Hasidism Beyond Modernity

BookHasidism Beyond Modernity

Hasidism Beyond Modernity

Essays in Habad Thought and History

The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization


December 18th, 2019

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The Habad school of hasidism is distinguished today from other hasidic groups by its famous emphasis on outreach, on messianism, and on empowering women. Hasidism Beyond Modernity provides a critical, thematic study of the movement from its beginnings, showing how its unusual qualities evolved. Topics investigated include the theoretical underpinning of the outreach ethos; the turn towards women in the twentieth century; new attitudes to non-Jews; the role of the individual in the hasidic collective; spiritual contemplation in the context of modernity; the quest for inclusivism in the face of prevailing  schismatic processes; messianism in both spiritual and political forms; and the direction of the movement after the passing of its seventh rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in 1994. Attention is given to many contrasts: pre-modern, modern, and postmodern conceptions of Judaism; the clash between maintaining an enclave and outreach models of Jewish society; particularist and universalist trends; and the subtle interplay of mystical faith and rationality. Some of the chapters are new; others, published in an earlier form, have been updated to take account of recent scholarship. This book presents an in-depth study of an intriguing movement which takes traditional hasidism beyond modernity. 

Author Information

Naftali Loewenthal is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London, and the director of the Chabad Research Unit. He is the author of Communicating the Infinite: The Emergence of the Habad School (1990).