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What is the difference between Chassidism and Orthodox Judaism?

by Mrs. Sarah Levi


Library » Jewish Identity » Jewish "Labels" » Orthodox | Subscribe | What is RSS?


To someone who is not a Chassidic or Orthodox Jew, it may be impossible to distinguish between the two. (All those black clothes!) However, there is a vast rainbow of different customs followed within the two groups. Furthermore, there are significant differences in their philosophies.

The essential difference between Chassidism and other streams of Orthodox Judaism is that while the other streams see Avodah (service of G-d) as part of Torah study, Chassidic Judaism sees Torah study as part of Avodah. 

Chassidic philosophy puts a great emphasis on joyful service of G-d, the concept of Divine Providence, and the commandment of loving one's fellow as he loves himself. A great deal of Kabbalah (Jewish Mysticism) is incorporated and expounded upon within Chassidic Judaism.

Whereas by many Orthodox Jews the main focus is intensive Torah study, Chassidic Judaism also puts a tremendous emphasis on Torah study it also demands great effort in the realm of the service of the heart, which is prayer.


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Chassidic and other orthodox Ashkanazim

Posted by: x ben x on Dec 31, 2005

The origins of the Chassidic movement trace to the Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Israel ben Elazar). As Mrs. Levi said, before the time of the Baal Shem Tov, a persons goal spiritually was thought by many to be studying Torah (and commentaries along with it). The Baal Shem Tov elevated the spiritual opinion of the 'common man', no longer leaving spiritual matters in the hands only of scholars.


Chassidism » Chassidic Perspective

Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) A follower of the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.