ḥabad

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Ḥabad (Heb., acronym of Ḥokmah, Bīnah, Daʿat: wisdom, discrimination, knowledge). A religious and intellectual movement within Jewish ḥasidism. Founded by Shneʾur Zalman and based on Isaac Luria's Kabbalah and the doctrines of the Baal Shem Tov (Israel ben Eliezer), the terms Ḥokmah, Binah, Daʿat (ḤBD) are understood as sefirot (emanations) in the divine mind. The Ḥabad Zaddik is essentially a spiritual leader, and the Ḥabad were the first ḥasidic group to found yeshivot. Shneʾur Zalman was succeeded by his son, Dov Baer, who settled in Lubavich, with the consequence that Ḥabad and Lubavich are now interchangeable terms (though in fact there was a diffuse spread of Ḥabad movements). Today their main centres of activity are in Israel and the USA.

Central to Ḥabad is the belief that humans created in the image of God mirror the three sefirot within the divine mind.

Therefore a profoundly joyous experience must be expected when ‘like meets like’, hence the celebratory nature of Ḥabad assemblies. This emerges from bittul ha-yesh, ‘annihilation of that which is’. This is the loss of the individual, grasping ego in the adoration of God, but it is, also, the belief that a part of the Ein-Sof lies within human nature: through annihilation of all else that surrounds it, the one is left with the One, and there is no distinction between them.