ḤASIDISM , a popular religious movement giving rise to a pattern of communal life and leadership as well as a particular social outlook which emerged in Judaism and Jewry in the second half of the 18th century. Ecstasy, mass enthusiasm, close-knit group cohesion, and charismatic leadership of one kind or another are the distinguishing socioreligious marks of Ḥasidism.
This article is arranged according to the following outline:history
Beginnings and Development
Opposition to Hasidism
Women and Ḥasidism
after world war ii
Ḥasidic Way of Life
the prayer rite and other customs
basic ideas of Ḥasidism
Creator and Universe
Optimism, Joy, and Hitlahavut
Love and Fear
Kavvanah and Ẓaddikism
teachings of Ḥasidism
Origins of Ḥasidic Teachings
Worship through Corporeality (Avodah be-Gashmiyyut)
Social Consequences of the Doctrine of "Corporeal Worship"
The Ethos of Ḥasidism
Expository Pamphlets and Letters
interpretations of Ḥasidism
Ḥasidism and Haskalah
Martin Buber and His Successors
developments in Ḥasidism after 1970
Later Ḥasidic Literature
SURVEY OF ḤASIDIC DYNASTIES
Descendants of First Generation
Descendants of Second Generation
Descendants of Third Generation
Descendants of Fourth Generation
Descendants of Fifth Generation
Descendants of Sixth Generation
THE MUSICAL TRADITION OF ḤASIDISM
Problems of Definition and Research
The Place of Music in Ḥasidic Thought
The Place of Music in Ḥasidic Life
the rebbe as musical leader
the musical genres
Tradition and Renewal in Ḥasidic Music
Research and Collections
The movement began in the extreme southeast of *Poland-Lithuania, and was shaped and conditioned by the tension prevailing in Jewish society in the difficult circumstances created by the breakup of Poland-Lithuania in the late 18th century and the three partitions of the country. This combined with the problems inherited as a result of both the *Chmielnicki massacres and the *Haidamack massacres. The framework of Jewish leadership was shaken, and the authority and methods of Jewish leaders were further undermined and questioned in the wake of the upheaval brought about by the false messianic and kabbalistic movements of *Shabbetai Ẓevi and Jacob *Frank, the shadow of the latter lying on Ḥasidism from its inception. As well as furnishing an ideological background, *Kabbalah, combined with popular traditions of ecstasy and mass enthusiasm, provided constructive elements for a new outlook in religious and social behavior. The earlier messianic movements and authoritarianism of the community leaders prevailing at that time, combined with the necessarily individualistic leadership of the opposition to such authoritarianism, coalesced to accustom the Jewish masses to charismatic as well as authoritative leadership. Mystic circles in Poland-Lithuania in the 18th century combined to create Ḥasidic groups (ḥavurot) with a distinct pattern of life, mostly ascetic, sometimes with their own synagogue (for example, the so-called kloyz of the ascetic Ḥasidim of *Brody). These circles were noted for their special behavior during prayer, for their meticulous observance of the commandments, and also by their daily life. Their prayers were arranged for the most part according to the Sephardi version of Isaac *Luria. They were not looked upon favorably by the official institutions of the community because of the danger of separatism and because of their deviation from the accepted religious customs. Some among them secluded themselves, and spent their days fasting and undergoing self-mortification. Others were ecstatic – "serving the Lord with joy." These groups were quite small and closed; their influence upon the general public was very small.
At first, *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov (the Besht) appears to have been one of a number of leaders characterized
by ecstatic behavior and an anti-ascetic outlook. A popular healer who worked with magic formulas, amulets, and spells, he attracted to his court, first at Tolstoye and then at Medzibozh, people who came to be cured, to join him in ecstatic prayer, and to receive guidance from him. Israel also undertook journeys, spreading his influence as far as Lithuania. After his "revelation" in the 1730s, which marked the beginning of his public mission, he gradually became the leader of ḥasidic circles; drawn by his personality and visions, more and more people were attracted to the ḥasidic groups, first in Podolia, then in adjacent districts in southeast Poland-Lithuania. Unfortunately it is not possible to fix their number but more than 30 are known by name. Both Israel himself and his whole circle were deeply convinced of his supernatural powers and believed in his visions. Some who came within his orbit continued to oppose him to some degree (see *Abraham Gershon of Kutow, *Naḥman of Horodenko, and *Naḥman of Kosov); under his influence others turned away from ascetic talmudic scholarship to become the theoreticians and leaders of Hasidism and Israel's disciples (see *Dov Baer of Mezhirech and *Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye). At his death (1760) Israel left, if not a closely knit group, then at least a highly admiring and deeply convinced inner circle of disciples, surrounded by an outer fringe of former leaders of other ḥasidic groups who adhered to him while dissenting from his views to some extent, and a broad base of devout admirers in the townships and villages of southeast Poland-Lithuania. His outlook and vision attracted simple people as well as great talmudic scholars, established rabbis, and influential *maggidim.
After a brief period of uncertainty (c. 1760–66), the leadership of the second generation of the movement passed to Dov Baer of Mezhirech (known as the great maggid of Mezhirech), although he was opposed by many of Israel's most prominent disciples (e.g., Phinehas Shapiro of Korets and Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye), and many of this inner circle of his opponents withdrew from active leadership, a fact of great significance for the history of Ḥasidism. Nevertheless, Ḥasidism continued to propagate and spread. Toledot Ya'akov Yosef (1780), by Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, embodied the first written theoretical formulation of Ḥasidism, transmitting many of the sayings, interpretations, and traditions of Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, and Jacob Joseph continued with these expositions in subsequent works. From Dov Baer's court missionaries went forth who were successful in attracting many scholars to Ḥasidism and sending them to the master at Mezhirech to absorb his teaching. Due to illness he did not often meet with his disciples. Unlike the Ba'al Shem Tov he was not a man of the people, and favored young scholars whose intellectual foundation did not dampen their ecstatic tendencies. From the new center at Volhynia, Ḥasidism thus spread northward into Belorussia and Lithuania and westward into Galicia and central Poland (see *Shneur Zalman of Lyady, *Levi Isaac of Berdichev, Aaron (the Great) of *Karlin, and Samuel Shmelke *Horowitz). At this time Ḥasidism even penetrated into the center of opposition to it, in Vilna. Many local ḥasidic leaders became influential as communal leaders and local rabbis.
Ḥasidic groups went to Ereẓ Israel creating a far-flung and influential center of ḥasidic activity, notably in Tiberias. Israel Ba'al Shem Tov intended to go to Ereẓ Israel, but for some unknown reason turned back in the middle of the journey. His brother-in-law Abraham Gershon of Kutow went there in 1747, settled in Hebron, and six years later moved to Jerusalem where he established contact with the mystical group "Beth El," which had been founded by the Yemenite kabbalist Sar Shalom *Sharabi. Other Ḥasidim went to Ereẓ Israel, some settling in Tiberias. The newcomers made no notable impression on the Jews settled there. In 1777 a group of Ḥasidim of Ryzhin emigrated to the Holy Land under the leadership of *Menaḥem Mendel of Vitebsk. There were many who joined the caravan who were not members of the Ḥasidic camp, and it numbered at the time of its arrival in Ereẓ Israel about 300 people. The newcomers settled in Safed but after a short while Menaḥem Mendel and some of his followers moved to Tiberias. Some remained in Safed, others moved to Peki'in, and so it was that the Ḥasidim spread over Jewish Galilee. Even in the very year of their immigration persecution against the Ḥasidim began in Galilee, for *Mitnaggedim in Lithuania sent collections of "evidence" against the Ḥasidim after they had left. The Sephardim in Safed participated in the controversy and sided with the Mitnaggedim. In 1784 Menaḥem Mendel built a house for himself and in it there was a synagogue. The Ḥasidim sent emissaries to collect money on their behalf and laid the foundation in Ryzhin, Lithuania, and in other places for the permanent support of the Ḥasidim of the Galilee.
The basic pattern of Ḥasidic leadership and succession emerged in the third generation of the movement (c. 1773–1815). The spread and growth of Ḥasidism, both geographically and in numbers, the diversified and illustrious leadership of charismatic individuals who became heads of local centers, each developing his own style of teaching and interpretation of the ḥasidic way of life, the breakup of former lines of communication and of cultural ties caused by the partitions of Poland-Lithuania (1772, 1793, and 1795), and last but not least the pressures brought to bear on Ḥasidic communities by the struggle against Ḥasidim – all these factors contributed to the decentralization of leadership of the ḥasidic world and consequently to an ever-growing diversification of ḥasidic thought and variation in the ḥasidic way of life. From this generation onward, there were always a number of contemporaneous leaders, each claiming the allegiance of his followers. In the main, both leadership and allegiance were handed down from generation to generation and thus arose both the dynasties of ḥasidic ẓaddikim and the hereditary camps of their followers. At times the living charismatic force reasserted itself anew, as in the case of *Jacob Isaac ha-Hozeh ("the seer") of Lublin, who began to lead a community in the lifetime of his master, *Elimelech of Lyzhansk, without his blessing, or Jacob Isaac *Przysucha who led a community in the lifetime of his master, though without leaving him. Descent from the first leaders of Ḥasidim did not inevitably guarantee preeminence (see *Abraham b. Dov of Mezhirech) nor was it a defense against bitter attacks on unconventional leadership (see *Nahman of Bratslav, the great-grandson of the Ba'al Shem Tov).
In this third generation, the new pattern of leadership assured the victory of Ḥasidim over its opponents and its increasing spread throughout Eastern Europe. With the inclusion of Galicia in the Austrian Empire, Ḥasidim also gained adherents among Hungarian Jewry (see *Teitelbaum family, *Mukachevo). At this time Ḥasidim also developed systematic schools of theology, such as the more intellectual and study-centered *Ḥabad Ḥasidim. Some ḥasidic personalities, like Levi Isaac of Berdichev, were venerated by all Jewry as models of piety and love of humanity. The spiritual outlook and pattern of leadership of the practical ẓaddik (see below) also crystallized in this generation. Clearly, with such diversification in leadership and attitudes, from this generation on there was considerable and open tension between the various dynasties and courts of Ḥasidim, which sometimes flared up into bitter and prolonged conflicts (see, for example, *Naḥman of Bratslav, *Belz, *Gora Kalwaria (Gur), *Mukachevo, *Kotsk).
By the 1830s the main surge of the spread of Ḥasidim was over. From a persecuted sect it had become the way of life and leadership structure of the majority of Jews in the Ukraine, Galicia, and central Poland, and had sizable groups of followers in Belorussia-Lithuania and Hungary. With the great waves of emigration to the West from 1881, Ḥasidim was carried into Western Europe and especially to the United States. In the West its character was gradually, but ever more rapidly, diluted and its influence became more external and formal. With the abatement of the struggle against Ḥasidim by the end of its third generation and its acceptance as part of the Orthodox camp, Ḥasidim attained the distinction of being the first religious trend in Judaism since the days of the Second Temple which had a self-defined way of life and recognizable rite of worship, but yet was acknowledged (albeit somewhat grudgingly) by those who differed from it as a legitimate Jewish phenomenon.
This recognition came only after a bitter struggle. However, only in Lithuania and possibly Ryzhin in the last 30 years of the 18th century did this struggle show clear signs of an organized movement. Except for this period, the opposition to Ḥasidim was confined to local controversies. The anti-ḥasidic camp was inspired by the ideas, fears, and personality of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna, who influenced the communal leadership to follow him in his opposition to Ḥasidim. To the Gaon, Ḥasidim's ecstasy, the visions seen and miracles wrought by its leaders, and its enthusiastic way of life were so many delusions, dangerous lies, and idolatrous worship of human beings. Ḥasidic stress on prayer seemed to him to overturn the Jewish scale of values in which study of the Torah and intellectual endeavor in this field were the main path to God. Aspersions were also cast on Ḥasidim because of the supposed hidden influence of the secret teachings of Shabbateanism and in particular of the almost contemporaneous Jacob Frank. Various ḥasidic changes in the knives for *sheḥitah, and even more so in their change from the Ashkenazi to the Sephardi prayer rite, were seen as a challenge to Orthodoxy and a revolutionary rejection of traditional authority.
Writings of rabbis contemporaneous with the Besht reveal some suspicion and derision (Moses b. Jacob of Satanov in his Mishmeret ha-Kodesh, Solomon b. Moses *Chelm in his Mirkevet ha-Mishneh, and Ḥayyim ha-Kohen *Rapoport). In 1772 the first and second *ḥerem were proclaimed against the Ḥasidim, ḥasidic works were burned, and the first pamphlet against Ḥasidim, Zemir Ariẓim ve-Ḥorvot Ẓurim, was published. The Ḥasidim countered with a ḥerem of their own and with burning the Zemir Arizim; at the same time Menaḥem Mendel of Vitebsk and Shneur Zalman of Lyady tried to approach Elijah of Vilna, but to no avail. In 1781 another harsh herem was proclaimed against the Ḥasidim: "They must leave our communities with their wives and children… and they should not be given a night's lodging; their sheḥitah is forbidden; it is forbidden to do business with them and to intermarry with them, or to assist at their burial."
The struggle sharpened during the 1780s and in particular in the 1790s. Not infrequently both Ḥasidim and their opponents denounced each other to the secular authorities (see *Avigdor b. Joseph Ḥayyim, *Shneur Zalman of Lyady), leading to arrests of various ḥasidic leaders and mutual calumnies of a grave nature. With the crystallization of the movement of the Mitnaggedim in Jewish Lithuania on the one hand and the appearance of the *Haskalah as an enemy common to all Orthodoxy on the other, the bitterness and ferocity of the struggle between Ḥasidim and its opponents abated, though basic differences remained on estimation of the Jewish scale of values, the place of the leadership of ẓaddikim, and the permissibility of certain ecstatic traits of the ḥasidic way of life; sometimes latent and sometimes active, these differences never wholly subsided. The code for the Jews which came out in Russia in 1804 permitted each Jewish sect to build special synagogues for itself and to choose special rabbis for itself, and thus legalization was given to the Ḥasidim in Russia. In the conflict between the Mitnaggedim and the Ḥasidim, it was the Ḥasidim who were eventually victorious.
The wars of Napoleon and especially his Russian campaign (1812) aroused a strong reaction among the Jewish community. The Jews of Poland and Russia were located on opposite sides of the front. These wars gave birth to many ḥasidic traditions, whose degree of trustworthiness is unknown. According to them ẓaddikim "participated" in the battles, giving their magical thrust for one side or the other. In addition to the legendary material, there are two tested facts. Levi Isaac of Berdichev was at the top of the list of Jewish contributors to the war effort of the Russians against Napoleon (1807). Shneur Zalman of Lyady ordered his Ḥasidim to spy on behalf of Russia, by explaining that "if Bonaparte wins, the wealthy among Israel would increase and the greatness of Israel would be raised, but they would leave and take the heart of Israel far from Father in Heaven" (Beit Rabbi).
In the late 19th century and up to World War ii various ḥasidic dynasties and camps entered the political life of modern parties and states. Ḥasidim were the mainstay of *Agudat Israel (and see also *Maḥzike Hadas).
This change constituted a new stage in the development of the ḥasidic movement. Alongside the spiritual leaders a growing class of secular activists developed. The expansion of the ḥasidic camp and its penetration to positions of authority and public responsibility in the communities gained influence for the activists who recognized the authority of the ẓaddik and submitted to his leadership. Yet, sometimes the ẓaddik was only a tool in their skillful hands. Through all of this Ḥasidim finally lost more and more of its spiritual character; it was eventually cut off from its kabbalistic sources and turned instead to organization.
To be sure, this process did not take place without sharp battles, and even in later generations there were ẓaddikim who tried to raise anew the foundations of the Ḥasidim of the Ba'al Shem Tov. Generally, the institutionalization of Ḥasidim continued to a greater degree and notable changes took place in its content. Spontaneity gave way to routine forms.
In the second half of the 19th century the expansion of Ḥasidim stopped. With the greater – albeit moderate – tendencies toward the secularization of Jewish life, Ḥasidim shut itself in and passed from a position of attack to one of defense. The ideas of the Enlightenment, national and socialist ideals, and the Zionist movements shook the traditional Jewish way of life. Ḥasidim strongly opposed any change in the way of life and in spiritual values and alienated itself from the new forces which rose up among the Jews. The movement of Hibbat Zion was not welcomed in the courts of the ẓaddikim. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, the Jewish workers' movements were outside the ḥasidic camp. The numbers of Ḥasidim did not decline, but its power of attraction was failing. Only in one area did Ḥasidim produce something new: namely, a strong emphasis on Torah study. The first ḥasidic yeshivah was founded, apparently, by Abraham Bornstein of Sochaczew in the 1860s. At the end of the century theẓaddikim of Lubavitch founded yeshivot of "Tomekhei Temimim." An attempt was also made to establish a yeshivah at Gur in Poland. It seems that by the study of Torah the ḥasidic leaders sought to immunize the ḥasidic youth from the "harmful influences" from outside. With this they repeated, in essence, the attempt of the Mitnaggedim of Lithuania, who were defending themselves from Ḥasidim.
In World War i (1914–18) and the first few years following it, the distribution of Ḥasidim changed. Many of the ẓaddikim who lived in the area of the battles were driven out of their towns or were forced to leave because of economic difficulties and threats to security. The vast majority of them escaped to the big cities and some of them remained there after the war. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the formation of new countries sometimes cut off masses of Ḥasidim from their leaders and they found themselves politically in Romania or Czechoslovakia. However, the most important and most tragic event in the lives of the Ḥasidim was the cutting off of the Russian branch, as the result of the Bolshevik regime.
The changes which took place in Jewish society in Eastern Europe in the period between the two World Wars (1918–39), and the problems which then faced the Jews, left their imprint upon the Ḥasidim of those countries. Ḥasidim continued in its conservatism. It was the main sector, and at times the only part of the Jewish population, which carefully maintained the tradition of dress, language, and education. The majority of Ḥasidim strongly opposed the Zionist movement and especially religious Zionism; they did not even encourage emigration to Ereẓ Israel which was growing during those years, although they did not interfere with it. However, many Ḥasidim did join the waves of emigration to Ereẓ Israel. Some of them founded Bene Berak, Kefar Ḥasidim, etc., and others settled in cities and concentrated themselves in special ḥasidic minyanim. They remained loyal to the ẓaddikim abroad, naming themselves after them, and maintained their connections.
During the Holocaust the ḥasidic centers of Eastern Europe were destroyed. The masses of Ḥasidim perished and, together with them, most of the ḥasidic leaders. Ẓaddikim who survived moved to Israel or went to America and established new ḥasidic centers there. Although many Ḥasidim were active in Ereẓ Israel and were enthusiastic supporters of the foundation of the State of Israel (see e.g., *Kozienice, *Gur, Lubavitch-*Schneersohn), for some of them this was a very late development, while others retained a bitter and active hostility to everything modern in Jewish life and culture and in particular to the State of Israel (see Joel *Teitelbaum of Satmar).
In the 20th century the philosophy of Martin *Buber and A.J. *Heschel and the works of such writers as Isaac Leib *Peretz helped to mold neo-Ḥasidim, which consequently had a considerable influence on modern Jewish culture and youth.
Ḥasidim emigrated to the U.S. within the great Jewish migration of 1880–1925, where they generally formed part of the larger body of pious immigrant Jews while frequently establishing shtiblekh of their own. They seem to have been less successful than non-ḥasidic immigrant Jews in transmitting their style of religious life to the next generation, because, apart from their ẓaddikim, who had remained in Europe, they apparently felt a fatalistic impotence to perpetuate the Judaism they knew. After World War i several ẓaddikim went to the U.S., including the Twersky dynasties from the Ukraine and the Monastritsh ẓaddik. They gathered followers but lacked the means and the sectarian fervor to establish a ḥasidic movement. This enervation ended with the arrival in 1940 of R. Joseph Isaac *Schneersohn, the Lubavicher rebbe, and the general revival of Orthodox Judaism in the U.S. from that date. A network of yeshivot and religious institutions was founded under the control of R. Joseph Isaac Schneersohn and his successor R. Menaḥem Mendel Schneersohn, and the unprecedented practice was initiated by Lubavitch Ḥasidim of vigorously evangelizing Jews to return to Orthodoxy. The Lubavitch ḥasidic movement achieved wide attention and exercised some influence on the U.S. Jewish community.
Following World War ii, surviving Polish and especially Hungarian Ḥasidim came to the U.S., including the ẓaddikim of Satmar (R. Joel Teitelbaum), Klausenburg-Sandz (Halberstam), and Telem (R. Levi Isaac Greenwald). The Hungarian Ḥasidim exhibited no interest in winning over other Jews and remained self-segregated. A small community of Ḥasidim, followers of the ẓaddik of Skver, established the suburban township of New Square, Rockland County, near New York City. Most Hungarian Ḥasidim concentrated in a few neighborhoods of New York City, shunned the daily press and the mass media, and rejected secular education with grudging acceptance of the state's minimum standards. Most controversial was the relentless hostility toward the State of Israel, especially of Satmar Ḥasidim, who published tracts and conducted public demonstrations against it.
[Lloyd P. Gartner]
Ḥasidim brought no significant changes in women's legal or social status, and in some ways intensified negative views of women already present in traditional rabbinic Judaism and Jewish mystical traditions. Ḥasidic lore preserves descriptions of daughters, mothers, and sisters of rabbinic leaders who were renowned for their rigorous standards of personal piety; a few are reputed to have become leaders of ḥasidic communities. Among them are Sarah Frankel *Sternberg (1838–1937), daughter of ḥasidic Rabbi Joshua Heschel Teomim Frankel and wife of the ẓaddik Ḥayyim Samuel Sternberg of Chenciny, a disciple of the famed Seer of Lublin. After her husband's death, she is said to have functioned successfully as a rebbe in Chenciny and was highly regarded for her piety and asceticism. Her daughter, Hannah Brakhah, the wife of R. Elimelekh of Grodzinsk, was an active participant in the life of her husband's court. A. Rapoport-Albert has pointed out that there is little written documentation about most of these women. She suggests that their authority was based on their connection to revered male leaders, writing that "Ḥasidim did not evolve an ideology of female leadership, any more than it improved the position of women within the family or set out to educate them in Yiddish" (Rapoport-Albert, 501–2). It is most likely that these "holy women" achieved their reputations for leadership because many important ḥasidic leaders refused to meet with women who sought their spiritual presence and advice. Female supplicants were directed, instead, to the rebbe's female relatives.
The only apparent instance of a woman who crossed gender boundaries to achieve religious leadership in a ḥasidic sect on her own was the well-educated, pious, and wealthy Hannah Rochel Werbermacher (1806–1888?), known as "The Maid of *Ludomir." Werbermacher acquired a reputation for saintliness and miracle-working, attracting both men and women to her own shtibl (small prayerhouse), where she lectured from behind a closed door. Reaction from the male ḥasidic leaders of her region was uniformly negative, and pressure was successfully applied on Werbermacher to resume an appropriate female role through an arranged marriage. Although her marriage was unsuccessful, it had the intended result of ending her career as a religious leader in Poland. Around 1860, she immigrated to Ereẓ Israel, where she again attracted a following of ḥasidic women and men, built her own study house, and presided at a variety of religious gatherings. After her death, her grave on the Mount of Olives became a site of devotion. While many other women throughout Jewish history have undoubtedly shared Werbermacher's piety and spiritual charisma, it was her inheritance and independent control of significant financial resources that allowed her to construct settings in which she could exercise these qualities despite male disapproval.
In its emphasis on mystical transcendence and male attendance on the rebbe during the Sabbath and festivals, to the exclusion of the family unit, Ḥasidim contributed significantly to the breakdown of the Jewish social life in 19th-century Eastern Europe. Similar tensions between family responsibility and devotion to Torah were also present among the non-ḥasidic learned elite of this milieu, where wives tended to assume the responsibility for supporting their families while husbands were studying away from home. The sexual ascetism of the homosocial ḥasidic courts and rabbinic yeshivot of the 18th and 19th centuries offered young men a welcome withdrawal from family tensions, economic struggles, and the threats of modernity. Similarly, the negative attitudes toward human sexuality endemic in these environments were often openly misogynistic, incorporating many demonic images of women from rabbinic, kabbalistic, and Jewish folklore traditions.
[Judith R. Baskin (2nd ed.)]
The displacement of surviving ḥasidic communities after the genocide of the Holocaust created multiple diasporas with new roles and opportunities for women. While numerous ḥasidic dynasties reestablished yeshivot and religious governance in the new State of Israel, small communities also resettled and flourished throughout the English-speaking world, in South Africa, Australia, England, and Canada. Since the United States had already offered safe harbor to the Lubavitcher Rebbe in the prewar 1930s, assuring the centralization of the Chabad outreach wing of Ḥasidim in New York, Lubavitcher Chabad outposts expanded rapidly across North America. This movement offered a greatly expanded role for women and girls, due to the sixth and seventh Rebbes' emphasis on female education and missionary work.
Women served as important agents of faith and family life in the transmission of ḥasidic belief to new generations of followers, the ba'alei teshuvah of the postwar era. Where the ultra-Orthodox Satmar and Belz communities limited women's education to the minimum required by state law and, in the case of the Satmar communities of Monsey and Kiryas Joel, actively sought public accommodation of gender segregation customs, the Lubavitcher movement aggressively expanded female activism beyond the neighborhood sphere. This activism dovetailed with the emerging and secular women's movement in the U.S., transforming traditional ḥasidic women into advocates for a return to religious observance in an era of shifting gender roles. The proliferation of Chabad houses and outreach workers adjacent to secular college campuses made Lubavitcher women the most visible representatives of Ḥasidim for students curious about Jewish observance, while the number of Crown Heights women sent to lonely Chabad outposts served as a reminder of the Rebbe's trust in their religious values.
Lubavitcher educational institutions offering both English- and Yiddish-language studies for women grew far beyond the first Bais Rivkah girls schools of the 1940s to include a teacher-training seminary, an adult-education school called Machon Chana, and the ba'al teshuvah seminary Bais Chana in Minneapolis. Beginning in the mid-1960s, under the auspices of the N'shei Chabad women's organization, regular publications such as Di Yiddishe Heim and books on women's issues were produced from Crown Heights and circulated globally, permitting a number of women to attain public roles as authors and editors. Biannual conferences also brought together female activists, who enjoyed audiences with the Rebbe until his passing in 1994. Much of the focus in Lubavitcher women's campaigns involved urging more assimilated Jewish women to light candles and to observe the laws of family purity; attaining a greater level of observance by all Jews is thought to hasten the arrival of the Messiah.
[Bonnie J. Morris (2nd ed.)]
The personality and activities of Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, and the theories and traditions transmitted in his name and developed and augmented by his followers and disciples, shaped the pattern of leadership in Ḥasidim: The leader was the ẓaddik, whose charismatic personality made him the paramount authority in the community of his followers. Tensions already evident at the time Dov Baer of Mezhirech assumed the leadership of the Ḥasidim, and the splintering of the leadership after his death, caused variations and sometimes deviations in this pattern, but in its essentials it remained unchanged.
All ḥasidic leadership is characterized by an extraordinary magnetism, given expression through various activities and symbols. The ẓaddik is believed in, devoutly admired, and obediently followed. From the end of the third generation of Ḥasidim, a dynastic style of leadership often developed, with generation after generation of a certain dynasty of ẓaddikim following in the main its own specific interpretation of the Ḥasidic way of life and communal cohesion (e.g., the more intellectual and theoretical pattern with the Lubavitch-Schneersohn dynasty at the head of the Chabad wing; the enthusiastic and revolutionary teachings, style of leadership, and communal pattern of the Kotsk dynasty).
Laying differing stress on the various elements of ḥasidic belief and life-style, the ẓaddik provides the spiritual illumination for the individual Ḥasid and the ḥasidic community from his own all-pervasive radiance, attained through his mystic union with God. This union and the ensuing enrichment of his soul are used for the sake of the people, to lead them lovingly to their creator. The ẓaddik is a mystic who employs his power within the social community and for its sake. A wonder-healer and miracleworker, in the eyes of his followers he is a combination of confessor, moral instructor, and practical adviser. Also a theoretical teacher and exegetical preacher, with a style of preaching peculiar to ẓaddikim, he expounds his ḥasidic torah (Hebrew for the teaching of the ẓaddikim) at his table (in ḥasidic parlance der tish) surrounded by his followers, generally during the third meal on the Sabbath (se'udah shelishit). For the individual Ḥasid, joining the court of his ẓaddik is both a pilgrimage and a revitalizing unification with the brotherhood gathered at the court, united around and through the ẓaddik. The Hasid journeyed to his ẓaddik's court at least for the High Holidays (although this practice later weakened) to seek his blessing, which was also entreated from afar. He submitted a written account of his problems (known as a kvitl), usually accompanying this with a monetary contribution (pidyon, short for pidyon nefesh, "redemption of the soul"). The money went toward the upkeep of the ẓaddik and his court (who were not dependent on or supported by any single community) and was also used to provide for the needs of the poor in the ḥasidic community. Serving as intermediaries between the ẓaddik and the Ḥasidim were the gabbai (the administrative head of the court) or the mesham-mesh (the ẓaddik's chamberlain), who from the first generation onward mediated between the ẓaddik and the Hasid in matters of kvitl or pidyon. In Ḥasidim the ẓaddik is conceived of as the ladder between heaven and earth, his mystic contemplation linking him with the Divinity, and his concern for the people and loving leadership tying him to earth. Hence his absolute authority, as well as the belief of most ḥasidic dynasties that the ẓaddik must dwell in visible affluence.
From its beginnings Ḥasidim developed its own prayer rite. In fact, the ḥasidic version of the prayers, though called Sefarad, is not identical with the Sephardi rite, nor with the Ashkenazi, but is a combination of (1) the Polish Ashkenazi rite; (2) changes made by Isaac Luria; and (3) the Sephardi rite of Palestine upon which Luria based his changes.
The result is a patchwork and was a source of great confusion. The ḥasidic version itself is not uniform, and there are many differences between the various ḥasidic prayer books. The first ḥasidic prayer book was that of Shneur Zalman of Lyady (Shklov, 1803). The main differences in ḥasidic prayer are: the recitation of the collection of verses beginning with i Chronicles 16:8 ("hodu") before *Pesukei de-Zimra; in the Kedushah, they recite Nakdishkha in Shaḥarit and in Minḥah, Keter in Musaf (see *Kedushah). Prayer for the Ḥasid is ecstatic and loud, involving song, body movements, shaking, and clapping.
In the first generations of Ḥasidim, while it was still a minority belief in most communities and under bitter attack, the Ḥasidim opened their own small prayer houses, called shtiblekh, a name which continued to be used. The separateness of the ḥasidic community was aggravated by their insistence on a specific type of highly sharpened (geshlifene) sheḥitah knife, a demand which both necessitated and permitted a separate ḥasidic sheḥitah with its own income and organization. The reason for this custom has not been sufficiently explained.
As by the mid-19th century Ḥasidim prevailed in most communities of the Ukraine, Volhynia, central Poland, Galicia, and in many in Hungary and Belorussia, the pattern of leadership based on the ẓaddik changed the character of local community leadership to a considerable extent. Local leaders and rabbis became subject to the authority of the ẓaddik whose followers were the most influential ḥasidic group in a given community.
The image and memory of past and present ẓaddikim are shaped and kept alive through the ḥasidic tale (ma'aseh), which is recounted as an act of homage to the living link between the Ḥasid and his God. As well as embodying the sayings of such teachers as Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, Levi Isaac of Berdichev, Naḥman of Bratslav, and Menaḥem Mendel of Kotsk, these tales reflect popular philosophy to a great extent.
The insistence of Ḥasidim from its inception on joy (simḥah) as the prime factor in the good Jewish life and the essential element of divine worship led to the importance of the ḥasidic dance and song as expressions of piety and group cohesion, whether in the shtiblekh in the individual community or when united together at the ẓaddik's court and table. Ḥasidic influence was spread, but was also further splintered, by the widespread custom of giving support and something approaching the status of ẓaddik to descendants of a dynasty
who did not become ẓaddikim (the so-called einiklakh, "the grandsons"). Various other specific ḥasidic customs (e.g., the rushing to the ẓaddik's table to obtain a portion of the remnants (shirayim) of the food he had touched) were contributing factors to the closeness of the ḥasidic group. The ecstatic prayer of the ẓaddik – mostly when reciting the Song of Songs or the Lekhu Nerannenah prayer on the entry of the Sabbath – which figures frequently in ḥasidic tales, was a powerful element in holding the group together.
The elements of ḥasidic song, dance, and tale later became influential in modern Jewish youth movements and helped to shape neo-Ḥasidim. From the end of World War i, the Ḥabad-Lubavitch movement led the underground struggle to maintain Jewish religious life and culture under communist regimes (see *Russia). Some ḥasidic dynasties took part in the creation of agricultural settlements in Israel (*Kefar Ḥasidim, *Kefar Ḥabad). In recent times, groups of young Jews in the United States have demonstrated their allegiance to protest movements through turning to ḥasidic modes of expression to embody their enthusiasm, specific cohesion, and adherence to Jewish identity.
While it is true that many of the basic ideas of Ḥasidim are grounded in earlier Jewish sources, the Ḥasidim did produce much that was new if only by emphasis. With few exceptions, ḥasidic ideas are not presented systematically in the ḥasidic writings, but an examination of these writings reveals certain patterns common to all the ḥasidic masters. Central to ḥasidic thought is an elaboration of the idea, found in the Lurianic Kabbalah, that God "withdrew from Himself into Himself" in order to leave the primordial "empty space" into which the finite world could eventually emerge after a long process of emanations. This "withdrawal" (ẓimẓum), according to Chabad thought especially and to a considerable degree also to ḥasidic thought in general, does not really take place but only appears to do so. The infinite divine light is progressively screened so as not to engulf all in its tremendous glory so that creatures can appear to enjoy an independent existence. The whole universe is, then, a "garment" of God, emerging from Him "like the snail whose shell is formed of itself."
In a parable attributed to the Ba'al Shem Tov a mighty king sits on his throne, situated in the center of a huge palace with many halls, all of them filled with gold, silver, and precious stones. Those servants of the king who are far more interested in acquiring wealth than in gazing at the king's splendor spend all their time, when they are admitted to the palace, in the outer halls, gathering the treasures they find there. So engrossed are they in this that they never see the countenance of the king. But the wise servants, refusing to be distracted by the treasures in the halls, press on until they come to the king on his throne in the center of the palace. To their astonishment, once they reach the king's presence, they discover that the palace, its halls, and their treasures are really only an illusion, created by the king's magical powers. In the same way God hides Himself in the "garments" and "barriers" of the cosmos and the "upper worlds." When man recognizes that this is so, when he acknowledges that all is created out of God's essence and that, in reality, there are no barriers between man and his God, "all the workers of iniquity" are dispersed (Keter Shem Tov, i, 5a–b). In its context this parable refers to prayer. Man should persist in his devotions and refuse to be distracted by extraneous thoughts. But the idea that all is in God is clearly implied. The verse: "Know this day, and lay it to thy heart, that the Lord He is God in heaven above and in the earth beneath; there is none else" (Deut. 4:39) is read as: "There is nothing else." In reality there is nothing but God, for otherwise the world would be "separate" from God and this would imply limitation in Him (Keter Shem Tov, i, 8b).
The ḥasidic leader R. Menaḥem Mendel of Lubavich observes (Derekh Mitzvotekha (1911), 123) that the disciples of the Ba'al Shem Tov gave the "very profound" turn to the doctrine of the oneness of God so that it means not only that He is unique, as the medieval thinkers said, but that He is all that is: "That there is no reality in created things. This is to say that in truth all creatures are not in the category of 'something' [yesh] or a 'thing' [davar] as we see them with our eyes. For this is only from our point of view since we cannot perceive the divine vitality. But from the point of view of the divine vitality which sustains us we have no existence and we are in the category of complete nothingness [efes] like the rays of the sun in the sun itself… From which it follows that there is no other existence whatsoever apart from His existence, blessed be He. This is true unification. As the saying has it: 'Thou art before the world was created and now that it is created' – in exactly the same manner. Namely, just as there was no existence apart from Him before the world was created so it is even now."
As a corollary of ḥasidic pantheism (more correctly, panentheism) is the understanding in its most extreme form of the doctrine of divine providence. The medieval thinkers limited special providence to the human species and allowed only general providence so far as the rest of creation is concerned. It is purely by chance that this spider catches that fly, that this ox survives, the other dies. For the Ḥasidim there is nothing random in a universe that is God's "garment." No stone lies where it does, no leaf falls from the tree, unless it has been so arranged by divine wisdom.
Particularly during prayer but also at other times man has to try to overcome the limitations of his finite being to see only the divine light into which, from the standpoint of ultimate reality, he and the cosmos are absorbed. This transcendence of the ego is known in ḥasidic thought as bittul hayesh, "the annihilation of selfhood." Humility (shiflut) does not mean for Ḥasidim that man thinks little of himself but that he does not think of himself at all. Only through humility can man be the recipient of God's grace. He must empty himself so that he might be filled with God's gifts.
ḥasidic optimism and joy (simḥah) are also based on the notion that all is in God. If the world and its sorrows do not enjoy true existence and the divine light and vitality pervade all, what cause is there for despair or despondency? When man rejoices that he has been called to serve God, he bestirs the divine joy above and blessing flows through all creation. A melancholy attitude of mind is anathema to Ḥasidim, serving only to create a barrier between man and his Maker. Even over his sins a man should not grieve overmuch: "At times the evil inclination misleads man into supposing that he has committed a serious sin when it was actually no more than a mere peccadillo or no sin at all, the intention being to bring man into a state of melancholy [aẓvut]. But melancholy is a great hindrance to God's service. Even if a man has stumbled and sinned he should not become too sad because this will prevent him from worshiping God" (Ẓavva'at Ribash (1913),9). Some ḥasidic teachers, however, draw a distinction between man's "bitterness" (merirut) at his remoteness from God and "sadness." The former is commendable in that it is lively and piercing whereas the latter denotes deadness of soul. A further result of the basic ḥasidic philosophy is hitlahavut, "burning enthusiasm," in which the soul is aflame with ardor for God whose presence is everywhere. Man's thought can cleave to God, to see only the divine light, and this state of attachment (devekut), of always being with God, is the true aim of all worship.
The study of the Torah, prayer, and other religious duties must be carried out in love and fear. The bare deed without the love and fear of God is like a bird without wings. A ḥasidic tale relates that the Ba'al Shem Tov was unable to enter a certain synagogue because it was full of lifeless prayers, which, lacking the wings of love and fear, were unable to ascend to God. As observant Jews the Ḥasidim did not seek to deny the value of the deed but they taught repeatedly that the deed could only be elevated when carried out in a spirit of devotion. R. Ḥayyim of Czernowitz writes (Sha'ar ha-Tefillah (1813), 7b): "There is a man whose love for his God is so strong and faithful that he carries out each mitzvah with superlative excellence, strength and marvelous power, waiting in longing to perform the mitzvah, his soul expiring in yearning. For, in accordance with his spiritual rank, his heart and soul know the gracious value of the mitzvot and the splendor of their tremendous glory and beauty, infinitely higher than all values. And how much more so the dread and fear, the terror and trembling, which fall on such a man when he performs a mitzvah, knowing as he does with certainty that he stands before the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, the great and terrible King, before Whom 'all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and He doeth according to His will in the host of heaven' [Dan. 4:32], who stands over him always, seeing his deeds, for His glory fills the earth. Such a man is always in a state of shame and lowliness so intense that the world cannot contain it, especially when he carries out the mitzvot. Such a man's mitzvot are those which fly ever upward in joy and satisfaction to draw down from there every kind of blessing and flow of grace to all worlds."
This idea was applied to all man's deeds, not only to his religious obligations. In all things there are "holy sparks" (niẓoẓot) waiting to be redeemed and rescued for sanctity through man using his appetites to serve God. The very taste of food is a pale reflection of the spiritual force which brings the food into being. Man should be led on by it to contemplate the divine vitality in the food and so to God Himself. In the words of the highly charged mythology of the Lurianic Kabbalah, the "holy sparks" released by man provide the Shekhinah with her "Female Waters" which, in turn, cause the flow of the "Male Waters" and so assist "the unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shekhinah" to produce cosmic harmony. Because of the importance of man's role for the sacred marriage and its importance in the ḥasidic scheme, the Ḥasidim adopted from the kabbalists the formula: "For the sake of the unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shekhinah" (le-shem yiḥud) before the performance of every good deed, for which they were vehemently attacked by R. Ezekiel Landau of Prague (Noda bi-Yhudah, yd no. 93). (The redemption of the "holy sparks" was one of the reasons given for ḥasidic fondness for tobacco. Smoking a pipe served to release subtle "sparks" not otherwise accessible.)
Is a program of sustained contemplation, attachment, and utter devotion to God (*Kavvanah) really possible for all men? The ḥasidic answer is generally in the negative. This is why the doctrine of ẓaddikism is so important for Ḥasidim. The holy man, his thoughts constantly on God, raises the prayers of his followers and all their other thoughts and actions. In the comprehensive work on ẓaddikism, R. Elimelech of Lyzhansk's No'am Elimelekh, the ẓaddik appears as a spiritual superman, with the power to work miracles. He is the channel through which the divine grace flows, the man to whom God has given control of the universe by his prayers. The ẓaddik performs a double task: he brings man nearer to God and he brings down God's bounty to man. The ẓaddik must be supported by his followers. This financial assistance is not for the sake of the ẓaddik but for the sake of those privileged to help him. By supporting the ẓaddik with their worldly goods his followers become attached to him through his dependence on them, which he readily accepts in his love for them. Their welfare thus becomes his and his prayers on their behalf can the more readily be answered. The ẓaddik even has powers over life and death. God may have decreed that a person should die but the prayers of the ẓaddik can nullify this decree. This is because the ẓaddik's soul is so pure and elevated that it can reach to those worlds in which no decree has been promulgated since there only mercy reigns.
But if such powers were evidently denied to the great ones of the past how does the ẓaddik come to have them? The rationale is contained in a parable attributed to the Maggid of Mezhirech (No'am Elimelekh to Gen. 37: 1). When a king is on his travels he will be prepared to enter the most humble dwelling if he can find rest there but when the king is at home he will refuse to leave his palace unless he is invited by a great lord who knows how to pay him full regal honors. In earlier generations only the greatest of Jews could attain to the holy spirit. Now that the Shekhinah is in exile, God is ready to dwell in every soul free from sin.
The social implications of ḥasidic thought should not be underestimated. The sorry conditions of the Jews in the lands in which Ḥasidim was born were keenly felt by the ḥasidic masters who considered it a duty of the highest order to alleviate their sufferings. In the ḥasidic court the wealthy were instructed to help their poorer brethren, the learned not to look down on their untutored fellows. The unity of the Jewish people and the need for Jews to participate in one another's joys and sorrows was repeatedly stressed. The preachers who seemed to take a perverse delight in ruthlessly exposing Jewish shortcomings were taken to task by the Ba'al Shem Tov and his followers. The ẓaddik was always on the lookout for excuses for Jewish faults. R. Levi Isaac of Berdichev is the supreme example of the ẓaddik who challenges God Himself to show mercy to His people.
From the numerous anti-ḥasidic polemics (collected e.g., by M. Wilensky, Ḥasidim u-Mitnaggedim, 1970) we learn which of the ḥasidic ideas were especially offensive to their opponents. The doctrine that all is in God was treated as sheer blasphemy. The doctrine, it was said, would lead to "thinking on the Torah in unclean places" i.e., it would obliterate the distinction between the clean and the unclean, the licit and the illicit. The alleged arrogance of the claims made for the ẓaddik were similarly a cause of offense. The ḥasidic elevation of contemplative prayer over all other obligations, especially over the study of the Torah, seemed to be a complete reversal of the traditional scale of values. The doctrine of bittul ha-yesh was criticized as leading to moral irresponsibility. The bizarre practice of turning somersaults in prayer, followed by a number of the early Ḥasidim as an expression of self-abnegation, was held up to ridicule, as was ḥasidic indulgence in alcoholic stimulants and tobacco. The resort of the Ḥasidim to prayer in special conventicles (the shtiblekh), their adoption of the Lurianic prayer book, their encouragement of young men to leave their families for long periods to stay at the court of the ẓaddik, were all anathema to the Mitnaggedim who saw in the whole process a determined revolt against the established order.
The teachings of Ḥasidim are as notable for their striking content as they are for the colorful literary form in which they are cast. Their sources, however, are readily traceable to kabbalistic literature and to the musar literature of Safed deriving from it. The first generation of ḥasidic teachers usually embodied their teachings in terse aphorisms. These, too, reflect the influence of the aforementioned literature. The first evidence of the spread of ḥasidic teaching dates from the 1750s and comes from the anti-ḥasidic polemical writings of the Mitnaggedim, their implacable opponents. Authentic ḥasidic teachings appeared in print only at the beginning of the 1780s. These published teachings of the Ḥasidim make no reference to the doctrines ascribed to them by their mitnaggedic opponents. For this curious fact, two possible explanations suggest themselves. Either the Mitnaggedim were guilty of exaggeration and distortion in their hostile description of ḥasidic doctrine or, in the interim, a process of internal criticism had moderated original ḥasidic teachings in the decades preceding their publication. The likelihood is that both factors were at work. This does not mean to imply, however, that the teachings of Israel b. Eliezer (the Ba'al Shem Tov) recorded by his disciples are to be regarded as having been censored, thus casting doubt on their authenticity. What is to be inferred is that the antinomian and anarchistic doctrines taught by certain circles were not incorporated into classical Ḥasidim. While no evidence of the specific character of such teachings is available, there can be no doubt of the existence of such groups.
The teachings of the earliest circles of Ḥasidim were transmitted in the name of Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, Judah Leib Piestanyer, Naḥman of Kosov, Nahman of Horodenko (Gorodenka), and others. This was a group of decided spiritual (pneumatic) cast which also fashioned for itself a particular communal life-style, a community built not on family units but rather on meetings organized around prayer circles. As a matter of principle, this pattern served as the basis for the development of the classic ḥasidic community.
It may be said that for the first time in the history of Jewish mysticism, ḥasidic thought reflects certain social concerns. There is present a confrontation with distinctly societal phenomena and their transformation into legitimate problems in mysticism as such. This concern is expressed not in the establishment of specific liturgical norms or formulas devised for the convenience of the congregation but in such doctrines as the worship of God through every material act, and the "uplifting of the sparks" (niẓoẓot). In the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov and his circles these doctrines involved a sense of social mission.
One of the most widespread teachings of Ḥasidim from the very beginnings of the movement is the doctrine calling for man's worship of God by means of his physical acts. In other words, the human physical dimension is regarded as an area capable of religious behavior and value. From this assumption, a variety of religious tendencies followed. To be especially noted is the extraordinary emphasis placed on the value of such worship and the subsequent attempt to limit it to a devotional practice suitable only for spiritually superior individuals. In the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov, this doctrine developed in uncontrolled fashion, culminating in the tenet that man must worship God with both the good and the evil in his nature.
The ideological background of worshiping God through such physical acts as eating, drinking, and sexual relations was suggested by the verse "in all thy ways shalt thou know Him" (Prov. 3:6). For if it is incumbent upon man to worship God with all his natural impulses by transforming them into good, then obviously the realization of such an idea demands involvement in that very area in which these impulses are made manifest – the concrete, material world. In addition, the revolutionary views concealed within the interstices of the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov make it clear that corporeal worship (avodah be-gashmiyyut) saves man from the dangers of an overwrought spiritualism and retreat from the real world. This is expressed by Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, a disciple of the Ba'al Shem Tov, in the name of his teacher: "I have heard from my teacher that the soul, having been hewn from its holy quarry, ever ought to long for its place of origin, and, lest its reality be extinguished as a result of its yearning, it has been surrounded with matter, so that it may also perform material acts such as eating, drinking, conduct of business and the like, in order that it [the soul] may not be perpetually inflamed by the worship of the Holy One blessed be He, through the principle of the perfection [tikkun] and maintenance of body and soul" (Toledot Ya'akov Yosef, portion Tazri'a). The point made here in advocacy of corporeal worship is largely psychological and not theological.
The theological concept designed to reinforce the affirmation of corporeal worship is grounded in the dialectical relationship that operates between matter and spirit. In order to reach the spiritual goal, man must pass through the material stage, for the spiritual is only a higher level of the material. The parables of the Ba'al Shem Tov of the "lost son" point to the theological function served by the concept of "corporeal worship." The son, in foreign captivity, enters the local tavern with his captors, all the time guarding within him a hidden secret which is none other than the key to his redemption. While his captors drink only for the sake of drinking, he drinks in order to disguise his true happiness which consists not in drinking but rather in his "father's letter" – his secret – informing him of his impending release from captivity. In other words, there is no way to be liberated from the captivity of matter except by ostensibly cooperating with it. This ambivalent relation to reality forms a supreme religious imperative.
The dialectic tension between matter and spirit or between form and matter – the conventional formulation in Ḥasidim – assumes social significance and the polar terms come to denote the relationship between the ẓaddik and his congregation. In this context, the opposition between spirit and matter is conceived so as to create a seeming tension between the inner content of the mystical act and the forms of social activity. It is within the community, however, that mystical activity should be achieved though, of course, in hidden fashion. Those who surround the ẓaddik are incapable of individually discerning the moment in which the transformation of the secular into the holy occurs. This indispensable transformation can be experienced only communally. Therefore, the community of Ḥasidim becomes a necessary condition for the individual's realization of the mystical experience. It became the imperative of Ḥasidim to live both in society and beyond its bounds at one and the same time. The social and psychological conditions necessary for fulfillment of "corporeal worship" are rooted not alone in the disparity between form and matter, i.e., between the masses and the ẓaddik, but rather in the inner spiritual connection between the two. Only the presence of a basic common denominator makes possible the appearance of a mystical personality which grows dialectically out of otherwise disparate elements. The ẓaddik represents the "particular amid the general." The absence of such integration precludes the consequent growth of the spiritual element.
In the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov, little stress is placed on the theories of the Lurianic Kabbalah centering on the "uplifting of the sparks." Nevertheless, these theories later served as the theoretical justification for the necessity of avodah be-gashmiyyut. The Lurianic theory, as interpreted by the Ḥasidim, maintains that through contact with the concrete material world by means of devekut ("communion" with God), and kavvanah ("devotional intent"), man uplifts the sparks imprisoned in matter. In this context, the concept of avodah be-gashmiyyut carries with it a distinct polemical note, since it is asserted that its validity has particular application to the sphere of social life. Thus, a major religious transvaluation finds expression in the creation of a new system of social relations. This is exemplified in the instructions given by the Ba'al Shem Tov granting permission to desist from devekut during prayer in order to respond to some social need. He indicates that should a man be approached during a period of devekut by a person wishing to talk to him or seeking his assistance he is permitted to stop praying since in this latter action (i.e., in directing his attention from prayer to his fellow) "God is present." Here, the temporary abandonment of the study of Torah (bittul Torah) and of devekut is justified by the fact that this encounter too constitutes part of the spiritual experience of the "spiritually perfect man." As a result, the meaning of religious "perfection" is determined by a new system of values.
In the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov's disciple, Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezhirech, these motives disappear. The direction of thinking assumes a completely typical spiritualistic character. Avodah be-gashmiyyut is conceived of as an indispensable necessity although it is covertly questioned whether every man is permitted to engage in it. A pupil of one of the Maggid's disciples, Meshullam Feivush of Zbarazh, specifically states that it was not the Maggid's intention to proclaim avodah be-gashmiyyut as a general practice but rather as a practice intended for an elite immune to the danger of the concept's vulgarization. One of the Maggid's most important disciples, Shneur Zalman of Lyady, mentions the practice with a touch of derision. Nevertheless, it came to occupy a central place in the literature of Ḥasidim. The meaning and limits of the concept served as a focal point of an ongoing controversy among the movement's proponents.
From the moment that the formula yeridah le-ẓorekh aliyyah ("the descent in behalf of the ascent") became established in the context of the emphasis placed upon it by the Ba'al Shem Tov, a certain perturbation of the traditional system of ethical values in Judaism was imminent. Although the precise limits of the descent into the region of evil were still open to debate, the acceptance in principle of man's mandate to "transform" evil into good, through an actual confrontation of evil in its own domain, was an idea definitely unwelcome in any institutionalized religion. The classical example of dealing with this problem propounded in the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov was that of the encounter with evil in the sphere of human impulses: "A man should desire a woman to so great an extent that he refines away his material existence, in virtue of the strength of his desire." The significance of this statement lies in its granting a warrant to exhaust the primordial desires without actually realizing them; it is not a dispensation for the release of bodily desires through physical actualization but through their transformation. This concept is of great importance to an understanding of the significance of confronting evil, as it points to the peculiar inner logic implicit in the idea of avodah be-gashmiyyut as found expression in the ethical sphere.
Within the framework of the concept of "descent" (yeridah) – a concept over which Ḥasidim wavered a great deal – can be included the idea of the "descent" of the ẓaddik toward the sinner in order to uplift him. This "descent" carries with it bold ethical implications in that it justifies the "descent" into the sphere of evil and demands the consequent "ascent" from the domain of sin. A moral danger is of course implicit in the real possibility that a man may "descend" and thereafter find himself unable to achieve the consequent ascent. Here again, the very act of confronting evil requires an independent valuation, admitting of no previous criticism or censorship, although such confrontation was regarded as the special prerogative of men of "spirit," i.e., the ẓaddikim. Thus, out of the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov arose a primary imperative to turn toward material reality and the worldly inferior sphere. If only in moral terms, this demand grew from a basic ethical-religious claim that man is not at liberty to abstain from the task of transfiguring the material world through good.
The teachings of the Maggid of Mezhirech reveal a more restrained doctrine on the one hand, and an interiorization of spiritual problems on the other, evidenced by the greater degree of introspection and inwardness characteristic of the mystic. In the Maggid can be discerned a tendency toward an increasing spiritualization, accompanied by greater moral restraint. Among the followers of the Maggid, however, developments took place in very different directions. In the courts of some ẓaddikim the influence of the thinking of the Ba'al Shem Tov was apparent in the doctrines they broadcast, propagating social responsibility and a communal mysticism. These centers of teaching developed primarily in Galicia, the Ukraine, and also in Poland at the court of the rabbi of Lublin. This last school reached a crisis point during the period of its heirs in *Przysucha, *Kotsk, and *Izbica, when it began to cast doubt on the large majority of accepted ḥasidic doctrines, especially on their moral significance. At the same time Chabad Ḥasidim in Belorussia developed in the direction of a rationalized religious life by preserving pre-ḥasidic moral biases, and by shunning the mystical adventurism of the Ba'al Shem Tov and even the Maggid of Mezhirech, which in its attempt to spiritualize reality, had propounded as necessary the confrontation with evil and laid down the conditions for this conflict, while seeing in the "uplift of the sparks" its great mission. Nevertheless in the person of Dov Baer, son of Shneur Zalman of Lyady, the founder of Chabad Ḥasidim, can be discerned a thinker with a tendency toward a pure and aristocratic mysticism, a fact which establishes his affinity to the views of the Maggid of Mezhirech, although this holds true only in terms of this aristocratic bent. In terms of an "ethical mentality," as it were, Dov Baer is a representative of his father's line of thought.
In the second and third generation of Ḥasidim, some Ḥasidim testified to the fact that, in their view, the major innovation of the Ba'al Shem Tov lay in his introducing in prayer a fundamentally new significance as well as new modes of praying. The author of Ma'or va-Shemesh, a disciple of Elimelech of Lyzhansk, writes, "Ever since the time of the holy Ba'al Shem Tov, of blessed and sanctified memory, the light of the exertion of the holiness of prayer has looked out and shone down upon the world, and into everybody who desires to approach the Lord, blessed be He…" This can be understood to mean that the Ḥasidim saw in the doctrine of the Ba'al Shem Tov two things as essentially one: the radiance (of the light of holiness) and new hope, and the revived exertion (involved in the holiness of prayer). These dual motifs began to function as guidelines for ḥasidic prayer, in the following senses:
(1) The origins of prayer lie in the conflict with the external world, known as "evil thoughts." Prayer requires a great effort of concentration if man is to overcome the tendency of the plenitude of exterior reality to permeate his consciousness. This quite natural permeation to which man responds instinctively is considered in Ḥasidim as the "wayfaring" of thought and as such is the very opposite of its concentration, which requires a negation of the world, a turning away from it, and is based on man's ability to achieve pure introspection devoid of all content. The function of this introspection is to achieve the utter voiding ("annihilation") of human thought and to uplift the element of divinity latent in man's soul. The transformation of this element from a latent to an active condition is understood as true union with God, the state marking the climax of devekut ("clinging to God," "communion with God"). Prayer, then, is regarded as the most accessible foundation for the technique of devekut with God. The spiritual effort involved in prayer was considered so strenuous as to give rise to the ḥasidic dictum "I give thanks to God that I remain alive after praying."
(2) The two stages described as constituting the process of prayer are: dibbur ("speech") and maḥashavah ("thought"). In passing through the first of these stages man contemplates the words of the prayer through visualizing their letters. Concentrated attention on these objects before his eyes gradually depletes the letters of their contours and voids thought of content, and speech, the reciting of the prayers, becomes automatic. Man continues to recite the prayers until an awesome stillness descends upon him, and his thought ceases to function in particulars; he establishes a connection with the divine "World of Thought" which functions on transcendent and immanent perceptible levels at one and the same time. This immanent activity is identical with the revelation of the "apex," the inner "I." In the wordplay of the Ḥasidim: "The I (ינא) becomes Nought" (אין); in the "flash of an eye" a condition of utter annulment is established, and this is the state of nothingness the mystic seeks to achieve.
(3) For Ḥasidim the significance of prayer lies neither in beseeching the Creator and supplicating Him, nor in focusing attention on the contents of prayer. Rather, prayer is primarily a ladder by means of which a man can ascend to devekut and union with the Divinity. Ḥasidim did not embrace the Lurianic doctrine of kavvanot since it failed to accord with the primary intent of devekut. However, in spite of all the individualistic tendencies inherent in prayer through devekut, the Ḥasidim did not belittle the importance of communal worship, nor did they demand of the Hasid that he achieve devekut outside the bounds of the community and the halakhic framework of prayer. When there arose problems of prayer through devekut within the framework of the time sequence conventionally set for prayer, there were those Ḥasidim who chose to dispense with the framework, and even allowed a man to worship outside of the time limits set for prayer, provided that he infused his prayer with devekut. However, as a result, the Ḥasidim quite rapidly felt themselves in danger of jeopardizing the framework of the halakhah, and, for the most part, they recanted and accepted the authority of the existing frameworks.
(4) Devekut, which became the banner under which Ḥasidim went forth to revitalize religious life and modify the traditional hierarchy of values in Judaism, quickly led to a confrontation between it and the daily pattern of existence of the Ḥasid. Not only was traditional worship and its significance brought face to face with new problems, the same held true for talmud torah. The reason for this lay not in a fundamental revolt against the study of the Torah as such, but rather in the fact that devekut laid claim to the greater part of man's day and left little time for learning. In this confrontation devekut gained the ascendency, though there can be discerned in ḥasidic sources a tendency to strike a balance with the problematic nature of prayer, in order to prevent the study of Torah being swallowed up in mysticism. In the 19th century a distinct reaction in the direction of scholarship at the expense of devekut took place in certain ḥasidic "courts."
The performance of the mitzvot, too, and all man's actions attendant upon them, was overshadowed by devekut, as the fulfilling of the mitzvot was assessed in terms of the devekut achieved by man. In the new hierarchy of values the mitzvah itself became a means – and only one of several – to devekut. The widespread ḥasidic slogan "Performance of the mitzvah without devekut is meaningless" bears supreme testimony to the fact that the new mystical morality came to terms with traditional Jewish patterns on a new plane.
The existential status of man was conceived anew in Ḥasidim, and an attitude of resignation toward the world was emphasized. The Hasid was asked to rejoice in order to obviate any possibility of self-oriented introspection which might lead him to substitute, as his initial goal, personal satisfaction for the worship of God. The Ḥasidim went to great lengths to crystallize the primary awareness that they were first and foremost "sons of the higher world."
Ḥasidic literature comprises approximately 3,000 works. No comprehensive bibliography is as yet available, although partial bibliographies exist, mostly as part of the general catalog of Hebrew literature. These include such works as Seder ha-Dorot, Shem ha-Gedolim he-Ḥadash, Oẓar ha-Sefarim, and Beit Eked Sefarim, in which ḥasidic works are listed. In more detailed fashion, the literature of Ḥasidim has been catalogued by G. *Scholem in his Bibliographia Kabbalistica (1933). A detailed bibliography of Bratslav Ḥasidim can be found in the pamphlet known as Kunteres Elleh Shemot (1928), also edited by G. Scholem. In addition, there is a detailed bibliography of Chabad Ḥasidim, compiled by A.M. Habermann, called Sha'arei Ḥabad, which can be found in the Salman Schocken jubilee volume Alei Ayin (1952).
ḥasidic literature began to appear in print in 1780; the first published work was Toledot Ya'akov Yosef (Korets, 1780) by Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye. The following year saw the publication of Maggid Devarav le-Ya'akov (Korets, 1781), a work of the teachings of Dov Baer of Mezhirech. The earliest works of Ḥasidim were printed at Korets (Korzec), Slavuta, Zhitomir, Kopust, Zolkiew, Przemysl, Leszno, Josefov, and at several other places. Speculative works were the first type of ḥasidic literature published; it was only in the 19th century that anthologies of ḥasidic tales came into their own, and successive anthologies began to appear in print. Several manuscripts of major importance in the canon of speculative writings, which were composed in the 18th century, were first published in the 19th century. As they gradually acquired authoritative standing among the Ḥasidim, these works were frequently reprinted.
The great bulk of Ḥasidim's speculative literature was compiled in the manner of homiletic discourses (derashot) on selected passages from the weekly Torah readings as well as from other portions of Scripture. For the most part, it consists of recorded literature and not original writings. The homiletic framework, traditionally used for expository purposes throughout the literature of Judaism, served as background for ḥasidic ideas as well. The reader can immediately feel the ḥasidic "pulse" in each and every homiletic sermon, which reveals the presence of a distinct type of propaganda designed to spread the aims and ideas of its authors. The associative context underlying these homiletic sermons is highly complex, for it relies not only upon exegesis of scriptural passages but also on the vast range of rabbinic literature throughout the ages, on the literature of the halakhah from the rishonim to the aḥaronim, on the early and Lurianic Kabbalah, and on the musar literature of Spain and Safed. The language of these writings is influenced by the oral nature of the derash, in which scant attention is paid to either syntax or to artifices of style, and the idiomatic characteristics of Yiddish have left their mark on the sentence structure of the Hebrew.
Conscious of the need to clarify the complexities of their teachings, in order to define them with as great a degree of precision as possible, the Ḥasidim adopted a special form of writing, the expository pamphlet. This was not done with the intention of creating a new literary genre, but as a way of replying to contemporary problems over which opinion was divided. Among the important literature of this class are the Tanya (Slavuta, 1796) by Shneur Zalman of Lyady and Kunteres ha-Hitpa'alut by his son, Dov Baer. In this class, too, fall Dov Baer's prefaces to several other works. In addition, the prefaces to the writings of *Aaron of Starosielce, Shneur Zalman's foremost disciple, should be classified as belonging to this genre, although they can stand in a class of their own. Similarly, the Derekh Emet (1855) by Meshullam Feivush of Zbarazh, is close to an expository pamphlet in its content, while in form it is epistolary. Treatises of the explanatory type, shorter and more compressed, appear in several well-known letters, such as those of *Ḥayyim Ḥaikel of Amdur, Menaḥem Mendel of Vitebsk, and *Abraham b. Alexander Katz of Kalisk, and a type of epistolary literature, known as the "Iggerotha-Kodesh" of Shneur Zalman of Lyady and Elimelech of Lyzhansk, was widely dispersed; among the richest of these collections of letters is the Alim li-Terufah (1896) by Nathan Sternherz of Nemirov, a disciple of Nahman of Bratslav. Apart from this category of writing there exists a wealth of epistolary literature dealing with both current affairs and with the social problems of the Jewish communities of the time; these letters are primarily of historical importance.
Notwithstanding the differences of opinion within the ḥasidic community over the relative importance of close study of the Lurianic Kabbalah – differences resulting from a variety of factors – Ḥasidim counted among its adherents several of the leading kabbalists of the age. While Elijah b. Solomon, the Gaon of Vilna, expressed particular interest in the Kabbalah of the Zohar, ḥasidic kabbalists were largely influenced by Cordoverianic and Lurianic Kabbalah. Outstanding among ḥasidic writers of kabbalistic texts were the maggid Israel of *Kozienice, Ẓevi Hirsch of Zhidachov, and Jacob Ẓevi Jolles, author of a lexicon of Lurianic Kabbalah entitled Kehillat Ya'akov (1870). It is noticeable that the kabbalistic commentaries of these Ḥasidim are not always integrated within the framework of their ḥasidic teachings, but here and there it is possible to discern traces of ḥasidic thought in their commentaries on the Zohar and on the Eẓ Ḥayyim of Ḥayyim *Vital. A more pronounced attempt at integrating the two trends of thought, though in the direction of Kabbalah, becomes evident when the works in question are ḥasidic writings which attempt to locate their origins and sources of continuity in the Kabbalah.
Eighteenth-century Ḥasidim did not give rise to many halakhic treatises; the best-known works of this type are the Shulḥan Arukh (Kopust, 1814) by Shneur Zalman of Lyady, and the writings of his grandson, the Ẓemah Ẓedek. Polish Ḥasidim revitalized the scholastic tradition; prominent scholars among them were Isaac Meir of *Gur, author of Ḥiddushei ha-Rim, and Gershon Ḥanokh of Radzyn (see *Izbica-Radzyn), who reinstituted the custom of wearing a blue-fringed garment, or ẓiẓit tekhelet. Galician Ḥasidim, too, had outstanding men of learning like ẓayyim *Halberstam of Zanz, author of Divrei ẓayyim (1864), and Isaac Judah Jehiel of Komarno.
Although it was not ḥasidic practice to create a new liturgy, nevertheless exceptional cases are known in which Ḥasidim composed and instituted novel prayers. There were those Ḥasidim who were accustomed to add Yiddish words to their prayers, and there were also prayers which were composed and recited as additions to the conventional liturgy. Typical examples of these additional and spontaneous prayers are found in Bratslav Ḥasidim. Phinehas of Korets paid particular attention to modifications in the liturgy and even added changes of his own, which have come down in manuscript only. The Siddur ha-Rav of Shneur Zalman of Lyady did much to establish specific liturgical norms for the adherents of Chabad Ḥasidim.
Visions were favorably regarded by the Ḥasidim, but they were allowed scant publicity and their publication was limited. In spite of this there remain a few writings which hint at the existence of visionaries. Writings by one of them, Isaac Eizik of Komarno, were widely circulated; a selection appeared in print: Megillat Setarim (1944).
The literature of the ḥasidic movement is generally known largely through its treasury of tales and legends. The first collections appeared in the early 19th century; the earliest of these was the Shivḥei ha-Besht ("Praises of the Ba'al Shem Tov"), edited by the shoḥet of Luniets, and published in 1805 in Kopust. This purported to be a documentary monograph, but there is no doubt that it is simply a collection of stories which, however, contain a measure of historical fact. To some extent the Shivḥei ha-Besht is an imitation of the Shivhei ha-Ari (Constantinople, 1766); however, there are few examples of this shevaḥim genre in ḥasidic literature. Few biographies or autobiographies appear in ḥasidic writings; exceptions are Nathan Sternherz of Nemirov on Naḥman of Bratslav and the works of some 20th-century biographers.
From the mid-19th century, hundreds of story anthologies began to appear. These early anthologies should not be seen as truly documentary; rather they are stories reflecting the ethos of Ḥasidim. Each story consists of a specific lesson embedded in a social or historical situation, narrating a single event and expressed in the conventional manner of "once upon a time…" From this point, the narrative situation evolves into a moral homily. The stories have a simple narrative basis; the time element is insignificant and there are no epic descriptions. The events of the story serve only as a framework for the lesson it contains, and the situation is of a spiritual and not a historical nature. In this manner, the epigrammatic element is also highlighted. It is characteristic of this type of story to recount events in the first person, thus lending the narrative a touch of authenticity, that is, the air of having been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. At times the stories are told in the name of some famous person, mentioned by name; at others, they are presented in the name of "a certain Hasid." Every ḥasidic dynasty saw to it that collections of its own stories were compiled. Fairly frequently, collections were published containing stories belonging to several dynasties, originating in the same geographical region, such as Poland, Galicia, and Ukraine.
The tradition of collecting and publishing ḥasidic tales continued down to the present century, still deriving its authority from the oral tradition. Some better-known collections are: Sefer Ba'al Shem Tov (1938), Mifalot ẓaddikim (1856), Teshu'ot Ḥen (Berdichev, 1816), Nifla'ot ha-Sabba Kaddisha (2 vols., 1936–37), Irin Kaddishin (1885), Nifla'ot ha-Rabbi (1911), Si'ah-Sarfei Kodesh (1923), Ramatayim Zofim (1881), Abbir ha-Ro'im (1935), Heikhal ha-Berakhah Iggera de-Pirka (1858), Kehal Ḥasidim and Siftei Ẓaddikim (1924). Several 20th-century men of letters have compiled collections of ḥasidic tales, notably *Berdyczewski, Martin Buber, Eliezer *Steinman, and Judah Kaufman (Even Shemuel). Buber's anthology was published in English as Tales of the Ḥasidim.
From its beginnings the ḥasidic movement has attracted the attention of both supporters and opponents in each succeeding generation. Anti-ḥasidic polemics were in print even before the movement's own writings were first published. Although in the main, complaints were voiced against the eccentric practices of the sect, among the accusations can be discerned matters of principle which were destined to figure prominently on both sides in the modern debate over Ḥasidim.
The earliest opponents of Ḥasidim, such as Moses b. Jacob of Satanov, author of Mishmeret ha-Kodesh (Zolkiew, 1746), charged the Ḥasidim with avarice, boorishness, and contempt of the halakhah. In the 1770s, more adverse testimony began to accumulate; among the more important of these are the works of Israel Loebel, Ozer Yisrael (Shklov, 1786) and Sefer ha-Vikku'aḥ (Warsaw, 1798). Loebel accused the Ḥasidim of changing the liturgical conventions from the Ashkenazi to the Sephardi; of praying according to Isaac *Luria's doctrine of kavvanot; of praying with exaggerated joy when proper devotion demands tears and repentance; and of praying with wild abandon and with accompanying bodily movements. Solomon of Dubna, a follower of Moses *Mendelssohn, reproached the Ḥasidim for pride and high-handedness, and for a propensity to drunkenness. A more inclusive attack, embracing a wide range of accusations dealing mainly with the Ḥasidim's changes in traditional Jewish ways and practices, was made by Mendelssohn's teacher, Israel of Zamosc, author of Nezedha-Dema (Dyhernfurth, 1773). Inveighing against both the spiritualism of their religious demands and the "moral corruption" of ẓaddik and Ḥasid alike, Israel of Zamosc pointed to evidence of the movement's bias toward separatism revealed in their changes in customs, such as the wearing of white and the adoption of the blue-fringed garment (ẓiẓit tekhelet) with the fringes worn on the outside. Among the ritual and spiritual claims of the Ḥasidim he denounced: the pretension to a profound religiosity; the practice of ritual bathing prior to morning and evening prayers in order to become worthy of the Divine Spirit; abstinence and fasting; spiritual arrogance; the claim to be "visionary" seers; breaking down the "walls of the Torah"; advocating the doctrine of "uplifting the sparks" (niẓoẓot) in the act of eating according to the doctrine of tikkun; and introducing a "new liturgy of raucousness." Among their immoral practices he counted cupidity, hypocrisy and abomination, gluttony, and inebriation.
Israel of Zamosc did not assemble his charges into an ordered exposition of the nature of Ḥasidim; nevertheless, they served as the basis for an interpretation of Ḥasidim which found expression in the writings of the most profound, systematic, and recondite of Ḥasidim's opponents – Ḥayyim of Volozhin (*Volozhiner), a disciple of Elijah b. Solomon Zalman, the Gaon of Vilna. In his book Nefesh ha-Ḥayyim (Vilna, 1824), in which the term Ḥasid is discreetly omitted, the principles of an interpretation of Ḥasidim as a novel religious phenomenon are first adumbrated. Hayyim of Volozhin presented Ḥasidim as a spiritual movement which ignores a cardinal principle in Judaism, namely that where the very nature of a mitzvah, as well as its fulfillment, is jeopardized by an idea, the latter should be set aside. Equally, where new values – lofty though they may be – threaten to come into conflict with tradition, the latter should be upheld. He rarely voiced an objection to specific ḥasidic practices but objected on a theoretical basis to matters of fundamental belief in Ḥasidim which appeared to him as dangerous. In so doing, he managed to detach his polemic from its historical context. Hayyim of Volozhin saw the spiritual uniqueness of Ḥasidim as follows:
(1) ḥasidic teachings imparted a new significance to the concept of "Torah for its own sake," an idea which Ḥasidim understood as "Torah for the sake of devekut" ("communion") with God. According to Hayyim the study of the Torah for itself alone (and not for the sake of devekut) had a value transcending the fulfillment of the mitzvot themselves.
(2) Ḥayyim objected to the centrality in ḥasidic thought of the necessity for "purity of thought," since in his opinion the essence of the Torah and mitzvot did not necessarily lie in their being performed with "great kavvanah and true devekut." Here, Ḥayyim of Volozhin pointed out the opposition between mysticism and the halakhah. He emphasizes the dialectic process by which the performance of a mitzvah with excessive kavvanah leads to the destruction of the mitzvah. The very act of fulfilling the mitzvah is the fundamental principle and not the kavvanah accompanying its performance. He therefore challenged Ḥasidim on a matter of basic principle: performing mitzvot for the sake of heaven, he stated, is not a value in itself.
(3) He regarded the ḥasidic attempt to throw off the yoke of communal authority as social amoralism.
(4) He objected to the practice of praying outside the specified times set for prayer and to the consequent creation of a new pattern of life.
By the 1770s Ḥasidim had already come under the fire of the Haskalah. In Warsaw Jacques Kalmansohn published a scathing criticism of the social nature of Ḥasidim, as did Judah Leib Mises in his Kinat ha-Emet (Vienna, 1828). However, the writer who displayed the most striking talent for caricature and pointed satire sarcasm was Joseph *Perl of Tarnopol in his booklet Ueber das Wesen der Sekte Chassidim aus ihren eigenen Schriften gezogen im Jahre 1816 ("On the Essence of the Ḥasidic Sect, Drawn from their own Writings in the Year 1816"; Jerusalem, National Library, Ms. Var. 293). The intent of his essay was to portray the material and spiritual conditions of the Ḥasidim in the lowest terms and to exert pressure on the Austrian authorities to force all the Ḥasidim to receive a compulsory education within the state-run school system. Perl's major contention was that as a socio-religious phenomenon Ḥasidim was an anti-progressive factor owing to its spiritual insularity and its social separatism: in spirit it was idle and passive and as a social group it was unproductive.
A more ambivalent view of Ḥasidim appears in the memoirs of Abraham Baer *Gottlober (Abraham Baer Gottlober un Zayn Epokhe, Vilna, 1828), who, when he later adopted the principles of the Haskalah, became convinced that it was Ḥasidim which had facilitated the spread of the Haskalah movement, in that it constituted a critical stage in the life of Judaism. Ḥasidim, according to Gottlober, threw off the yoke of rabbinical authority and in so doing opened the first sluicegate for the advance of the Haskalah. He also believed that Ḥasidim lay at the root of the crisis involving the Shulhan Arukh. It displaced Shabbateanism and the Frankist movement, and tarnished the glory of "rabbinism." Gottlober evinced a particular admiration for the Chabad Ḥasidim because of their affinity to the Haskalah. However, Ḥasidim itself he regarded as a social movement which was disintegrating in its very essence because its criticism was internally directed.
Toward the end of the 1860s and the beginning of the 1870s there began to appear in print selections of the writings of E.Z. *Zweifel, under the title Shalom al Yisrael, a work which came to the defense of Ḥasidim, attempting to interpret its teachings on the basis of Ḥasidim's own authentic sources. In his balanced and informed argument, the author undertook an analysis of fundamental ḥasidic sayings and teachings, pointing out their significance and underlining, too, their uniqueness in comparison with Kabbalah. As a maskil, he had, of course, reservations about the "popular" elements of Ḥasidim, and about a number of its social aspects. Among the maskilim most influenced by Shalom al Yisrael was Micha Josef Berdyczewski, whose interpretation of Ḥasidim in his book Nishmat Ḥasidim (1899) was couched in romantic terms. Viewing the movement as a Jewish renaissance, an attempt to break down the barriers between man and the world, he saw in Ḥasidim "joy and inner happiness" and the opportunity to worship the Lord in many different ways.
Martin Buber was influenced by Berdyczewski, and in principle adopted his opinions, but his thesis was far more profound. Buber's first works on Ḥasidim are written in the spirit of mysticism, such as Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman (1906; Tales of Rabbi Nachman, 19622) and Die Legende des Baalschem (1908; Legend of the Baal-Shem, 19692). From his existentialist teachings, which he developed and consolidated during the 1930s and 1940s, Buber utilized the principle of dialogue as a criterion for understanding the essence of Ḥasidim, which he saw as giving support to the direct encounter, active and creative, between man and the world surrounding him. According to Buber, especially in his mature work Be-Fardes ha-Ḥsidut (1945), the dialogue of encounter reveals the reality of God; the cosmos is potentially holy, the encounter with man makes it actually holy. Buber sought to locate the origin of this fundamental concept, which he called pan-sacramentalism, in the ḥasidic doctrine of the worship of God through the corporeal and worldly dimensions of man's being, and attempted to view through this aspect the revival of Judaism that found expression in Ḥasidim as opposed to the halakhah. The ḥasidic renaissance was seen by Buber as a fresh and living religious phenomenon, and also as a process of social and communal consolidation of novel educational importance. He believed that the ẓaddikim gave expression to this new educational and religious meaning, for every ẓaddik represented a special experience acquired as a result of the encounter through dialogue. Particularly emphasizing the concrete and historical import of Ḥasidim, Buber placed little value on the abstract ideas of Ḥasidim, the intellectual games of the Kabbalah, and its millenarian hopes and expectations, being convinced that Ḥasidim had liberated itself from these elements and constructed a realistic experience of life. Buber understood the ḥasidic imperative "Know Him in all thy ways" as transcending the bounds of the mitzvot as religious experience over and above the halakhah. The element of mystery in Ḥasidim has been studied by Hillel Zeitlin.
A scathing attack on Berdyczewski and Buber was made by the Zionist maskil Samuel Joseph Ish-Horowitz, who, earlyin the 20th century, brought out a series of articles which later appeared in booklet form under the title of Ha-Ḥasidut ve-ha-Haskalah (Berlin, 1909). "Modern" Ḥasidim, known as neo-Ḥasidim, was taken to be that of Berdyczewski and Buber. In his work, the Ḥasidim of the Ba'al Shem Tov is depicted as a wild, undisciplined movement, while the Ba'al Shem Tov himself is shown as a charlatan influenced by his rustic surroundings and by the Haidamak movement. According to Horowitz, Ḥasidim contributed no new truths or ways of looking at the world: it simply appropriated to itself the vocabulary of the Kabbalah without fully understanding its implications, and colored it with quasi-philosophical notions "belonging to the household mentality and chronic psychology of the ghetto." Modern or neo-Ḥasidim (specifically Berdyczewski and Buber) attempted to discover in Ḥasidim ethical values and a positive popular force, in particular in the ḥasidic "joy," which they interpreted as a protest against the dejection produced by the conditions of the Diaspora, but for Horowitz the Shabbatean movement was to be preferred to Ḥasidim, as it took an upright stand, advocating a breaking free of the bonds of the Diaspora and the ghetto. Horowitz dismissed the claims that Ḥasidim was a movement of revival and revolt as little more than arrant nonsense; Ḥasidim, far from rebelling against the rabbinate, kept the mitzvot, minor as well as major. He contended that the neo-Ḥasidim were deceiving themselves by interpreting the values of Ḥasidim in secular terms, which he regarded a perversion of history in the spirit of a new humanism. He believed that Ḥasidim was continuity and not revolt, and that the neo-Ḥasidim did violence to its true nature by viewing it as a revolutionary movement in Jewish history.
In recent years a criticism of Buber's views of Ḥasidim has been put forward by Gershom Scholem and Rivka Schatz. Opinion is also divided on the messianic significance of Ḥasidim, between Benzion Dinur and Isaiah Tishby, on the one hand, and Scholem on the other. J.G. Weiss (1918–1969) did remarkable work on Ḥasidim in many of his essays, most of which appeared in the Journal of Jewish Studies. He contributed much to the understanding of Bratslav Ḥasidim. Rivka Schatz's Ha-Ḥasidut ke-Mistikah ("Ḥasidim as Mysticism," 1968), a phenomenological analysis of Ḥasidim on the basis of available texts, attempts to answer certain fundamental questions concerning the spiritual aims of Ḥasidim and assesses the value attaching to ḥasidic innovations.
Ḥasidim maintained a period of expansion and development. Not only did all existing ḥasidic dynasties continue to exist, in many instances they introduced new branches. There even came into being dynasties which linked themselves in the vaguest of manners to ones which had existed in Eastern Europe. Groups which had not been directly affiliated with Ḥasidim took upon themselves ḥasidic garb and recognized ḥasidic leadership, accepting a dynasty's rebbe as their own. This is especially noticeable among Hungarian emigrés. In this way R. Joseph Greenwald, the rabbi of Papa, became the admor (ḥasidic rabbi) of Papa, and his sons, R. Jacob Hezekiah and R. Israel Menaḥem have also become admorim. R. Johanan Sofer became the admor of Erlau, and R. Israel Moses Duschinsky, a member of the bet din (rabbinic court) of the ultra-Orthodox community (edah ḥaredit) became an admor. R. Raphael Blum of Kashoi – New York also became an admor.
This period of dynamic growth included the widespread building of housing for Ḥasidim and even led to competition – who builds more, whose bet midrash (study hall) is larger, with the erection of talmudei torah, yeshivot, kollelim, girls' schools, and even kindergartens. The networks of the admorim keeps on growing. The various ḥasidic groups establish new centers in addition to the area in which the admor himself lives. In Israel the Gur Ḥasidim set up centers in Ashdod, Arad, Ḥazor ha-Gelilit, and Immanuel – with the senior leadership in Jerusalem sending people to live in the new centers. The Vizhnitz group established new centers in Jerusalem and Rehovot, the Belz established a new center in Ashdod, the Boyan Ḥasidim in the new town of Betar, the Lubavitch in Kefar Chabad, Kiryat Malakhi, and Safed.
The large ḥasidic groups have garnered great political influence which has led to friction. The Belz Ḥasidim left Agudat Israel, feeling that they had not been given the political weight they felt they deserved, and joined the "Lithuanians."
Original ḥasidic literature has continued to be widely distributed. The most astounding range is that of the Lubavitcher group. Scores of basic books on and by the ẓaddikim of the dynasty, particularly by the current admor, are printed one after the other. Of the letters of the leader, R. Menaḥem Mendel Schneersohn, 18 volumes had been published by 1990.
Of the basic works of the ẓaddikim of the current generation (the past 20 years), we can cite Imrei Emet by R. Abraham Mordecai Alter of Gur (4 volumes) and Beit Yisrael by his son, R. Israel (5 volumes); Imrei Ḥayyim by R. Ḥayyim Meir of Vizhnitz and She'erit Menaḥem by R. Menaḥem Mendel of Vishiva; Be'er Avraham, Divrei Shemu'el, Zikhron Kadosh, Netivot Shalom, Torat Avot by the admor of Slonim; Divrei Yo'el, in 14 volumes by R. Joel Teitelbaum of Satmar, and another number of volumes on his teachings; Ginzei Yisrael, Oholei Ya'akov, Pe'er Yisrael, Nahalat Ya'akov, Abir Ya'akov by the ẓaddik of the Rozhin line; Ne'ot ha-Deshe by the Sochaczew ẓaddikim; Kol Menaḥem by R. Menaḥem Mendel Taub of Kalov; Avodat Elazar by R. Israel Eleazar Hofstein of Kozienice; Emunat Moshe by R. Judah Moses Tiehberg of Aleksandrow; Kedushat Mordekhai by R. Moses Mordecai Biederman of Lelov; Avodat Yehi'el by R. Jehiel Joshua Rabinowitz of Biale; Ẓidkat ha-Ẓaddik by R. Joseph Leifer of Pittsburgh; Yikra de-Malka by R. Mordecai Goldman of Zweihl; Zekher ḤHayyim by R. Ḥayyim Judah Meir Hager of Vishiva.
Additional works are Shefa Ḥayyim, 5 volumes by R. Jekutiel Judah Halberstam of Zanz–Klausenberg Birkat Moshe by R. Moses Leib of Pascani Or ha-Yashar ve-ha-Tov by R. Ẓevi Hirsch of Liska Divrei Yeḥezke'el Sheraga by R. Ezekiel Shraga Lifshitz of Strupkov; and Esh Da'at and Be'er Moshe by R. Moses Jehiel of Izirov, in 10 volumes.
Dozens of anthologies on the early ḥasidic ẓaddikim have been published. Among them are Avnei Zikkaron, the Seer of Lublin; Imrei Pinḥas, R. Phineas of Korets; Yalkut Menaḥem, R. Menaḥem Mendel of Riminow; Likkutei Shoshanim of R. Moses Ẓevi of Savran; Midbar Kadesh by R. Shalom of Belz; and Ner Yisrael, by the ẓaddikim of the Rozhin dynasty. A specialist in preparing these anthologies is R. Elisha Hakohen Faksher.
There have been several new luxury editions of ḥasidic works with added information, and institutions devoted to publishing them have been set up. Most prominent are the Ginzei Maharitz Institute which produces the works of the admor of Biale and that of R. Abraham Isaac Kahn of Shomerei Emunim.
Among these fresh editions are Ohev Yisrael by the rabbi of Apta; Me'or Einei Hakhamim by R. Meir of Korotsyshev; No'am Elimelekh by R. Elimelech of Lyzhansk; Avodat Yisrael of the maggid of Kozienice; Amud Avodah by R. Baruch of Kosov; Panim Yafot of R. Phineas of Frankfort; and Peri ha-Areẓ; Ẓidkat ha-Ẓaddik; Ẓemah Ẓaddik; Kedushat Levi; Kol Simḥah; and many others. There is almost no ḥasidic work which has not been reproduced in the United States and Israel; they are simply too numerous to mention all.
From later ḥasidic interpretive literature, there have been editions of Netiv le-Tanya by Prof. Moshe Halamish, and Torat ha-Ḥasidim ha-Rishonim by Menaḥem Mendel Wischnitzer. The teachings of R. Menaḥem Mendel of Kotsk were the subject of three new books by Israel Ehrlich, Simḥa Raz, and Saul Maislish. New editions of Shivḥei ha-Besht were prepared by S.Y. Agnon and Pinḥas Sade. Orot Yismaḥ Yisrael by M.H. Tiehberg also appeared.
Biographical literature devoted to Ḥasidim has also been prominent. Among the works are Enẓiklopedyah shel ha-Ḥasidut, vol. 1; Tiferet she-be-Malkhut; Ha-Ḥasidut be-Romanyah, and Be-Sedei ha-Ḥasidut by Yiẓḥak Alfassi; Rebbi Levi Yiẓḥak mi-Berditchev by Yisrael Ehrlich; Rebbi Ẓevi Elimelekh mi-Dinov by Nathan Ortner; Raza de-Uvda by R. ẓevi Hirsch Rosenbaum; Arzei Levanon by R. Eleazar Arenberg; Abirei ha-Ro'im by Israel Ehrlich; ẓaddikim vi-Yrelim by Isser Kliger; ẓaddik Yesod Olam by D. Werner; Ba'al Shem Tov by M. Eidelbaum; Ha-Shevil ve-ha-Derekh, ẓaddikei ha-Ḥasidim be-Ereẓ Yisrael, Hod u-Gevurah; and Ereẓ Yisrael shel Ma'alah by Jehiel Greenstein; Kedosh Yisrael by Nathan Elijah Roth; Ish ha-Pele by Menashe Miller; Ha-Mufla be-Doro by A.Y. Tykozki; Ha-Tekhelet by Menaḥem Burstein; Ohel Yosef by R. David Halachmi (Weisbrod); Merbiẓei Torah be-Olam ha-Ḥasidut, 3 pts., by Aaron Sorasky; Perakim be-Mishnat ha-Ḥasidut by M.S. Kasher; Admorei Tchernobyl by Israel Jacob Klapholz; and Kotsk by Prof. Abraham Joshua Heschel. There have also appeared a series of biographies on Lubavitch ẓaddikim by Abraham Ḥanoch Glitẓstein; five books on the R. Menaḥem Mendel Schneersohn, the Lubavitch admor; Bi-Netivei Ḥasidut Izbica-Radzin by S.Z. Shragai; Enẓiklopedyah le-Ḥakhmei Galiẓiyyah ("Encyclopaedia of the Sages of Galicia") – most of whom were Ḥasidim – by Meir Wender who also wrote Ohel Shimon; Tal Orot by Aaron Jacob Brandwein; Tehillot Eliezer, the story of R. Eliezer Zusya Portugal of Skolen; Ha-Rav mi-Apta by H.Y. Berl and Yizhak Alfassi (two books on the same subject); Be-Libbat Esh by Aaron Sorasky; Bet Karlin-Stolin by Jacob Israel; and Or ha-Galil by Jacob Shalom Gefner.
With regard to scholarly literature on Ḥasidim, one should note the scientific edition of the Maggid Devarav ke-Ya'akov by Rivka Shatz; editions of Toldot Ya'akov Yosef and No'am Elimelekh by Gedaliah Nigal; Shivḥei ha-Besht, a photographed manuscript edition with annotations by Joshua Mundshein; Ḥasidim u-Mitnaggedim, 2 pts., by Mordecai Wiliensky; Sifrut ha-Hanhagot – Toldotehah u-Mekomah be-Ḥayei Ḥasidei ha-Besht by Ze'ev Gross; Bi-Ymei Ẓemiḥat Ha-Ḥasidut and Ḥasidut Polin – Megamot bein Shetei Milḥamot ha-Olam u-vi-Gezerot 1940–1945, both by Mendel Pikarsh; Ha-Ḥasidut ve-Shivat Ẓiyyon by Yiẓḥak Alfassi; a scientific edition of Shalom al Yisrael by A.Z. Zweifel prepared by A. Rubenstein; Mishnat ha-Ḥasidut bi-Khtavei Rebbi Elimelekh mi-Lizhansk, a dissertation by Gedaliah Nigal; Rebbi Nahman mi-Breslav: Iyyunim bi-Sfarav by Judith Kook; Meḥkarim Be-Ḥasidut Breslav by Joseph Weiss; Ha-Sippur ha-Ḥasidi by Joseph Dan; Torat ha-Elohut ve-Avodat ha-Shem be-Dor ha-Sheni shel Ḥabad by Rahel Elior; Mishnato ha-Iyyunit shel R. Shne'ur Zalman mi-Lyady by Moses Halamish; Ma'aseh Ḥoshev, studies on the ḥasidic story by Joel Elstein; Ba'al ha-Yesurim by Avraham Isaac Green; and Ha-Sipporet ha-Ḥasidit, Toldotehah u-Noseḥah by Gedaliah Nigal.
Publications of CḤabad or Breslav are the majority of those which appear in languages other than Hebrew. A few of the English-language works available are The Ẓaddik: R. Levi of Berdichev by Samuel Dresner; Ideas and Ideals of the Ḥassidim by Aaron Milton; Ḥassidic Celebration by Elie Wiesel; Legends of the Ḥassidim by J.R. Mintz; Maggid by J.J. Shochet; Until the Mashiach – R. Nachman's Biography and The ḥasidic Masters and their Teachings by Arie Kaplan; and Ḥassidism and the State of Israel by Harry Rabinowicz.
A special type of ḥasidic literature is the publication of letters by ẓaddikim. The letters of the Lubavitcher rebbe Menaḥem Mendel Schneersohn were mentioned above. The letters of Israeli ẓaddikim were reprinted by Y. Bernai. Munkacs ẓaddikim have had their letters published in Igrot Shappirin. There have also appeared a collection of the letters of the author of Sefat Emet from Gur; letters of CḤabad Ḥasidim; and Igrot Ohavei Yisrael.
One should also mention the discovery of hitherto unknown manuscripts by ẓaddikim which were first published in the period under discussion, such as Or Yehoshua by R. Abraham Joshua Heschel Kopzynce, Mishkenot ha-Ro'im by R. Menaḥem Nahum Friedman of Boyan, and Zikhron Moshe by R. Moses Eichenstein. There are many more examples.
Ḥasidic publications are very influential. Besides the ongoing first-rate, general ḥasidic series, such as Kerem ha-Ḥsidut, Naḥalat Ẓevi, and Siftei Ẓaddikim, every self-respecting branch in Ḥasidim has its own publications. The Gur Ḥasidim find their voice for general representation in the daily newspaper, Ha-Modia in Israel, which always has at least one ḥasid of Gur on its editorial board. The other Gur publication, Koveẓ Torani Mercazi Gur, is devoted to Torah learning. The Lubavitch movement produces countless materials, including the weekly Siḥat ha-Shavu'a and Kefar Ḥabad in Israel and the Morgen Journal in New York, which is a general weekly with strong Lubavitch influence.
Other weeklies of the same type as Siḥat ha-Shavu'a appear in various countries. Belz Ḥasidim publish Ha-Maḥaneh ha-Ḥaredi: the Satmar group in the United States has the weekly Der Yid. Monthlies are also produced: Az Nedaberu by Vizhnitz Ḥasidim, Tiferet Yisrael for the Boyan Ḥasidim, Bet Aharon ve-Yisrael of Karlin Ḥasidim, and Kerem Shelomoh by Bobover Ḥasidim in the U.S.
Other regularly appearing periodicals are Mesillot of the Sadigora group; Shevil ba-Pardes from followers of R. Ashlag; Naḥalatenu by the Biale Ḥasidim in Bene Berak and Ma'ayaneiha-Yeshu'ah from the Biale-Lugano-Jerusalem group; Or Kaliv from the Kaliv Ḥasidim. The Nadvoznaya (Nadwozna) group publishes Si'ah Sarfei Kodesh, and the Klausenberg Ḥasidim produce ẓanz. Or ha-Ganuz is by the Lelov (Lelow) Ḥasidim of Bene Berak. Torah Or is published by the Seret-Vizhnitz group in Haifa. The followers of R. Alter of Lelov produce Or Yahel and Breslav Ḥasidim publish Or ha-Ẓaddik. Skvira Ḥasidim have Be-Oholei Ya'akov and Aleksandrow Ḥasidim produce Karmenu. Kol Emunim is the organ of followers of Reb Ahrele, while Mayyim Ḥayyim is a Torah anthology published by Nadwozna Ḥasidim. Bet Yisrael is produced by Kuznitz Ḥasidim and Ohel Moshe belongs to Schotz-Vizhnitz Ḥasidim. Most of these works are written in modern Hebrew and are well-designed, employing many photographs.
There are no direct descendants of the founder of Ḥasidim, the Ba'al Shem Tov, but there are people directly related to R. Dov Baer of Mezhirech, the second leader of the movement. Among those named Friedman, the most senior rabbi as well as one of the most revered was R. Isaac Friedman of Bohush–Tel Aviv. His followers established an important center for him in Bene Berak. During the Holocaust, Friedman was well known for saving many refugees and for helping the Zionist underground in Romania. R. Avraham Jacob Friedman of Sadigora, a member of the Council of Great Torah Scholars of Agudat Israel, was well versed in all facets of Jewish culture and knew several languages. He succeeded his father, R. Mordecai Shalom Joseph, in Tel Aviv in 1978.
Other descendants of R. Dov Baer of Mezhirech were R. Nahum Dov Breuer, who was made rebbe after the death of his maternal grandfather, R. Mordecai Solomon Friedman of Boyan (1971). His style of leadership was characterized by moderation, modesty, and exemplary demeanor. This vibrant group has hundreds of followers and is centered in Jerusalem. In 1985, R. Samson Dov Halperin of Vaslui carried on in place of his father, R. Jacob Joseph Solomon of Vaslui, in Tel Aviv.
Another dynasty harking back to the first generation of Ḥasidim is that of Peremyshlyany, from which the Nadwozna dynasty headed by the Leifer-Rosenbaum family branched off. In this family, the sons became admorim while their father was still living, so that the "Old Admor," Rabbi Itamar of Nadwozna–New York–Tel Aviv, saw a fourth generation of his family's ḥasidic leadership in 1972.
R. Itamar's sons were:
(1) R. Ḥayyim Mordecai of Nadwozna–Bene Berak, the only admor who succeeded in turning this branch into a group with a large, significant following. He lived in Jaffa and then moved from there to Bene Berak. His son, R. Jacob Issachar Ber, the only one to use the name Nadwozna explicitly, continued the expansion begun by his father.
(2) R. Issachar Ber Rosenbaum of Strezhnitz–New York (1981) – all of his sons became admorim. These included R. Asher Mordecai of Strezhnitz–New York, R. Meir of Mosholow–New York, R. Yiẓḥak Isaac of Cleveland–Ra'ananah, R. Joseph of Kalush–New York; R. Yizhak Isaac of Zutchka–Bene Berak, a great Torah scholar who published widely on current issues, and who relinquished his father's Tel Aviv locale in favor of Bene Berak, while his son R. Israel was an admor in New York.
(3) R. Asher Isaiah Rosenbaum, the admor of Bucharest–Ḥaderah–Bene Berak, a very captivating figure.
Additional members of this dynasty were the admorim R. Shalom Leifer of Brighton–New York; R. Meir Isaacson of Philadelphia; R. Aaron Moses of Khust–New York, and his son R. Barukh Pinḥas Leifer in Jerusalem; R. Jacob Joseph Leifer of Ungvar (Uzhgorad)–New York; R. Joseph Leifer of Petah Tikvah; R. Yeḥiel Leifer of Jerusalem; R. Meshullam Zalman Leifer of Brooklyn; R. Levi Isaac Leifer of Jerusalem (the last four are the sons of R. Aaron Aryeh of Timisoara–Jerusalem.); R. Meir Leifer of Cleveland; R. Issachar Ber Leifer of Bania–New York; R. Aaron Yeḥiel of Bania–Safed; R. Joseph Meir, the son of R. Meshullam Zalman of Brooklyn.
The Kretchnif (Crachunești) family is a particularly important branch of this group. R. David Moses Rosenbaum settled in Reḥovot and developed, at his own initiative, a large ḥasidic following. His son, R. Menaḥem Eliezer Ze'ev, who took over from his father at an early age, firmly established and expanded this dynasty. His brothers, who spread out throughout Israel and set up local batei midrash (Talmudic learning centers), were R. Israel Nisan (who went to New York) in Kiryat Gat; R. Meir of Bene Berak who took on the name Peremyshlyany; R. Samuel Shmelka in Jaffa whose family name is that of the city Bitschkov. The admor R. Ẓevi, who moved from Kiryat Ata to Jerusalem, also belongs to this family. A significant place in this group is held by the admor R. Abraham Abba Leifer of Pittsburgh–Ashdod, who was succeeded by his son R. Mordecai in 1990.
The descendants of R. Yeḥiel Mikhal of Zlotchow, also a member of the first generation of Ḥasidim, continued to hold direct positions of leadership through the admorim of the Zweihl family, which has lived in Jerusalem for four generations. The admor, R. Abraham Goldman, the son of R. Mordecai, was very involved in public affairs and was one of the few admorim in a position of leadership who did not come from the yeshivah world but through public life.
The Moscowitz family, to which many admorim belonged, mainly in Romania, was also part of this dynasty. In recent times, among the admorim of this family were R. Joel Moscowitz of Schotz (Suczawa)–Manchester, Montreal, London, and Jerusalem; R. Jacob Isaac of Jerusalem; R. Naftali of Ashdod; R. Jacob of Bene Berak; R. Israel David of New York; R. Moses Meir of Schotz–Har Nof (Jerusalem); R. Joseph Ḥayyim of Flatbush; and R. Isaac Eleazar in the United States.
Another link to this clan is through the Rabinowitz family of admorim from Skole. R. Israel Rabinowitz lived in New York and at the end of his life moved to Tel Aviv. After his death in 1971, no one took his place. His brother, R. David Isaac, lived in Brooklyn and was followed by his grandchildren, R. Abraham Moses Rabinowitz, who was the oldest, and R. Raphael Goldstein, his son's son-in-law.
Of this dynasty, there were also R. Shalom Michaelowitz of Rishon le-Zion–New York, R. Samuel Halevi Josephov of Haifa, and R. Yeḥiel Mikhal of Zlotchow–Netanyah, who was part preacher, part rebbe.
Of the descendants from Chernobyl belonging to the Twersky family there are scores of admorim. Exceptionally successful were the ẓaddikim from Skvira: R. Isaac of Skvira–New York who moved to Tel Aviv in 1978 towards the end of his life; R. Eleazar of Skvira Flushing, New York, who was followed by his son, R. Abraham, in 1984. R. Abraham's son, R. Solomon, was the admor in New York. R. David of Skvira, following his father R. Jacob Joseph, established a large ḥasidic center, New Square in New York, with branches in London and Israel. R. David the second of Skvira–Boro Park was very well versed in medicine and had connections to hospitals in New York. His brother, R. Mordecai, was in Flatbush.
Of the house of Skvira, although not bearing the name, was R. Abraham Joshua Heshel of Machnovka, who continued as admor in Russia as well. In his old age he immigrated to Israel and settled in Bene Berak, where he established an important center. His sister's grandson, R. Joshua Rokach, replaced him.
The name Chernobyl itself was used by R. Jacob Israel in New York and by his son R. Solomon who took over from him, as well by as R. Meshullam Zusha of Chernobyl (1988). His sons were R. Nahum of Bene Berak and R. Isaiah in New York.
The admorim of the Ratmistrovka family immigrated to Palestine before the Holocaust. The latest admor was R. Johanan. His sons continued the dynasty: R. Israel Mordecai of Jerusalem and R. Hai Isaac in the U.S. Another member of this family was R. Ẓevi Aryeh of Zlatpol, who settled in Tel Aviv in 1968.
Of the Talnoye family, R. Moses ẓevi of Philadelphia (1972) and R. Meshullam Zusha (1972) of Boston were admorim. The only one active in the late 20th century was R. Johanan of Montreal–Jerusalem.
The admor of Korostyshev was R. Isaac Abraham Moses, who succeeded in emigrating from Russia and settled in Bene Berak (1985).
The sixth Chernobyl dynasty was that of Cherkassy. The original founder of this line, R. Jacob Israel, had no sons and was succeeded by his daughter's son, R. Mordecai Dov in Hornistopol, who changed his surname to Twersky. The admor in the third quarter of the 20th century was R. Jacob Israel, who settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (1973). All of his sons had academic degrees and were very effective ḥasidic leaders. His sons were R. Solomon Meshullam Zalman, who established himself as an admor in Denver (1982), and R. Jehiel-Michal, who took his father's place in Milwaukee.
Of the seventh dynasty of Chernobyl, that of Trisk, in recent times was R. Jacob Leib of Trisk–London–Bene Berak. His sons were R. Ḥayyim of London and R. Isaac of Bene Berak. Also related to the Trisk family was the admor R. Ḥanokh Henikh of Radomyshl–Jerusalem. His grandson established institutions in Jerusalem in the name of Trisk.
There is no continuation of the eighth line, Makarov.
Of the other dynasties devolving from the first generation of Ḥasidim – Korets, Rashkov, Kaminka – there are a few remnants. R. Abraham Shapiro of Tluste (Tolstoye)–New York (1972) left no descendants in the position of admor. The only one left of the Korets-Shapiro family was R. Salomon Dov Shapiro of Shipitovka–New York, who managed to escape from Russia.
Karlin Ḥasidim was represented after the Holocaust by R. Johanan Perlov, who lived in New York and Jerusalem. After his death, a segment of his followers looked to R. Moses Mordecai Biderman of Lelov as their leader, giving him – against his wishes – the title of the admor of Lelov–Karlin. Following his death, these Karliners made the Lelover rabbi's son, R. Simon Nathan Neta, their new admor. When R. Simon refused to add the term Karlin to his title, the Karliner Ḥasidim broke away from him and made R. Aaron ha-Kohen Rosenfeld their admor. Most of the Karlin Ḥasidim, mainly the younger members, designated R. Johanan's grandson, R. Baruch Jacob Halevi Shohat, as the admor of Karlin–Stolin. He was the second yanuka (very young person chosen as admor) in the history of this branch of Ḥasidim, and when he grew up he displayed excellent characteristics of leadership. He lived in New York, visited Jerusalem regularly, and planned to settle there. Karlin-Stolin operated a network of educational institutions.
The Ostrog (Ostraha) Ḥasidim had no one to replace R. Abraham Pinḥas Sepharad of New York upon his death in 1950.
The Lyzhansk Ḥasidim were led by the admorim R. Moses Isaac Gevirtzman of Antwerp (1977) and his replacement, R. Jacob Leizer of Antwerp. In the late 20th century, another descendant, R. Elimelech Schiff of Lyzhansk–Jerusalem, began to act as admor of Lyzhansk.
Lubavitch Ḥasidim was led by R. Menaḥem Mendel *Schneersohn of Lubavitch–New York until his death in 1994. He had great influence among all circles of Torah Judaism and was noted for his superb organizational abilities, his literary capabilities, and his religious and political activities the world over. This combination is a rarity in ḥasidic circles. His literary output is unparalleled in the ḥasidic world. For over 40 years he was a dynamic, creative leader.
The descendants of R. Ḥayyim Tyrer of Chernovtsy (Czernowitz) included R. Moses Lupowitz of Bucharest–Tel Aviv (1985).
The Zbarzh-Brezhen dynasty included R. Ẓevi Hirsh Halperin of Brezhin–New York, whose children perished in the Holocaust. A relative, R. Elḥanan Heilperin, lived in London.
Of the Linitz-Rabinowitz dynasty there were two admorim: R. Jacob Meshullam of Monastritsh–Philadelphia–Ramat Gan (1971), and R. Ben Zion Joseph Rabinowitz of Orel–United States–Givatayim (1968). The only admor of this line in the late 20th century was R. Gedalyahu Aaron Rabinowitz of New York–Jerusalem. He spent a long period in Moscow as an emissary from Israel.
Of the Neskhiz dynasty, the admor was R. Nahum Mordecai Perlow of Novominsk. His son, R. Jacob, who replaced him, was well learned in Torah and active in charitable works. He occupied a central role in Agudat Israel and lived in Brooklyn.
The Olyky dynasty ended upon the death of R. Ẓevi Aryeh Landa in New York in 1966.
The Kalov dynasty had two successors. One was R. Menaḥem Mendel Taub of Rishon le-Zion-Bene Berak, a very energetic, active admor who frequently appeared before Sephardi audiences. Among his important projects was "Bar bei Rav," a day of concentrated studies. The other was R. Moses ben R. Menaḥem Mendel of New York, who came from a different branch of the family.
Descendants of the maggid of Kozienice were R. Moses David Shapira of Gwozdiek and R. Abraham Elimelech Shapira of Grodzisk, who left no successors. In the early 21st century, there was Rabbi Elimelech Shapiro of Piaseczno-Grodzisk, who lived in Bet Shemesh, the only admor who considered himself an official Zionist. He was the son of Yeshayahu Shapira, a founder of Ha-Po'el ha-Mizrachi. The other admor was Samson Moses Sternberg, his grandson, the son of his daughter and the admor Rabbi Israel Eliezer Holstein of Kozienice, who lived in Kefar Ḥasidim-New York-Tel Aviv. He attracted many followers at his Tel Aviv base.
This period saw the deaths of all of the admorim deriving from R. Abraham Joshua Heschel of Apta. R. Moses Mordecai Heschel of Kopzynce–New York passed away at a young age in 1976, after having been appointed to replace his father – R. Abraham Joshua Heschel. R. David Mordecai Heschel of New York died in 1964, and R. Isaac Me'ir Heschel of Medzhibozh–New York–Haifa died in 1985. There was a center named in honor of the founder in Jerusalem directed by R. Isaac Meir Feinstein, the son of R. Abraham Joshua Heschel. He did not bear the title admor.
An exceptionally successful ḥasidic dynasty was that of the family named Hager, which originated with R. Menaḥem Mendel of Kosov – the author of Ahavat Shalom. The most outstanding of them was R. Moses Joshua Hager of Vizhnitz–Bene Berak, who headed the Mo'eẓet Gedolei ha-Torah of Agudat Israel. He had thousands of Ḥasidim the world over. His brother, R. Mordecai, lived in Monsey, New York, and he also enlarged the circle of his followers. R. Eliezer Hager of Seret-Vizhnitz was the leader of a large group in Haifa. In addition to gathering many more followers around him, he established branches in Jerusalem and Bene Berak. R. Naftali Hager was the leader of the Vishiva (Viseul de Sus)–Bene Berak Ḥasidim, but he did not take upon himself the title of admor. R. Moses Hager was the admor of Itnia in Bene Berak, but he had a limited circle of followers. A member of this family was R. Menaḥem Mendel Chodorov of Talnoye–Vizhnitz, who settled in New York. He was the author of Be-Mo'ado. A new Vizhnitz group, called Vizhnitz Ḥasidim, was established in Haifa and was led by R. Menaḥem David Hager.
In the last quarter of the 20th century, the Lelov dynasty had three admorim: R. Abraham Solomon, who was centered in Jerusalem; R. Simon Natan-Neta, who was located in Bene Berak and was followed, as stated above, by a large section of the Karlin Ḥasidim; and R. Alter, who lived in Bene Berak. They succeeded their father, R. Moses Mordecai Biederman of Lelov–Jerusalem–Tel Aviv–Bene Berak, who had died in 1988. He was the last of the special personages in Ḥasidim and the only one about whom "wonder-making" stories were told. His leadership was unusual and unique. Other descendants of the founder of this line were members of the Horowitz family of Boston. R. Moses Horowitz of Boston lived in New York, and when he died in 1985 his son R. Ḥayyim-Abraham took his place.
R. Moses' brother, R. Levi Isaac of Boston, was one of the most outstanding figures among all current admorim. Most of his Ḥasidim were American-born, and he was the only admor who preached in English as well as Yiddish. He had excellent relations with physicians and hospitals and his generosity was legendary.
Admorim of the Zhidachov-Komarno dynasty of the Eichenstein-Safrin families were R. Hayyim Jacob Safrin of Komarno–New York–Jerusalem, whose son R. Shalom succeeded him, and his son R. Menaḥem Monish (d. 1990) in Bene Berak, where he established a yeshivah and large bet midrash. R. Menaḥem Monish was succeeded by his son.
Admorim of the Eichenstein family were R. Menashe Isaac Me'ir Eichenstein of Klausenberg-Petah Tikvah, he was succeeded by R. Dov Berish Eichenstein, who was in turn followed by his son, R. Joshua. R. Matityahu Eichenstein, who lived in New York, and R. Nathan Eichenstein who lived in Tel Aviv. Neither have successors as admorim.
An established line is the Zhidachov dynasty of Chicago. The current admor is R. Joshua Heshel, the son of R. Abraham Eichenstein, who is a third-generation Chicagoan. More distant members of the Zhidachov-Komarno line were R. Yeḥiel Ḥayyim Laavin of Makova and R. Moses Kleinberg of Cracow, who lived in Antwerp. This group had no significant center.
The Ropshitz dynasty of the Horowitz and Rubin families had dozens of admorim. R. Judah Horowitz of Dzikow-Tarnobrzeg refused to become an admor and only accepted the role at an advanced age, when he moved to London. Upon his death (1990), leaving no sons, the line ceased. His nephew, R. Joshua, was the admor of Dzikow in New York. A Dzikow center in Jerusalem was run by R. Yeḥezkel Horowitz, the grandson of another brother of R. Judah, who was not an admor.
R. Abraham Ẓevi Horowitz of Ozikow settled in New York, and his son, R. Shalom, succeeded him. R. Raphael Horowitz of Kolomea also settled in New York, as did R. Judah Horowitz of Stettin; R. Israel David Horowitz of Schotz (Suczawa); R. Isaac Horowitz of Melitz, the author of Kevod Shabbat and Birkat Yiẓḥak; and R. Ḥayyim Shlomo Horowitz of Stryzov, whose son, R. Israel-Jacob-Joel, succeeded him. R. Abraham Simḥah Horowitz of Melitz settled in Jerusalem (1973).
The admorim of the Rubin family were R. Abraham David Rubin of Lancut–New York (1963) and his son, R. Shlomo, who succeeded him; R. Joseph David Rubin of Sasov-New York; R. Sender Lipa Rubin of Roman–Romania; R. Issachar Berish Rubin of Dombrova – New York; R. Isaac Rubin of Jawozow–Jerusalem; R. Issachar Berish Rubin of Dolina–New York; R. Sender Lipa Rubin of Wolbrow-New York; R. Shalom Yeḥezkel Shraga Rubin of Zeshinov-New York, (one of the greatest bibliographers of modern times, who was well versed in many fields and the author of Pinnat Yikrat on the Tomashov community written under the pseudonym Shalom Lavi. After his death, his son R. Aryeh Leibush Ben-Ẓiyyon was given the title admor); R. Simḥah Issachar of Tomashov – New York; the brothers, R. Menaḥem Mendel of Muzaly, R. Samuel Shmelka of Sulyca; R. Mordecai David Rubin of Szaszregen – all of whom lived in New York; R. Abraham Joshua Heschel Tubin of Los Angeles; R. Naftali Ẓevi Rubin of Dombrowa – New York; and R. Simḥah Rubin of London.
Of the dynasty of R. Me'ir of Apta, the admor was R. Issachar Ber Rottenberg of Vyadislov–New York, who was an able leader of the rabbinic association founded by the Satmar Ḥasidim. His son succeeded him.
Of the dynasty of R. Uri of Strelisk were the rabbis of the Landman family, most of whom lived in Romania. In recent times there were R. Levi Isaac Landman of Tarnopol–New York, R. Ẓevi Landman of Baku–Nahariyyah (1965) and R. David Landman of Bucharest, who lived in Netanyah.
Of the line of "ha-Yehudi ha-Kadosh" ("The Holy Jew") there remained only the admorim of the Biale family. The admor R. Yeḥiel Joshua Rabinowitz survived the Holocaust and reestablished Biale Ḥasidim in Tel Aviv and later on in Jerusalem and Bene Berak. Upon his death, four of his sons were recognized as admorim. The youngest, R. Ben-Ẓiyyon, who was a rabbi in Lugano, used the family name Biale and his center was in Jerusalem. His brother, R. David Mattityahu, who was responsible for the group's institutions during his father's tenure, established an important center in Bene Berak, with a branch in Jerusalem. The third brother, R. Ẓevi Hirsh, called himself the admor of Przysucha. The fourth son, R. Jacob Isaac, also lived in Bene Berak.
Of the dynasty of R. Moses Teitelbaum of Ujhely, considered to be Hungarian Ḥasidim, the one who occupied the central position in the entire world of Ḥasidim was R. Joel Teitelbaum of Satmar, an exceptionally brilliant scholar. He established a very solid organization with dozens of institutions. He was the most extreme of the ḥasidic ẓaddikim, and in addition to a number of books on Jewish learning he published two books against Zionism and the State of Israel. He had no sons, and upon his death his nephew, R. Moses Teitelbaum, became the group's leader. Previously he had been the admor of Sighet, but he then changed his title to the admor of Satmar. His appointment led to the formation of factions within Satmar Ḥasidim. The group calling itself Benei Yoel ("the sons of Joel"), inspired by his widow, Feige, was vociferous in its opposition to him. Another segment gave the title admor to his disciple, R. Yeḥiel Michal Leibowitz, and they were called the Ḥasidim of the rabbi of Nikolsburg. R. Yeḥiel Michal was a scholarly young man who modified the extremism of his mentor to a significant degree. A further faction which studied in the yeshivah, headed by Rabbi Menaḥem Mendel Wachter who was considered a Satmar ḥasid – left with the head of the yeshivah to Lubavitch Ḥasidim. All of this internal friction was widely publicized, with acrimonious mutual recriminations, and even various incidents.
Other admorim in the Teitelbaum family were R. Naftali of Ecsed; R. Yekutiel Judah of Lados–Zanz–New York; R. Alexander Samuel of Kolbuszowa–New York; R. Joshua ḥayyim of Tscenjowic–New York, and his sons, R. Aaron and R. Samuel; R. Hananyah Yom Tov Lipa of Volove–New York; and R. Mordecai David of Hussakow–Beersheba.
Of the lineage of R. Ẓevi Elimelech of Dynov–Shapira, the following were admorim in recent times: R. Israel Shapira of Blazowa (a Holocaust survivor who lived to the age of 100, the oldest admor of this generation) his stepson, R. Levi Judah, who took on the surname of Shapiraand who was his successor; R. Eliezer Shapira of Kovesd–New York (1973); the admor of the Munkacs line, R. Baruch Rabinowitz, who inherited the title from his father-in-law, R. Ḥayyim Eleazar Shapira. R. Baruch, who was able to draw thousands of Ḥasidim, relinquished the position of Munkacs admor, although he did establish his own bet midrash (school) in Petaḥ Tikvah. Of his sons, R. Moses-Leib was the very successful admor of Munkacs in New York and established a Ḥasidic empire; R. Jacob was the admor of Dynov in New York.
Of the Ozarow-Epstein line, there remained only the admor R. Moses Jehiel, author of Esh Dat and Be'er Moshe (1971). An exceptionally talented scholar, he was awarded the Israel Prize in 1967. His daughter's son, R. Tanḥum Benjamin Becker, who succeeded him, had his bet midrash in Tel Aviv.
The admorim of the Dombrova-Ungar line were R. Jacob Isaac of Dombrova–New York and R. Israel Aaron of Kaschau (Kosice)–Montreal. Affiliated with this lineage were the admorim of the Spiegel family: three brothers, R. Elhanan Johanan of the Bronx; R. Moses of Brooklyn; and R. Phineas Elijah of Long Beach. Belonging to the generation following them were R. Jacob Isaac of Boro Park, R. Moses, and R. David, who were sons of R. Phineas Elijah.
Of the Wisnicz-Lifshitz family line, the admorim were R. Moses Lifshitz of Philadelphia–Jerusalem (1975) and R. Ezekel Shragai Lifshitz, whose title was admor of Strupkov after his mother's father, who was R. Abraham Shalom Halberstam of Strupkov. He lived in Jerusalem and earned a reputation as a scholar. His son, R. Abraham Shalom, was the admor of Sieniawa.
There was no continuation of the Buczacz (Wahrman) and Radoshitz (Baron, Finkler) dynasties. A young man, R. Aharontchik, attempted to reestablish the Radoshitz line, and it was named after him.
The admoriut of the Belz Ḥasidim is still one of the largest dynasties in Ḥasidim. The admor, R. Issachar Ber who received the title at a very young age, replacing his uncle – R. Aaron of Belz – displayed excellent leadership qualities, although his uncommon resoluteness made him opponents. He turned out to be a true nonconformist. His followers numbered in the thousands and his center in Jerusalem was one of the largest in the ḥasidic world.
The importance of the other admorim of the Rokach family was limited to their own circles. Among them were R. Moses Rokach of Kozlov, who had a huge library in New York and who was succeeded by his son-in-law, R. Jehiel Michal Rottenberg; R. David of Montreal, and R. Hanina of Turkow; and R. Baruch Rokach of Skahl who lived in New York.
Descendants of the founder of the line, R. Shalom of Belz, include R. Hananiah Yom Tov Lipa Teitelbaum of Sasov, the founder of Kiryat Yismaḥ Moshe in Ganei Tikvah; his son, R. Joseph David, who was his successor; R. Joel of Kiralhaza–New York; R. Ḥayyim Meir Jehiel Shapira of Narol–Bene Berak; R. Ḥanokh Ḥenikh Ashkenazi of Rzeszoz-Jerusalem; R. Abraham Alter Pollak of Petah Tikvah, who was also a descendant of R. Joseph Meir of Spinka but was raised by his stepfather, R. Aaron of Belz.
Of the Stretyn-Langner-Brandwein family, the following served as admorim: R. Uri Langner of Krihynicze–New York who was a prolific scholar; R. Solomon Langner of Toronto; R. David Flam of Montreal; R. Yiẓḥak Isaac Langer of Toronto; R. Abraham Brandwein of Piatra–Neamt–Haifa; R. Judah Ẓevi Brandwein of Tel Aviv–Jerusalem, who was known as the "rabbi of the Histadrut." In the late 20th century those bearing the name Stretyn were R. Shalom Flam of New York, whose mother belonged to the Langner family, and R. Aaron Jacob Brandwein of New York who refused to take any money from his followers or members of his bet midrash. A very talented scholar, he owned a large, significant private library.
Of the descendants of R. Ezekiel Panet there were three admorim, brothers who lived in New York, and bore the name Dej in their title. They were R. Ẓevi Meir of Dej, who also had a bet midrash in Bene Berak, and Rabbis Judah and Elimelech Alter.
Of the line of R. Joseph of Tomaszow (Frishman), there remained only R. Joshua of Tomaszow, who survived the Holocaust while losing all of his family. After he died in 1974, there was no successor.
The Kazimierz (Kuzhmir)–Modzhitz dynasty was continued through R. Israel Dan Taub, who succeeded his father as the admor of Modzhitz, and replaced him on Mo'eẓet Gedolei ha-Torah of Agudat Israel. He was a renowned Torah scholar. A cousin of his in America also became an admor and caused a split among the Modzhitz Ḥasidim in America.
Of the descendants of R. Isaac of Warka – the Kalish family – only the Amshinov branch still exists. The last member of the Warka family, R. Jacob-David-Baruch, died in 1983. The Amshinov group had two admorim: R. Isaac who lived in New York and was one of the oldest and most senior of the admorim since he had held the title since before the Holocaust, and R. Jacob Aryeh Isaiah Milikovsky who replaced his grandfather, R. Jerahmiel Judah, who died in 1976. This young admor gained a group of followers despite unusual practices, such as, for example, making havdalah (separation of the Sabbath from the weekday) on Sunday afternoon.
The famous Kotsk dynasty was represented by R. Menaḥem Mendel Morgenstern, whose bet midrash was in Tel Aviv. He was not an official admor, since he earned a living from business. He printed the Torah teachings of his father and his grandfather. Another admor, R. Yeḥiel Meir Morgenstern, lived in New York but died with no successor.
The dynasty with the largest number of admorim is Zanz of the Halberstam family. Prior to the Holocaust, hundreds of its members had founded dynasties and even now they are very numerous.
The most important sectors of this group are the Bobov Ḥasidim, under the dynamic leadership of R. Salomon of Bobov, who had thousands of Ḥasidim and educational institutions as well as other projects, and the Zanz-Klausenberg Ḥasidim, led by R. Jekutiel Judah Halberstam, an exceptional Torah scholar, which had centers throughout the world, specifically in Netanyah, where they had also established the modern Laniado hospital.
Other, active Zanz descendants were R. Ḥayyim of Czchow–New York, R. David of Kashanov–New York, R. Ezekiel David of Parkrzwice–New York, and his son R. Jehiel, R. Jekutiel Judah of Sieniawa, R. Moses Aryeh of Nasoid–New York, R. Jacob of Szczakowa–Jerusalem, and his son R. Naftali. His son, R. Meir, who had been an office worker, began to serve as admor with the title of the admor Ropczyce. R. Jacob's son-in-law, R. Joshua Wagshal, was the admor of Lancut. Also included were R. Israel of Zhimgorod–New York, R. Aryeh Leibush of Zhimgorod–New York, R. Naftali of Gribov–New York, R. David Moses of Dinov and R. Abraham Abish Kanner of Chekhov–Haifa, whose bet midrash continued to function without an official admor.
Other Zanz ḥasidic groups were led by R. Shalom Ezekiel Shragai Rubin and R. Ezekiel Shragai Lipshitz of Stropkov who were mentioned above with their families. These two men added the name Halberstam to their family names.
The Radomsk (Rabinowitz), Kaminka (Rosenfeld), Kobrin (Palier), and Radzymin (Gutterman) dynasties had no continuation.
The Izbica-Radzyn dynasty found no direct successor from the Leiner family, and R. Abraham Issachar Engelrad, a Holocaust survivor and brother-in-law of the last admor of Radzyn, R. Samuel Solomon Leiner, was chosen admor. A large center was established for him in Bene Berak. A Radzyn center was also set up in the United States, directed by the admor R. Mordecai Joseph Leiner (d. 1991), the son of R. Jeruham of Radzyn.
The Gur dynasty is focal in Polish Ḥasidim. Before the Holocaust it was the largest ḥasidic group in Poland and since its leader, R. Abraham Mordecai Alter, looked favorably upon settlement in the Land of Israel, many of his followers immigrated to Palestine. The dynamic leadership of his son, R.
Israel, the author of Beit Yisrael (1977) brought new vitality to the Gerer Ḥasidim, making it the largest ḥasidic group in Israel. Continuing the leadership, in his own distinctive manner, was the admor, R. Simḥah Bunim Alter.
The Ciechanow line of the Landa family was another Polish ḥasidic group, and was led by R. Abraham Landa, the admor of Strykow (a branch of this ḥasidic division), who first lived in Tel Aviv and then in Bene Berak. He had a fine reputation as a scholar.
The Lithuanian Slonim Ḥasidim was led by R. Shalom Noah Brazovsky, well-versed in Torah learning, who directed the Slonim yeshivah and was the son-in-law of the last admor R. Abraham Weinberg of Tiberias–Jerusalem. R. Abraham was chosen since there was no direct descendant of the Slonim admor and R. Abraham was related to the founder of the line. A number of Ḥasidim did not accept the choice of R. Shalom Noah and gave the title to R. Abraham Weinberg, a young Torah scholar, who belonged to the family of the Slonim admor. He settled in Bene Berak, established a yeshivah, and gained the fierce loyalty of his followers. R. Abraham Joshua Heschel Weinberg, an admor who had been in business and who was a direct descendant of the Slonim family, died in 1978 and his sons did not succeed him.
Of the Wielopole–Frankel family, the only ones to serve as admor in this period were R. Solomon-Zalman, and R. Ben Ẓiyyon. R. Solomon Zalman's nephew, R. Joseph, was an admor in Flatbush, New York.
Those ḥasidic groups established in the sixth generation of Ḥasidim continue to function.
The Lublin dynasty of the Eiger family is represented by the admor R. Abraham Eiger, a Holocaust survivor, who lives in New York.
The Sochaczew dynasty of the Bornstein family, reestablished after the Holocaust, was hard hit by the tragic death in 1969 in a traffic accident of R. Menaḥem Solomon, for whom a great future had been expected. His son, R. Samuel, was appointed to take his place.
The Aleksandrow dynasty, led by the Danziger family, which had been the second largest ḥasidic group in Poland with thousands of members, found it very difficult to reconstitute itself after the Holocaust. The survivors appointed as admor R. Judah Moses Tiehberg, the son-in-law of R. Bezalel Yair Danziger of Aleksandrow, who had not been the main admor of the group. The selection was not accepted by everyone and internal friction prevented the expansion of Aleksandrow Ḥasidim. R. Judah Moses' son, R. Abraham Menaḥem, was given the title admor in 1973 and gave new vitality to the group, establishing new branches and institutions. He changed his surname to that of the dynasty, Danziger. He, too, however, could not do away with the internal strife. An opposition group appointed R. Jehiel Menaḥem Singer of New York as admor and upon his death his son succeeded him.
The Wolborz dynasty was reconstituted only recently with the arrival in Israel of R. Ẓevi Turnheim from Brazil. He set up a bet midrash in Bene Berak which was very active.
The Sambor court of the Ulis family was led by R. Eleazar of Montreal. Another descendant, R. Efraim Eliezer, who served as a rabbi in Philadelphia and lived to a very advanced age, did not fill the role of admor, but after his death his grandson became the Sambor admor in Jerusalem.
The Tash (Tass) dynasty of the Lowey-Rotenberg family continued along its two lines. Tash was represented by R. Meshullam Feish Lowey, who established a large, very successful ḥasidic neighborhood in Montreal and by R. Ḥayyim Solomon of Khust in New York. For the Rotenberg family, the admorim of the Kason line were R. Menaḥem Israel of Boro Park and R. Meshullam of Boro Park, who were the sons of R. Moses Samuel of Kosoni, R. Jacob of Monsey and R. Joel Ẓevi of Williamsburg, the sons of R. Mordecai Rotenberg of Salka–Kosoni, and R. Asher Isaiah, the son of R. Moses (the second) of Kosoni.
R. Ẓevi Elimelech Panet, a descendant of this line on his mother's side, established his own bet midrash, in the name of Kason, in Bene Berak.
Of the Liska-Friedlander line, the admorim were R. Solomon of Liska, R. Moses David of Borgopzund and R. Yoska of Lisk, and the latter's son, R. Ẓevi, succeeded him.
Of the Spinka dynasty of the Weiss-Kahana families, there were several admorim: R. Jacob Joseph Weiss was the most outstanding of the Spinka admorim. He conducted a large network of institutions centered in New York, where he lived. After his death in 1989, the line was carried on by his three sons, R. Naftali Ḥayyim in Los Angeles, R. Israel in Bene Berak, and R. Meir in Boro Park. Two other sons died while their father was still alive. R. Naḥman Kahana was the Spinka admor in Bene Berak until his death in 1977, when his sons were chosen as admorim, with R. Moses Eliyakim in Bene Berak and R. Baruch, the admor of Karlsburg, in Jerusalem. R. Joseph Meir Kahana was the admor of Spinka in Jerusalem. In 1978 his title was divided between his sons, R. Mordecai David and R. Alter, the admor of Zhidachov, in Jerusalem. R. Ẓevi Kahane was the admor of Spinka in Los Angeles and R. Ẓevi Hirsch Horowitz was the Spinka-Kareli admor in Williamsburg.
Of the B'kerestur dynasty, the admorim were R. Issachar Dov Rubin and R. Naftali Gross.
The admor of the Hadas court was R. Eliezer Fish of Williamsburg.
The dynasty of "Rebbe Aharele," an independent dynasty in Beregszaz and Jerusalem, was continued by his son, R. Abraham Ḥayyim Rata in Bene Berak, a unique personality, and his son-in-law, R. Abraham Isaac Kahn, who greatly increased the number of his followers. His bet midrash was a center of Jerusalem zealousness in content and in form.
Of the dynasty of R. Judah Leib Ashlag, another independent line which did not bear the name of a city, there were three admorim, the son, R. Baruch Shalom in Bene Berak, and two grandsons, R. Ezekiel Joseph and R. Simḥah Abraham. They were sons of R. Solomon Benjamin Ashlag, the son of the founder of the dynasty. The uniqueness of these admorim is in their teaching of Kabbalah in public and in disseminating information about it.
The Entradam-Naszod line of the Freund family was represented by a non-direct descendant, R. Moses Aryeh Halberstam, who lived in New York. The rabbi of the Edah Ḥaredit in Jerusalem, R. Moses Aryeh Freund, was a direct descendant of the line and therefore functioned, to a great degree, like an admor.
Of the Bikszad dynasty, the successors were R. Nahum Ẓevi Fish and R. Moses Aryeh Lev, both of whom are in the United States.
In the post-Holocaust generation, new admorim became effective. R. Eliezer Zusya Portugal, the Skolener rebbe, gained his reputation for rescuing children and educating them after the Holocaust. Following his death his son, R. Israel Abraham, replaced him as admor. The father and son established a network of institutions in Israel under the name of "Hesed le-Avraham." Others are R. Isaac Huberman of Ra'anannah (1978); R. Zavel Abramowitz of Rimnitz, who was in the United States; R. Avraham Fish in Jaffa; R. Asher Freind in Jerusalem. All of them gained reputations as "wonder-workers" and attracted followers.
Sometimes a name comes up as a "wonder-worker." A noted example is R. Eleazar Abu-Ḥazeira of Beersheba. The phenomenon of recognizing an admor has been developing among Sephardi communities and deserves its own study.
The Braslav Ḥasidim, which had been exceptional ever since it was founded, continued to expand greatly. The increase in followers led to the establishment of different groups in Jerusalem, Safed, and a group revolving around R. Eliezer Solomon Shick. He was also a "new" Braslaver, who set up a ḥasidic center in Jabne'el in Galilee. He was considered the greatest disseminator of Braslav teachings, with his publication of hundreds of booklets of the teachings of R. Nahman of Braslav. Braslav Ḥasidim has dozens of books of various types in distribution spreading its teachings.
By one definition, the field of ḥasidic music would include all music practiced in ḥasidic society. By another, and related, definition, any music performed in "ḥasidic style" is ḥasidic. A further possibility could be to define ḥasidic music by its content, i.e., by those musical elements and forms, which distinguish it from any other music. So far, such distinctions have not been formulated according to the norms of musical scholarship. The Ḥasidim themselves also possess criteria – formulated in their own traditional terms – according to which they judge whether a melody is "ḥasidic" or not, and to which dynasty-style and genre it belongs. These, too, have not yet been translated into ethnomusicological terms. Moreover, none of the existing studies of ḥasidic music has as yet managed to furnish a systematic description of the ḥasidic repertoire or even part of it. First steps in this direction were made by by Y. Mazor and A. Hajdu from 1974. A pioneer effort was made by A.Z.I *Idelsohn, the tenth volume of whose Thesaurus is devoted to ḥasidic music. Idelsohn based his analyses on very loosely defined form and scale types – criteria, which are not sufficient for an exclusive and thorough definition. The fundamental difficulty lies in the anthologist character of the body of material, which he assembled as a base for his analysis. Idelsohn's 250 items include vocal music, instrumental music, liturgical pieces, dance tunes, folk songs in Yiddish, etc., and are taken from various and often distant dynastic repertoires. A systematic description requires analyzing the material first by sub-units, such as dynastic repertoires or genres (dance tunes, prayer melodies, or instrumental music, etc.). A comparative summary of these would then reveal the basic aspects of ḥasidic music. Nowadays the location of these units has itself become difficult, because of the far-reaching changes, which have occurred during the last 70 years in the ḥasidic communities, especially as a result of the Holocaust. The original communal frameworks were for the most part destroyed, although attempts were made to reconstruct them in other places (chiefly in Israel and the U.S.). For some dynasties this proved impossible, since all that remained of them were a number of survivors living in various countries that could, at best, try to preserve the remnants of the tradition in their personal memory. Other dynasties did achieve a renascence around new geographical centers but the interference of new external and internal factors could not but cause radical changes in the traditional patterns, including all aspects of the musical repertoire.
Two opposing tendencies can be discerned in the present-day repertoire. On the one hand, there is the attempt to preserve the traditional functions with their traditional melodies as strictly as possible such as Sabbath and festival prayer customs and, to a certain extent, the tish (i.e., rabbi's table assemblies). However, the desire to preserve tradition could paradoxically lead to major or minor changes, as happened with the Vizhnitz and Karlin Ḥasidim, who made a special effort to collect forgotten niggunim and to reincorporate them into the pertinent ritual occasions. These changes often affected the repertoire of ritual events that up until then had maintained their distinctive traditional character. Furthermore, original elements appear in, and are stimulated by, those occasions on which both the adherents of diverse dynasties and nonḥasidic Jews come together and influence each other, such as weddings, *Simḥat Torah celebrations, and the hillulot of *Lag ba-Omer and the Seventh of Adar. These events have created a distinctive repertoire, which arose mainly in Israel and the U.S. after World War ii; it is made up chiefly of dance and "rejoicing tunes," which were originally linked with specific functions and dynasties and have now been detached from their earlier framework and adopted by this "pan-ḥasidic" public. Here, many melodies have been furnished with new words; individual dynastic traits have been eroded, and the repertoire has absorbed a number of recently composed melodies. This repertoire, however, has not accepted melodies, which are too exclusively associated with a specific dynasty, nor the slow tish tunes. This "pan-ḥasidic" phenomenon is found even among those ḥasidim whose communities did achieve a renaissance after the Holocaust, such as Boyan, Gur, Vizhnitz (see mus. Ex. 8).
The historical dimension of ḥasidic music poses problems of its own. In fact, we still do not know whether ḥasidic music developed out of an existing tradition and repertoire or was created as a new style in response to the new social and spiritual conditions established by the rise and development of ḥasidic society. Without this knowledge any historical theory about ḥasidic music would be farfetched. In any case one must take into account the dynastic filiations and interrelations, geographical proximity or isolation, and the importance of the "court musicians" and klezmerim as transmitters of musical elements from one dynastic center to another.
Joy and its principal means of expression – song and dance – have been important values of the ḥasidic movement since its inception in the second half of the 18th century and the ḥasidic leaders devoted increasing attention to music and dance in their writings. This signified an innovation in Jewish culture, in contrast to the general attitude of the Ashkenazi rabbinical establishment to music. A thorough survey of the musical evidence in the literary sources, and their interaction with oral traditions, is not yet available, but a beginning has been made at the Jewish Music Research Center at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (see Mazor 2002). The literary evidence has been expressed in different ways:
(1) Sayings of ẓaddikim and their disciples about the virtues of music: They appear either as part of a story or as independent maxims and discourses in their writings. They also include kabbalistic interpretations of the *shofar, its tones and its liturgical functions (see, e.g., the writings of Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, *Nahman of Bratslav).
(2) The musical activities of the ẓaddikim: Stories about these activities began with *Israel ben Eliezer Baal Shem Tov himself (see, e.g., Shivhei ha-Besht). These also include stories about the creation of particular melodies by ẓaddikim or their "court musicians," and descriptions of the miraculous properties were sometimes attributed to such melodies.
(3) Musical elements in the ḥasidic tales: The most fascinating of these can be found in the tales of R. Nahman of Bratslav (see especially the "Tale of the Seven Beggars").
(4) Miscellaneous stories and descriptions by the opponents of Ḥasidim: a most valuable contribution is furnished by the polemic writings of those who, from the beginning, constantly poured their scorn on the Ḥasidic predilection for singing and dancing. Their very vehemence and undoubted exaggerations demonstrate the difference between the two cultures, and the importance they accorded to music. Because of the lack of explicit descriptions in the early Ḥasidic literature (for reasons which are as yet unclear), these anti-Ḥasidic writings are all the more important as historical sources.
The central place of music in ḥasidic life is anchored in their musical ideology. Ideological differences between the various streams of Ḥasidim as well as recurring conceptual changes throughout the generations are reflected in their attitude to music. In their approach to music, a prominent conceptual change involves the movement of ḥasidic thought from the theosophical sphere to the psychological one, e.g., from the divine to the human soul. In the early ḥasidic writings, magical and theurgical conceptions prevailed that were rooted in the theosophical kabbalistic doctrine, in particular that of the Lurianic Kabbalah. These conceptions affirm human deeds, including musical activity, as having the power to affect the sefirot (Godhead) and, as a result, the entire world. Naḥman of Bratslav (1772–1810), for example, discusses the power of the tune of the prayer in Likkutei Moharan. Later generations abandoned the view that one can influence the divine world with music and ascribed this power only to the ẓaddik.
This change occurred under the leadership of R. *Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezhirech (1704–1772) and especially through the teachings of some of his disciples. According to this view music was part of contemplation, of the soul-seeking required to reveal its divine source, and allowing communion with God, devekut, to take place. One witnesses, then, a drift from the emphasis put on music in textual context to the belief that music can act in its own right, whether connected to a text or not. In the opinion of some ẓaddikim and their adherents, music and singing were ranked even higher than explicit prayer. In consequence, ḥasidic melodies are mostly sung without words, though some are adapted to brief verses from the prayer book or piyyutim. However, some niggunim remained with a fixed text, such as the recitative niggunim of the Sabbath *zemirot, Kol Mekaddesh and Barukh Adonai Yom Yom, and dance songs of Lag ba-Omer (see Hajdu-Mazor. 101 Ḥasidic Dance Niggunim, nos. 8–10). In addition, a drift took place from the performance of music in the individual, meditative sphere towards a predominant collective expression of the entire congregation. Today only the Lubavitch (CḤabad) and Bratslav movements engage in both individual and collective performance. Yet, in some dynasties certain niggunim are performed by the Rebbe himself.
Since most ḥasidic songs are textless, such a predominance of the melodic element over the textual aspect may well be directly linked with this doctrine. The primacy of the melody characterizes even the sung parts of ḥasidic prayer: instead of rendering the text, the Ḥasidim actually perform the melody into which the words are freely interpolated. Some of these renditions often sound as if the text did not exist at all. An extreme example is the singing of the Sabbath zemirot by the Slonim Ḥasidim, which is entirely textless: they have the words well in mind without uttering a single syllable.
The niggun as an expression of innermost emotions that cannot be expressed through words is considered as a means for the ẓaddik to plumb the depths of a person's soul, and to discover whether that person is evil or pious. It also enables him to refine that person's soul and raise it to a higher level of existence. As for simple people, who have not achieved the level of the ẓaddik, the niggun can help them to attain spiritual elevation, either through singing, or passively, by listening. Hearing the ẓaddik singing a niggun, provides the ordinary person with a foothold at the edge of the world of the Sacred.
Adopting tunes from surrounding non-Jewish cultures is a hallmark of ḥasidic music. Leading ḥasidic sages tried to explain this phenomenon of musical acculturation and even gave to it the force of a religious duty. For example, R. Naḥman of Bratslav approved of singing gentile music as a way to attract God's increased attention to His people's sufferings at gentile hands and to induce Him to redeem them. A more typical view holds that sacred melodies in gentile music have been, as it were, taken captive by evil forces in the constant struggle between divine forces and the forces of evil. The "divine sparks" (niẓẓoẓot) hidden in them, await redemption. Ẓaddikim and their emissaries, wherever they lived, were constantly seeking out melodies with a "sacred flavor" in order to redeem the sparks and restore them to their heavenly source. Thus, local gentile, folk and popular melodies (Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Hungarian, Turkish, and Arabic) left a strong stamp on ḥasidic music. The plurality of melodic styles has brought about the opinion that ḥasidic music could not be considered as an autonomous ethnomusical unit. But such an attitude disregards the obvious processes of transformation and re-creation, which occurred in these tunes through their adoption by ḥasidim
Occasionally, Ḥasidim borrowed gentile folksongs with the original texts, but endowed them with a new meaning in the spirit of Ḥasidim, justifying the texts as being allegorical (see mus. ex. i). Some of the original songs or melodies, were preserved together with the story (apocryphal or real) of how it came to be "lifted up" from the "sphere of impurity," and by whom. Such are, for instance, the songs attributed to R. Yitzhak Eizik Taub of Kalov (one of which is illustrated in example 2).
Which dynasties have a characteristic musical style and which dynasties share a common style? Ḥasidim with a musical ear insist that they can identify the dynastic origin of a tune at first hearing and claim that the niggunim of certain dynasties have a unique musical flavor. There are indeed a few characteristic features that can be associated with specific dynasties. For example, in dynasties closer to the West – Bobov, Gur, and Modzhitz – there is a strong Western influence, which finds expressions through a harmonic-tonal conception traceable to operatic melodies, modern cantorial compositions, and polyphonic elaboration (see mus. ex. 3). Romanian and Hungarian influences appear in dynasties in Transylvania, Hungary, and the Carpathian Ukraine such as Vizhnitz, Satmar, Munkacs, and Kalov without the tonal-harmonic thinking.
The melodic framework shows the traits found in the surrounding ethnic cultures: modes, pentatonic, and some scales with the augmented second. The tish niggunim of the Gur, Vizhnitz, and Modzhitz ḥasidim, whether sung to zemirot or with liturgical texts, are distinguished by their length. Some niggunim of the Vizhnitz ḥasidim resemble cantorial compositions and are sung by the kapelye (choral group) in a variety of polyphonic textures, such as parallel thirds, canons, and other imitative techniques, sometimes over an ostinato (see mus. ex. 4).
Ḥasidic marches can be found mainly in the repertoires of Gur, Vizhnitz, and Modzhitz ḥasidim; they are less frequent in other dynasties.
Dance niggunim of the Bratslav Ḥasidim show the influence of their Ukrainian surroundings. The melodies are mostly short, simple in form, and in general do not exceed the range of one octave. Their melodic elements do not differ significantly from those of the Carpathian and Transylvanian dynasties described above (see: Hajdu-Mazor, 101 ḥasidic Dance Niggunim, nos. 23–26). The northern area – Belorussia and Lithuania – comprises the centers of CḤabad, Karlin, and Slonim Ḥasidim. Russian motives and traits of performance are found in the CḤabad repertoire, although part of it is also influenced by the Romanian doina style (see: Zalmanoff, no 303–304). The singing of the Karlin ḥasidim is distinguished by a strong rhythmic emphasis on every beat, while the melodic range is limited and often does not exceed the fifth. The melodies are built on progression by seconds and on the variation repetition of brief motifs (see. mus. ex. 11). Since the Karlin Ḥasidim are now concentrated in Israel, and this style is closely related to several styles found in the Near East, the question arises whether these traits were already present in the original Karlin repertoire, or whether they entered and dominated it only after the reconstitution of the community in Palestine and Israel; but in the absence of older recordings and notations it must remain unanswered.
There is another specific phenomenon in the singing of some ḥasidic communities. We can define it as a gradual but continuous rise of pitch, sometimes to impressive proportions, as among the Ḥasidim of Boyan, Lubavitch, and Slonim. The latter have an even more peculiar way of singing which has no parallel in other dynasties: the constant and somewhat irregular shifting of the melodic phrases upwards, through chromatic and even microtonal displacement, resulting in a continuous shifting of the tonal center. The impression it gives is one of a wide-ranging melody, though the motifs and phrases themselves (without the shifting) should give only a very small range. The upward shift can be also found in other dynasties, such as CḤabad, but appear there only as an imperceptible "creeping."
The role of music in Ḥasidic life is intrinsically different from that of other communities. The latter distinguishes between music sung in the synagogue – which is the center of community's religious life – and music belonging to everyday life. In Ḥasidic society the house of the ẓaddik, as well as the shtibl, is the spiritual and religious center for prayer and for events where much singing was involved, such as the tish. The aura of sanctity, which enveloped everything that took place in the ẓaddik's house, therefore extended itself also to those musical activities of the Ḥasidic community, which were not strictly speaking a liturgical activity. In consequence, the boundary between sacred and secular music became blurred: secular forms such as marches and waltzes could be taken over for prayer tunes, and tunes used for dances could be furnished with texts from the liturgy. Since the dance was also considered a sanctified action it was and still is found even in the synagogue, before, between, and after certain prayer services.
Many ḥasidic leaders were highly musical; some also earned fame as gifted ba'alei tefillah (prayer-leaders) or composers. Such leaders cultivated their communities' musical repertoire and encouraged original creativity, or drew gifted composer-ḥazanim, together with their kapelyes, to their "courts." Very famous were the ḥazanim Nissan Spivak ("Nissi Belzer," 1824–1906) in Sadgora, Yosef Volynetz ("Yosl Tolner," 1838–1902) in Talnoye and Rakhmistrivke (Rotmistrovka), Jacob Samuel Morogovski ("Zeydl Rovner," 1856–1942) in Makarov and Rovno, Pinḥas Spector ("Pinye Khazn," 1872–1951) in Boyan and its branches, and the menagnim (musicians) Yankl Telekhaner in Koidanov, Stolin, Lechovitch, and probably Slonim, and Jacob Dov (Yankl) Talmud (1886–1963) in Gur.
A new type of leadership emerged after the Holocaust, stemming from the danger that the musical tradition would disappear with the annihilation of entire communities. The late rebbe of Vizhnitz (Ḥayyim Meir Hager, 1888–1972), who reestablished his community in Israel, felt this danger, and took steps to revive the musical tradition, and at the same time encouraged the inclusion of niggunim of other ḥasidic sources. He also established a kapelye that would sing in the polyphonic style, and would perform works of ḥazzanim from the past.
The musical leadership of the rebbe also finds expression during the tish. Some rebbes sing all the niggunim on their own, while the congregation joins in only at specified places. Other rebbes conduct the tish through subtle cues – they signal to the congregation, or the kapelye, with a hand gesture or even with a glance. The late Vizhnitz rebbe used to conduct thesinging of his congregation, correcting the congregation when the niggun was sung inaccurately. In some communities, the rebbe has a special sign to bring about greater excitement in the singing. Among the Vizhnitz, the excitement reaches its peak when the rebbe stands up; among the Boyan, this happens when the rebbe claps his hands. The latter also try to affect the tempo and as a result, a niggun may be rendered with unusual changes of tempo (Mazor 2004).
Among the Belz ḥasidim, who were known as "not musical," a veritable revolution took place when the current Vizhnitzrebbe's son-in-law, Yissachar Dov Rokach, became the rebbe of Belz. The encouragement of original musical creations, together with the establishment of a kapelye, modeled on that of Vizhnitz, brought about a new and unique repertoire in addition to the traditional niggunim. The current rebbe of Karlin has directed the collection of Karlin traditional niggunin from all possible sources, even from the National Library in Jerusalem, in order to revive them. The guarding of the tradition included the prohibition to take the niggunim out of the congregation, whether through publication, recording, or handing over the scores to individuals from outside the community.
Niggun (Yid. nign, from nagen, which probably meant "singing" in biblical Hebrew) is the ḥasidic term for a musical unit, i.e., a "tune," be it sung (with or without words) or played. All this is opposed to the current meaning of the term in modern Hebrew, which uses it for playing only. The niggun is the central musical manifestation of ḥasidic life. The term is not applied to the prayer *nusah, or the cantillation of the *masoretic accents, or other types of popular songs. While the latter are conditioned by the textual factor, the niggun, even when sung with words, is conceived as a completely autonomous musical entity. Most niggunim are sung without any words, with the frequent use of carrier syllables such as Ah, Ay, Oy, Hey, Bam, Ya-ba-bam, ti-di-ram, etc. Others have a partial text underlay. One niggun may also be sung to various texts. Where a niggun has a fixed text, the setting shows that the melody came first and the words were fitted to it afterward; even where it is known that a niggun was composed specifically for a certain text, the result sounds as if the text had been adapted to the melody.
Of all the dynasties, Lubavitch alone has successfully evolved a kind of "niggun-theory," through which it tries to explain ḥasidic musical activity, and to distinguish between different genres. Ḥasidic musicians ("menagnim") of various dynasties use different terms to classify niggunim, and as a result some genres are referred to with more than one term.
1) Tish ("table") nigunim. These make up the core of the ḥasidic repertoire, and constitute the major part of melodies sung at the assembly of the rebbe's table. Most have stylistic similarities to the Lubavitch genre of devekut (adhesion) niggunim, also called hitva'adut (gathering) tunes. In other dynasties they are known as hisorerus (awakening), makhshove (meditation), moralishe (moral), hartsi (hearty), or bet (begging) niggunim. All are characterized by slow tempi, expressing serious, meditative and even sad moods and by metrical or free rhythm (see: mus. ex. 5). Sometimes this free rhythm is combined with metrical sections resulting in a variable tempo. One of the most widespread types resembles a slowed-down mazurka, with the first beat changing, perhaps under the influence of the well-known Hungarian metric formula (see mus. ex. 6). In some dynasties, such as CḤabad and Vizhnitz, these niggunim show the impact of East European folkforms, such as the Romanian doina (called by them "a volach"or "vulechl"); in others, such as Modzhitz and Bobov, they are influenced by West European art music (e.g., operatic melodies). The length of such a niggun may vary. It is divided into sections, called "fal" in Yiddish or designated by the Aramaic term bava ("gate"). Their number can go from two to seven and in exceptional cases can reach 32, as in the Ezkerah of R. Israel Taub of Modzhitz (M.S. Geshuri, Neginah ve-Ḥasidut be-Veit Kuzmir u-Venoteha, pt. 2 (1952), pp. 9–18). Most tish niggunim are textless. The texts of the others are generally taken from the Sabbath and *zemirot or from the liturgy (see mus. ex. 6–7).
2) Dance niggunim – called also tentsl or freylekhs. Other terms used by Polish ḥasidim are hopke, dreidl, or redele. Many dance niggunim have the following characteristics: duple meter; fast tempi; a periodic or symmetric structure in multiples of four bars; few sections – between one to five (the structure a-b-c-b being the most frequent); a small range, generally not more than one octave – sometimes only a fifth or a sixth; and a small number of motives (see Hajdu-Mazor, 101 ḥasidic Dance Niggunim, no 87–92). Some tunes consist of one or two motives and their developments (see mus. ex. 8). The most common tonal framework is that of the minor hexachord (aeolian mode), extended sometimes by a lower or higher second. Others of these niggunim use different scales characterized by the augmented second (see mus. ex. 9). Dance tunes are performed mainly at weddings and rejoicing festivals such as Simḥat Torah and Lag ba-Omer, but have an important role at the ḥasidic tish and synagogue prayers. About a third of these niggunim has fixed texts, mostly short, taken from biblical verses or from the liturgy, and fitted to the melody through the repetition of words or parts of sentences. A related category is called "tunes of rejoicing," which possess all the above characteristics but is sung in a slower tempo and mostly without dancing (see mus. ex. 10).
3) March and waltz. These joyful tunes were adopted from, or influenced by, non-Jewish cultures from Central Europe (mostly Polish and Austro-Hungarian). They are mostly used at the tish or for prayer but not used for dancing or marching; they are generally sung slower than their gentile counterpart. Most niggunim of these types are sung without text. They can be used in Sabbath and holiday services and applied to poetical texts such as Lekha Dodi, El Adon, Ki Anu Amekha, Ki Hine ka-Ḥomer, Ha-Yom Te'amẓenu, etc. The Vizhnitz repertoire includes niggunim having some characteristics of a march despite their triple meter. They call them "marsh" but they could be better called "marsh-vals".
4) Other genres. In addition to the types of niggunim, the ḥasidic repertoire includes badkhones (jester's tunes sung with Yiddish rhymed verses), bilingual songs, and compositions in the style of choral music composed by cantors.
The main way to determine whether music in ḥasidic society grew from an existing tradition or mapped out new paths is to look for parallels in the music of non-ḥasidic communities in and after the 18th century. Two dominant musical elements are common to the ḥasidic and non-ḥasidic prayer of the communities of Eastern Europe: The modality (in Yiddish, shtayger) and the recitative style. The extensive use among Ḥasidim of the term "Velts Nusakh" for the style of liturgical recitative common to both ḥasidim and mitnaggedim appliesalso in this sense. The specific character of prayer among Karlin Ḥasidim, as well as certain characteristic elements in the so-called "Volhynia Nusakh" (which has survived among offshoots of Ruzhin Ḥasidim – Boyan, Sadegora, Czortków, etc.) and in the nusah of such communities as Vizhnitz, Zydaczów and its offshoots (Spinka, Kosoni, Tass), may be attributed to the preservation of old local traditions. One can see in the polyphonic practice of certain communities (such as Boyan and Vizhnitz), a continuation of polyphonic practice before the rise of Ḥasidim.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Yoel Engel (1898), Sussmann Kisselgof (1912), and the former Jewish Historical Ethnographic Museum (1912–14) took in Russia the first steps in collecting and transcribing ḥasidic music (as a part of Jewish music). As for Moshe *Beregovski (1927–46), he was mainly devoted to instrumental and wordless vocal genres. The collection of ḥasidic melodies, their analysis and classification in the context of ḥasidic social life and religious thought, has been a major focus of documentation and research work at the Jewish Music Research Center in Jerusalem since its inception in 1964. This recorded material is cataloged at the National Sound Archives (nsa) of the jnul. Recently some ḥasidic communities felt the need to produce documentation of their own. This led to the establishment of the archives of the Lubavitch, Modzhitz, and Karlin-Stolin heritage including recordings and notations of music as well as comments.
[A. Hajdu and
Y. Mazor (2nd ed.)]
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