Joseph Weiss (1918–69) showed a single-minded commitment to identifying and describing the mystical element in hasidism and to unravelling the spiritual and historical meaning of the hasidic movement. The studies collected here are still quoted in every serious study of hasidism. Joseph Dan’s Introduction, written specially for this paperback edition, examines Weiss’s scholarship both in the context of subsequent scholarly research and in the light of the resurgence of hasidism since the Second World War. He concludes that many of Weiss’s detailed, perceptive, and empathetic studies are as relevant to understanding developments in the contemporary hasidic world as they are for understanding the emergence and growth of hasidism in the eighteenth century.
‘One can savour each essay on its own for its enduring qualities and perceptions regardless of the passing of time . . . The scholarship is profound, the notes are extensive, but it is also open to all inquiring minds and we must be grateful for its re-publication at this time.’
- Albert H. Friedlander, European Judaism
‘A special strength of Weiss's scholarship is his ability to connect the specific to the general . . . All this is achieved through a skilful and judicious reading of frequently tendentious and contentious Hasidic sources. This work will be of interest to historians of religion in general, and to students of the Jewish experience in Eastern Europe in particular.’
- John D. Klier, Slavonic Review
‘An impressive collection . . . conveys the authoritative views of one of the leading experts on Hasidism.’
- Geza Vermes, Society for Old Testament Study Newsletter