The rise of Hasidism precipitated a strong reaction by a range of prevailing religious authorities. The accusations and basis for concern were quite varied as the edicts of excommunication issued by the Gaon of Vilna and others ultimately revealed. One recurring accusation against the growing number of Hasidim was the deprecation of Torah study among its adherents. The accusation levied against Hasidism eventually dissipated in the 19th century, but such assertions plagued the origins of the movement during its first and second generation.

The focus of our concern then is on the nature of Torah study as understood by the successors of the Baal Shem Tov, particularly Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow and how this related to contemporary and classical views of Torah study.

The focus on Lurianic Kabbalah by Hasidism and its spread among the laity was a notable departure from previous approaches to mysticism among other Jewish communities. We hypothesize that the radical adoption of Lurianic Kabbalah and its dissemination among the masses created a diminishment of Torah study in the early stages of the Hasidic movement.

The merit of this statement will be proved or disapproved by reviewing the accusing Mitnaggedic sources and the responses of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow in light of other Hasidic contemporaries, in particular, Rabbi Mendel of Przemyslany.

A brief review of Lurianic Kabbalah and its emphasis on the nature and power of Hebrew letters will also be reviewed to provide a proper understanding of its role in defining or redefining approaches to Torah study in Hasidic thought.

Deprecating the Torah: The Accusation against the Hasidism

A range of accusations and objections were levied against Hasidism in its early stages. The criticisms are quite varied and include modifications of the liturgy and the introduction of the Arizal rite, immodesty in prayer, unacceptably slaughtering kosher animals, and sexual impropriety among others.[1] The accusation of neglect of Torah study stands out, however, and can be found in a variety of sources as a recurring theme. Rabbi Moshe of Satanow, one of the earliest opponents of nascent Hasidism, and author of the Mishmeret haQodesh wrote:

“I have seen those who serve G-d with all their hearts in their prayer, who think nothing of wasting two or three hours in idle conversation or at times in [studying] words of Musar. And they drink buckets full of wine, saying it was not for the wicked that pleasures were created…and their punishment is very severe, particularly concerning their neglect of Torah, for they cause others to sin as well, to adhere to ways of laziness and to pursue things which are not thus. Nor is it correct to devote too much [time] to Musar and neglect Torah on account of it, for from Musar he will be drawn towards vain things;[indeed] the essence of Torah study is not Musar itself…[but rather] the laws and their details and precise formulations. And in engaging overly much in Musar, he will spend less time in Scripture, Mishnah, and halakhah…”[2]

It is interesting to point out that the accusation of neglecting the study of the Torah is tied to laziness and not to a specific theological agenda or alteration. Another source of criticism can be found in the words of Rabbi Shlomo of Helma, the author Mirkevet Mishneh who held the view that Hasidim despised classical study:

“…he who dwells in the depths of halakhah is in his eyes [i.e., in the eyes of the Hasidim] an object of scorn and contempt, and he hates the masters of reflection [i.e., analytic study of [halakhah] and he [i.e., the Hasid] is accustomed to saying, “ why do you exhaust yourselves for naught for so long a time, and the table is spread before you [a pun on the title of the Shulhan Arukh], and the cloth [i.e., Rabbi Moses Isserles’ glosses] is upon it, to now the deed and the quintessence of study…”[3]

The words of the herem issued by the rabbinical court of Vilna in 1772, headed by Rabbi Samuel B. Avigdor and sixteen judges to Rabbi Abraham Katzenellenbogen of Brest-Litvosk reiterate the accusations previously mentioned:

The recurring accusation of neglect or even despising of Torah study is found in the subsequent series of excommunications issues in Brody, the Kol Koreh, the Grodno and Pinsk bans among others.[5] The previous passages do not ascribe these views to a particular leader among the Hasidim but use these generalizations to characterize the movement. It is essential to note Uffenheimer’s assertion that the origins for Mitnaggedic accusations against Hasidic stances on the Torah are not based on actual readings of Hasidic texts or teaching. Mitnaggedic claims may have been based instead on the casual environment or even seeming frivolity of certain Hasidic circles.[6]

“The study of the Torah is neglected by them entirely, and they do not hesitate constantly to emphasize that one should devote oneself as little as possible to learning and not grieve too much over a sin committed…”[4]

Whether this was the case or not, it is essential in reviewing Hasidic attitudes toward Torah study, to understand the popular methods of study in use at the time of the rise of Hasidism. In particular, a method that became characteristic of Torah study was that of pilpul [dialectical approach to Talmudic study], and another method referred to as hillukim. Both methods were met by criticism by even prominent Torah scholars of prior generations such as Judah Loew of Prague (the Maharal). The principal complaint of scholars like Judah Loew lay in the fact that many yeshivot appeared to lay less emphasis of the study of practical halakhah and instead concentrated on the dialectical method of pilpul which typically rendered anything but practical instruction or application. Pilpul was adopted by many as more of a theoretical and intellectual exercise.[7]

The Hasidic Basis for the Accusations

Despite the generality, the accusations levied against the Hasidim are quite severe, nonetheless. Before reviewing the attitude of Torah study embraced by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow, it is essential to understand what other views may have warranted such responses or impressions among Mitnaggedim. Understanding the behavior of the “masses” is difficult to ascertain, but one only need to review the words of Hasidic Rabbi Mendel of Przemyslany in his formulation of the teaching of the Maggid of Mezrich to understand that the accusations of the Mitnaggedim appear to have had some merit behind them and challenge Uffenheimer’s view. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that Mendel of Przemyslany was a direct student of the Besht. Rabbi Mendel of Przemyslany states in his Darkhei Yesharim:

Rabbi Mendel’s argument is “practically” focused in the sense that he sees the limitations of his current generation in comparison to earlier generations. While Rabbi Mendel’s rendition and representation of the Maggid’s teaching is arguably fragmented, the views that could be understood as problematic by any potential Mitnaggedic reader are clear.[9] Rabbi Mendel’s views are even opposed to the Besht’s fusion of halakhah and devequt.[10] As Uffenheimer points out, a full reading of the Maggid of Mezrich teaching, which Rabbi Mendel edited bears much more concern on the sole focus on devequt. In short, despite his advocacy of a “revised” study schedule, the Maggid nevertheless sought to embrace the importance of Torah study when he stated: “But if he does not learn, he will not have the intellect to attach himself to Him, may He be blessed; as our rabbis wrote ‘a boor cannot know nor an ignoramus be pious…’”[11]

In short, Rabbi Mendel’s position presents the view that intellectually oriented study is incompatible with the concept of devequt, which reflects the heart of Hasidic thought and its desire for more thoughtful approach and attachment to G-d. More striking is that for Rabbi Mendel, the very notion of “learning with devequt,” as Uffenheimer notes, is contradictory. Following Mendel’s logic, true deliberation will inevitably eradicate intellectual based Torah study. Torah study as defined in its classical terms and devequt conflict with one another.[12] Despite the fragmentary nature of the Maggid’s teaching preserved in the Darkhei Yesharim, his principal that “Even though at the time of study it is impossible to attach himself to the Creator, may He be blessed…” is preserved. [13]

“A further general rule: that one ought not to engage overly much in study. For in the former generations, when their intellects were strong and they learned with great holiness and greatness, they did not need to trouble themselves concerning the fear of G-d, for as fear was always present before them, they were able to learn a lot. But we, whose intellects are limited, if we remove our thoughts from devequt to G-d, may He be blessed, and study too much, we may heaven forfend, forget the fear of G-d, which the essence of ‘the fear of G-d, which His storehouse…’ Therefore, he must engage less in study and think continuously upon the greatness of the Creator, may He Be blessed, in order to love Him and fear Him, and not keep thinking many thoughts, but only one thought [i.e. devequt to Him], as I wrote above ”[8]

The Views of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow

Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim is one of the most prominent individuals of the second generation of the Hasidic movement. This is due in part to his familial connection to the Besht. He was the grandson of the Besht by his daughter Edel. He was also the brother of Baruch Jehiel of Medzibezh and the uncle of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav.[14] The real significance of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim, however, lies in his collection of a multitude of passages attributed to the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Jacob Joseph of Polonnoye, Rabbi Nahman of Horodenka, and the Maggid of Mezhirech in his work, Degel Mahaneh Efrayim.[15] It is precisely because of his unique relationship to various Hasidic leaders that the perspectives of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim were selected for review. Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim serves as a possible nexus of the movement regarding its development and ideas. 

Whether the views of Rabbi Mendel of Przemyslany were the focus of the Mitnaggedim’s fury is unclear, but they provided some basis for the argument that Hasidim were neglecting Torah study, at least as defined by the former. At first glance, the views of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow are in fact much more difficult to reconcile with those of Rabbi Mendel. Various passages made by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim reveal a much more complicated nature of both Torah study and its relationship to the established rabbinic leadership.

“Furthermore, the small aleph [i.e. in the traditional orthography of Leviticus 1:1] alludes to what I heard said in the name of Rabbi Joseph, the righteous preacher of the community of Polonnoye, z”l, who stated, regarding what the world says, that the lomdim [i.e., the scholarly class], learn and the Hasidim, do not learn: ‘The truth is, the more the lomdim learn, the greater they are in their own eyes, and they think in their own eyes that they have already learned a great deal, as much as is needed; while the Hasidim, the more they learn, the smaller they are in themselves. And this is their entire aim, that they teach themselves to be small [humble] and lowly in themselves. And this is what is alluded to by the small aleph: aluf – learning: zeira (small) to make themselves small.’ And understand this.”[16]

The words of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim in this passage appear more focused as a polemic against the established class of rabbinic scholars. The use of the word lomdim instead of the word Mitnaggedim is also noteworthy. While not addressing the underlying critique of the Mitnaggedim that the Hasidim neglected Torah study, Rabbi Ephraim hints at a reality that does reflect something very different between the views of Torah study embraced by the Mitnaggedim and his own.[17]

 Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow: Torah Lishmah

 The previous passage by Rabbi Ephraim bears little direct relation to the accusation of neglect of Torah study. However, the real disparity between the concept of Torah study as understood by Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim and the Mitnaggedim can be shown in the meaning of Torah Lishmah (the study of Torah ‘for its own sake”). For Rabbi Ephraim, there is a critical difference which exists between Torah Lishmah and Torah shelo Lishmah.

Rabbi Ephraim explicates his views by appealing to the passage in Genesis 16:2 relating the matriarch Sarah’s use of Hagar, her handmaid as a vehicle for “giving birth” in the midst of her own barren state. In short, Hagar the handmaid represents the individual who studies with ulterior motives (shelo lishmah) whether for material gain or some other purpose. Here Rabbi Ephraim relates Sarah’s word to Abram “Go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.” It is Sarah who represents the Shekhinah and studies for truth. Torah Lishmah represented via Sarah, is the means through which the promised son or G-d’s will is realized. As Goetschel notes in explaining Rabbi Ephraim’s position:

“…but ultimately, the ‘maid’, whose entire endeavor is directed towards the wages which she expects to earn from her ‘mater’, may be contrasted with the ‘mistress’ or ‘queen’ Through her worship lishmah the latter proclaims the kingship of the Holy one, Blesses be He, and his Shekhinah in all the worlds, effecting the manifestation of His glory and kingship in each dominion and the submission of the forces of evil, the kelipot.”[18]

For Rabbi Ephraim Torah study is not then a pure intellectual exercise but encompasses theurgic components which are geared toward the fullest revelation of G-d. Torah Shelo Lishmah with its ulterior motives may, in fact, be the mechanism for the student or scholar to reach the level of Torah lishmah, but per Rabbi Ephraim’s reference to the lomdim, this is tragically not the case for many, and in fact one may read his reference as a not so veiled polemic against the prevailing rabbinic authorities. Rabbi Ephraim can, therefore, state G-d’s connection to those who study correctly. Whether such statements would have unintentionally spurred a diminishment of Torah study among Hasidim is somewhat unlikely, but it nevertheless adds to a new or different view of study in a Hasidic worldview.

He has a great regard for the zaddikim who study little but with the proper intent (bekhavanah); for it is better to study little with proper intent than to study much without intent. This is the meaning of ‘submit thyself to her hands,’ he should humble himself before the zaddikim. Then the angel will say to him (Gen. 16:10): ‘I will multiply thy seed exceedingly’ – this is the fruit produced by truthful study, torat emet, when one has gone beyond the study shelo lishmah.”[19]

Torah lishmah becomes, in the worldview of Rabbi Ephraim connected with the all-important Hasidic concept of devequt. Moreover, it is here, where the most significant insight into the dispute between the Hasidim and the Mitnaggedim can be understood. Rabbi Ephraim’s comments regarding “studying little” serve to buttress the assertion made by Hasidic opponents.

The Power of Meditating on the Letters

In his work, Degel Mahaneh Efrayim, Rabbi Ephraim comments on Exodus 25:7 which states: “Onyx stones and ‘stones to be set,’ in the ephod and in the breastplate.” For Rabbi Ephraim, these two types of stones reflect the two types or modes of Torah study also existent. The first type refers to the rationally oriented approach of studying a text. In this approach, the reading the letters of the text serve the function of understanding the written meaning of the text. However, Rabbi Ephraim posits, another approach to studying Torah is also available. This method reflects bekhavanah deliba – a heartfelt intensity characterized by holy and pure thoughts.[20] In this approach, the letters themselves become the object of contemplation.

With the Sefer Yetzirah as its source, the principal goal of this type of Torah study is related to the importance of the Hebrew letters. The Hebrew letters precede the creation and G-d utilizes Hebrew letters to create the world. Meditating on the letters is a means of connecting to G-d and understanding the world. Devequt, clinging or cleaving to G-d is accomplished by meditating on the letters. The Zohar develops the idea of 22 letters and how these letters are living beings as if they are angelic beings. If the letters are angelic, then they are emanations of G-d. They are not merely angelic, but emanations of G-d. Arranging or rearranging letters is part of the process of cleaving to G-d. As Wertheim explicates regarding Hasidic perspectives on the study of the Torah:

“…and just as a bride has a number of ornaments to awaken feelings of love, where these ornaments do serve as major function but are a preparation for the cleaving together, so too does the Torah have many ornaments, and these include studying through pilpul, or studying for some utilitarian purpose that one may have from ones’ study…these though are not the main purpose but ornaments of the supernal bride, so as to unify certain sefiros.”[21]

The medium of Torah Lishmah then is the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Since these letters are of divine origin, they reflect the ultimate manifestation of Torah and human nature. A real study of the Torah is focused on the letters; other forms are secondary or “ornamental.” Herein lays the challenge to the normative perspectives of Torah study held by the Mitnaggedim and the redefinition of what Torah study was understood to be by the Hasidim.


In this paper, I reviewed the underlying claim of the Mitnaggedim that among the various infractions the Hasidim committed, the most grievous and recurring offense was the diminishment and neglect of Torah study. This fact was demonstrated by reviewing a sample of the various edicts condemning or excommunicating Hasidim. It was noted however that the Mitnaggedic attacks never focused on a particular writing or Hasidic teacher, but instead focused on what was a general impression of the movement.

The teachings of the Maggid of Mezrich as understood and disseminated by Rabbi Mendel of Przemyslany were reviewed and found to add merit to the charges levied against the Hasidim, though once again they were not explicitly mentioned by Mitnaggedic sources. The relation of such views to the teachings of Rabbi Moses Hayyim Ephraim of Sudylkow was not found to correlate. While Rabbi Ephraim did levy his response to the Mitnaggedim even in polemic terms, his views were never expressed in such a manner that could be connected as directly “neglecting Torah.”

What was found, however, was that a transformed approach to the study of the Torah was adopted- the study of the Torah which was very different from the classical modes of Torah study practiced by Mitnaggedim. Thus, while Hasidim might find fault with the Mitnaggedim’s approach to pilpul or merely an encyclopedic knowledge of halakhot, Hasidic modes of Torah study did in effect diminish traditional modes of Torah study (as understood by the Mitnaggedim) in their circles in the early period of the movement, and hence our hypothesis was confirmed.

However, it is important to realize that the claims of the Mitnaggedim should, in reality, be reviewed along with the entire breadth of the Hasidic movement it its early period. Thus while the focus was on Rabbi Ephraim and to an extent Rabbi Mendel, the claim of neglect of Torah study requires a broad review of all Hasidic practices and teachings during its first and second generations to develop a better understanding of the basis for such assertions.

Sabbatianism sent rattles throughout the Jewish world, but the overall structure of the Jewish community was retained. The rise of the Hasidim in Eastern Europe and the Haskala in Western Europe in the seventeen hundreds did not preserve the structure of traditional society, however. Both movements were not merely variations on the past but instead resulted in a significant reevaluation of current models of authority and identity. [22]

The Haskala’s drive towards secularization and assimilation challenged Jewish society. It did so by calling into question the fundamental religious values upon which society was established. Hasidism presents something more complicated entity to review. Unlike the Haskalah, it did much to maintain accepted religious forms. Its existence shifted the spiritual basis and understanding that had permeated through Jewish society to that point in history.

Both movements are distinguished by establishing new values or ideological beliefs alongside those of tradition. By doing so, the exclusivity of normative tradition was challenged. Both movements led to historical changes. The Haskala is easily connected to the series of events, which took place during the last part of the 18th century. The Age of Reason, the French Revolution, and the subsequent radicalization of European society gave way to changes in Jewish communities. Hasidism, however, is not so readily connected to a broader social or political movement. [23]

The Rise of Hasidism

Hasidism, unlike the Jewish Enlightenment, appears to have originated more due to internal religious factors than by outside influences. Hasidism was characteristically Jewish. It operated solely within the confines of the Jewish community. However, two critical areas influenced Hasidism, Sabbatianism and the rise and widespread acceptance of Kabbalistic thought.

One significant factor that does appear to have come from the outside is that of economic disparity. Economic fortunes at the institutional level fell, and growing numbers of Jews found themselves in dire poverty. Relationships between Jews and the governing authorities became increasingly strained. Changing political circumstances gave way to the weakening of communal organizations and the re-adjustment of Jewish communities to powerful local influences. By the second half of the 18th century, the integrity of Jewish communal structures of government was severely weakened.[24]

The economic and political turmoil of the day was accompanied by erosion of moral authority in the various aspects of the Kehila. Corporate institutions like the Yeshivas, which served to reinforce normative Halakhic views on identity, and authority struggled to survive in the face of less funding. Many simply disappeared. The growing crisis in rabbinical institutions often led to a new scenario. Purchasing rabbinical positions became a reality, and as a result, unqualified candidates were often found in these critical areas of authority. As time progressed, the qualifications for rabbinate were considerably lessened, and lower standards were adopted.

Charismatic Religiosity

Hasidism’s grand challenge to traditional authority lay in the following. Hasidism did not merely alter or deviate from traditional values. It grew to displace and substitute traditional values with its views on the Jewish experience. Rooted in Kabbalah, Hasidism’s charismatic outbursts were viewed by its participants as drawing their authority through their direct relationship and contact with the divine.

Hasidism’s concentration on the imminent nature of God did much to change the psyche of the Jewish masses. Classic rabbinical thought had argued that God was transcendental. On a practical level, this impacted the religious attitude of the lower classes. Hasidic thought argued that since God was found everywhere, the only acceptable state of mind for human beings was one of joy. Since the Talmudic scholarship was not accessible to the common man lacking money and ability to comprehend because of either cost or talent, piety could secure the masses a sense of religious immensity. However, this view easily led to an essential connotation in Hasidic thought.

The Talmudic elite, was in effect, heavily critiqued. For many in early Hasidism, joy was absent from Talmudic learning. Hasidism argued for the experiential element in what they perceived to be a solely intellectual pursuit. This view of Talmudic study (intellectual accomplishment) coupled with the “doctrine” of immanence appears to have engendered the conflict between the mitnagdim and the Hasidim. Rabbinical authorities found the question of immanence very problematic. In their eyes, this belief promoted a form of moral relativism. If that were the case, the rabbis feared, the distinctions expressed in Jewish law could easily be undermined. God had commanded distinction and separation between good and bad values, the essence of halakhic thought. [25]

Hasidic theology viewed the shared ecstatic religious experience of the masses as an independent source of authority. Hasidism was not antinomian in its perspectives like Sabbatianism was even though, it though the latter did exert considerable influence on the former. The Hasidim remained loyal to the overall view of traditional Jewish life, yet they viewed the mitzvoth as the key to unlocking intense moments of spiritual exaltation.

In essence, the Halakhic observance was not considered to be the underlying justification or the authoritative source for the observance. Instead, the accompanying religious experience determined the value and perhaps necessity regarding the observance of the mitzvoth. Hasidism thus found its way on a direct collision course with the Torah scholars and Halakhists that devoted themselves exclusively to study.[26] The controversy between Hasidism and the Mitnagdim foreshadowed the break-up of the kehilla as a coherent religious community. Hasidism, like many of the revolutionary movements in modernity, rebelled against communal authority within Judaism. Volunteerism, as opposed to previous compulsory membership, dominated the movement. [27]

[1] Elijah Judah Schochet, The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna, (Northvale: Jason Aronson Inc, 1994), pp. 10-11, 13, 37-45.

[2] Mishmeret haQodesh, Volume 1, p. 2a (Dinei Birkat ha-Nehenin) quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 310-311.

[3] G. Sholem, “The Two Earliest Testimonies,”232-233 quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 311.

[4] Zemer Arizim, #4 in Wilensky, Volume 1, pp. 58-61, translated in part by Israel Cohen, The Jews of Vilna (Philadelphia, 1943), 235-237.

[5] Schochet, The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna, 13-21.

[6] Rivka Schatz Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 319.

[7] Aaron Wertheim, Law and Custom in Hasidim, (Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, 1992), 58-59.

[8] Darkhei Yesharim [Hanhagot Yesharot] (Lemberg, 1865), 2 quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 314.

[9] Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 314-315.

[10] Joseph Weiss, Studies in Eastern European Mysticism, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 62.

[11] MS Jerusalem- National Library 1467 (Torah ha-Maggid, edited by R. Shmelke of Nikolsburg), Pt. III Ch. 2, p. 12bff quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 316-317.

[12] Ibid. 314.

[13] Darkhei Yesharim [Hanhagot Yesharot] (Lemberg, 1865), 2 quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 314.

[14] Ada Rapoport-Albert, Hasidism Reappraised, (London: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1996), 258.

[15] Ibid. 258.

[16] Degel Mahaneh Efrayim, 44b-c quoted in Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 313-314.

[17] Uffenheimer, Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 313-314.

[18] Rapoport-Albert, Hasidism Reappraised, 259.

[19] Ibid. 260.

[20] Ibid. 262.

[21] Aaron Wertheim, Law and Custom in Hasidim, (Hoboken: Ktav Publishing House, 1992), 62-63. The connectedness of this view to the teachings of the Besht can be found in a teaching of the Besht recorded by Rabbi Meir Margalioth: “…the preferable intention in learning for its own sake is to connect oneself in holiness and purity to the letters, in potential and actuality, with speech and thought; to connect a portion of his nefesh-ruah-neshamah-hayah-yehidah [i.e. the five levels of the soul] to the holiness of the lamp of mitzvah and the light of the Torah, to the letters which give wisdom and bring down abundance of light and true eternal life. And when he has merited understanding and attaching himself to the holy letters he is even able to understand the future from the letters themselves…” Sod Yakhin u’Boaz (Satmare, n.d), 4a quoted in , Hasidim as Mysticism: Quietistic Elements in Eighteenth Century Hasidic Thought, 312.

[22] The Haskala and the ensuing emancipation that occurred in the Alsace-Lorraine, Germany, Bohemia, and Moravia effected the complete disintegration of the underlying component of traditional society. While Hasidism did incorporate traditional perspectives of Jewish identity, it nevertheless severely distorted the structure. Jacob Katz, Tradition and Crisis (Schocken: New York, 1993), 196.

[23] Ibid., 196.

[24] The Council of the Four Lands was dismantled in 1765.

[25] Steven Bayne, Understanding Jewish History (KTAV: New York, 1997), 251.

[26] Ibid., 201-203

[27] Ibid., 252.

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