An Introduction to Hasidism

Rabbi Dr. Nehemia Polen

The core dispositions of early Hasidism include joy, generosity, equanimity, respect, non-judgmentalism, and love for God, Torah, and people. Led by spiritual masters, beginning with the Baal Shem Tov (d. 1760), the Hasidim foregrounded fervent prayer, storytelling, open-hearted Torah, and sacred melody (niggun) as vehicles for inner growth and transformation. The teachings of Hasidism show us how to embrace our unique personalities, how to be genuinely present, how to build community, how to fuse body and spirit, how to trust God and our own inner selves.

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