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Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15Focusing on Jewish Religious Life, 1500-1900$
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Antony Polonsky and Antony Polonsky

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9781874774716

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781874774716.001.0001

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Tsadik and Ba’al Shem in East European Hasidism

Tsadik and Ba’al Shem in East European Hasidism

(p.159) Tsadik and Ba’al Shem in East European Hasidism
Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Volume 15

Karl E. Grözinger

Liverpool University Press

This chapter explores hasidism in Poland. This powerful popular Jewish movement, which emerged in the middle of the eighteenth century in Podolia and spread from there over all parts of Poland is inseparably connected with this country and its geography. If one asks what the most characteristic feature of this movement is, the immediate answer would be the tsadik — the colourful religious leader who has dominated hasidism from its origins until today, and who exerted a strong attraction on enlightened and assimilated Western Jews and even on non-Jews. However, as this chapter shows, the function of the ba’al shem, an element prominent in the early legends of hasidism, tends to be missing from the scholarship on the subject. This is all the more surprising as Israel ben Eliezer, the founder of the movement, bore this very element in his own name.

Keywords:   hasidism, tsadik, ba’al shem, Ba’al Shem Tov, east European hasidism, holy men, religious leaders, Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem

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