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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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The Holy Epistle

The Holy Epistle

(p.97) Chapter Six The Holy Epistle
Founder of Hasidism

Moshe Rosman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter enumerates, characterizes, and assesses the historiographical weight of the various Besht sources. The attempt to capture aspects of the Besht’s life is dependent on the sources that are extant. It points out that most of the material relating to the Ba’al Shem Tov is in Hebrew. Its ready accessibility has ensured that it would be the basis of representations of the historical Ba’al Shem Tov. The chapter highlights the traditions about the Besht’s activities that are collected into Shivhei Ha-Besht and published more than fifty years after his death. It also discusses the methodologically problematic category of sources and gives the post-Besht compilers and editors of these traditions a large, and largely unacknowledged, role in determining what have been seen as the basic motifs in the Besht’s character and life story.

Keywords:   Besht sources, Ba’al Shem Tov, Shivhei Ha-Besht, post-Besht compilers, post-Besht editors

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