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Hasidism Reappraised$
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Ada Rapoport-Albert

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774204

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

Joseph Weiss: Letters to Ora

Joseph Weiss: Letters to Ora

To my son Uriel Joseph with love

(p.10) Two Joseph Weiss: Letters to Ora
Hasidism Reappraised

Sara Ora Heller Wilensky

Liverpool University Press

This chapter looks at the twenty letters that Joseph Weiss sent to the author in Cambridge, Massachusetts, over the years 1949 to 1968. These letters offer an insight into Weiss's spiritual constitution and into the extraordinary friendship that developed between him and Professor Gershom Scholem, its vicissitudes notwithstanding. The letters are of value not only for the personal and biographical details they contain, but also because they contribute to a deeper understanding of Weiss's scholarly work, while at the same time enriching one's knowledge of intellectual life in Jerusalem and in the Jewish academic community of the 1950s. Undoubtedly, however, their greatest importance is that they provide a new perspective on Weiss's complex personality and add a unique and personal dimension to his scholarly bequest. Joseph Weiss's letters are unusually frank: they speak of the changing circumstances of his life; his poverty and alienation, particularly during his unsettled period in England in the early 1950s. There are hints of his ambivalence towards Diaspora Jews in England and towards the State of Israel, and one sees his response, wounded and sarcastic, to the criticism of his bold new approach to the study of hasidism.

Keywords:   Joseph Weiss, Gershom Scholem, intellectual life, Jerusalem, Jewish academic community, Diaspora Jews, England, State of Israel, hasidism

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