Hasidism, a movement of religious awakening and social reform,
originated in the mid-eighteenth century. After two and a half centuries of
crisis, upheaval, and renewal, it remains a vibrant way of life and a
compelling aspect of Jewish experience. This book explores the profound
intellectual and religious issues that the hasidic masters raised in their
Torah commentary, and brings to the fore the living qualities of their sermons
Ora Wiskind-Elper addresses a spectrum of topics: creation,
revelation, and redemption; hermeneutics, epistemology, psychology,
Romanticism, poetry and poetics, art history, Hebrew fiction, cultural history,
and tropes of Jewish suffering and hope. Fully engaged in the texts and their
spirituality, she brings them to bear on postmodernist challenges to
traditional spiritual and religious sensibilities.
This is a comprehensive study, unique in pedagogy, clarity, and
originality. It uses the full range of critical scholarship on hasidism as a
social and ideological movement. At the same time, it maintains a strong focus
on hasidic Torah commentary as a conveyor of theology and value. Each of its
chapters presents a fundamentally new approach. Wiskind-Elper's translations
are in themselves an innovative moment in the tradition and spiritual history
of the passages she offers.
Ora Wiskind-Elper is the author of Wisdom of the Heart: The Teachings of Rabbi Ya'akov of Izbica-Radzyn (2010) and Tradition and Fantasy in the Tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav (1998). She is associate professor in the Graduate Programme in Jewish Thought at Michlalah Jerusalem College and at Ono Academic College, Israel.
Note on Transliteration Introduction 1. Dimensions of Collective Self-Understanding Beginnings Receiving, Revealing `When Your Wellsprings Will Flow Forth' To Create New Worlds with Words `They Made Their Souls Anew' To See and to be Seen `Well said, Moses!' 2. Modes of Reading Metaphors We Live By A Parable in Wait Imagining the World The Essence of Being Human Bread-Eaters and Dreamers Know Me in Translation Conclusions So Far How to Teach, How to Learn To Know or Not to Know Finding the Words The Secret of Exile The Secret of Redemption Summing Up 3. Responses to a Shifting Landscape Introduction The Space in the Middle `For the Times They are A-Changin' ' Reason for Hope The Inward Turn Modernity and Its Discontents `God is in the Detail' Prophets of the Past, Prophets of the Future Deep Blue Sky and Yellow Stars Song of Dust and Ashes Postscript Bibliography Index