THE ORIGIN AND MEANING OF HASIDISM by

THE ORIGIN AND MEANING OF HASIDISM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This second and final volume of Hasidism and the Way of Man is the culmination of metaphysician Martin Buber's life work. Unique in the world of modern philosophy Buber draws primarily from European-Jewish philosophical sources and exerts an influence in the philosophical field at large not equalled by any Jew since Maimonides and Spinoza. In these essays which deal with Hasidism, a movement founded in Poland in the eighteenth century, Buber explains the nature and history of Hasidic thought, compares it to the teachings of Spinoza and to its historical rival, the rational ""Haskala"". He then traces the origins of Hasidism back to the Kabbala, describes the Hasidic community, scrutinizes the ritual of Hasidism in terms of all religious sacrament. In a sixth essay he contrasts Hasidic mysticism with mysticism of the East and of Christianity. A seventh essay discusses the role of Zionism in Hasidic thought while an eighth essay discusses Hasidism and Zen. And a supplement--Christ, Hasidism, Gnosis--is intended as a rebuttal to another philosopher's criticism of Buber's works. Warm, deeply personal, Hasidism has given rise to much of the colorful and human literature and music of European Jewry. In the hands of as brilliant an exponent as Buber it becomes a framework, not of dead ideas but an architecture of moment to moment contact with God. Students of philosophy and religion as well as ambitious and speculative lay readers will welcome this as a unique achievement of twentieth century metaphysics.

Pub Date: April 25th, 1960
Publisher: Horizon