This change is accomplished by internalizing and integrating the perspective of Hasidic philosophy.
  4. Demystification: In Hasidism, it is believed that the esoteric teachings of Kabbalah can be made understandable to everyone. This understanding is meant to help refine a person, as well as adding depth and vigor to one's ritual observation.

Liturgy and prayer




Most Hasidim pray according to one of the variations of the nusach
Nusach
Nusach is a concept in Judaism that has two distinct meanings. One is the style of a prayer service ; another is the melody of the service depending on when the service is being conducted.-Meaning of term:Nusach primarily means "text" or "version", in...

 known as Nusach Sefard
Nusach Sefard
Nusach Sefard is the name for various forms of the Jewish siddur, designed to reconcile Ashkenazi customs with the kabbalistic customs of the Ari. To this end it has incorporated the wording of Nusach Edot Mizrach, the prayer book of Sefardi Jews, into certain prayers...

, a blend of Ashkenazi and Sephardi liturgies, based on the innovations of Rabbi Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria , also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi acronym "The Ari" "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal", meaning "The Lion", was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine...

 (also known as the Arizal). However, many Hasidic dynasties have their own specific adaptation of Nusach Sefard; some, such as the versions of the Belzer, Bobover and Dushinsky
Dushinsky (Hasidic dynasty)
Dushinsky is one of the few Hasidic dynasties not named after the place where it originated; instead, it is named after the surname of the Rebbe. It is a relatively new dynasty, as are many of the dynasties originating in Hungary. However, the Dushinsky dynasty truly became a dynasty in Jerusalem,...

 Hasidim, are closer to Nusach Ashkenaz, while others, such as the Munkacz version, are closer to Nusach Sefarad of the Arizal. Hasidic Nusach is a very complicated study. Many Hasidic groups believe that their siddur reflects the wording and mystical intentions of the Arizal. Chabad-Lubavitch has a distinctive variant known as Nusach Ari
Nusach Ari
Nusach Ari means, in a general sense, any prayer rite following the usages of Rabbi Isaac Luria, the AriZal, in the 16th century, and, more particularly, the version of it used by Chabad Hasidim....

 of the Baal HaTanya. Other Hasidic rabbis from many other Hasidic camps have compiled authoritative "Nusach Ari" siddurim. One should not confuse the contents of the Lubavitcher siddur with the historical study of the Arizal's actual nusach.

The Baal Shem introduced two innovations to the Friday services: the recitation of Psalm 107 before Mincha
Mincha
Mincha, מנחה is the afternoon prayer service in Judaism.-Etymology:The name "Mincha" is derived from the meal offering that accompanied each sacrifice.-Origin:...

 (the afternoon service), as a prelude to the Sabbath, one gives praise for the release of the soul from its weekday activities, and Psalm 23 just before the end of Maariv (evening service).

In regard to dialect, Hasidim pray in Chassidic Hebrew, a form of Hebrew with many of the vowels changed, for instance, the vowel "tzereie" makes the "ay" sound, and the vowel "kamatz" makes the "oo" sound. This dialect has nothing to do with Hasidism in its origins, nor was it chosen deliberately. It just happens to be the Yiddish dialect of the places from which most Hasidim originally came, such as Galicia and Ukraine. Thus, there are significant differences between the dialects used by Hasidim originating in different places, such as Poland, Belarus, Hungary, and Ukraine.

Hasidic prayer has a distinctive accompaniment of wordless melodies called nigun
Nigun
A nigun or niggun is a form of Jewish religious song or tune sung by groups. It is vocal music, often with repetitive sounds such as "bim-bim-bam" or "ai-ai-ai!" instead of formal lyrics. Sometimes, Bible verses or quotes from other classical Jewish texts are sung repetitively to form a nigun...

im
that represent the overall mood of the prayer; in recent years this innovation has become increasingly popular in non-Hasidic communities as well. Hasidic prayer also has a reputation for taking a very long time (although some groups do pray quickly). Some hasidim will spend seven seconds of concentration on every single word of the prayer of Amidah
Amidah
The Amidah , also called the Shmoneh Esreh , is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book...

.

Hasidim have a reputation for having a lot of kavana, mental concentration, during prayer. Overall, Hasidim regard prayer as one of the most paramount activities during the day. In fact, one of the most controversial innovations of Hasidic practice as practiced in several courts involves the near-abolition of the traditional specified times of day by which prayers must be conducted (zemanim), particularly shacharis (the morning prayer service); the preparations for prayer take precedence and may extend into the allotted time. The Kotsker Rebbe allegedly originated this practice, which is prevalent to this day in Chabad-Lubavitch. It is controversial in many other Hasidic courts, who place more emphasis on praying earlier and not eating before praying, according to the interpretation of Halacha (Jewish law) which is followed by the vast majority of other Hasidic and non-Hasidic Orthodox Jews.

Daily Immersion



Many male Orthodox
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 Jews customarily immerse in a mikvah
Mikvah
Mikveh is a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism...

(ritual pool of water) before major Jewish holiday
Jewish holiday
Jewish holidays are days observed by Jews as holy or secular commemorations of important events in Jewish history. In Hebrew, Jewish holidays and festivals, depending on their nature, may be called yom tov or chag or ta'anit...

s (and particularly before Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

), in order to achieve spiritual cleanliness. Hasidim have extended this to a daily practice preceding morning prayers. Although daily immersion in a mikvah is no longer mandated by halacha, Hasidism places great emphasis on this practice, because the Arizal taught that each time one immerses in a mikvah he adds holiness to his soul. It is also taught by the Baal Shem Tov, that all his wisdom was given to him by God in merit of his immersions in the mikvah, and that no male should go three days without going to the mikvah. The Talmud records an enactment by Ezra
Ezra
Ezra , also called Ezra the Scribe and Ezra the Priest in the Book of Ezra. According to the Hebrew Bible he returned from the Babylonian exile and reintroduced the Torah in Jerusalem...

 that after a seminal emission one must immerse in a mikvah before studying Torah or praying; although this enactment was later repealed, Hasidim and some other Jews still follow it, at least for prayer, though the Code of Jewish Law rules that it is not mandatory.

Dress



Within the Hasidic world, one can distinguish different Hasidic groups by subtle differences in dress. Some details of their dress are shared by non-Hasidic Haredim. Much of Hasidic dress was historically the clothing of all Eastern-European Jews, but Hasidim have preserved more of these styles to the present day. Furthermore, Hasidim have attributed religious origins to specific Hasidic items of clothing.

Contrary to popular belief, Hasidic dress has little to do with the way Polish nobles
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 once dressed. (The Emancipation
Jewish Emancipation
Jewish emancipation was the external and internal process of freeing the Jewish people of Europe, including recognition of their rights as equal citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship as individuals; it occurred gradually between the late 18th century and the early 20th century...

 movement probably started this myth in the late 19th century in an attempt to induce younger Jews to abandon the outfit.) Interestingly, secular Yiddish writers of old, living in Eastern Europe (Sholom Aleichem
Sholom Aleichem
Sholem Aleichem was the pen name of Solomon Naumovich Rabinovich, a leading Yiddish author and playwright...

, for example) appear to have no knowledge of the "Polish origin" of the dress. Likewise, numerous Slavic sources from the 15th century onwards refer to the "Jewish kaftan". The Tsarist edict of the mid-19th century banning Jewish clothing mentions the "Jewish kaftan" and the "Jewish hat" and, as a result of this edict, Hasidim modified their dress in the Russian Empire and generally hid their sidelocks. Modern Chabad Lubavitch wear the Prince Albert frock coat
Frock coat
A frock coat is a man's coat characterised by knee-length skirts all around the base, popular during the Victorian and Edwardian periods. The double-breasted style is sometimes called a Prince Albert . The frock coat is a fitted, long-sleeved coat with a centre vent at the back, and some features...

 substitutes for the bekishe
Bekishe
A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

reflecting this change, while many Polish
Congress Poland
The Kingdom of Poland , informally known as Congress Poland , created in 1815 by the Congress of Vienna, was a personal union of the Russian parcel of Poland with the Russian Empire...

 Hasidim do so by wearing a redesigned shtreimel
Shtreimel
A shtreimel is a fur hat worn by many married haredi Jewish men, particularly members of Hasidic groups, on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews...

sometimes known as a spodik
Spodik
A spodik is a tall fur hat worn by some Hasidic Jews, particularly members of sects originating in Congress Poland. Spodiks are to be distinguished from shtreimels, which are a similar type of fur hat worn by Hasidim...

.

Hasidic dress did change over the last hundred years, and became more European in response to the Emancipation Movement. Modern Hasidim tend to wear Hasidic dress as worn just prior to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Numerous pictures of Hasidim in the mid-19th century show a far more Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

ine outfit (i.e. a kaftan lacking lapels or buttons) that differs little from the classical oriental outfit consisting of the kaftan, white undershirt, sash, knee-breeches (halbe-hoyzn), white socks and slippers (shtibblat). This outfit allegedly had a Babylonia
Babylonia
Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia , with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as a major power when Hammurabi Babylonia was an ancient cultural region in central-southern Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), with Babylon as its capital. Babylonia emerged as...

n origin before its later adoption by Jews, Persians
Persian people
The Persian people are part of the Iranian peoples who speak the modern Persian language and closely akin Iranian dialects and languages. The origin of the ethnic Iranian/Persian peoples are traced to the Ancient Iranian peoples, who were part of the ancient Indo-Iranians and themselves part of...

 and lastly the Turks
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

, who brought it to Europe. The Polish nobility
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 adopted its 16th century outfit from the Turks, hence (allegedly) the similarity between the Hasidic outfit and Polish
Szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

 nobles' clothing. (Similarly, Hasidic dress has a vague connection with Shia Muslim
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

 clerical dress, the Shia clergy adopted this dress from the Persians.) One Hasidic belief (taught by the Klausenberger rebbe) holds that Jews originally invented this dress-code and that the Babylonians adopted it from Jews during the Jewish exile in Babylon
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 of the 6th century BCE. This belief is not widely held or even well known among Hasidim.

Hasidic men most commonly wear dark (black or navy) jackets and trousers and white shirts. They will usually also wear black shoes. On weekdays they wear a long, black, cloth jacket called a rekel
Rekel
Rekel or Lang Rekel is a type of coat worn mainly by Hasidic Jewish men during the Jewish work-week ....

 and on Jewish Holy Days the bekishe
Bekishe
A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

 zaydene kapote (Yiddish, lit. satin caftan), a similarly long, black jacket but of satin
Satin
Satin is a weave that typically has a glossy surface and a dull back. It is a warp-dominated weaving technique that forms a minimum number of interlacings in a fabric. If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres such as silk, nylon, or polyester, the corresponding fabric is...

 fabric traditionally silk. The preference for black comes from a decree made by community rabbis in the 18th century stipulating that black outer garments be worn on the Sabbath and Jewish Holy Days out of the home, as opposed to the shiny, colorful kaftans that were worn prior to that time. The rabbis thought that brightly colored clothes might arouse resentment amongst non-Jews, which could lead to violence. Indoors the colorful tish bekishe
Bekishe
A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

 is still worn.

On the Sabbath
Shabbat
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 the Hasidic Grand Rabbis (rebbes) traditionally wore a white bekishe
Bekishe
A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

 rather than a black one. This practice has fallen into disuse except for a minority of rebbes, such as Toldos Aharon and Lelov
Lelov (Hasidic dynasty)
Lelov is the name of a Hasidic dynasty which traces its origins to Rabbi Dovid of Lelów, Poland.The Lelover dynasty migrated from Poland to Jerusalem when Rabbi Dovid's son, Rabbi Moshe Biderman , moved there in the last year of his life. Rabbi Moshe Biderman of Lelov was the son-in-law of Rabbi...

, and by Hungarian rebbes such as Tosh
Tosh (Hasidic dynasty)
Tosh is a Hasidic dynasty originating in Nyirtass, Hungary. Today it is based in Kiryas Tosh, Quebec, Canada, outside of Boisbriand, a suburb of Montreal, Canada. The current leader is Grand Rabbi Meshulam Feish Segal-Loewy...

 and Satmar
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

. Many rebbes wear a black silk bekishe
Bekishe
A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

that is trimmed with velvet (known as stro-kes or samet) and in those of Hungarian lineage a gold designed or other coloured, tish bekishe or khalat (especially during the tish or during the prayers that come right before or after the tish).

Some Hasidim wear a satin overcoat, known amongst Hungarian and Galitsyaner Hasidim as a rezhvolke, over the regular bekishe. A rebbe's rezhvolke might be trimmed with velvet. Some rebbes wear a fur-lined rezhvolke known as a tilep ( fur coat).

Most Hasidim do not wear neckties (with the exception of some Russian Hasidim, such as those stemming from Ruzhin
Ruzhin (Hasidic dynasty)
The Ruzhin Hasidic dynasty was founded by Rabbi Yisroel Friedman of Ruzhyn, . Today, Ruzhyn is an urban-type settlement in Zhytomyr Oblast, Ukraine. Rav Yisroel's father was the Rebbe Sholom Shachne of Prhobisht, who was a son of Rabbi Avrohom "HaMalach"...

, Karlin
Karlin (Hasidic Dynasty)
Karlin-Stolin is a Hasidic dynasty originating with Rebbe Aaron the Great of Karlin in present-day Belarus. Karlin was one of the first centres of Hasidim to be set up in Lithuania....

, and Lubavitch).

These are some of the religious aspects claimed by Hasidim of their dress code. The connections are quite tenuous and the real reasons for the Hasidic dress code are historical and sociological and not theological.
  • Bekishe
    Bekishe
    A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

     or rekel
    Rekel
    Rekel or Lang Rekel is a type of coat worn mainly by Hasidic Jewish men during the Jewish work-week ....

    ech serve as a sign of modesty and cover almost the entire body.
  • The bekishe
    Bekishe
    A bekishe, or beketshe , is a long coat, usually made of black silk or polyester worn by Hasidic Jews, and by some non-Hasidic Haredi Jews. Most Hasidim only wear them on Shabbos, Jewish holidays, or at weddings and other such events. During the week, most Hasidim wear a rekel, which is made of...

     (kapote) is made of silk
    Silk
    Silk is a natural protein fiber, some forms of which can be woven into textiles. The best-known type of silk is obtained from the cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry silkworm Bombyx mori reared in captivity...

     because of the Biblical prohibition of shaatnez (today it is common to make it out of polyester
    Polyester
    Polyester is a category of polymers which contain the ester functional group in their main chain. Although there are many polyesters, the term "polyester" as a specific material most commonly refers to polyethylene terephthalate...

    ).
  • The fur lined shtreimel alludes to the law of shaatnez and began as a way of keeping warm without wearing wool.
  • Shoes worn on the Sabbath may be plain black slip-ons so as not to have to make a knot which is prohibited on that day and so as not to touch the shoes (which would ritually defile one's hands, requiring ritual purification through washing with a special vessel).
  • A gartel
    Gartel
    The Gartel is a belt used by Jewish males, predominantly but not exclusively, Hasidim during prayer. "Gartel" is Yiddish for "belt". The word comes from the German "Gürtel", which is also the root word for the English "girdle", as well as the word "girt"....

    divides the Hasid's lower parts from his upper parts, and are mentioned in the Talmud
    Talmud
    The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

     and Shulhan Arukh
    Shulchan Aruch
    The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

    as a way to "prepare to meet your God".
  • For Kabbalistic
    Kabbalah
    Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

     reasons Hasidim button their clothes right over left.
  • The Sabbath
    Shabbat
    Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

     dress of Hasidim resembles the description of the High Priest's dress in the Bible (this is particularly tenuous and the similarity is not apparent at all).
  • Some Hasidim wear white socks tucked in breeches so the trouser-bottoms do not touch the ground (which in former times was likely to be a source of waste, which is a Biblical prohibition).

Headgear




Hasidim customarily wear black hats during the weekdays as do nearly all Haredim today. A variety of hats are worn depending on the sect.
Hasidim wear a variety of fur headdresses on the Sabbath:
  • Shtreimel
    Shtreimel
    A shtreimel is a fur hat worn by many married haredi Jewish men, particularly members of Hasidic groups, on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews...

    is worn by most Hasidim today, including those from Galicia and Hungary such as Satmar
    Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
    Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

    , Munkacs, Bobov, Breslov
    Breslov (Hasidic dynasty)
    Breslov is a branch of Hasidic Judaism founded by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidism...

     and Belz
    Belz (Hasidic dynasty)
    Belz is a Hasidic dynasty named for the town of Belz in Western Ukraine, near the Polish border. The town has existed since at least the 10th century, with the Jewish community being established during the 14th century. The town became home to Hasidic Judaism in the early 19th century...

    , and some non-Galician Polish Hasidim, such as Biala
    Biala (Hasidic dynasty)
    The Biala Hasidic dynasty originated from Poland. The Rebbes of Biala are descended from Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchok Rabinowicz, known as the Yid Hakodosh .-Lineage:...

    , as well as some non-Hasidic Haredim in Jerusalem.

  • Spodik
    Spodik
    A spodik is a tall fur hat worn by some Hasidic Jews, particularly members of sects originating in Congress Poland. Spodiks are to be distinguished from shtreimels, which are a similar type of fur hat worn by Hasidim...

    is the name given by others to the shtreimel
    Shtreimel
    A shtreimel is a fur hat worn by many married haredi Jewish men, particularly members of Hasidic groups, on Shabbat and Jewish holidays and other festive occasions. In Jerusalem, the shtreimel is also worn by 'Yerushalmi' Jews...

    worn by Polish Hasidim such as Ger
    Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
    Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

    , Amshinov
    Amshinov (Hasidic dynasty)
    Amshinov is the name of a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rabbi Yaakov Dovid Kalish. It is an offshoot of Vurka dynasty. It takes its name from the Yiddish name of Mszczonów, a town in Poland.-History:...

    , Ozharov
    Osrov-Henzin (Hasidic dynasty)
    The Ozerov Hasidic dynasty is a Hasidic group that began in 1827 when Rabbi Yehudah Leib Epstein, Rabbi of Ożarów in Poland since 1811, assumed leadership of his Hasidim ....

    , Aleksander
    Aleksander (Hasidic dynasty)
    The Aleksander chasidic movement flourished in Poland from 1880 until it was largely destroyed by Nazi Germany during World War II.Now nearly extinct, the Aleksander Hasidim were the second largest Hasidic group in pre-Holocaust Poland.Between the world wars, Hasidic Jews from all over flocked to...

     and it is more narrow, and taller than the shtreimel, and is generally black.

  • The choibl or soyvl was worn in Poland prior to the Holocaust, and has fallen into disuse.

  • Kolpik
    Kolpik
    A kolpik is a type of traditional headgear worn in families of some Chassidic Rebbes , by unmarried children on Shabbat, and by some Rebbes on special occasions. It is made from brown fur, as opposed to a spodik, worn by Polish chassidic dynasties, which is fashioned out of black fur.The word...

    is a traditional Slavic headdress, worn by unmarried sons and grandsons of many Rebbes on the Sabbath. The kolpik is worn by some Rebbes on special occasions other than the Sabbath and major Biblical holidays, such as Chanukah, Tu B'Shvat, and Rosh Chodesh
    Rosh Chodesh
    Rosh Chodesh or Rosh ḥodesh is the name for the first day of every month in the Hebrew calendar, marked by the appearance of the new moon. The new moon is marked by the day and hour that the new crescent is observed...

    .

  • The kashket
    Kashket
    A Kashket is a cap, usually made of felt, worn mainly by Hasidic children at present. Prior to the Second World War it was worn by almost all Polish Hasidic Jews...

    or dashikl was a peaked cap worn during the week, prior to the Holocaust. It was worn in Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, and was worn by poorer Hasidim on Shabbat. Its use began as a result of the Tsarist decrees banning other traditional Jewish headdress. In these geographic areas, generally only rabbis wore black hats. Today, some Hasidic children, under the age of 13, wear a kashket on the Sabbath. Amongst Belz
    Belz
    Belz , a small city in the Lviv Oblast of Western Ukraine, near the border with Poland, is located between the Solokiya river and the Rzeczyca stream....

    , the kashket has been reintroduced for boys under the age of 15 to wear on weekdays.

  • The black fedora, and less so the trilby
    Trilby
    A trilby hat is a type of fedora. The trilby is viewed as the rich man's favored hat; it is commonly called the "brown trilby" in England and is much seen at the horse races. It is described as a "crumpled" fedora...

    , is worn by Lubavitch Hasidim. This hat is of the style of the 1940s and 50s. They are the same as the hats worn by many non-Hasidic Haredim, as well as by some more "modern" Hasidim who are followers of a particular Rebbe without being part of a Hasidic community. Chabad Hasidim often pinch their hats to form a triangle on the top, following the style of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. They wear their fedoras even on the Sabbath and Holidays. However, some Lubavitch Hasidim in Jerusalem wear a shtreimel on the Sabbath, if that was their family's custom for generations in Jerusalem.

  • Various forms of felt open-crown (a type of hat with a rounded top) are worn by many Hasidim. Affiliation can sometimes be identified by whether there is a pinch in the middle of the top or not, as well as the type of brim. This is called a shtofener hat in Yiddish. Ger
    Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
    Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

     and Slonimer Hasidim wear a round hat, while Stolin
    Stolin
    Stolin is a town in the Brest Voblast of Belarus. Nowadays, Stolin is the center of the largest district in Brest voblast. The population of Stolin is 12,500 people . The Belarusian-Ukrainian border is about away, so Stolin is now a border city that hosts many Ukrainians on the market days...

     and Emunas Yisrael wear a pinched hat. Many Satmar
    Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
    Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

     laymen wear a type of open crown hat that resembles a bowler hat
    Bowler hat
    The bowler hat, also known as a coke hat, derby , billycock or bombin, is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown originally created in 1849 for the English soldier and politician Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester...

     with rounded edges on the brim.

  • Samet (velvet) or biber (beaver
    Beaver
    The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

    ) hats are worn by Galician and Hungarian Hasidim during the week and by unmarried men on Shabbat as well. They are usually only worn in the winter. Some unmarried men wear a samet hat on the Sabbath and a felt hat during the week. There are many types of Samet hats, most notably the "high" ("hoicher") and "flat" ("platshe") varieties. The "flat" type is worn by Satmar Hasidim, and some others as well. Some Rabbis wear a "round" samet hat in a similar style to the shtofener hats, however made from the Samet material. They are called beaver
    Beaver
    The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

     hats even though today they are made from rabbit
    Rabbit
    Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world...

    .

  • A small fur hat called a kutchma is worn by many Hasidic laymen during weekdays in the winter. Today this hat is sometimes made from cheaper materials, such as polyester. This hat is referred to as a shlyapka (шляпка), by Russian Jews.

Other distinct clothing


Gerrer
Ger (Hasidic dynasty)
Ger, or Gur is a Hasidic dynasty originating from Ger, the Yiddish name of Góra Kalwaria, a small town in Poland....

 Hasidim wear hoyznzokn — long black socks that the trousers are tucked into. Some Hasidim from Eastern Galicia wear black socks with their breeches on the Sabbath, as opposed to white ones, particularly Belzer
Belz (Hasidic dynasty)
Belz is a Hasidic dynasty named for the town of Belz in Western Ukraine, near the Polish border. The town has existed since at least the 10th century, with the Jewish community being established during the 14th century. The town became home to Hasidic Judaism in the early 19th century...

 Hasidim.

Many Hungarian Hasidic and non-Hasidic laymen wear a suit jacket that lies somewhere between a rekel and a regular three-quarter double breasted suit called a "drei-fertl" (Yiddish for "three-quarter"). It is distinct from a regular three-quarter suit inasmuch as the right side covers the left, like a rekel.

Many Skver
Skver (Hasidic dynasty)
Skver is the name of a Hasidic dynasty founded by Rebbe Yitzchok Twerski in the city of Skver . Followers of the rebbes of Skver are called Skverer hasidim....

er hasidim wear knee-high leather boots (shtifl) with their breeches on the Sabbath. This manner of concealing the stockings was introduced as a compromise prior to a family wedding when one side had the tradition of wearing white stockings and the other did not. The Skverer Rebbe and his family wear such boots every day, and so do some rabbinical families affiliated with other Hasidic groups.

Hair



Following a Biblical commandment not to shave the sides of one's face, male members of most Hasidic groups wear long, uncut sideburns called payot
Payot
Payot is the Hebrew word for sidelocks or sidecurls. Payot are worn by some men and boys in the Orthodox Jewish community based on an interpretation of the Biblical injunction against shaving the "corners" of one's head...

 (Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew
Ashkenazi Hebrew , is the pronunciation system for Biblical and Mishnaic Hebrew favored for liturgical use by Ashkenazi Jewish practice. Its phonology was influenced by languages with which it came into contact, such as Yiddish, German, and various Slavic languages...

 peyos, Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 peyes). Many Hasidim shave off the rest of their hair. Not every Hasidic group requires long peyos, and not all Jewish men with peyos are Hasidic, but all groups discourage the shaving of one's beard. Hasidic boys receive their first haircut
First haircut
The first haircut for a human has special significance in certain cultures and religions. It can be considered a rite of passage or a milestone.-Chinese babies:A Chinese baby often receives its first haircut at the end of its first month....

s ceremonially at the age of three years (though Skverrer Hasidim do this at their second birthday). Until then, Hasidic boys have long hair. Many non-Hasidic (and even some non-Orthodox) Jews have adopted this custom.

Tzitzis



The white threads dangling at the waists of Hasidim and other Orthodox Jewish males except for the strings that many leave hanging out; many Hasidim, as well as some other Haredim, wear the tallis katan over their shirt.

Women


The majority of Hasidic women, being Haredi, will wear clothing adhering to the principles of modest dress in Jewish law. This includes long, conservative skirts and sleeves past the elbow. In keeping with Jewish law, married women will cover their hair using either a sheitel
Sheitel
Sheitel is the Yiddish word for a wig or half-wig worn by Orthodox Jewish married women in order to conform with the requirement of Jewish Law to cover their hair. This practice is part of the modesty-related dress standard called tzniut. The word seems to be derived from the German word...

(wig) or a tichel
Tichel
The Tichel also called a Mitpachat is a headscarf worn by married Jewish women in compliance with the code of modesty known as Tzniut. Tichels can range from a very simple plain color cotton square with a simple tie in the back to very elaborate fabrics with very complex ties using multiple fabrics...

(scarf) which is often used to cover a shpitzel
Shpitzel
A Shpitzel is a headgear worn by many married Hasidic Women. It consists of a web-net covering the women's head, often with a "braid of hair" across the front. It is covered by a tichel....

. In some groups, such as Satmar
Satmar (Hasidic dynasty)
Satmar is a Hasidic movement comprising mostly Hungarian and Romanian Hasidic Jewish Holocaust survivors and their descendants. It was founded and led by the late Hungarian-born Grand Rebbe Yoel Teitelbaum , who was the rabbi of Szatmárnémeti, Hungary...

, women cut their hair short and wear a wig or tichel.

Families



Hasidic men and women, as customary in Haredi Judaism, usually meet through matchmakers in a process called a shidduch
Shidduch
The Shidduch is a system of matchmaking in which Jewish singles are introduced to one another in Orthodox Jewish communities for the purpose of marriage....

, but marriages involve the mutual consent of the couple and of the parents. Expectations exist that a bride and groom should be about the same age. Marriage age ranges from 17-25, with 18-21 considered the norm. No custom encourages an older man marrying a young woman. Hasidic thought stresses the holiness of sex.

Hasidic Jews typically produce large families; the average Hasidic family in the United States has 7 or 8 children. This custom is followed out of a desire to fulfill the Biblical mandate to "be fruitful and multiply."

Languages


Most Hasidim speak the language of their countries of residence, but use Yiddish amongst themselves as a way of remaining distinct and preserving tradition. Thus children are still learning Yiddish today, and the language, despite predictions to the contrary, is not dead. Yiddish newspapers are still published, and Yiddish fiction is being written, primarily aimed at women. Films in Yiddish are being produced within the Hasidic community, and released immediately as DVDs (as opposed to the Yiddish movies of the past, which were produced by non-religious Jews). Some Hasidic groups actively oppose the everyday use of Hebrew, which they considered a holy tongue. The use of Hebrew for anything other than prayer and study is, according to them, profane. Hence Yiddish is the vernacular and common tongue for many Hasidim around the world. The use of Yiddish is a major difference between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Haredim. Sephardi Haredim usually do not know Yiddish (the exception would be if they were educated in an Ashkenazi yeshiva).

See also

  • Hasidic philosophy
    Hasidic philosophy
    Hasidic philosophy or Hasidus , alternatively transliterated as Hassidism, Chassidism, Chassidut etc. is the teachings, interpretations of Judaism, and mysticism articulated by the modern Hasidic movement...

  • List of Hasidic dynasties
  • Hasidim and Mitnagdim
  • Neo Hasidism
  • Kvitel
    Kvitel
    Kvitel refers to a practice developed by Hasidic Judaism in which a Hasid writes a note with a petitionary prayer and gives it to a Rebbe in order to receive the latter's blessing...


Books



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  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1961), Liebermann, Toronto, Canada
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, The Great Maggid (1974; 1990), Kehot, Brooklyn NY, ISBN 0-8266-0414-5
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, The Arrest and Liberation of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1964; 1992), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0418-8
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, Mystical Concepts in Chassidism (1979; 1988), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0412-9
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, The Mystical Tradition (1990; 1995), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0528-1
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, Deep Calling Unto Deep (1990; 1995), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0528-2
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, Chassidic Dimensions (1990; 1995), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0528-3
  • Schochet, Jacob Immanuel, Tzava'at Harivash: The Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1998), Kehot, Brooklyn NY ISBN 0-8266-0399-8


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  • The Great Mission: The life and story of Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov. Compiled by Rabbi Eli Friedman, translated by Rabbi Elchonon Lesches. Kehot Publication Society, 2005, ISBN 0-8266-0681-4.
  • Holy Days: The World of a Hasidic Family. Lis Harris. Simon & Schuster New York, 1985, ISBN 0-684-81366-1.
  • Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels. Hella Winston. Beacon Press Boston, 2005, ISBN 0-8070-3626-9.
  • Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters. Elie Wiesel
    Elie Wiesel
    Sir Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE; born September 30, 1928) is a Hungarian-born Jewish-American writer, professor, political activist, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, including Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz, Buna, and...

    . Simon & Schuster New York, 1972, ISBN 0-671-44171-X.
  • Hasidic People: A Place in the New World. Jerome R. Mintz. Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press
    Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

    , 1992.

External links


Maps of the spread of Hasidism: