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Distributed for Brandeis University Press


Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World

Distributed for Brandeis University Press


Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World

Hasidism has attracted, repelled, and bewildered philosophers, historians, and theologians since its inception in the eighteenth century. In Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community, and Life in the Modern World, Ariel Evan Mayse and Sam Berrin Shonkoff present students and scholars with a vibrant and polyphonic set of Hasidic confrontations with the modern world. In this collection, they show that the modern Hasid marks not only another example of a Jewish pietist, but someone who is committed to an ethos of seeking wisdom, joy, and intimacy with the divine.

While this volume focuses on Hasidism, it wrestles with a core set of questions that permeate modern Jewish thought and religious thought more generally: What is the relationship between God and the world? What is the relationship between God and the human being? But Hasidic thought is cast with mystical, psychological, and even magical accents, and offers radically different answers to core issues of modern concern. The editors draw selections from an  array of genres including women’s supplications; sermons and homilies; personal diaries and memoirs; correspondence; stories; polemics; legal codes; and rabbinic response. These selections consciously move between everyday lived experience and the most ineffable mystical secrets, reflecting the multidimensional nature of this unusual religious and social movement. The editors include canonical texts from the first generation of Hasidic leaders up through present-day ultra-orthodox, as well as neo-Hasidic voices and, in so doing, demonstrate the unfolding of a rich and complex phenomenon that continues to evolve today.

336 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2020

Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought

History: History of Ideas

Religion: Judaism

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“The editors have done an extraordinary thing. Succinctly framed by recent scholarship, they have nevertheless allowed some of the most consequential thinkers in the history of Hasidism to speak for themselves. Their selection is impressive, the translations are always lucid and sometimes strikingly beautiful. Mayse and Shonkoff have demonstrated the sheer phenomenological range of this movement and, significantly, made more space for Hasidic women’s voices than any previous collection. This will be the indispensable volume for teaching and research at every level. It deserves all the praise I can heap on it.” 

Don Seeman, Emory University

“In this latest addition to the beloved Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought, Mayse and Shonkoff address the distinctive modernity of Hasidic thought. In their inclusive vision, letters, memoirs, and responsa speak alongside homilies and works of theology. So, too, do they open the field of Hasidism to a strikingly diverse set of voices: women, neo-Hasidic thinkers, and ordinary Hasidim.”

Naomi Seidman, author of Sarah Schenirer and the Bais Yaakov Movement

“This dazzling collection will stimulate and enlighten its readers. In addition to displaying gems of famous Hasidic masters, the editors include women’s voices, memoirs, anti-Hasidic polemics, and theological responses to the Holocaust and the State of Israel. A superb resource for intellectual and spiritual exploration.”

Daniel Matt, author of the multi-volume, annotated translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition

"This source anthology spans Hasidic literature from the earliest generation of the mass spiritual movement through present-day writers, all occupied with a set of central questions. Principally: What is the relationship between God and the world and between God and humanity and the human individual? The final section is to be noted for its inclusion of more recent Hasidic women writers."


"Mayse and Shonkoff’s masterful collection of texts recognizes that there is a wealth of literature extending into the nineteenth, twentieth, and even twenty-first centuries. As such, it is the most comprehensive of all the anthologies published to date and the most diverse in terms of the different schools of Hasidism....this reviewer can only applaud the remarkable erudition and discernment of these two scholars..."

Journal of Modern History

"Students and scholars have long needed access to a diverse set of Hasidic sources in English translation that allows an experiential entry into its emplacement and re-orientation within the skeptical landscape of the very modern world that birthed it—this volume is thus a welcome contribution in filling that need....Clearly this volume has its heart set on expanding the horizons of Hasidism, for both students and scholars, practitioners, and those perplexed by this remnant that keeps shining on. By continuing to carry forward central question of Jewish modernity, this volume provides new lenses—from an array of genres, including women’s supplications; sermons and homilies; personal diaries and memoirs..."

Religious Studies Review

Table of Contents


I. Emergence, Challenge, and Renewal (1736-1815)
1. The Ba‘al Shem Tov: Disciples and Descendants
2. Yiddish Supplications (Tkhines)
3. Dov Ber of Mezritsh
4. The Brody Proclamation of 1772
5. The Maggid’s Family
6. Chernobil and Zhitomir
7. Shmuel and Pinhas Horowitz, Levi Yitshak of Barditshev, and ’Uziel Meizels
8. Hasidism in Lithuania, White Russia and Tiberias
9. Nahman of Bratslav
10. Beyond the Maggid’s Circle
11. Early Hasidism in Poland

II. Ascendancy and Dominance (1815-1881)
12. Avraham Yehoshu‘a Heshel of Apt
13. The Dynasties of Ruzhin and Talna
14. Menahem Mendel Schneersohn
15. Kalonymous Kalman Epstein of Krakow
16. Hayim Halberstam and Sandz Hasidism
17. Malka Rokeah of Belz and Eydel Rubin of Brody
18. The Dynasties of Dinov, Zhidachov, and Komarno
19. The Dynasties of Pshiskhe, Kotsk, Izhbits, Warka and Ger

III. Decline, Renaissance, and Destruction (1881-1945)
20. Ger in Warsaw: Yehudah Aryeh Leib Alter
21. Sokhachev and Ger
22. Tsadok ha-Kohen of Lublin
23. Munkatsh Hasidism
24. Toledot Aharon
25. Sholom Dov Ber Schneersohn
26. The Hasidic Yeshivah
27. Sarah Schenirer
28. Three Hasidic Memoirs: Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, Yitshak Nahum Twersky and Malka Shapiro
29. The Belzer Rebbe’s Sermon and Holocaust Testimonies
30. The Rebbe of Piaseczno

IV. Renewal and Reconstruction (1945–present)
31. Hasidic Theology and the Holocaust
32. Zionist Hasidism
33. Satmar Hasidism
34. The Seventh Rebbe of Habad
35. Zelda Schneurson Mishkovsky
36. Slonim Hasidism in Jerusalem
37. Voices of Contemporary Hasidic Women


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