Schatz Uffenheimer's inquiry covers the full gamut of Hasidic life and thought, embracing such topics as the emphasis on joy and the concomitant ban on sadness and regret in Hasidism, the focus on contemplative rather than petitionary prayer, the subordination of the mizvot (commandments) to the spiritualistic goal of devequt (attachment to God), and the anarchic elements of Hasidism's approach to life within society. Also discussed are the problematic role of Torah study resulting from this spiritualistic emphasis, the movement's neutralization or internalization of the traditional concept of a historical messiah, and the transformation within Hasidism of traditional concepts borrowed from Kabbalah. The author's illuminating hints as to the affinity between Hasidism and Christian Quietism should be of particular interest to scholars in the field.
Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer (1927-1992) was the Edmonton Community Professor of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. One of the outstanding students of Gershom Scholem, she forged her own path in the world of scholarship. Her research encompassed a wide range of areas: Zohar and Lurianic Kabbalah, Sabbatianism, Hasidism, and the typology of Jewish messianism. In addition, she was deeply involved in the ongoing discussion concerning the major spiritual and existential issues confronting contemporary Judaism and the State of Israel.
Originally published in 1993.
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Table of Contents
Ch. 1 The Basic Argument of Quietism 65
Ch. 2 The Concept of Annihilation (Ayin) and the Extinction of Human Will 67
Ch. 3 The Standing of Existential Problems 80
Ch. 4 Despair, Sadness, Regret and Their Connection with Sin 93
Ch. 5 The Status of the Mizvot 111
Ch. 6 Petitionary Prayer and Its Position in Hasidism 144
Ch. 7 Contemplative Prayer 168
Ch. 8 Divine Immanence and the Question of Prophecy 189
Ch. 9 The World of Speech and the World of Thought 204
Ch. 10 The Doctrine of Kavvanot and its Place in Hasidism 215
Ch. 11 Anarchic Manifestations in Hasidic Life 242
Ch. 12 Habad: Anti-Spiritualism as a Quietistic Value 255
Ch. 13 Diary of an Agnostic: "I Know Not" as a Quietistic Value 290
Ch. 14 The Problem of Torah Study in Hasidism 310
Ch. 15 History and National Redemption 326
Appendix: The Baal Shem Tov's Commentary to Psalm 107: Myth and Ritual of the Descent to Sheol 342
Index of Names 393
Index of Subjects 396