Teachers and Teachings
Rabbi Shneur Zalman( RSZ) of Lyady believed that his religious ethics were those of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (the Besht), whom he considered his spiritual "grandfather," and Rabbi Dov Baer, the Maggid of Mezhirech, whom he revered as his primary master of Hasidism. He considered the Maggid's teachings to be essentially elaborations of the Besht's. Although he also studied with, and was influenced by, other members of the Maggid's circle, he saw only the Besht and the Maggid as his true religioethical mentors; they were for him the ultimate authorities on Hasidic thought and conduct, and he saw himself as third in the single line of succession of Hasidic masters. 1
Consequently, to understand his Hasidic thought in context, one has to determine how he understood the Besht's and Maggid's thought; to what extent he adopted their teachings, to what extent he modified them, and to what extent he may have departed from them. While other literary and personal influences will naturally be considered in the course of this study, it is primarily the teachings of the Besht and the Maggid that concern us in this chapter. Since these teachings have been the subject of considerable scholarly attention and debate, and it is not at all clear what they really were or how they should be interpreted, it is first necessary to undertake a survey of the previous work in this area. Having established what the key doctrines of the Besht and the Maggid were and how they may have been understood by RSZ, it will then be possible to analyze what he does with them. Having determined, as far as possible, how these doctrines affected the Jewish world to which RSZ belonged, it will then be possible
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Publication information: Book title: Habad:The Hasidism of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady. Contributors: Roman A. Foxbrunner - Author. Publisher: University of Alabama Press. Place of publication: Tuscaloosa, AL. Publication year: 1992. Page number: 1.