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What has chassidism contributed to the Jewish people?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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


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1. If you are referring to scholastic contributions, the Tanya and Shulchan Aruch Harav by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Tzofnas Paneach by Rabbi Yosef Rozin (the Ragatchover), the responsa of the Avnei Nezer, etc., should suffice.

2. A study of European Jewry of the 18th century reveals that Chassidism breathed new life into the Jewish community which had been decimated by the Shabtai Tzvi catastrophe and the awful Chmelinizki pogroms of 1648-9. At this point in history the average Jew was uneducated - because he was already apprenticed to some craftsman before the age of ten - poor, and had no sense of self-worth. The Baal Shem Tov came along and taught that the main thing is the heart. It doesn't make a difference how much you know, as long as you serve G-d with sincerity; something which everyone is capable of doing.

Although this message was quite disconcerting to some of the arrogant scholars of the times, the masses rallied around the Baal Shem Tov's message. It is difficult to think what would have happened to the millions of simple European Jews if it weren't for the Baal Shem Tov and his teachings.

3. How about after the Holocaust? When the Jewish world was in danger of losing millions to intermarriage and assimilation, a rising star arose.

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneersohn, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, started an outreach program, a program dedicated to educating Jews wherever they may be. At the moment Chabad has close to 3000 educational centers worldwide, and many other Jewish organizations have followed suit, possibly saving the future of our people.


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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.
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."
Tanya
Foundation text of Chabad chassidism. Authored by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of the Chabad movement, and first published in 1796. Considered to be the "Bible" of Chassidism.
Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), Polish mystic and founder of the Chassidic movement.
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.