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DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J055-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

Its name literally meaning pietism, Hasidism is a mystical renewal movement that originated in eastern Europe in the mid-eighteenth century. It has become one of the most important spiritual and social developments of Orthodox Judaism and has exerted an influence as well on non-Jews and Jews who are not Orthodox. Early Hasidic leaders claimed their spiritual authority on the basis of heavenly revelations and mystical awakenings. But they generally differed from the more esoterically minded Kabbalists, from whom they drew their earliest following, in seeking to present the fruits of mystical inspiration to the community. Hasidic teachings fostered specific spiritual and ritual innovations, which gave outward expression to the profound nexus that the Hasidic masters saw between mundane existence and the inner, mystical meaning of God’s law. According to Hasidic thinking, the divine and the human formed a single, all-encompassing unity, and it was on this basis that the Hasidic rabbis found in acts of Jewish piety means of linking divine experience with human responsiveness. Notable for its vitality and continuity in diversity, Hasidism continues its influence on religious Jewry and beyond to the present day.

Citing this article:
Elior, Rachel. Hasidism, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J055-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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