Sunday 27 August 2023

443) Mystical approaches of the early Chassidic movement


1772 was a year in which many bans against the Chassidim were issued. This one is from the Vilna Gaon in Vilna. Our article deals with the 1772 Brody bans.


The early Chassidic courts are often presented as inspiring centres of fellowship, prayer, dancing and learning. This article – based extensively on the research by Dr. Mor Altshuler[1] – explores some of the more ‘cosmic’ elements and inner mystical dynamics of the Chassidic court of R. Yechiel Michal, the Magid of Zlotchov (1726-1786), a major early leader of the movement [see previous post]. 

Sunday 20 August 2023

442) The early Chassidic movement in historicity and hagiography


The resting place of R. Yechiel Michal, the Magid of Zlotchov, in Yampol, Central Ukraine


There is an important, albeit sometimes uncomfortable, difference between historicity and hagiography. Hagiography is the way adherents of any movement tell their stories of origin, while historicity is how the same events are viewed in light of evidence and historical records. Hagiography is often embellished, biased and tendentious, while historiography is, hopefully, a neutral depiction of the events. 

This article based extensively on the research by Dr Mor Altshuler[1] takes a new look at one aspect of the origin story of the Chassidic movement, and explores when the first significant Chassidic courts are to have emerged. 

Sunday 13 August 2023

441) Could the Zohar Chadash have engaged in a contemporary polemic with Chassidei Ashkenaz?


This article, based extensively on the research by Dr Jonatan Benarroch,[1] explores the question of whether Zohar, could possibly have engaged in a polemic, or religious debate, with the Chassidei Ashkenaz (the German Pietists of the Rhineland). The problem is that the Zohar is traditionally believed to have been authored by R. Shimon bar Yochai, a second-century Tanna, or Mishnaic rabbi while Chassidei Ashkenaz was a twelfth and thirteenth-century mystical movement in Germany. This places the Zohar a thousand years before the advent of Chassidei Askenaz. 

Sunday 6 August 2023

440) Theologies of the Festivals as early models for Jewish survival

Sefer haYovelim (University of Notre Dame)


This article based extensively on the research by Professor Steven Weitzman[1] – looks at three sets of writings from the Second Temple Period that offer different perspectives on the reasons for the Jewish Festivals. We will examine how these theologies and ideologies of the Festivals may have been used as different models and strategies for Jewish survival. They also contain some colourful descriptions and eyewitness accounts of how the Festivals were observed and how they sometimes got out of hand.