Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth-Century Hasidic Thought

Hasidism as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth-Century Hasidic Thought


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Offered here for the first time in English translation, Hasidism as Mysticism is a classic in its field. Using the tools of phenomenology, Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer places Hasidism squarely in the context of religious studies. Hasidism's theoretical texts have been largely ignored by historians of the movement, but Schatz Uffenheimer analyzes these materials fully, disclosing the mystical, quietistic tendencies that existed alongside Hasidism's more activist, popular elements. The author carefully reviewed this translation of her work; it includes a revised introduction with much new material, two new chapters, and an appendix containing a translation, history, and literary analysis of one of the few extant texts attributed to the Baal Shem Tov.

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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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691608068
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/08/2015
Series: Princeton Legacy Library , #1748
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 9

Introduction 15

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

Afterword 340

Appendix: The Baal Shem Tov's Commentary to Psalm 107: Myth and Ritual of the Descent to Sheol 342

Bibliography 383

Index of Names 393

Index of Subjects 396

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