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Souls on Fire

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  435 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
In Souls on Fire: Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters, Elie Wiesel reenters, like an impassioned pilgrim, the universe of Hasidism. "When I am asked about my Jewish affiliation, I define myself as a Hasid, " writes the author. "Hasid I was, Hasid I remain." Yet Souls on Fire is not a simple chronological history of Hasidism, nor is it a comprehensive book on its subje ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 6th 1982 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1958)
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Anne Hamilton
Jul 14, 2013 Anne Hamilton rated it it was ok
For over ten years, I've absolutely loved Charles Osborne's Souls on Fire, an orchestral rendering of this book. It's splendid, glorious, inspiring.

However, in finally getting around to reading the book which had been the spark behind Osborne's symphonic song suite, I find myself curiously disappointed. Maybe I set myself up for it: there are many gold nuggets here but the song is missing.

In other circumstances, I might have rated it much higher... but in the end, it seemed fragmented. It held o
Jacob Lloyd
Feb 24, 2012 Jacob Lloyd rated it really liked it
Elie Wiesel's telling of the lives and tales of the Hasidic masters is at turns beautiful and unsettling, humorous and poignant. The lives and tales themselves call to mind the sayings and stories of the Christian Desert fathers. Wiesel's own voice, and his largely implicit foregrounding of the tales against the backdrop of a post-Auschwitz world, add a modern literary layer to these essentially spiritual tales.
Mar 10, 2015 Jane rated it really liked it
I asked a friend for a good book on the history of the Hasiidic movement, and he gave me this. What a gem. Wiesel writes
with a magical blend of poetry and scholarship, but above all, he writes with his heart.
David Amsel
Aug 03, 2013 David Amsel rated it really liked it
Smooth and surprisingly linear for a book on Jewish Mysticism. Great personal stories from Elie about his family and personal struggles with the legends.
Sep 22, 2016 Sean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Passionate, intriguing

Fascinating sketches of Hasidic legends. Thought provoking and stirring at the same time. Some passage are beyond bearing and yet retain exquisite and heart-wrenching beauty.
Jan 12, 2014 Aryeh rated it liked it
If, as I did, you expect this to be a scholarly work of carefully researched historical accuracy, you will be sorely disappointed. However, if you pay attention to the title (portraits and legends), you will get exactly what you are expecting. I should have known, from reading earlier Wiesel, that this would be more along the lines of 'Sages and Dreamers' (and even includes some of the same stories). There are many ways to tell truth, and this is truth as much as anything, it just wasn't what I ...more
Jonathan Meola
Nov 11, 2012 Jonathan Meola rated it it was amazing

Just re-read this over Shabbat - This book is a compilation of lectures by Prof. Elie Wiesel on the beginnings of modern Chassidism in Central and Eastern Europe starting in the mid 1700's.

Prof. Wiesel starts with the legendary founder, Rebbe Israel Baal Shem Tov, whose whole existence is cloaked in mystery - and progresses through his students to the 2nd and 3rd generations of rebbes and chassids, including such luminaries as Rebbe Nachman of Breslev and Rebbe Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev.

Apr 17, 2007 Greg rated it really liked it
Shelves: judaism
This is a truly inspirational book. It is a rough chronology of the hasidic movement in Judaism built around vignettes of the lives and tales of the hasidic masters. The one disappointment is that is mentions several times in the context of other masters but never profiles Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad.

The tales of Nahman of Bratslav were covered extensively, as were the lives of several compelling figures such as Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and Levi-Yitzhak of Berditchev.
Feb 23, 2013 Sacha rated it really liked it
Would have been helpful to read the afterward first. It took me a bit to get my bearings in the book. Then it was an interesting and enjoyable read. I can see why some say it gets repetitive by the end, but I didn't mind that.
Sharon Porter-Moxley
Aug 29, 2012 Sharon Porter-Moxley rated it it was amazing
Elie Wiesel survived the Holocaust and later wrote about the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. In Souls on Fire he continues to explore the Jewish past with passion and poetic prose.
Kressel Housman
Jun 01, 2009 Kressel Housman rated it did not like it
Elie Wiesel is a great humanitarian, but this book was so disjointed, I had to give up in the middle. My husband says it's not an accurate history of Chassidus either.
Anita rated it it was amazing
May 21, 2009
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  • God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
  • Tales of the Hasidim, Vols 1-2
  • The Thirteen Petalled Rose: A Discourse on the Essence of Jewish Existence and Belief
  • Wanderings
  • Back to the Sources
  • Biblical Literacy: The Most Important People, Events, and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible
  • Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide
  • This is My God: A Guidebook to Judaism
  • Tevye the Dairyman and the Railroad Stories
  • Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism
  • Zohar: The Book of Splendor: Basic Readings from the Kabbalah
  • As a Driven Leaf
  • The Lonely Man of Faith
  • To Life: A Celebration of Jewish Being and Thinking
  • Hasidic Tales of the Holocaust
  • Why the Jews?
  • Boychiks in the Hood: Travels in the Hasidic Underground
Eliezer Wiesel was a Romania-born American novelist, political activist, and Holocaust survivor of Hungarian Jewish descent. He was the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust and his imprisonment in several concentration camps.

Wiesel was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called him a
More about Elie Wiesel...

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“I am much more afraid of my good deeds that please me than of my bad deeds that repel me.” 17 likes
“It is in man that God must be loved, because the love of God goes through the love of man. Whoever loves God exclusively, namely excluding man, reduces his love and his God to the level of abstraction. Beshtian Hasidism denies all abstraction.” 0 likes
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