The book before us, Meʾor ʿEynayim (The Light of the Eyes) by R. Menaḥem Naḥum of Chernobyl (1729/30–1797),2 is a collection of homilies, composed following the weekly cycle of synagogue readings of the Torah and first published in Slawuta, Ukraine, in 1798. It is considered one of the classic works of Hasidism. Its author was the progenitor of the extended Twersky family of rebbes or hasidic masters, one of the major dynasties that dominated hasidic life in the Ukraine through the nineteenth century and continues to flourish today, after much tragic suffering and uprooting, in several well-known centers of Hasidism.3 The Meʾor ʿEynayim was frequently reprinted and significantly influenced the later development of hasidic thought. In part because of its relatively clear Hebrew and successful editing, this work served as a major channel to later generations of the teachings of Hasidism’s founding generations.
To appreciate the Meʾor ʿEynayim, its teachings, and its particular place within the world of hasidic thought, we will need to understand Hasidism itself and to review briefly its early history and its place within the ongoing development of Judaism’s religious teachings. The term Hasidism has been used to describe movements of exceptional Jewish piety since ancient times. Derived from the Hebrew noun ḥesed, usually translated as “compassion” or “lovingkindness,” Hasidism in the abstract could probably best be defined as a Judaism of exceptional loving devotion to God. In short, it is a Jewish form of pietism. We have movements called Hasidism and Jews defined as ḥasidim in first-century Land of Israel, in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Germany and Egypt, in sixteenth-century Safed, thence spreading throughout the Jewish world, and in eighteenth-century Eastern Europe.
Eastern European Hasidism, the movement that finds one of its finest expressions in the present work, represents a great success story in the world history of religious movements.4 When Israel Baʿal Shem Ṭov, the figure around whose image the hasidic movement was to coalesce, died in 1760, he was still a wonderworker and spiritual teacher of only modest renown. We can identify no more than twenty or thirty people closely linked with him who might have laid claim to his legacy. Nearly all these were within Podolia, a somewhat remote corner of southeastern Poland, up against the Russian and Turkish borders. Although his reputation had begun to spread beyond his own town of Miedzhybosh, there was not yet anything like a hasidic movement.5 Half a century later, ever larger swaths of Eastern European Jewry, majorities in some areas, considered themselves followers of the movement that carried his banner. They prayed in hasidic prayer-houses, followed special hasidic customs, and sought out the blessings of hasidic rebbes.
How did this transformation of the community come about? The answer to that question lies largely in the persuasive powers and impressive personalities of a group of remarkable preachers and spiritual teachers.6 They offered an enthusiastic popularization of Jewish mystical teachings and brought about a revival of Judaism’s spiritual life. The present volume is a collection of originally oral sermons by a great early spokesman of that movement. We will come to his own biography and particular role later in this introduction. But first it is important to set the scene and to place him in historical context. Menaḥem Naḥum of Chernobyl was a disciple of both the Baʿal Shem Ṭov and R. Dov Baer, the Maggid or preacher of Miedzyrzecz (or “Mezritch”; 1704–1772), a key member of his circle of disciples. That places him in what is conventionally called the “third generation” of hasidic leadership.7 It was the members of this Miedzyrzecz circle who largely created the movement as such, bringing Hasidism into the public arena as a distinctive religious phenomenon, arousing both avid support and bitter denunciation. The emergence of Hasidism in the last quarter of the eighteenth century has had a decisive impact on the history of Jews and Judaism for a quarter-millennium, a period often marked by a changing and evolving hasidic agenda and by conflicts both between devotees and opponents of Hasidism and within the ranks of the movement itself.
The Miedzyrzecz years (c. 1765–1772) represent the formation of a close spiritual/intellectual circle, a group of young men intensely devoted to their master, to a set of ideals, to the task of spreading religious revival, and (for the most part) to one another. The Maggid was seated at the center of the first hasidic “court,” a place to which confirmed and would-be disciples would come to hear his teachings and behold something of his glory.8 While the Maggid’s court was quite informally organized, and we are unclear as to who among his disciples were there together at any particular time, the later writings by members of the circle attest to the formative importance of those early years in the lives of its participants. Members of the circle continued in this work for decades after their master’s death. Menaḥem Naḥum outlived his master by twenty-five years, establishing Chernobyl as a major center of the emerging movement. Other members of the group lived on into the opening decade of the nineteenth century. The end of this “third generation” of hasidic leadership, and the waning of its influence, is generally depicted as having taken place between 1809 and 1815.9
What was the nature of the shared hasidic faith that formed the bond among the members of this diverse and highly creative circle? Terms like “popular mysticism” and “revivalism,” while appropriate descriptions of Hasidism, do not in themselves tell us very much. Devotion to the personal figure at its center, as well as to the memory of the BeSHṬ (a contraction of Baʿal Shem Ṭov), along with their teachings, is another way to define this group. But the intense bonds that constituted this circle were more than either personal loyalty or intellectual commitment. They were based on a degree of shared religious experience, the memory of deep and sometimes transformative spiritual impressions made on its members by their visits to Miedzyrzecz and their contact with the Maggid. These experiences, seldom talked about in direct terms, reverberate through their teachings, often spoken decades after those times “around the Maggid’s table” had turned into memory. While expressed in the language of theological speculation and homiletic flourish, it is not hard to see evidence of the mystical experience that underlies them. The collected homilies of R. Menaḥem Naḥum represent what is perhaps the boldest and clearest presentation of the legacy of both the BeSHṬ and the Maggid and their teachings, combined in a distinctive manner.
Let us begin with some points of general agreement, as a way of defining Hasidism as it existed in those early generations. Although prescriptions for the devotional life rather than doctrine lie at its core, the shared faith of the Maggid’s circle can be defined by commitment to the following propositions, articulated partially in language derived directly from the sources, including the Meʾor ʿEynayim.10
1. ʿAvodat ha-Shem be-simhah. The purpose of life is the joyous service of God. God created the world in order to derive pleasure from the devotion of human beings, specifically from the souls of Israel. Humanity-meaning Israel in particular-is to provide that pleasure through constant good works, fulfilling the commandments of His Torah, and joyous praise. The ḥasid should be careful of anything that might keep him from that task, especially of excessive religious guilt or calls for self-mortification due to sin. These will only lead one astray from the task of serving God in joy.
2. Shekhinah. The indwelling presence of God is to be found everywhere, in each place, moment, and human soul. All of life is filled with opportunities to uncover and uplift sparks of divine light, restoring them to their single Source. “God needs to be served in every way.” It is not only through Torah study, prayer, and specific commandments that God is worshipped. Everything one does, including the fulfillment of physical needs, is to become an avenue of devotion.11 The devotee is to direct all his thoughts to discovering the shekhinah or the divine sparks within every deed, transforming it into an act of worship.
3. Kavvanah. The essence of religious life lies in inner direction and spiritual intensity.12 The great battle to be fought is that against “learned” or routinized religious behavior, the opposite of spiritual enthusiasm. The commandments are to be seen as means rather than ends, as vessels for the divine light that floods the soul, or as concrete embodiments of the heart’s inward devotion. Devequt, attachment to God, is the goal. All of life, including all the precepts of religion, is to serve as a means toward that end.
4. Ṣimṣum. Existence originates in the mind of God, where Being is a simple, undifferentiated whole. The words spoken by God to create the world are the essence of existence. Because God is beyond time, that reality has never changed. Our seeming existence as separate beings is the result of ṣimṣum, the willful contraction or hiding of God’s own self, meaning a deintensification of the divine presence so that our minds will be able to bear it and continue to operate as separate selves in order to fulfill our worldly responsibilities, including that of uplifting divine sparks.13 In ultimate reality, however, the separate existence of both the material world and the individual ego-self is mostly illusion.
5. Torah. God has given to Israel the great gift of His revealed word. More than an expression of divine will, the Torah in its secret form is a verbal embodiment of God. Engagement with Torah, including both study and the fulfillment of its commandments, is an actual partaking in the divine self. Talmud Torah, the study of Torah, a key value throughout Jewish tradition, is now transformed into an intense devotional activity focused on opening the pneumatic keys to this inner Torah. One way of doing this is by means of ever-new mind-shocking insights into its words and letters.
6. Tefilah. Prayer is the most essential paradigm of devotional experiences.14 All of life-including but not limited to Torah study and miṣvot-should be seen as an extension of the prayer experience, one that involves the entire self and is offered entirely as a gift to God, just as were the sacrifices of Temple times.
7. Middot. The Jew’s task in life is that of uplifting and transforming the physical and emotional self to become an ever more perfect vehicle for God’s service. This process begins with the key devotional pair of love and fear. The devotee needs to purify these in his life, coming to realize that the only true love is the love of God and the only worthy fear is the great awe at standing in God’s presence. All other loves and fears derive from these, but are in a “fallen” state. True love and fear, and other emotions that follow them, become open channels through which God’s blessing can flow into the worshipper, and through him into the world.
8. Ṣaddiq. The person who lives in accord with these teachings may become a ṣaddiq a channel for bringing that flow of blessing not only to himself but also to those around him and ultimately to the entire world. Such ṣaddiqim need to enter the public arena, since they are the only proper leaders of the Jewish people.15 Combining well-known devotional techniques with his own inner dedication, the ṣaddiq is capable of transforming his consciousness, leaving ordinary perception behind and rising to states of expanded mind where he sees the divine presence that underlies all existence. These powerful and transformative moments are sometime accompanied by apparitions of light or other supernatural manifestations. In the course of such ascents, the ṣaddiq, who is especially beloved by God, is able to implant his will for good into the channel of divine life that flows through him into the world, bringing blessing to himself and to those around him. The hasidic community is to be constructed of concentric circles of close disciples and broader followers around the ṣaddiq, who stands at the center of the ḥasid’s universe.
This list, derived from early hasidic writings, brings together the legacy of the Baʿal Shem Ṭov, as reported by his followers, and its enhancement in the two succeeding generations. With various slight shifts of emphasis, some of which will be discussed below, these views are shared by the entire school of the Maggid. Most are held by other early hasidic authors as well. They are all key themes of the Meʾor ʿEynayim.
To appreciate the uniqueness of Hasidism and its message, we need to step back in history to a period several generations before it, seeking out its roots in the earlier tradition and the reasons for its remarkable success in capturing the hearts and minds of Jews across the reaches of the onetime Polish kingdom and then elsewhere throughout Eastern Europe. Ashkenazic Jewry of the mid–eighteenth century lived in an arc that stretched from Alsace on the Franco-German border in the west to the banks of the Dniepr and the Cossack-dominated steppe to the east.16 The lingua franca of this highly dispersed community was some form of Yiddish or Judeo-German, spoken in distinctive regional dialects that were largely comprehensible to one another. Although the community’s origins lay mostly in the western end of this arc, especially in the ancient communities along the Rhine, its spread and diffusion eastward belonged to the forgotten past, and the communities of Podolia and Volhynia in the Ukraine, where Hasidism first emerged, saw themselves as old and deeply rooted, with memories that extended back to before the great trauma of the peasant uprisings of 1648–49 that had resulted in the large-scale murder of Jews and destruction of communities. In fact, by the eighteenth century the pattern of internal migration was beginning to shift toward an east-to-west direction, including a movement of rabbis and other educated figures from the Polish-Lithuanian heartland to serve communities to their west.
Jews in the easternmost provinces of Poland (until the partition of 1772) generally lived in small to mid-sized market towns (shtetl, pl. shtetlekh) in which Jews often constituted half to three-quarters of the population, or in scattered villages and rural hamlets amid the much larger Ukrainian or Belorussian peasant populace. Economically, they often served in various intermediary capacities between the agriculturally based peasantry and their Polish overlords. Small-scale marketplace businesses, trades (especially needle trades), tax-farming, and innkeeping (including production and sale of liquor) served disproportionately as the bases of Jewish economic life. The communities were led by a traditional oligarchy of the few wealthy families (often privileged as such by special connections to the nobility) and a learned rabbinic class that held sway over the internal Jewish court system, governing commerce as well as personal status and ritual matters. The rabbinate also dominated matters relating to education (almost exclusively for boys and men), consisting largely of the passing down of Hebrew literacy and rabbinic lore from one generation to the next.
The intellectual and spiritual life of these communities was shaped by the interplay of two highly developed traditions of post-medieval Jewry: Talmudism and Kabbalah. Before the modern era, Jews in the Slavic lands lived in a relatively high degree of cultural and linguistic isolation from the surrounding populace. Their concentration in the shtetl, combined with their relative independence in matters of internal governance, created the aura of a separate Jewish civilization, more fully so than in most other Diaspora communities. They were thus able to create a separate Jewish civilization to an unusually great extent. The model for this was an imaginative re-creation of Babylonian Jewish society as depicted in the Talmud (third to sixth century CE), which they sought to reestablish in Eastern Europe. Derekh ha-ShaS (the Talmudic path) was the prescribed way of life in the Ashkenazic communities. Learning, the most highly valued activity for capable Jewish males, was almost exclusively Talmudic in character. Premodern Eastern Europe brought forth rather little creativity in Hebrew poetry, biblical exegesis, religious philosophy, or other traditional areas of Jewish literary activity. But it produced a vast and previously unequaled volume of Talmudic commentaries, legal digests, responsa, and other writings around rabbinic law. Ability to study Talmud was the single marker of the educated Jew; the forms and rubrics of piety were often taken directly from its pages. Gemore lernen (study of Talmud) itself was considered a supreme act of piety and marker of respect. The text of the Talmud was intoned aloud in a gemore nign (Talmud melody). The society cultivated a highly unworldly class of pious legal scholars who dwelt as fully as possible within the world of the Talmudic sages. Revered and idealized for their learned piety, such scholars were depicted as the ideal type of Jewish male and as proper leaders and spiritual exemplars of the Jewish community.
The scholastic traditions of Ashkenazic Jewry had migrated eastward from Germany, Bohemia, and Moravia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. They reached heights of influence over the Polish-Lithuanian communities in the succeeding decades, when works of Talmudic novellae and commentaries on the codes of Jewish law were composed and published by such renowned figures as R. Samuel Edels (1555–1631) of Lublin and Ostrog, R. Joel Sirkis (1561–1640) of Cracow, and R. Joshua Falk (1555–1614) of Lvov, to name but a few. Following this period, Talmudic studies in Poland came to be characterized by an extreme form of casuistry known as pilpul, where elaborate argumentation for its own sake, or as a display of one’s brilliance and erudition, became the order of the day. This tendency served to increase the ivory-towered nature of rabbinic learning, keeping these scholars relatively isolated from the daily grind of an existence marked by poverty and insecurity that was the regular lot of most Jews in the region. The struggle to liberate Talmudic learning from the clutches of pilpul, just at the dawn of Jewish modernity, was led by R. Eliyahu of Vilna (1720–1797), also Hasidism’s fiercest opponent.17
The mystical beliefs of Eastern European Jews reflected an amalgam of Kabbalah, a doctrine and symbolic edifice created in Spain and borne eastward by post-expulsion (1492) Spanish exiles, and native Ashkenazic folk beliefs first recorded in the mystical and devotional writings of the medieval Rhineland. The extreme and often ascetic pietism of that era, formed against the background of martyrdom during the Crusades, lent Ashkenazic piety a strong sense of resignation to the sufferings of exile and hostility toward the outside world, often seen as demonic. These popular beliefs and attitudes, too, had moved eastward with the Jewish migration, finding fertile soil as Jews dwelt amid a Christian populace in which folk religion, magic, and demonology flourished, sometimes reflecting old pre-Christian animist traditions that had never been fully eradicated.18 Popular Kabbalah and magic were fully intertwined and are hard to distinguish from one another. Authors like Moshe of Kiev (fifteenth century) and Shimshon of Ostropolye (d. 1648)19 were bearers of this popular mystical legacy.
More formal kabbalistic knowledge includes the dazzlingly rich symbolic language most fully articulated in the thirteenth-century Zohar, its doctrine of emanation and cosmology, and the coordination of its view of the cosmic structure with that of Jewish ritual life and prayer.20 These secrets came to Poland in the seventeenth century through the influence of the remarkable mystical revival that was centered in the Galilean town of Safed beginning around 1550.21 Emissaries from Safed, bearing wondrous tales of this renewed community in the Holy Land, where the mystics walked the same ground once supposedly trodden by R. Shimʿon ben Yoḥai (his reputed grave is in Meron, just outside Safed) and the other heroes of the Zohar, brought their tales northward, disseminating them both orally and in print. Books in which kabbalistic doctrine was popularized and mixed with moral preaching found widespread acceptance in Eastern Europe. The teachings of classical Kabbalah, as filtered through Safed’s R. Moshe Cordovero,22 arrived in Poland by means of such works as Elijah De Vidas’s Reshit Ḥokhmah (Beginning of Wisdom) and Isaiah Horowitz’s Sheney Luḥot ha-Berit (Two Tablets of the Covenant).23 Isaac Luria’s new kabbalistic system (often as reshaped by kabbalists active in northern Italy) also had considerable influence, primarily through widely circulated manuscripts. Mystical prayer manuals by Eastern Europeans in the eighteenth century show particularly strong Lurianic influence.24
The intense fascination with kabbalistic secrets reached a boiling point in the messianic outbreak around Sabbatai Ṣevi of Izmir, Turkey, climaxing in 1666 and reverberating throughout the Jewish world well into the mid–eighteenth century. Scholars remain divided as to the causes of the movement and whether it was the mystical teachings themselves or their interaction with emerging modernity, with Christian-raised Iberian Jewish refugees, or with mercantile society that lent such great power to the Sabbatian dream of imminent redemption. While the movement’s greatest strength in its early days lay in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking Jewries around the Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, by the early 1700s its influence in Central and Eastern Europe was considerable.25 Jacob Frank, a Polish Jew who crowned himself as the new fulfiller of Sabbatai’s dream, led a band of Jewish heretics in the Ukraine in the 1750s, in areas very close to the early centers of Hasidism, resulting in fierce persecution by the rabbis and ultimately in the expulsion of Frank and his followers from the Jewish community and their conversion to Christianity.26 Certain devotional tropes were common to the Sabbatian and hasidic movements, especially the sense of spiritual adventurism that lay in descending into the depths (intentional sin for the Sabbatians, while only fluttering thoughts of sin or temptation for the ḥasidim) in order to release trapped sparks and souls.27
Kabbalistic works, still considered too esoteric for the masses (and thus seldom translated from Hebrew into the vernacular), were taught and studied quite widely by Jews with even a modicum of rabbinic education. As Hebrew printing spread in Eastern Europe after 1750, a great many kabbalistic and semi-kabbalistic books appeared in multiple editions.28 As was the case in Spain, Safed, Italy, and elsewhere, Jewish mysticism tended to be studied and practiced in small, closed conventicles of masters and disciples. These groups in the Sephardic lands were known as ḥavurot or kabbalistic yeshivot (fellowships or academies). In Eastern Europe they also took the name kloiz (pl. klovzn), stemming from the small “cloistered” room in which such study took place. By the middle of the eighteenth century we have reports of such klovzn in a number of towns, in some cases led or taught by an identified charismatic master but elsewhere seemingly closer to a group of peers drawn to the mystical life—especially to the sharply ascetic practices with which mystical piety had come to be identified.
The nature of these informal groups varied from place to place; each seemed to arise quite spontaneously, perhaps due to the confluence of a charismatic teacher and a generous benefactor willing to sponsor both the place and modest stipends for master and disciples. The kloiz presented itself primarily as a study center, featuring a religious activity that was entirely normative for Jewish communities everywhere. Both esoteric and Talmudic studies were pursued by these groups, which belonged in varying degrees to the learned elite class within their communities. In spirit, however, such groups as the kloiz in Brody and the ḥavurah in Kossov devoted themselves fervently to a mystical-ascetic regimen of practice, including intense prayer, fasting, and self-mortification, designed to suppress bodily desires (the “evil urge”) and all sorts of material concerns in order to bring forth the purest spiritual self, sometimes colored by messianic longings.
These proto-hasidic circles, as we might call them, began to develop certain distinctive practices that set them off from the community at large.29 They may in part be thought of as an elitist response to the popularizing of Kabbalah and its dangers that had become apparent in the trauma around Sabbatai Ṣevi, although their own esotericism often contained a hidden Sabbatian agenda. In addition to having separate locations for their prayer and study, they were characterized by early opponents as engaging in lengthy and loud prayer, of drinking to excess (this did not seem to contradict their ascetic aspirations), and of diverting time from Talmud study to conduct lengthy conversations about moral and spiritual issues. They were known to dress entirely in white on the Sabbath, a custom adopted from kabbalists in Safed, and to hold communal celebrations of seʿudah shlishit, the concluding meal of the Sabbath. They also prayed following the Sephardic rite because of its greater affinity to kabbalistic secrets, rather than following the local Ashkenazic custom.
1. The following historical summary is based on a wide range of contemporary scholarship, much of it conducted in Hebrew. Parts of it are adapted from the introduction to Green, Speaking Torah and “Hasidic Homily.” The reader who is well-informed about Hasidism and its early history may want to turn directly to Section V of this introduction.
2. The conventional “R.” preceding the name is a title of respect given to great Jewish teachers of prior ages. It can represent either the Yiddish Reb, a general honorific (something like “Mr.”) or the formal title “Rabbi,” Rav, leaving moot the question of who did or did not have such ordination. In fact, there is no indication that our author had formal rabbinic ordination. He served communities as a maggid (preacher), an office that did not require semikhah.
3. For a lavishly illustrated table and gallery of the Twersky dynasty, see Twersky, Twersky-Novoseller, and Zusya, Grand Rabbis.
4. A one-volume history of Hasidism, long a scholarly desideratum, is Biale, Hasidism,
5. See the biographies of the Baʿal Shem Ṭov by Rosman and Etkes, listed in the Bibliography
6. Recent histories, including that mentioned in n. 4 above, have tended to emphasize the socioeconomic and political factors in accounting for Hasidism’s success. This introduction stands in the tradition of Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem, who both (despite the vast and public divergences between them) understood Hasidism first and foremost as a movement of religious revival. Surely external circumstances paved the way for its acceptance, and the rich array of social innovations that marked Hasidism are part of the story. But any understanding of Hasidism as a phenomenon must begin with an investigation of its religious values and message.
7. On the question of early hasidic leadership, see Rapoport-Albert, “Hasidism after 1772,” and Green, “Around the Maggid’s Table.” I emphasize that the use of the term third generation reflects the internal hasidic self-understanding, not the actual genesis of Hasidism as a movement.
8. We know of this “court” from the widely discussed account in the diary of Salomon Maimon. A convenient version of the relevant chapter is to be found in Hundert, Essential Papers. Compare to the new translation by Yitzhak Melamed in Maimon, The Autobiography. See also the important discussion of this source by Assaf in He-Hasid, and prior literature quoted there. The Maggid’s court and its formative influence on this unique hasidic institution is also discussed in Etkes, “Early Hasidic ‘Court’”
9. For fuller discussion, see Green, Speaking Torah, introduction.
10. A fuller presentation of key early hasidic teachings, artfully woven of quotations from the early sources, is to be found in Zeitlin, “Fundaments of Hasidism.”
11. This notion, referred to by scholars as ʿavodah be-gashmiyyut (service through the corporeal), is thoroughly analyzed in Kauffmann, In All Your Ways.
12. The role of inwardness, or the hasidic spiritualization of key symbols of Jewish life, is the central theme of Margolin’s Miqdash Adam,
13. This non-literal understanding of ṣimṣum is well explicated and presented in historical context in Jacobs, Seeker of Unity, 49–63.
14. On prayer in Hasidism, see Schatz-Uffenheimer, Hasidism as Mysticism, as well as Jacobs, Hasidic Prayer. For some key early hasidic sources on prayer, translated with a brief introduction, see Green and Holtz, Your Word.
15. On the ṣaddiq in early Hasidism, see Green, “Ẓaddiq” and “Typologies.” See also Rapoport-Albert, “Hasidism after 1772.”
16. Much knowledge about Ashkenazic legacy and the early history of Eastern European Jewry may be gained from Hundert, YIVO Encyclopedia.
17. See Stern, Genius, but now to be supplemented by the eye-opening studies of Liebes in his La-Ṣevi, regarding Sabbatian influences on the thought of R. Eliyahu and his circle. There was opposition to pilpul already in the seventeenth century. See, for example, Horowitz, Sheney Luḥot, Shavuʿot, ʿAmud ha-Torah 14. On the controversy surrounding pilpul, see Rafel, Ha-Vikuah.
18. On the possible influence of such beliefs on Hasidism, see Idel, “R. Israel Baʿal Shem Ṭov,” 69–103, and “In the State of Walachia,” 14–20.
19. On this important figure, see Liebes, “Mysticism,” 221–255.
20. The complete Zohar is now available in English in the twelve-volume Pritzker edition, translated by Daniel Matt et al. A brief introduction to the Zohar and its teachings is to be found in Green, Guide to the Zohar. For research into the Zohar’s teachings and ideas, Tishby’s Wisdom of the Zohar remains the standard work.
21. On the Safed revival and its devotional emphasis, see the several essays on Safed in Green, Jewish Spirituality (vol. 2), as well as the texts translated in Fine, Safed Spirituality.
22. The expert on all things Cordovero is Bracha Sack. See her Kabbalah of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero.
23. An English translation of a key part of this vast work is available in Krassen, Generations.
24. The best introduction to the Lurianic system is that of Fine in Physician of the Soul. A detailed exposition of the highly complex meditational system of Lurianic Kabbalah is found in the doctoral dissertation of Kallus, Theurgy of Prayer. See also Bar-Levav, “Ritualization,” 69–82, as well as Family Life. See also Weissler, Voices, for a summary of how Lurianic sources made their way into Yiddish ethical and devotional tracts, addressed largely to women, in the early modern period.
25. Gershom Scholem’s magisterial study of Shabbatei Ṣevi: The Mystical Messiah, numbering precisely one thousand pages in its English translation, remains unsurpassed. Of the many studies of Sabbatianism since Scholem, special attention should be paid to the writings of Yehudah Liebes and Avraham Elqayyam.
26. On Frankism, see the works by Pawel Maciejko listed in the Bibliography.
27. The historical connection between Sabbatianism and Hasidism is an important and still hotly debated issue, a conversation marred by considerable ideological biases and apologetics. For a classic statement of positions on this matter, see Tishby’s “Beyn Shabtaut le-Hasidut,” 204–226, and Rubenstein’s fierce rejoinder “Beyn Hasidut le-Shabtaut,” 182–197. Yehudah Liebes has made important contributions to that discussion in more recent years.
28. The importance of the local publishing industry and its impact on the growth of Hasidism has been studied in several works by Zeev Gries, including The Hebrew Book.
29. See the studies of these groups in Heschel’s Circle of the Baʾal Shem Tov, intended as pilot essays for an unwritten biography of the BeSHṬ. See also Etkes’s treatment in The Besht, 152–193.