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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 14Focusing on Jews in the Polish Borderlands$
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Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774693.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

David Assaf

David Assaf

Derekh hamalkhut: r. yisrael miruzhin

David Assaf
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 14

Glenn Dynner

Liverpool University Press

This chapter analyses David Assaf's The Regal Way: The Life and Times of R. Israel of Ruzhin. Here, Assaf draws upon an astonishing array of sources, several of which were hitherto unknown or neglected, and provides the first critical historical account of the life of the hasidic leader Israel of Ruzhin (1796–1850) and his court. R. Israel, dyslexic and uneducated, assumed hasidic leadership at the age of 16 on the strength of his personality and distinguished yikhus. R. Israel's accession on the strength of yikhus — prestige derived through the scholarly, mystical, or economic achievements of one's forebears and living family members — at so young an age and with so few scholarly qualifications marked, according to Assaf, the triumph of the principle of hereditary succession in Ukrainian hasidism. Throughout his description, Assaf attempts to navigate between the cynical denunciations of R. Israel's ostentatious lifestyle by contemporary maskilim (enlightened reformers) and the rationalizations of R. Israel and his followers.

Keywords:   David Assaf, The Regal Way, R. Israel of Ruzhin, Ukrainian Hasidism, hasidic leadership, hereditary succession, biography, book review

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