Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

Basic HTML Version

GRIES / A DECADE OF BOOKS ON KABBALAH
7 1
social or religious revivalism.24 The popularity of the Habad
movement, which has led to the writing of a significant number
of doctoral theses in recent years, has resulted in one close in­
vestigation of its teachings in R. Elior’s
The Theory of Divinity
of Habad Hasidism: Second Generation
(Jerusalem, Magnes Press,
1982 [Hebrew]).
BIOGRAPHICAL WORK
The first attempt to pen a critical biography of a hasidic mas­
ter was made not long ago by A. Green in his
A Tormented Master:
a Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav
(Alabama, University of Al­
abama Press, 1979). This sensitive and well written book met
with the sharp criticism of M. Piekarz25 and is, to our regret,
the only attempt in the last decade to write such a critical bi­
ography.
An important addition to the polemical literature against
Hasidism was A. Rubinstein’s publication of Joseph Perl’s
Uber
des Wese der Sekte Chassidism
(Jerusalem, Israel Academy of Sci­
ence and Humanities, 1977). Perl, who was himself a prolific
storyteller, is known for his
Megalleh Temirin
(The Revealer of
Secrets), in which he imitated the style of hasidic tales. His vig­
orous literary controversy with the Hasidism resulted in his at­
tempt to convince the authorities to ban this sect. The additional
record of Perl’s response to Hasidism, which has been made
available to us, makes it all the more clear how much he was
concerned with the activities of its adherents.
The hasidic tale was discussed in two books. The first, by
J. Dan, was
The Hasidic Story
(Jerusalem, Keter, 1975 [Hebrew]).
The second was G. Nig’al’s
The Hasidic Tales: History and Themes
24. M. Piekarz published also an interesting brochure entitled,
The Last Literary
Record on Polish Soil: the Savings of the Rabbi of Pieschene in the Warsaw Ghetto
(Jerusalem, Yad Vashem, 1979 [Hebrew]). It contains an analysis o f the
homiletical collection
Esh Kodesh
(Jerusalem, 1960). In recent years, Piekarz
has made a thorough study o f the hasidic movement between the two World
Wars, and his book on this subject is soon to be published by Mosad Bialik,
Jerusalem.
25. See his review, “A Zaddik for the People o f the New World,”
Tarbiz
51(1982), pp. 149—165, and Green’s response, ibid., pp. 508—509. See also
my comments on the study o f hasidic hagiography and on Green’s book
in particular in my above-mentioned article, “Hasidism . . pp. 182—186,
195.