Hasidism


Hasidism
/has"i diz'euhm, hah"si-/, n. Judaism.
the principles and practices of the Hasidim.
Also, Hassidism, Chasidism, Chassidism.
[HASID + -ISM]

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Pietistic and mystical movement in Judaism that originated in 18th-century Poland.

It was a reaction against rigid legalism and Talmudic learning in favour of a joyful form of worship that served as a spiritual outlet for the common people. Hasidism began with the preaching of the man later known as the Baal Shem Tov. Teaching that God was immanent in all things and that piety was more important than scholarship, he won followers known as Hasidim ("loyalists"). Dov Baer founded the first Hasidic community с 1710, and countless small communities soon sprang up in Poland, Russia, Lithuania, and Palestine, each led by a zaddik. Communal services were marked by dancing, shouting, and singing, through which participants reached a state of spiritual ecstasy. Though excommunicated from Orthodox Judaism in 1772, the Hasidim continued to flourish. By the 19th century Hasidism had become an ultraconservative movement that was accepted by the Orthodox as legitimate. Huge numbers of Hasidim fell victim to the Holocaust, but their survivors established vital movements in Israel and the U.S. The Lubavitcher sect, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., numbers about 200,000.

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▪ medieval Jewish religious movement
also spelled  Chasidism 

      (from Hebrew ḥasid, “pious one”), a 12th- and 13th-century Jewish religious movement in Germany that combined austerity with overtones of mysticism. It sought favour with the common people, who had grown dissatisfied with formalistic ritualism and had turned their attention to developing a personal spiritual life, as reflected in the movement's great work, Sefer Ḥasidim.

      The leaders of the movement were Samuel ben Kalonymos, the Ḥasid; Judah ben Samuel, the Ḥasid of Regensburg (his son); and Eleazar ben Judah of Worms. All these men were members of the Kalonymos family that had migrated from Italy, imbued with knowledge of occultism and versed in Kabbalistic traditions connected with the mystical contemplation of “the throne of God” (merkava, literally, “chariot”; Ezekiel 1). Efforts to experience the mystical presence of God, however, were based on humility and love of God rather than on merkava-like visions. Excessive penitential practices gave the movement a sombreness that was entirely lacking in the far more significant Ḥasidic movement that arose in 18th-century Poland.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Hasidism — noun Date: 1893 1. the practices and beliefs of the Hasidim 2. the Hasidic movement …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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