Now that I have a pretty broad view of Hasidic teachings for the whole year, drawing from across the generations, I’ve decided to work a little more systematically: from now on I’m going to focus on the beginnings of Hasidism — the Baal Shem Tov, the Maggid of Mezeritch, and their immediate circles, especially these folks: Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev (Kedushas Levi), Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir (Or HaMeir), Uziel Meizlish of Ostroha (Tiferet Uziel), and Haim Haike of Amdur (Haim V’Hesed). With the exception of the Berditchever, these masters are not well known — even scholars know little about their lives, and most casual students of Hasidism have never heard their names — but what we do know is that they were fundamental thinkers in the creation of Hasidism in its early generations. I’m hoping to give some kind of a “present-at-creation” sense of Hasidism through these seminal rebbes.
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