Hasidic Prayer: With a New Introduction

BookHasidic Prayer: With a New Introduction

Hasidic Prayer: With a New Introduction

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


November 1st, 1993





From its very beginnings in the eighteenth century, the Hasidic movement was suffused with a joyous enthusiasm and optimism derived from the notion of God being in all things. This led to an insistence on joy as an essential element in divine worship, and in consequence a distinctive attitude to prayer. This classic work, presented here with a new introduction, is a study of the attitudes of the hasidic rebbes to prayer. Louis Jacobs bases himself principally on the works compiled by rebbes themselves and records preserved by their disciples. Copious quotations from these writings form a sound basis for his masterly analysis—unsurpassed since it was first published in 1972 — and enable the reader to gain a familiarity with Hasidic thought on the subject of divine worship at first hand.

'It now presents itself to a new public which will find this one of the basic books required for those who want to go directly into the nature of Hasidic prayer ... in this sound and clearly written text there is a scholarly survey of the most immediate developments of Hasidism, which enters into that world both as a scholar looking in from the outside, and as a rabbi aware of the yearnings of faith. The new introduction is valuable in pointing to the most recent scholarship which also emphasizes women in Hasidic life ... this is a valuable book which is a pleasure to read.'
European Judaism
'His work is remarkably well done, with profound scholarship but presented in a readable and absorbing manner.'
Times Educational Supplement


Author Information

Louis Jacobs, founding rabbi of the New London Synagogue, was a renowned scholar with an international reputation as a lecturer. He was the author of The Jewish Religion: A Companion (1995) and of many other distinguished books, several of them published by the Littman Library, including Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1999), Hasidic Prayer (paperback 1993), and Theology in the Responsa (paperback 2005), as well as an edition and translation of Zevi Hirsch Eichenstein’s Turn Aside from Evil and Do Good (1995). He died in 2006.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Introduction to the paperback edition
Introduction to the first edition
Notes on names and dates
1 Hasidism
2 The Nature of Hasidic Prayer
3 The Hasidic Prayer Book and Prayer House
4 Preparations for Prayer
5 Gestures and Melody in Prayer
6 Contemplative Prayer
7 Contemplative Prayer (continued)
8 Ecstatic Prayer
9 The Elevation of ‘Strange Thoughts’
10 Prayer as Inspiration
11 The Prayers of the Zaddik
12 The Polemic on the Recital of Le-Shem Yihud
13 Hasidic Prayer in the Responsa