Habad: The Hasidism of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady

By Roman A. Foxbrunner | Go to book overview

Excursuses

Excursus A

These three are representative of the major trends in the study of Hasidism, particularly before Dubnow. Graetz's proclivities are well known. S. H. Horodetsky's desire for a romantic, "spiritual," nonhalakhic type of Judaism grounded in aggadah and supposedly characterized by Beshtian Hasidism is most evident in "Ha-Gra ve-ha-Besht", Ha-Shiloaḣ+̣ 17 ( 1907): 348-56, and is the keynote in the introductions to his doctored edition of Shlvḣ+̣e ha-Besht and to Ha-Hasidim veha-ẗ+̣asidut (both Berlin, 1922). E. Zweifel Shalom al Yiśra˒el ( 1864-1872) contains theoretically useful material from various valuable sources, but inexact quoting, passages combined to better illustrate a point, and haphazard attribution make this material, as it stands, practically worthless. To make Hasidism more palatable to its detractors, Zweifel characterizes it as emphasizing traits that he knows will appeal to them (and that, not surprisingly, happen to appeal to him, too). If only they could see it as he does, peace would reign over Israel. He consequently manages seriously to suggest that the movement's essential goals were the elimination of pilpul and certain minor "details and customs"; the avoidance of mundane affairs, controversy, and strife; the encouragement of frugal living, of a negative attitude toward money, a positive attitude toward all men, and a modest, self-effacing attitude toward oneself ( Shalom al Yiśra˒el, ed. A. Rubenstein [ Jerusalem, 1972, p. 121]). Needless to say -- at least to anyone familiar with Hasidic thought in its historical context -- this picture, like Martin Buber's, is nothing but a self-portrait. (On Buber, see G. Scholem, "Martin Buber's Interpretation of Hasidism", in The Messianic Idea in Judaism [ New York, 1974], pp. 227-51; G. Scholem, "Martin Buber's Conception of Judaism", in On Jews and Judaism in Crisis, ed. W. J. Dannhauser [ New York, 1976], p. 165ff.: "Upon closer inspection, Hasidism's love affair with the world turns out to be Buber's love affair with the world" [p. 169]; R. Schatz, "Martin Buber, Master of Hasidic Literature", Judaism 9 [ Summer 1960]: 277-82; S. Katz, "Martin Buber's Misuse of Hasidic Sources", in Katz Post-Holocaust Dialogues: Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought

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Habad: The Hasidism of R. Shneur Zalman of Lyady
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Transliteration and Spelling xi
  • 1 - Teachers and Teachings 1
  • 2 - Man in God's World 58
  • 3 - Ethical Ways and Means 110
  • 4 - Torah and Commandments 137
  • 5 - Love and Fear 178
  • 6 - Conclusions 195
  • Excursuses 203
  • Notes 221
  • Glossary 289
  • Selected Bibliography 295
  • Index 301
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