The Hasidic Tale

BookThe Hasidic Tale

The Hasidic Tale

Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

2008

April 1st, 2008

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Story-telling has been an integral part of the hasidic movement from its very beginnings in the eighteenth century to the present day. Stories about the holy hasidic leaders—the tsadikim, or rebbes—and their mystical powers have been a key factor in attracting followers and maintaining their devotion. Such tales were told by the tsadikim and their followers alike. The tsadikim saw them as a way to promote the movement and justify their leadership; their followers saw them as a way to exalt their masters, cleanse them of any shred of imperfection, and defend them from every trace of criticism. No other social or religious movement in the entire course of Jewish history has engaged so intensively in the telling of stories, and nor have stories occupied such a central and important place in any other intellectual movement within Judaism.

 Originally published in Hebrew and expanded for this English edition by a new introduction, this book is a valuable resource for anyone interested in the history of hasidism or of Hebrew literature and the literary aspects of Jewish popular culture. It acts both as a compendium of stories by theme and as a reference work for the identification of the subject-matter, authors, editors, and editions of books that have been a popular Jewish literary genre since the second half of the eighteenth century. Hasidic tales have been reprinted many times, anthologized, and even quoted by contemporary scholars, without the identity of their authors or editors being known, and without any awareness of their background and origin. In this important work, based on analysis of all the published anthologies as well as tales scattered in a variety of obscure sources, the author traces the sources and development of the different stories.

 An introductory historical survey is followed by full discussions of the stories themselves, grouped by subject. Among the themes covered are matchmaking and marriages, childbirth and progeny, sickness, death and the world to come, dybbuks and the powers of evil, apostasy, and many more.

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About The Author

Gedalyah Nigal is Emeritus Professor of the Literature of the Jewish People, Bar-Ilan University. He is the author of Magic, Mysticism and Hasidism: The Supernatural in Jewish Thought (1994), as well as several annotated editions of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century collections of hasidic tales, critical editions of seminal early hasidic speculative works, a study of Jewish spirit-possession narratives, and many essays on hasidism, kabbalah, and related topics.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover1
Contents6
Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Names7
Introduction10
1. The Hasidic Tale as Perceived by Hasidim59
2. The Tsadik, his Followers, and his Opponents86
3. Matchmaking and Marriages108
4. The Blessing of Children: Birth and Offspring123
5. Agunot139
6. A Life of Sin168
7. Illness and Physicians181
8. The Dead, Burial, and the World to Come189
9. Transmigration of the Soul and Dybbuks204
10. The Powers of Evil and the War against Them221
11. Apostasy and Apostates243
12. Ritual Slaughterers259
13. The Tamim: The Simple Person266
14. Hidden Tsadikim273
15. Hospitality286
16. The Prophet Elijah289
17. The Ba’al Shem Tov’s Unsuccessful Pilgrimage to the Land of Israel303
Appendix: Supplementary Notes318
Glossary341
A341
B341
C341
D341
E341
G342
H342
I342
K342
L342
M343
N343
P343
R344
S344
T344
U345
V345
W345
Y345
Z345
Gazetteer of Place Names in Central and Eastern Europe346
Bibliography352
Index370
A370
B371
C373
D374
E375
F376
G376
H376
I377
J378
K379
L380
M381
N384
O384
P384
R385
S386
T389
U391
V391
W391
Y391
Z392