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Hasidism

Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World

Edited by Ariel Evan Mayse Editor and Sam Berrin Shonkoff

Hasidism has attracted, repelled, and bewildered philosophers, historians, and theologians since its inception in the eighteenth century. In Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World, Ariel Evan Mayse and Sam Berrin Shonkoff present students and scholars with a vibrant and polyphonic set of Hasidic confrontations with the modern world. In this collection, they show that the modern Hasid marks not only another example of a Jewish pietist, but someone who is committed to an ethos of seeking wisdom, joy, and intimacy with the divine. While this volume focuses on Hasidism, it wrestles with a core set of questions that permeate modern Jewish thought and religious thought more generally: What is the relationship between God and the world? What is the relationship between God and the human being? But Hasidic thought is cast with mystical, psychological, and even magical accents, and offers radically different answers to core issues of modern concern. The editors draw selections from an  array of genres including women’s supplications; sermons and homilies; personal diaries and memoirs; correspondence; stories; polemics; legal codes; and rabbinic response. These selections consciously move between everyday lived experience and the most ineffable mystical secrets, reflecting the multidimensional nature of this unusual religious and social movement. The editors include canonical texts from the first generation of Hasidic leaders up through present-day ultra-orthodox, as well as neo-Hasidic voices and, in so doing, demonstrate the unfolding of a rich and complex phenomenon that continues to evolve today.

Paper: $26 | Cloth: $90 | E-book: $24.99
ISBN-13: 9781684580170
Pages: 336 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: July 15, 2020
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

Mayse and Shonkoff’s masterful collection of texts recognizes that there is a wealth of literature extending into the nineteenth, twentieth, and even twenty-first centuries. As such, it is the most comprehensive of all the anthologies published to date and the most diverse in terms of the different schools of Hasidism….this reviewer can only applaud the remarkable erudition and discernment of these two scholars…

Journal of Modern History

Reviews

  • Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World, collected, edited, and introduced by Ariel Mayse and Sam Berrin Shonkoff, two rising scholars in the field, is a significant addition to The Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought. While numerous volumes of Hasidic texts translated into English already exist, Mayses and Berrin-Shonkoff have presented a historically contextualized cross-section of Hasidic literature, each with a brief introduction, including relevant annotations and notes. In a sweeping and cogent Introductory essay, the authors examine the problematic notion of modernity as applied to Hasidism, suggesting a more fluid understanding of modernity in order to situate the Hasidic movement within its orbit. The author’s periodization, stretching from Hasidim’s origins through neo-Hasidism to the present, enables their readers to witness the changing vicissitudes of Hasidic literature as it moves through time. Especially welcome is the attention to gender, and the role of women, in Hasidic life and letters. An indispensable resource for those interested in Hasidism and its role in Modern Jewish Thought.

    Shaul Magid
    Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
  • This dazzling collection of Hasidic wisdom—both traditional and contemporary—will stimulate and enlighten its readers. Among the book’s themes are: discovering God in the material world and deep within one’s self, mystical nothingness, and the cosmic significance of human action. In addition to displaying gems of famous Hasidic masters, the editors include women’s voices, memoirs, anti-Hasidic polemics, theological responses to the Holocaust and the State of Israel, and neo-Hasidic teachings. A superb resource for intellectual and spiritual exploration.

    Daniel Matt
    author of The Essential Kabbalah and the multi-volume, annotated translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition
  • This source anthology spans Hasidic literature from the earliest generation of the mass spiritual movement through present-day writers, all occupied with a set of central questions. Principally: What is the relationship between God and the world and between God and humanity and the human individual? The final section is to be noted for its inclusion of more recent Hasidic women writers.

    Tradition
  • Mayse and Shonkoff’s masterful collection of texts recognizes that there is a wealth of literature extending into the nineteenth, twentieth, and even twenty-first centuries. As such, it is the most comprehensive of all the anthologies published to date and the most diverse in terms of the different schools of Hasidism....this reviewer can only applaud the remarkable erudition and discernment of these two scholars...

    David Biale
    Journal of Modern History
  • Students and scholars have long needed access to a diverse set of Hasidic sources in English translation that allows an experiential entry into its emplacement and re-orientation within the skeptical landscape of the very modern world that birthed it—this volume is thus a welcome contribution in filling that need.... Clearly this volume has its heart set on expanding the horizons of Hasidism, for both students and scholars, practitioners, and those perplexed by this remnant that keeps shining on. By continuing to carry forward the central question of Jewish modernity, this volume provides new lenses—from an array of genres, including women’s supplications; sermons and homilies; personal diaries and memoirs...

    Aubrey Glazer
    Religious Studies Review

About the Author

Ariel Evan Mayse

Ariel Evan Mayse is assistant professor at Stanford University and holds a rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har’el in Israel. He is the author of From the Depth of the Well: An Anthology of Jewish Mysticism and coauthor of A New Hasidism: Branches.

Sam Berrin Shonkoff is assistant professor of Jewish studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He is the editor of Martin Buber: His Intellectual and Scholarly Legacy.

Table Of Contents

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