Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism

Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism

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Shaul Magid

Series: New Perspectives in Post-Rabbinic Judaism
ISBN: 9781618117519 (hardcover) / 9781644691151 (paper)
Pages: 362 pp.
Publication Date: March 2019

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Piety and Rebellion examines the span of the Hasidic textual tradition from its earliest phases to the 20th century. The essays collected in this volume focus on the tension between Hasidic fidelity to tradition and its rebellious attempt to push the devotional life beyond the borders of conventional religious practice. Many of the essays exhibit a comparative perspective deployed to better articulate the innovative spirit, and traditional challenges, Hasidism presents to the traditional Jewish world. Piety and Rebellion is an attempt to present Hasidism as one case whereby maximalist religion can yield a rebellious challenge to conventional conceptions of religious thought and practice.


Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeanie Schottensten Professor in the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University and Kogod Senior Research Fellow at The Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He is a member of the American Academy of Jewish Research. His work spans the areas of Kabbalah, Hasidism, and modern Jewish thought and culture.


Praise

Some scholars move on from the textual studies that distinguished their early work and flower as public intellectuals and communal sages, equipped to survey and interpret the dilemmas of the present. This collection of essays serves as the scholarly and intellectual diary of the evolution of Shaul Magid, tempered in the study of Kabbalah and Hasidism, now a scholarly and communal leader. Anyone who wants to understand the troubled and ambivalent times in which we live would do well to review these studies, which combine scholarly rigor and the eros of spiritual quest.
— Pinchas Giller, Chair of the Jewish Studies Department and Jean and Harvey z"l Powell Professor in Medieval Thought, American Jewish University, Los Angeles
Piety and Rebellion is a superb collection of ten essays on Hasidism by Shaul Magid, one of the more daring and innovative interpreters of Jewish thought and cultural studies. The two parts of the book, early and later Hasidism, demonstrate the impressive range of the author’s command of primary and secondary material. Magid’s studies enrich our understanding of both the historical and the phenomenological contours of the pietism that emerged in Eastern Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and its repercussions in forms of American Jewish fundamentalism that evolved in the twentieth century. Each of the essays is well documented, providing a myriad of avenues of research for future generations. In addition to the ten chapters, the author has provided a moving introduction in which he charts his way to neo-Hasidism, framed particularly in terms of the struggle with the matter of alterity, determining one’s sense of identity in relation to the other and envisioning the possibility of living otherwise. I do not think it an exaggeration to say that the struggle with alterity informs many of the essays included in this volume. The charting of Magid’s personal odyssey will surely be of great interest to potential readers and only adds luster to a very fine anthology of critical essays that shed light on the pious nature of rebellion and the rebellious nature of piety.
— Elliot R. Wolfson, Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
Piety and Rebellion further establishes Shaul Magid’s deserved reputation as one of the leading scholars working today on Hasidism and modern Judaism more broadly. The learned and creative essays collected here reflect the prolific span of Magid’s career and constitute a distinguished contribution to the critical interpretation of hasidic texts and ideas. New to this volume, Magid opens with a vivid autobiographical account of his own spiritual and scholarly journey into Hasidism and Neo-hasidism, told with verve as a voyage of intellectual excitement and discovery.
— Eitan P. Fishbane, Associate Professor of Jewish Thought at The Jewish Theological Seminary and author of The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Poetics of the Zohar (Oxford, 2018)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
Introduction—My Way to (Neo) Ḥasidism

Early Ḥasidism
Chapter 1 “What happened, happened”: R. Ya’akov Yosef of Polonnoye on Ḥasidic Interpretation
Chapter 2 The Case of Jewish Arianism: The Pre-existence of the Ẓaddik in Early Ḥasidism
Chapter 3 The Intolerance of Tolerance: Maḥaloket (Controversy) and Redemption in Early Ḥasidism
Chapter 4 The Ritual Is Not the Hunt: The Seven Wedding Blessings, Redemption, and Jewish Ritual as Fantasy in R. Shneur Zalman of Liady
Chapter 5 Nature, Exile, and Disability in R. Nahman of Bratslav’s “The Tale of the Seven Beggars”

Later Ḥasidism
Chapter 6 Modernity as Heresy: The Introvertive Piety of Faith in R. Areleh Roth’s Shomer Emunim
Chapter 7 The Holocaust as Inverted Miracle: R. Shalom Noah Barzofsky of Slonim on the Divine Nature of Radical Evil
Chapter 8 The Divine/Human Messiah and Religious Deviance: Rethinking Ḥabad Messianism
Chapter 9 Covenantal Rupture and Broken Faith in R. Kalonymus Kalman Shapira’s Eish Kodesh
Chapter 10 American Jewish Fundamentalism: Ḥabad, Satmar, ArtScroll