Ysander, Torsten°

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YSANDER, TORSTEN ° (1893–1960), Swedish theologian and scholar of *Ḥasidism. Ysander, a bishop in the Church of Sweden (1936–59), was appointed chaplain to the king in 1939. In 1922 he traveled to the Ukraine and Poland to meet sectarians and Ḥasidim; under the guidance of Jewish friends, he visited the ḥasidic communities in Warsaw and Cracow. The trip strengthened his theory on the dependence of early Ḥasidism on the Russian sectarians, especially the Khlysty, Skoptsy, Molokane, and Dukhabors. His views on the Ḥasidism of *Israel ben Eliezer Ba'al Shem Tov are summarized in his Studien zum b'ešṭschen Ḥasidismus in seiner religionsgeschichtlichen Sonderart (1933). According to Ysander, such Ḥasidism, its customs, dances, songs, mannerisms during prayer, and the institution of the ẓaddik, were very similar to Russian sectarian practices. As Ḥasidism became established, it ceased to be a revolutionary sect, and its similarity to the sectarians diminished but never disappeared. Contemporary Ḥasidism only slightly resembles its origins.


Bonniers Lexikon, 15 (1966), 783; Y. Eliach, in: paajr, 36 (1968), 57–83 (an independent study corroborating Ysander).

[Yaffa Eliach]