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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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A Country in Decline?

A Country in Decline?

(p.42) Chapter Three A Country in Decline?
Founder of Hasidism

Moshe Rosman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter reviews the course of the Besht’s life that was affected by the geopolitical and sociocultural-economic environment in which he lived. It describes how the Ba’al Shem Tov is often portrayed in popular works with only superficial attention to his surroundings, as if his life transcended time and space. The interest in connecting the Besht’s activities and teachings to later history has frequently obscured his relationship to the place and period in which he actually lived. The chapter mentions a few historically oriented scholarly writings that attempt to relate the patterns of the Besht’s life to conditions in Poland and its Jewish community in a general way. It provides a clearer perception of the country and the region where the Besht lived, which can help establish the parameters of his existence and contribute to an understanding of the range and nature of his activities.

Keywords:   Besht, Ba’al Shem Tov, Poland, Jewish community, geopolitical environment

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