The Paradoxical Ascent to God: The Kabbalistic Theosophy of Habad Hasidism

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This book is a study of the Habad Hasidism movement, an influential part of the Hasidic Movement, which originated in the eigteenth century. Habad was founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1813) who established a Hasidic community in Belorussia and who set forth the new Habad doctrine in a book entitled Tanya (Likutey Amarim). This doctrine expounded the mystical ideas underlying the quest for God. Its essential innovation lay in the formulation of a religious outlook which concentrated upon perceiving ...
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Overview

This book is a study of the Habad Hasidism movement, an influential part of the Hasidic Movement, which originated in the eigteenth century. Habad was founded by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1813) who established a Hasidic community in Belorussia and who set forth the new Habad doctrine in a book entitled Tanya (Likutey Amarim). This doctrine expounded the mystical ideas underlying the quest for God. Its essential innovation lay in the formulation of a religious outlook which concentrated upon perceiving the divinity: its essence, its nature, the stages of its manifestation, its characteristics, its perfection, its differing wills, its processes, the significance of its revelation and the possibilities of its perception. This conception generated a profound transformation of religious worship and was the cause of great controversy throughout the Jewish world.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A study concerned with the spiritual character of Habad Hasidism in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, defining the basic assumption of Habad thought, elucidating the elements that are combined within its spiritual universe, and clarifying the mystical and theoretical background to the movement. Translated from the Hebrew. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Rachel Elior is Professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at Hebrew University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Pt. 1 Introduction
1 A Spiritual Awakening 1
2 The Influence of the Kabbalah 5
3 The Historical Background 7
4 The Hasidic World-View 13
5 Habad-Hasidism 19
6 The Dual Meaning of Existence 25
7 The Dialectical Systems 33
8 The Books of Habad 37
9 The Four Subjects of Discussion 41
10 The Background of the Paradoxical Argument 43
Pt. 2 The Doctrine of Divinity, the Mystical Theology
11 Acosmism 49
12 The Relation Between God and the World 59
13 Wholeness as the Incorporation of Opposites 63
14 Hashvaah (Equalization) 67
15 Entity and Manifestation - Nothingness and Being 73
16 The Doctrine of Tzimtzum 79
17 Transcendence and Immanence 93
18 The Paradox - Two Opposites in a Single Subject 97
Pt. 3 Soul Consciousness and Perception
19 The Doctrine of the Soul 103
20 The Divine Soul 115
21 The Bestial Soul 119
Pt. 4 Divine Worship
22 Divine Worship - Introduction 127
23 Two Aspects of Divine Worship 131
24 Esoterics and Exoterics - The Dispute over the Dissemination of Spiritual Doctrines 139
25 Ha-Avodah be-Bittul - Worship in Self-Annihilation 143
26 Self-Annihilation and the Divine Wholeness 153
27 Ha-Avodah be-Hitbonenut - Worship in Contemplation 159
28 The Controversy over Contemplation 167
29 The Three Principal Types of Worship in Annihilation 173
30 Faith That Transcends Intellect and Comprehension 179
31 Mesirut Nefesh - Self-Sacrifice 185
32 The Confrontation Concerning the Goals of Spiritual Worship 191
33 Avodah be-Hipukh - Worship through Inversion and the Actualization of Divine Wholeness 201
Conclusion 219
Glossary 223
Notes 229
Primary Sources 255
Reference List 259
Index 269
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