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How did Chassidic philosophy come to be?

by Mrs. Sarah Levi

  

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


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Chassidic philosophy came into existence at a very tumultuous time in Jewish history. Three hundred years ago, the Jews of Eastern Europe and Russia suffered horribly. They had severe financial strictures placed upon them because they were viewed as "unwanted guests" in the various countries in which they resided. If a Jew did not earn enough money he (and his family) would literally starve to death. The anti-Semitism during those times was particularly rabid. This had the devastating effect of undermining one of the cornerstones of Jewish values: a top-notch Jewish education.

Chassidic philosophy showed every individual the divine spark he had within... and taught that G-d loves all His children, regardless of level of knowledge or even observance...
Because Judaism has always held academic achievement in such high esteem, a kind of class-consciousness arose, dividing the Jewish people between the very wealthy (who were able to afford the "luxury" of a good education) and the poor. This caused the penniless masses to feel far from G-d, which obviously filled them with a deep sadness and despair.

Chassidic philosophy showed every individual the divine spark he had within. It underscored the need for happiness in serving the Almighty, and taught that G-d loves all His children, regardless of level of knowledge or even observance, because each is His child. Chassidic philosophy successfully employed (and continues to employ) the highly successful method of positive reinforcement. It allows those who learn it to glimpse the awesome effects of Mitzvah (divine commandment) observance.

In short, Chassidic philosophy teaches to serve G-d with love and a attitude brimming with good cheer--and what a great way to live your life that is.


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Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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).
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.