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The Genius$
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Eliyahu Stern

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300179309

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300179309.001.0001

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The Gaon versus Hasidism

The Gaon versus Hasidism

(p.83) 4 The Gaon versus Hasidism
The Genius

Eliyahu Stern

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses Elijah ben Solomon's opposition to the eighteenth century eastern European Hasidic movement. Elijah became an ardent opponent of the movement. He even accused the leaders of Hasidic movement of Sabbatian tendencies. It explains that the Hasidic movement was established by the charismatic spiritual leader Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem. This movement minimized the legalistic, elite intellectual and ascetic elements in the Jewish tradition and promoted God's imminence, prayer, spiritual ecstasy, and popular social practices. Elijah opposed the Hasidic principle that humanity could access the Divine only through the medium of the Torah, which he viewed as a dangerous overestimation of the individual's ability to communicate with God.

Keywords:   Elijah ben Solomon, Hasidic movement, Israel ben Eliezer, Divine, the Torah, Jewish tradition

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