The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture (Johns Hopkins Jewish Studies)

ISBN 10: 0801855608 / ISBN 13: 9780801855603
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"Allan Nadler has performed a great service by bringing the Mithnagdim more to light. The spiritual universe that he has unearthed with erudition, imagination, and care is now more accessible to students of Jewish history and of religion in general. " -- Yehudah Mirsky, New Republic

"In many ways Nadler's work defines the model of a first-rate monograph on an important subject... It is lucidly argued and carefully drafted. The technical achievement of figuring out what is going on in difficult texts matches the intellectual achievement of framing the whole in terms that bear consequence for a wide audience interested in the history of Judaism within the history of religion -- work that makes a difference, indeed a huge difference." -- Jacob Neusner, Conservative Judaism

The Faith of the Mithnagdim is the first study of the theological roots of the Mithnagdic objection to Hasidism. Allan Nadler's pioneering effort fills the void in scholarship on Mithnagdic thought and corrects the impression that there were no compelling theological alternatives to Hasidism during the period of its rapid spread across Eastern Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century. In Nadler's account, Mithnagdism emerges as a highly developed religious outlook that is essentially conservative, deeply dualistic, and profoundly pessimistic about humanity's spiritual potential -- all in stark contrast to Hasidism's optimism and aggressive encouragement of mysticism and religious rapture among its followers.

"In reconstructing the 'faith of the Mithnagdim,' Nadler introduces us to a remarkable universe of individuals and ideas. His pioneering reconstruction of Mithnagdic thought marks a turning point in our understanding of a crucial moment in Jewish history. From now on, anyone interested in the development of modern Judaism will have to take into account what he has done." -- Jay Harris, Commentary

"Nadler's work is a significant contribution to Jewish intellectual history and has wider significance in that it is also the first attempt to come to terms with thinkers who, until now, have been greatly misunderstood. It would not be surprising if Nadler's book became the impetus for much further research in this area." -- Marc B. Shapiro, Journal of Jewish Studies

"Nadler's book opens up a whole area of investigation in the history of Jewish religious thought... Nadler totally revises our image of Mithnagdism and establishes it as an extremely important movement. He deals with a whole array of basic theological and religious issues -- divine immanence, prayer, asceticism, worldliness, and enlightenment. It is required reading for anyone interested in Jewish religious thought." -- David E. Fishman, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

"Nadler has presented us with an important, interesting, and readable work for anyone seeking a better and more balanced understanding of Judaism in the modern age." -- Joshua Adler, Jerusalem Post

About the Author:

Allan Nadler is the Wallerstein Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Drew University. He has written for Commentary, Modern Judaism, New Republic, and other journals.

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Title: The Faith of the Mithnagdim: Rabbinic ...
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