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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 Person of His Time

A Person of His Time

(p.173) Chapter Eleven A Person of His Time
Founder of Hasidism

Moshe Rosman

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses Polish sources of the Ba’al Shem Tov, which emphasized hearsay and traditional Hebrew material that is full of colorful detail. It focuses on how the Polish paid little attention to some of the written sources and testimonies from the Besht. The unsystematic way in which many scholars set about interpreting the Hebrew sources they were willing to use led to an often-confusing portrayal of the Besht. Scholars have been preoccupied with the Besht’s “message” and “way,” to the exclusion of serious consideration of the physical, social, economic, and cultural parameters. The chapter also highlights Mendel Piekarz, who demonstrated that Hasidism was not theologically innovative. Virtually all of Piekarz’s religious doctrines were anticipated or expounded by non-Hasidim.

Keywords:   Ba’al Shem Tov, Hebrew, Besht, Mendel Piekarz, Hasidism, non-Hasidim

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