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What is a Chassid?

by Rabbi Shlomo Chein

  

Library » Chassidism » Chassidic Behavior | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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In its most commonly used form the title Chassid lends itself to someone who is a member of the Chassidic movement. Chassidim (plural for Chassid) are easily noticeable by their unique Chassidic attire (fur hats [and/or black tophats/fedoras] and long coats) and strict adherence to Jewish law.

In classic Jewish literature the term Chassid is used to describe someone who is pious, perfect, and/or goes beyond the letter of the law. The modern Chassid wouldn't claim to be pious, and definitely not perfected, but he does attempt to live Judaism beyond the letter of the law, with added kindness, joy, passion and observance.

In his book Hayom Yom the Lubavitcher Rebbe writes: The term "chassid" is an ancient one that the Sages had even applied to Adam.1 It describes perfection and excellence in intellect or in emotive character-traits, or in both. However, in Chabad Chassidic doctrine the appellation "Chassid" refers to one who recognizes his own essence-character and his standing in the knowledge and study of Torah, as well as his situation in observing mitzvahs. He knows what he lacks and he is concerned and takes pains to fill that void. He is diligent in obedience in the manner of "accepting the yoke."2

One may say that a Chassid is madly in love, and his beloved is Judaism: it's People, it's Torah and it's (understanding of) G-d. Like an avid lover the Chassid will go out of his way to eagerly and happily do anything for his beloved, and is constantly working on perfecting his relationship.

See also What is a Chassid? from Chabad.org

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud tractate Erubin 18b
  • 2. Hayom Yom 21 Adar I

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Torah
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.
Chabad
Chabad, an acronym for Wisdom, Knowledge, and Understanding, is the name of a Chassidic Group founded in the 1770s. Two of the most fundamental teachings of Chabad are the intellectual pursuit of understanding the divine and the willingness to help every Jew who has a spiritual or material need.
Chassid
(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).
Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following 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).
Chassidic
(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).
Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
Lubavitcher
One who follows the teachings of the Chassidic group which was formerly based in the Belarus village of Lubavitch. Today, the movement is based in Brooklyn, New York with branches worldwide. The Lubavitch movement is also widely known as "Chabad."
Adam
The first man, created by G-d on the sixth day of creation. He was banished from the Garden of Eden after eating from the forbidden fruit of the forbidden knowledge. Died in 2830 BCE.
G-d
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.