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Founder of HasidismA Quest for the Historical Ba'al Shem Tov$
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Moshe Rosman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764449

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764449.001.0001

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Hasidism before Hasidism

Hasidism before Hasidism

Chapter:
(p.27) Chapter Two Hasidism before Hasidism
Source:
Founder of Hasidism
Author(s):

Moshe Rosman

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781906764449.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the story in Shivhei Ha-Besht about the two hasidim who were sceptical about the Besht, which may not accurately reflect early eighteenth-century attitudes toward ba’alei shem. It analyzes a logical question of whether the Ba’al Shem Tov was the founder of Hasidism and confirms if there was hasidim before Hasidism. The once dominant, and still popular, view is that the Hasidic movement arose de novo, in contrast and opposed to normative rabbinic Judaism as it was believed and practiced in eighteenth-century Poland. The chapter explains the long history of the word “hasid” in Hebrew. Its root, “hesed,” is usually translated as “love” or “lovingkindness”; hence a hasid can be someone who practices lovingkindness or compassion.

Keywords:   Shivhei Ha-Besht, hasidim, Besht, Ba’al Shem Tov, Hasidism, rabbinic Judaism, hesed, lovingkindness, compassion

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