Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic

By Moshe Idel | Go to book overview

Preface

The present book emerged from the gradual evolution of some ideas presented in a number of articles and lectures prepared during the last decade. Most decisive was a lecture delivered in 1984 at a symposium on the eighteenth-century Jewish thought organized by Professor Isadore Twersky, at Harvard University, printed in German in 1987 and more recently in English 1991. 1. Its content forms most of chapters 1 and 4. A conference on Hasidism at the University College of London in 1988, which will soon be available in print in the proceedings of the symposium, served as a catalyst for ideas presented, in more elaborate manner, in parts of the introduction. Another, unpublished lecture, delivered at the first anniversary of the death of Professor Shmuel Ettinger, organized by the Shazar Center for Jewish History in 1989 at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, provided the core of chapter 2. The material collected and analyzed in a series of articles printed during the last decade, dealing mainly with ecstatic Kabbalah and magical interpretations of Kabbalah, convinced me that the resistance, sometimes rather sharp, to some of the views presented in these lectures apparently stems more from the fact that there are some scholars who are not sufficiently acquainted with some aspects of Jewish mysticism, rather than from a superior understanding of Hasidism. From those exchanges I learned, nevertheless, that the scholars' tendency to minimize the impact of speculative corpora, neglected by modern scholarship, might be somehow attenuated, if at all, by adducing tens of quotes in order to make a point that, in a less inertial entourage, would be understood much easier. 2. Therefore, all the lectures have been expanded and much more material has been introduced than a neutral reader would expect. This material, sometimes still in manuscripts, may help not only to understand better some aspects of Hasidism, but also to contribute to another view of Kabbalah in general. In the present form of my exposition an attempt has been made to approach the Hasidic and Kabbalistic material as part of an inner development, that will propose a certain answer to the question what is the relationship between these two lores.

____________________
1.
See The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy I ( 1990): 53- 114.
2.
With the exception of Miles Krasen's Ph.D. thesis, the above discussions of magic and Hasidism have been ignored by all the studies and books on Hasidism printed in the last years.

-ix-

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Hasidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Hasidism - Between Ecstasy and Magic *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I Models in Kabbalah and Hasidism *
  • 1 - The Weakening of the Lurianic Kabbalah in the Eighteenth Century *
  • 2 - Models in Jewish Mysticism 45
  • 3 - The Mystico-Magical Model 103
  • Part II - Drawing Down *
  • 4 - Mystical and Magical Prayer in Hasidism 148
  • 5 - Mystical and Magical Study in Hasidism 171
  • 6 - Zaddiq as "Vessel" and "Channel" in Hasidism 189
  • Concluding Remarks *
  • Appendix A - Psychologization of Theosophy in Kabbalah and Hasidism 227
  • Appendix B - Rabbi Yisrael of Ryzhin Who Cries 239
  • Appendix C - On Intentional Transmission of Power 245
  • Abbreviations 249
  • Notes 251
  • Bibliography 393
  • Appendix of Hebrew Quotes 403
  • Subject Index 425
  • Index of Works Cited 429
  • Author Index 435
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