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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11Focusing on Aspects and Experiences of Religion$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774051

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774051.001.0001

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Tobacco and the Hasidim

Tobacco and the Hasidim

(p.25) Tobacco and the Hasidim
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 11

Louis Jacobs

Liverpool University Press

This chapter examines the use of tobacco by hasidic Jews. There do not seem to be any references to tobacco in the classical hasidic works of doctrine, the hasidic Torah. Their absence from these sources may be because aids to contemplation (such as tobacco) were considered irrelevant to the ideal itself, although contemplation was clearly important in hasidic thought. Although tobacco was brought to Europe from the New World, where it had been used as part of the American Indian religious ceremonies, the hasidim did not use it in this sense. Rather, the early hasidim smoked tobacco as an aid to concentration. It was only much later that the incense motif and the idea of raising holy sparks were introduced. Some tsadikim were heavy smokers, while others either gave up smoking or had never smoked at all.

Keywords:   tobacco, hasidic Jews, hasidic Torah, contemplation, hasidic thought, hasidim, incense, holy sparks, tsadikim, smoking

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