Page 98 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 33

Basic HTML Version

mysticism alike. Only in the 12th century did its limited mean­
ing, as an esoteric doctrine, come into use. Insights and teachings
of mysticism are presented in this work from the po in t of view
of total commitment to the position that Judaism, though origi­
nating in time and space in the revelatory experience at Sinai,
transcends history. As such, it is not subject to history’s evolu­
tionary and /o r revolutionary cross currents. Yet historic phe­
nomena and developments are taken cognizance of throughout
the work with scientific keenness. Comments are offered to ex­
plain unresolved difficulties, e.g. the incomprehensible reaction
of the Gaon of Vilno to Hasidism.
In the field of history,
The World of Hasidism,
by Harry N.
Rabinowicz (London, Vallentine, 1970), excels as an eminent
summary of the fortunes of Hasidism since its inception through
and including post-holocaust developments in Israel, America
and Europe. This concise volume abounds in fascinating bio-
bibliographic write-ups of leading personalities, founders of Ha­
sidic dynasties, and trends which are associated with their re­
spective names. I t is colorful, rich in pertinent detail and well
selected quotations from sources, stimulating with lively anec­
dotal material.
Similar in scope and structure to Rabinowicz’s work is
and Ideals of the Hassidim,
by Milton Aron (New York, Citadel
Press, 1969). Though without pretensions to original scholarship,
this book with its summaries of traditions of various Hasidic
schools, extensive quotations from sources, and related data, can
be especially helpful to the student pursuing research of a par­
ticular subject.
The Golden Trad ition: Jewish L ife and Though t in Eastern
by Lucy S. Dawidowicz (New York, Holt, 1967), is
significant as an encyclopedic overview of socio-cultural trends
which affected Jewish life in the period of the impact of Hasid­
ism. Arrangement of the material helps to evaluate more thor­
oughly the role of Hasidism in relation to other factors.
On the subject of biography, this writer wonders why none
appeared in the past three years of the great mystic from Safed
Yitzhak Luria (The Holy Ari) on the occasion of the 400th