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Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady

The Origins of Chabad Hasidism

Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady (1745–1812), in imperial Russia, was the founder and first rebbe of Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism that flourishes to the present day. The Chabad-Lubavitch movement he founded in the region now known as Belarus played, and continues to play, an important part in the modernization processes and postwar revitalization of Orthodox Jewry. Drawing on historical source materials that include Shneur Zalman’s own works and correspondence, as well as documents concerning his imprisonment and interrogation by the Russian authorities, Etkes focuses on Zalman’s performance as a Hasidic leader, his unique personal qualities and achievements, and the role he played in the conflict between Hasidim and its opponents. In addition, Etkes draws a vivid picture of the entire generation that came under Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s influence. This comprehensive biography will appeal to scholars and students of the history of Hasidism, East European Jewry, and Jewish spirituality.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Introduction • Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady’s Rise to Leadership • A Leader of Hasidim • Between Center and Periphery • Sefer Shel Beinonim: The Book of Average Men • On the Front Line against the Mitnagdim: Excommunications and Prohibitions • At the Front versus the Mitnagdim: The First Imprisonment • At the Front against the Mitnagdim: The Second Arrest • Zaddikim as Human Beings: The Conflict with Rabbi Abraham of Kalisk • Between Napoleon and Alexander • Conclusion • Notes • Bibliography • Index

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