Skip to main content



MITNAGGEDIM (Heb. מִתְנַגְּדִים; sing. Mitnagged; lit. "opponents"), a designation for the opponents of the *Ḥasidim. The name originally arose from the bitter opposition evinced to the rise, way of life, and leadership of the ḥasidic movement founded by *Israel b. Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov, but in the course of time lost its connotation of actual strife, and became a positive description, representative of a way of life. Since it was the personality and genius of *Elijah b. Solomon Zalman the Gaon of Vilna (1720–1797) which gave the powerful impetus to the rise of the Mitnaggedim, this way of life became especially characteristic of Lithuanian Jewry (except for the Lithuanian Ḥasidim, particularly the *Karlin dynasty and the Ḥabad trend). His iron will and intellectual perseverance shaped, through an elect circle of pupils, both adamant opposition to Ḥasidism, as well as the patterning of institutions, tendencies of thought and expression, and a way of life which formed a specific culture. One of its characteristics, which derived from the opposition to the charismatic, miracleworking leadership of the ḥasidic rabbis, was a pronounced skepticism and a severe criticism of credulity and authoritarianism. After the death of Elijah the Gaon of Vilna the struggle between the Ḥasidim and the Mitnaggedim assumed even more bitter proportions than during his lifetime, with mutual recrimination, but by the second half of the 19th century the hostility began to subside. One of the causes of the cessation of hostilities was the common front which both formed against the Haskalah. The main differences between them today are in matters of rite, the Ḥasidim having adopted the prayer book of Isaac Luria (largely the Sephardi minhag), while the Mitnaggedim retained the Polish form of the Ashkenazi minhag, and in the greater stress laid by the Mitnaggedim on study of the Talmud, while the Ḥasidim emphasize the emotional side of Judaism. There are large groups of Mitnaggedim, most of Lithuanian origin, in the State of Israel, the United States, England, and South Africa. The term Mitnagged, however, is not confined to Jews of Lithuanian origin.


M. Wilensky, Ḥasidim u-Mitnaggedim (1970).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mitnaggedim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 20 Apr. 2019 <>.

"Mitnaggedim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (April 20, 2019).

"Mitnaggedim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved April 20, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.