RELIGION LIBRARY

Hasidic Judaism

Hasidic Judaism (also called Chasidic Judaism or Hasidism) refers to an orthodox Jewish mysticism that focuses on the engagement of God through mystical experience. The modern Hasidic movement was founded by Israel ben Eliezer (commonly known as Baal Shem Tov) in the 18th century C.E. in Eastern Europe. Unlike other forms of Judaism, Hasdism focuses on personal experiences of God instead of ritual and religious education. They believe God can be encountered in the everyday activities of life and not just in study or worship. Hasidic Judaism is centered around holy men (called zadikim or rebbes) who are believed to have direct, personal connection to God. These rebbes have a group of disciples called Hasidim ("loyalists") who follow the teachings and moral instructions of their rebbe. Even though they may or may not be rabbis, the rebbes offer guidance in every aspect of life, from the interpretation of the Torah to something as secular as buying a house. The rebbe is also known to work miracles. The most influential Hasidic community, called Habad, thrives in Brooklyn, New York and is known throughout the Jewish world. Even though the masters of Hasidic Judaism still affirm the primary doctrines of rabbinic Judaism, they also place great authority in their own interpretations of the texts. There are varying degrees of tension between Hasidism and the other forms of Judaism. Hasidic worship services will often include singing, dancing, and a general enthusiasm for life.

Quick Facts

Formed 1750
Adherents 500,000
Deity God
Sacred Text Torah, Tanakh (Hebrew scriptures), Talmud
Origin Eastern Europe
Headquarters None
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