The Besht: Magician, Mystic, and Leader (The Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry)

ISBN 10: 1584654228 / ISBN 13: 9781584654223
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Synopsis: Founded in Eastern Burope in the eighteenth century, the Hasidic movement dramatically transformed modern Judaism. The figure of the Ba'al Shem Tov (known in acronym form as the BeSHT) - the purported founder of the Hasidic movement - has fascinated scholars, Jewish philosophers, and laypeople interested in popular Jewish mysticism in general and the contemporary Hasidic movement in all its variety. In this volume, Immanuel Etkes enters a rich and heated debate over the origins of the movement, as well as the historicity of its mythic founder, Rabbi Israel Ba'al Shem Tov, who lived much of his life as a miracle worker. The eighteenth century, as Etkes vividly portrays, was the heyday of the kabbalists, who dabbled in the magical power of letters and words to solve personal and communal problems. Etkes sheds light on the personality of the Besht, on his mysticism, and on his close circle of followers. Equally important, he challenges the popular myth of the Besht as a childlike mystic, wandering the fields in prayer, seeing visions and engaging in acts of godliness and piety. According to Etkes, it was never the intention of the Besht to found a religious movement. Although Etkes shows great empathy for his subject, the Besht who emerges in these pages is much more down to earth, much more a man of his times.

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Title: The Besht: Magician, Mystic, and Leader (The...
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Etkes, Immanuel.
Published by Brandeis University Press published by University Press of New England, Waltham, Massachusetts/ Hanover and London (2005)
ISBN 10: 1584654228 ISBN 13: 9781584654223
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Book Description Brandeis University Press published by University Press of New England, Waltham, Massachusetts/ Hanover and London, 2005. Hardbound. Book Condition: Good. First English language edition. Octavo in dust jacket, xvi, 342 pp., notes, bibliography, index, mildly soiled endpapers with a few ink-stamps Translated by Saadya Sternberg. "Founded in Eastern Europe in the eighteenth century, the Hasidic movement and its religious thinking have dramatically transformed modern Judaism. The figure of the Ba’al Shem Tov (known in acronym form as the BeSHT)—the purported founder of the Hasidic movement—has fascinated scholars, Jewish philosophers, and laypeople interested in popular Jewish mysticism in general and the contemporary Hasidic movement in all its variety.In this volume, Etkes enters a rich and heated debate over the origins of the movement, as well as the historicity of its mythic founder, Rabbi Israel Ba’al Shem Tov, who lived much of his life as a miracle worker. The eighteenth century, as Etkes vividly portrays, was the heyday of the kabbalists, who dabbled in the magical power of letters and words to solve personal and communal problems—and to earn a living. Etkes sheds light on the personality of the Besht, on his mysticism, and on his close circle of followers. But equally important, he challenges the popular myth of the Besht as a childlike mystic, wandering the fields in prayer, seeing visions and engaging in acts of godliness and piety. Although Etkes shows great empathy for his subject, the Besht who emerges in these pages is much more down to earth, much more a man of his times. Indeed, according to Etkes, it was never the intention of the Besht to found a religious movement.Etkes looks at the Besht’s mystical roots, examining him not only from the vantage point of a social historian, but as a religious figure. Moshe Rosman, author of Founder of Hasidism, a biography of the Besht, claims that In Praise of the Besht—a volume published about the Besht in 1814, many years after his death, which portrayed his character by means of stories told by his close followers—could not be a reliable source. Etkes, disputing this claim, shows definitively that this well-known text (translated and interpreted by, among others, Martin Buber) may indeed offer trustworthy accounts of the Besht's life and thinking." From UP New England website. Bookseller Inventory # 47480

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Book Description Brandeis, 2004. Book Condition: Good. A+ Customer service! Satisfaction Guaranteed! Book is in Used-Good condition. Pages and cover are clean and intact. Used items may not include supplementary materials such as CDs or access codes. May show signs of minor shelf wear and contain limited notes and highlighting. Bookseller Inventory # 1584654228-2-4

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