Hasidic Philosophy - Schools of Thought

Schools of Thought

See also: List of Hasidic dynasties
  • Chabad: The Chabad school was formulated by Shneur Zalman of Liadi in his classic work Tanya, in which the principles of Chabad-Hasidic thought are expounded systematically and comprehensively. Chabad emphasized in-depth study of Hasidic philosophy (as opposed to mainstream Hasidic schools, who believed the study of Hasidism to be a tool and a means, rather than an end in itself). Followers of the Chabad school are, generally speaking, those of the Lubavitch sect.

With the spread of Hasidism throughout Ukraine, Galicia, Poland, and Russia, divergent schools emerged within Hasidism.

  • Breslov: Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, in his general encouragement of emotional intensity, taught the importance of being joyful in the extreme at all times. He advised the practice of hitbodedut (Hebrew: התבודדות) among his followers; a form of prayer in which the Hasid seeks out solitude and speaks to God in his native tongue about his most personal matters.
  • Kotzk: Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk demanded of his followers uncompromising honesty. Placing truthfulness, both toward oneself and others, as the highest value, and self-deceit as the lowest, Kotzk became synonymous among Hasidim with harsh and demanding attitudes, and intolerance for hypocrisy and self-righteousness.
  • Satmar: Satmar is renowned for its political stance, opposing the state of Israel. It is currently the largest Hassidic group. Its strength was due to the leadership of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum, an outstanding Hassidic master who survived the concentration camps and settled in America. Rabbi Teitelbaum's most notable battles were against Zionism and the Orthodox groups (some of them Hasidic) that recognized them. However, he was also famed for his phenomenal scholarship, piety and love for his fellow man.

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