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Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba'al Shem Tov
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Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba'al Shem Tov

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This book goes farther than any previous work in uncovering the historical Israel ben Eliezer—known as the Ba'al Shem Tov, or the Besht—the eighteenth-century Polish-Jewish mystic who profoundly influenced the shape of modern Judaism. As the progenitor of Hasidism, the Ba'al Shem Tov is one of the key figures in Jewish history; to understand him is to understand an ...more
Hardcover, 316 pages
Published June 25th 1996 by University of California Press (first published May 26th 1996)
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Michael Lewyn
Oct 21, 2014 Michael Lewyn rated it it was amazing
Many legends have arisen around Israel ben Eliezer (the "Baal Shem Tov" or "Besht"), a 18th-century mystic often described as the founder of Hasidim. But the Besht left behind only a few letters, so we don't really know as much about him as we do about other Jewish leaders. In this book, Rosman seeks to put the Baal Shem Tov in historical context.

First of all, he explains what the phrase "Baal Shem" (literally, "Master of the Name") meant in the early 18th century- a mystic who manipulated the n
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