Hasidism is an influential mov…

Hasidism is an influential movement founded in Poland in the eighteenth century in response to Judaism. This movement declined in the nineteenth century, but there were some fundamentalist communities developed from it. Hasidism is still around Israel and New York. There were several reasons for the decline of this movement. Ecstasy and magic stand at the opposite extremes of the most modern religious modalities for Hasidism (Idel). Rabbi Yisrael ben Elieze was their founder who was known for “the master of the Good Name”.

There is an argument that the leader was mystic and a magician, this could have caused tension in Hasidic religiosity. The founding of the Hasidic movement was a hallmark event in the history of Judaism. Hasidism was influenced by the Kabbalah movement, Hasidism mainly emphasizes personal experiences of God over religious education and ritual. There is one major difference between Hasidism and earlier incarnation of the modern Hasidism, it is the rejection of asceticism and primary focus on the holiness of everyday life. Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer told his people that everyday activities hold as much religious value as rituals. Their leader focused on three things to live by, love of God, love of Israel, and the love of Torah. The Rabbi was an orphan who was raised and educated by the Jewish communities, on of his school teachers helped him read Hebrew and translate Torah passages.

With his father dying at a young age it is not surprising seeing him go into nature to seek out his Father in Heaven. As he grew up he realized he needed to start taking care of himself and was a teacher’s assistant taking children to and from school and teaching them how to pray and telling them stories. Yisrael met Rabbi Ephraim who made an arranged marriage for him to marry his daughter Leah Rochel. Soon after their wedding they moved to a village of Kutty here he spent ten years studying the mysteries of Torah with hid spiritual mentor. He passed away in 1760 and had an estimate of 10,000 followers at the time of his death, his teaching of emotions of spirituality that changed the Jewish world in revolutionary ways for generations to come. In Hasidism they believed in Amunas Tzadikim, Hashguche Pratis, Ahavas Hashem, Ahavas Yisroel, Simcha. Amunas Tzadikim translate to belief in Great sages, the Baal Shem Tov emphasized the need to believe in the Rabbi and Sages.

He explained that the connection to God is through the righteous Rabbi. There is to be a very tight bond between the Rabbi and his student, this is called Hassidic Jews and the Chasid. The Tzadik will worry for the wellbeing of his student, the Chasid, while the Chasid listens and obeys to what he is taught by the tzadik. Hasguche Pratis means Divine Guidance on every detail, Hasguche Pratis has had a major impact on the future development on the Hasidic Jew Culture. The Baal Shem Tov taught his followers that “every straw that falls from a wagon has an exact address where and how to fall, all guided by Hashem” (Idel). The strong belief and emphasis to rely on Hashem on every small detail led Hasidim to lead their own life without worrying for the future. For Hashem designed everything and has his great master plan.

Ahavas Hashem is the love to Hashem which means God, Baal Shem Tov could not have stressed enough the importance of the need to love Hashem. He explained the ways in which their people could show him love by praying with devotion for many continuous hours, singing and praising Hashem, leaning Torah in order to give pleasure for Hashem. The bond between a Jew and Hashem is a bond that is strong and should never fade away. Ahavas Yisroel means to love every Jew. This is important because it makes living together in peace and harmony easier for everyone. The last belief is Simcha which means happiness, Hashem does not like when his children are upset, when a Jew cries Hashem cries with them. This belief system has brought great opposition because it was shifting away from the authentic Judaism.

Hasidism in the nineteenth century spread from Ukraine to Russia, Poland and Lithuania. After the passing of Rabbi Baal Shem Tov the Hasidic Jews clothing style started to develop. Hasidic Jews started to grow in the numbers of hundreds of thousands under many different leaders, all of them disciples of the Baal Shem Tov. Pictures of Hasidic Jews in those days can be found in museums and old books. The Hasidic Jews photos of those days show the Hassidic Jews dressed in long black garbs, small caps on their head and big nice curls to their side. Entering into the twentieth century Hasidism has progressed and became more organized. Hasidim has developed into multiple streams and sections, all of them following the baseline teachings of Baal Shem Tov.

There were three popular streams, Chabad, Satmar and, Breslov. Chabad was founded by Rabbi Schneoir Zalmen of Liadi, the people of this stream were known for their great love for the land of Isreal and having political right view opinions in Israel politics. Satmar was lead by Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum who was one of the greatest Rabbis to rebuild Hassidism in New York after World War II. He brought Hasidic Jews back in America. He is also known for his strong anti-Zionist views, he believed that the Jews were not allowed to have their own State before coming to Messiah. The last stream was Breslov, Baal Shem Tov’s grandson was the leader. They practiced Simcha which means happiness, love for every Jew and all other principles of Hasidism stated before.

Reb Nachmen added to Hasidism the importance of Hitbodebut which was standing alone with Hashem. Breslov believers would lock themselves in a room or go out in the woods and communicate with Hashem for long periods of time in order to connect with Hashem. There are various forms of Hasidism, it is easier to integrate Hasidism into the history of Jewish mysticism. Hasidim is believed to have its ecstatic and magical components. Ecstasy in Hasidism means the temporary effacement of one’s own personality, during which time is possessed by the divine power presence or divine spirt. Mysticism is understood to be as the experience of direct contact with the divine, expressed either by the Hebrew term “devequt”. There is support for the view that, in some forms of the religious mentality, magic plays a central role.

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