Hasidism and Modernity

Report
Hasidism and
Modernity
Study This:
• where did the Hasidic movement emerge?
• what were the main characteristics that made
this a new movement in the Jewish community?
• what is the difference between Hasidic Jews
(from 17th-19th century) and today's ultraorthodox, or haredi, Jews, who are descendants
of Hasids but are actually ultra-orthodox?
• how do haredi Jews practice Judaism today?
• what is a yeshivah? what do they study there?
how is it different than how we are studying
Judaism in academic circles?
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Characteristics
Medieval
Modern
Post Modern
Dates
400 – 1600 CE
1500 - 1900
1900 - present
Political System
Feudal monarchy,
urbanization
Democracy, nation
states
Globalization,
corporations
Economic System
feudalism
capitalism
International
capitalism
Manufacture
handcraft
industrial
service-based
Spirit of the Age
Catholic church
Secular/rational
Distrust of
collectivization
Philosophy
One God, one
church; regional
variations caused
problems
Humanist/unifying/
Enlightenment/Has
kalah
deconstruction
Events
Fall of Roman
Empire; Crusades;
urbanization
Protestant
Reformation,
Fascism, WWII,
Holocaust
Christians and Jews
Medieval
Modern
Post Modern
Dates
400 – 1600 CE
1500 - 1900
1900 - present
Some defining
events
Disputations; Islam
harbored Jews
expelled from other
countries; Sicut
Judaeis (forbade
forced conversion,
theft of property,
disruption of ritual
& desecration of
cemeteries on pain
of excomncat’n. )
Holocaust 1933-45
Shabbtai Tsvi
1626-76
Chmielnitsky
massacre
(Ukraine)[1]
Pogroms 1881-84
[1] Stories about massacre victims who had been buried alive, cut to pieces, or forced to kill one
another spread throughout Europe and beyond. These stories filled many with despair, and
resulted in a revival of the ideas of Isaac Luria, and the identification ofSabbatai Zevi as the
Messiah.[17]
Christians and Jews
Medieval
Modern
Post Modern
Dates
400 – 1600 CE
1500 - 1900
1900 - present
Some defining
events
Disputations; Islam
harbored Jews
expelled from other
countries; Sicut
Judaeis (forbade
forced conversion,
theft of property,
disruption of ritual
& desecration of
cemeteries on pain
of excomncat’n. )
Shabbtai Tsvi
1626-76
Holocaust 1933-45
Chmielnitsky
massacre 1648
(Ukraine)[1]
Hasidism 1730
Pogroms 1881-84
[1] Stories about massacre victims who had been buried alive, cut to pieces, or forced to kill one another spread throughout
Europe and beyond. These stories filled many with despair, and resulted in a revival of the ideas of Isaac Luria, and the
identification ofSabbatai Zevi as the Messiah.[17]
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Origins
Israel ben Eliezer
Born 1698 in village of Okopy [@various times
a Polish/Ukrainian/Russian] 70 miles W of
Warsaw
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Bio
Orphan
Daycare worker
Shammes
Married – wife died
Teacher/arbitrator
Ephraim of Brody/Chana
Secret studies of mystical
texts
• Mysterious stranger
• Laborer clay and lime Carpathian Mountains –
peasants and plant lore
• Shochet, innkeeper
Miracle Workers - 1
• Talmud
– Honi the Circle Drawer (Rain)
– Hanina ben Dosa (Prayer)
• Middle ages and into early modern period
– Miracle workers by the hundreds
– Healing the sick, casting out demons.
– Journeying from lower realm (where we live) to
upper realm to intercede with heavenly powers
(courts, God as King)
Miracle Workers - 2
• THE Master of the Good Name BeSHT
• Kabbalists use the names of God, the names
of the angels, and significant passages of
Torah for practical magic: to protect women
during childbirth, or to drive away demons
that cause illness.
Bio - 2
• Home-base Brody;
a healer &
preacher,
wandering from
town to town
• Moved to ‘urban’
medzribozh
• Change in tactics
• “court,” disciples,
scribes
What the BeSHT preached
• To the rural populations of Poland, the BeSHT
preached a story-based Torah, rather than a
study based-Torah:
– God is in everything
– Duty to Cleave to God (Dveikut)
– Ecstatic (Hitlahavut) prayer
– Union with God; ever growing recognition of God
– Joy
Aphorisms of the BeSHT
• Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is
clean, so will be the image you perceive. But
should you look upon your fellow and see a
blemish, it is your own imperfection that you
are encountering - you are being shown what
it is that you must correct within yourself.
Aphorisms of the BeSHT
• Cleave with devotion to your words. Slander
murders 3: the person slandered, the teller,
and the listener. This is all in spiritual terms,
which is more severe than physical murder.
Aphorisms of the BeSHT
• Every single thing that a person sees or hears,
is an instruction to him in his conduct in the
service of G-d.
How the BeSHT preached
• Niggunim (wordless melodies)
– Niggun of the Alter Rebbe
• Magical tales and mystical stories with simple
morals that showed the spiritual value of
simple lives filled with God
• Ecstatic (Hitlahavut) prayer, filled with joy,
characterized by shockling
• Focused Kavannah (intention)
Hasidic tales about the BeSHT
• Journey with the BeSHT (Chabad.org)
BeSHTian Time Warp
53 miles from Brody to Poznan
Died 1760 in the Ukranian city of Medzabizh
[also var. Rus/Polish/Uke]
What the BeSHT accomplished
• Spiritual revolution - Democratization of Jewish
spirituality (contrast with traditional Kabbalah
study)
• Folk magic, a spiritual economy more satisfying
than prayer alone and more accessible than study
• Simple revelation of mystical truths in the form of
parables
• A Jew is joyful and loving in the midst of hardship
because all is God.
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Mitnagdim vs Hasidim
What the opponents preached
• Mitnagdim [“the opponents”]
– Vilna Gaon, leader of Lithuanian Jews
– Urban populations, yeshivas, more affluence
– Divinity emanates from God to us – a filtration or
trickle down theory
– Rote piety, precision in prayer, asceticism
– Talmud study as a way to God
Dynastic
Diaspora
After the BeSHT
Hasidism spread across Poland to the Ukraine
and on to Russia, Romania, and Hungary.
After the BeSHT
• A lineage of powerful Rabbis who carried on
his work, wrote down his words, and built up
the numbers of Hasidim
– R Dov Bear of Mezriz
• CHANGES:
– Tzaddik - Charismatic Rebbe became central,
rather than the theological innovations of
Hasidism
– Dynasties (and corruption …)
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
The Remnant in Diaspora
• 15% of all Polish Jews survived, and an even smaller number of Hasidim.
• Yaffa Eliach, in Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust, tells the story of the arrival
in New York of Rabbi Israel Spira, the Grand Rabbi of Bluzhov, in 1946. An
American G.I. translated for him into Yiddish the lines on the Statue of
Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to
breathe free."
• The rabbi listened intently and wiped a tear from his eye. There he was,
the lone survivor of his family; his beard was burnt off, his head and body
still covered with open wounds from beatings... He placed his hand on the
G.I.'s shoulder and said, 'My friend, the words you have just translated to
me are indeed beautiful. We, the few survivors coming to these shores,
are indeed poor, tired, and yearning for freedom. But we are no longer
masses. We are remnants, a trickle of broken individuals who search for
moments of peace in this world, who hope to find a few relatives on these
shores.
Williamsburg • Satmar
• Klausenberg
Crown Heights• Lubavitch
Boro Park
• Bobover
• Munkach
• Ger
• Belz
• Stoliner
Settling in
the US
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Lubavitch
Lubavitch
Lubavitch
Who inherits Hasidic legacy?
• Modern Hasidism, also known as Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Jews?
– A present day Hasidic wedding
– Exclusionary, very rigid and legalistic, honoring of study, but also
capable of joy, cutting loose and celebrating
• Pluralistic Modern Orthodoxy?
– Adheres to Orthodox doctrine but allows Jews of all denominations to
study in their yeshiva, with men and women together; not so much on
the ‘joy’ side. Also legalistic.
– Yeshiva Jewish studies vs academic Jewish studies
• Jewish Renewal movement?
– Cross-denominational.
– Chabad outreach to students by Shlomo Carlebach and Zalman
Shachter-Shlomi
– Shlomo reacts to the Holocaust
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day “Hasidim”
Controversy II
Ultra Orthodox
• Gender segregated prayer, learning and ritual
space
• Unequal educational opportunities for
women; secular education for all is limited
• In Israel, on Ultra Orthodox bus lines, women
sit at the back of the bus
• Birth rate is high, population is growing
Traditional 18th c. Sabbath garb
Everyday garb - Tzitzit
Everyday (for prayer) - Tefillin
The boxes contain …
… verses of Torah.
Everyday (for prayer) - Tefillin
Ashkenazi Wrap
How to Lay Tefillin
The Tefillin Booth
Jewish Renewal
• Unaffiliated, undisciplined, appeals to old
hippies and young activists
• Not at all ‘observant’ in a traditional sense,
but you’ll see more renewal-niks wearing
tefillin than Conservative Jews.
• Zalman Shachter-Shalomi on the difference
between a movement and a denomination
What’s odd about this picture?
Contents
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FRAME: Medieval vs Modern vs Post Modern
Origins of Hasidism
Controversy I
Effects of the Holocaust
Hasidic Diaspora and Renewal
Present-day Hasidim
Controversy II
Pick an issue …
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Gay marriage and ordination
Women’s ordination
Israel’s treatment of Palestinian population
Ethics
– Madoff ponzii scheme
– Agriprocessors (Kosher meat debacle)
– Sexual misconduct of rabbis; no training as
counselors or pastoral caregivers
Review
• where did the Hasidic movement emerge?
• what were the main characteristics that made this a
new movement in the Jewish community?
• what is the difference between Hasidic Jews (from
17th-19th century) and today's ultra-orthodox, or
haredi, Jews, who are descendants of Hasids but are
not "hasids" but are ultra-orthodox?
• how do haredi Jews practice Judaism today?
• what is a yeshivah? what do they study there? how is it
different than how we are studying Judaism in
academic circles?

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