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The Voices of Moses: Theologies of Revelation in an Early Hasidic Circle

  • Ariel Mayse (a1)


The subject of revelation appears with striking frequency in the writings and sermons of the early Hasidic masters. Their attempts to reimagine Sinai and to redefine its spiritual significance were key to their theological project. The present article examines the theophany at Sinai as presented in the teachings of three important Hasidic leaders: Menaḥem Naḥum of Chernobil, Ze’ev Wolf of Zhitomir, and Levi Yitsḥak of Barditshev, all of whom were students of Rabbi Dov Ber Friedman, the Maggid of Mezritsh. Each of the three constructed their teachings upon foundational elements of the Maggid’s theology. This shared inheritance links Dov Ber’s students to one another, but careful consideration of these Hasidic sources will reveal important differences in foci and ideational message. These homilies refer to revelation as an unfolding process in which the ineffable divine is continuously translated into human language, reflecting upon—and justifying—the emergence of Hasidism and its theology through reimagining revelation. Such fundamental questions of language and devotion also throb at the heart of religious revivals the world over. When read critically and carefully, these Hasidic sources have much to offer scholars interested in the interface of renewal, exegesis, and revelation more broadly.

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1 Heschel, Abraham Joshua, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1955) 178.

2 Botsina’ de-Nehora’ ha-Shalem (Lviv: 1930) ’Amarot Ṭehorot, ‘Eḵeḇ, 20a.

3 For a few key studies of this subject, see Sommer, Benjamin D., Revelation and Authority: Sinai in Jewish Scripture and Tradition (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2015); Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Theology of Ancient Judaism (3 vols.; London and New York: Shontsin, 1962–1990) (Hebrew), translated as Heavenly Torah as Refracted Through the Generations (trans. Gordon Tucker with L. Levin; New York: Continuum, 2005); Savran, George W., Encountering the Divine: Theophany in Biblical Narrative (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2005); and The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Sinai and Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (ed. George J. Brooke, Hindy Najman, and Loren T. Stuckenbruck; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008).

4 See Heschel, Abraham Joshua, “Hasidism as a New Approach to Torah,” Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity (ed. Heschel, Susannah; New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1996) 3349.

5 My spelling of place names and Hasidic figures follows that of the YIVO Encyclopedia of the Jews of Eastern Europe (ed. Gershon David Hundert; New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010).

6 Dov Ber’s theology is rooted in the teachings of Yisra᾽el ben Eli‘ezer, known as the Ba‘al Shem Tov (d. 1760), but the Maggid offered an innovative approach to the nature of language and the role of words in religious experience.

7 I have detailed the Maggid’s theory of revelation elsewhere, and will only replicate those points that are essential for understanding the work of his students; see Evan D. Mayse, “Beyond the Letters: The Question of Language in the Teachings of Rabbi Dov Baer of Mezritch” (PhD Diss., Harvard University, 2015) 328–74.

8 Menaḥem Naḥum’s son, Mordeḵai of Chernobil (c. 1770–1837), took on the family name Twersky. His many sons founded a many-branched network of Hasidic dynasties that endures into the present. See Sagiv, Gadi, Dynasty: The Chernobyl Hasidic Dynasty and Its Place in the History of Hasidism (Jerusalem: Zalman Shazar Center, 2014) (Hebrew).

9 See Arthur Green’s forthcoming translation of this work.

10 See Piekarz, Mendel, Hasidic Leadership (Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 1999) 94 (Hebrew); and Green, Arthur, “Around the Maggid’s Table: Ṣaddiq, Leadership and Popularization in the Circle of Dov Baer of Miedzyrzec,” Zion 78 (2013) 9495 (Hebrew).

11 See the recent volume Rabbi Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev: History, Thought, Literature, and Melody (ed. Zvi Mark and Roee Horen; Rishon LeZion: Yedioth Ahronoh & Hemed Books, 2017) (Hebrew).

12 Ṣaddiq means a “righteous person,” but, building upon its significance in medieval Kabbalah, Hasidic sources use it in reference to leaders whose actions—and very being—unite the cosmos and channel blessing to their followers. See Green, Arthur, “The Zaddiq as Axis Mundi in Later Judaism,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 45 (1977) 327–47.

13 See also Ariel Evan Mayse, “ ‘Moving Mezritsh’: The Legacy of the Maggid and the Hasidic Community in the Land of Israel,” Jewish History (forthcoming).

14 Later attempts to isolate central leadership in the formative period of Hasidism—whether under the Ba‘al Shem Tov or the Maggid—are anachronistic retrojections; see Rapoport-Albert, Ada, “Hasidism after 1772: Structural Continuity and Change,” Hasidism Reappraised (ed. Rapoport-Albert, Ada; London and Portland, OR: Vallentine Mitchell, 1996) 76140.

15 See Green, “Around the Maggid’s Table,” 73–106.

16 Bereshit Rabbah 1:1; ibid. 8:2. See also b. ‘Eruvin 13a; Midrash Tehillim, Ps. 3; and Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 3; Shemot Rabbah 47:9; and Ruth Zuta, ed. Buber, 1:1. See also Fishbane, Michael, The Garments of Torah: Essays in Biblical Hermeneutics (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1989) 3348; and Yadin, Azzan, Scripture as Logos: Rabbi Ishmael and the Origins of Midrash (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 2004) esp. 177. See Holdrege, Barbara A., “The Bride of Israel: The Ontological Status of Scripture in the Rabbinic and Kabbalistic Traditions,” Rethinking Scripture: Essays from a Comparative Perspective (ed. Levering, Miriam; Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989) 236–39; and Wolfson, Harry Austryn, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy (2 vols.; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1947) 1: 115–43; and Marcus, Ralph, “On Biblical Hypostases of Wisdom,” Hebrew Union College Annual 23.1 (1950) 157–71.

17 See Scholem, “The Meaning of the Torah,” 32–86, and the staggering array of early kabbalistic sources mentioned in his footnotes. See also Idel, Moshe, Absorbing Perfections: Kabbalah and Interpretation (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002) esp. 96110, 138–39; and Wolfson, Elliot, Through a Speculum that Shines: Vision and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Mysticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994) 345–55. See also idem, “The Mystical Significance of Torah Study in German Pietism,” Jewish Quarterly Review 84 (1993) 43–77, esp. 49; Fishman, “The Rhineland Pietists’ Sacralization of Oral Torah,” Jewish Quarterly Review 96 (2006) 9–16; and Wolfson, Elliot, “Hebraic and Hellenic Conceptions of Wisdom in Sefer ha-Bahir,” Poetics Today 19 (1998) 147–76.

18 See Zohar 3:149a–149b. See also, inter alia, 2:95a, 98b; 3:79b. See also Hellner-Eshed, Melila, A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar (trans. Wolski, Nathan; Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009) esp. 155228; Wolfson, Elliot, “Beautiful Maiden Without Eyes: Peshat and Sod in Zoharic Hermeneutics,” The Midrashic Imagination: Jewish Exegesis, Thought, and History (ed. Fishbane, Michael; Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1993) 155203.

19 See Pedaya, Haviva, Naḥmanides: Cyclical Time and Holy Text (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2003) 120205 (Hebrew); Halbertal, Moshe, By Way of Truth: Naḥmanides and the Creation of Tradition (Jerusalem: Shalom Hartman, 2006) 315–18, 331–33 (Hebrew); idem, Concealment and Revelation: Esotericism in Jewish Thought and its Philosophical Implications (trans. Jackie Feldman; Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007) 83–92; and Wolfson, Elliot R., Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of Menaḥem Mendel Schneerson (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009).

20 Zohar 3:71; See also 2:124a; Zohar 2:60a; and Scholem, “The Meaning of Torah,” 44–45.

21 Zohar 3:152a; and Talmage, Frank, “Apples of Gold: The Inner Meaning of Sacred Texts in Medieval Judaism,” Jewish Spirituality: From the Bible Through the Middle Ages (ed. Green, Arthur; New York: Crossroad, 1986) 313–55.

22 This emphasis on the revelatory power of the text represents a significant development; see Scholem, “Meaning of the Torah,” 41–42; Idel, Moshe, “Torah: Between Presence and Representation of the Divine in Jewish Mysticism,” Representation in Religion: Studies in Honor of Moshe Barasch (ed. Assmann, Jan and Baumgarten, Albert. I.; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2001) 197235; Wolfson, Elliot, “Iconicity of the Text: Reification of Torah and the Idolatrous Impulse of Zoharic Kabbalah,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 11 (2004) 215–42.

23 See the passages from later Kabbalists Me’ir ibn Gabbai and Isaiah Horowitz cited in Scholem, Gershom, “Revelation and Tradition as Religious Categories in Judaism,” The Messianic Idea in Judaism and Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality (New York: Schocken Books, 1971) 300303; and Heschel, Heavenly Torah, 671–72.

24 See Maggid Devarav le-Ya‘aqov (ed. Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1976) no. 202, 327; and ibid., no, 134, 234; ibid., no. 132, 227–28; and no. 28, 46–47. See also ’Or Torah ha-Shalem (Brooklyn: Kehot Publication Society, 2006) no. 245, Tehillim, 28.

25 Maggid Devarav le-Ya‘aqov, no. 189, 292.

26 Ibid., no. 132, 228; and ibid., no. 84, 146–47.

27 See Scholem, Gershom, “The Name of God and the Linguistic Theory of the Kabbala,” Diogenes 79 (1972) 5980; and part two in Diogenes 80 (1972) 164–94; and Fishbane, Eitan P., “The Speech of Being, the Voice of God: Phonetic Mysticism in the Kabbalah of Asher ben David and His Contemporaries,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 98 (2008) 485521.

28 The biblical prophet embodies the sefirah da‘at, the expansive awareness or spiritual consciousness often described by Menaḥem Naḥum as the goal of religious life. See Arthur Green, “Da‘at: Spiritual Awareness in a Hasidic Classic” (forthcoming).

29 See also the formulation in Yeśammaḥ Lev. (2 vols.; Jerusalem: 2002) Yoma, 2:571. See also Me’or ‘Eynayim (2 vols.; Jerusalem: Yitshak Shimon Osteraykher, 2012), Bere’shit, 1:7.

30 The “seven days of building” refer to the seven sefirot from ḥesed to malkut. See, inter alia, Zohar 1:145a.

31 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Shemot, 1:155. My rendering of this passage follows that of Arthur Green in his forthcoming translation of Me’or ‘Eynayim, to be published by Stanford Univeristy Press in 2019. See also ibid., Shemot, 1:138; and Vayyera’, 1:51.

32 Mayse, “Beyond the Letters,” 215–37.

33 See Shemot Rabbah 47:9.

34 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Liqquṭim, 2:402.

35 This reading of Prov 31:26, found in the Zohar 1:145a (inter alia), is commonly cited in Hasidic teachings on revelation, including several of those below.

36 Classical Kabbalah links ḥesed to the sefirah ḥokmah (both are on the right side of the sefirotic chart), but the former represents a less intense manifestation of the divine. Hasidic texts often refer to this diminution, a concealment of the divine power that paradoxically allows for a revelation of divine vitality as an expression of God’s loving grace.

37 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Liqquṭim, 2:402.

38 Although some rabbinic traditions seem to assume that the entire Pentateuch was delivered to Israel, others suggest that the books of Moses were revealed over time. See b. Gittin 60a; and Heschel, Heavenly Torah, 538–51.

39 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Vayyera’, 1:51.

40 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Hašmaṭot, 1:376. For a possible precedent, see Zohar Ḥadash, 38a; and RaSHI’s comment on Exod 24:12. See also Mekilta, Yitro 4, and Guide II:33, and Sheney Luḥot ha-Berit, Šaḇu‘ot, Torah ’Or 45. My thanks to Arthur Green and Jordan Schuster for sharing this list of sources with me.

41 Qol, consisting of an unintelligible physical sound, is abstract and unformed in comparison to articulated words. “Voice” (qol) and “Speech” (dibbur) are thus mutually dependent. Articulated words cannot be expressed without the subterranean energy of voice, but the inchoate potential of the latter is revealed only when shaped into clearly-defined letters and words. In most Hasidic sources, as in classical Kabbalah, qol represents the sefirah tif’eret and the vav of the name Y-H-V-H. See Tiqqunei Zohar, Tiqqun 21, fol. 48a; and Maggid Devarav le-Ya‘aqov, no. 62, 102. See also Liqquṭim Yeqarim (ed. Avraham Kahn; Jerusalem: 1973), no. 271, 89b; ibid., no. 269, 88a; and ibid., no. 241, 71b–72a. See also Sefer Yeṣirah 2:6; Zohar 2:66b.

42 b. Berakot 45a; and Zohar 3:7a, 264b. The plain-sense of qol in Exod 19:19 is likely “thunder.” For an analysis of this rabbinic exegesis in a different Hasidic sermon, see Green, Arthur, “Hasidism and Its Response to Change,” Jewish History 27 (2013) 331–33.

43 Me’or ‘Eynayim, Vayyeṣe, 1:95. See also Mayse, Ariel Evan, “The Ever-Changing Path: Visions of Legal Diversity in Hasidic Literature,” Conversations 23 (2015) 84115.

44 Yeśammaḥ Lev., Šabbat, 2:510–11. On the rabbinic debate regarding which elements of the Oral Torah were revealed at Sinai, see m. ’Avot 1:1; b. Megillah 19b; Vayyiqra’ Rabbah 22:1; Heschel, Heavenly Torah, 658–79; Urbach, Ephraim E., The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs (trans. Abrahams, Israel; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1979) 286314; Zussman, Yaakov, “Torah she-Be‘al Peh: Peshuṭah ke-Mashma‘ah,” Studies in Talmud Dedicated to the Memory of Professor E. E. Urbach (ed. Zussman, Yaakov and Rozental, David; Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2005) 209384 (Hebrew); Werman, Cana, “Oral Torah vs. Written Torah(s): Competing Claims to Authority,” Rabbinic Perspectives: Rabbinic Literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. Fraade, Steven D., Shemesh, Aharon and Clements, Ruth A.; Leiden: Brill, 2006) 157–97.

45 Scholem, “Revelation and Tradition,” 282–303.

46 ’Or ha-Me’ir (2 vols.; Jerusalem: 2000) Bere’shit, 1:8. See also Brody, Seth L., “ ‘Open to Me the Gates of Righteousness’: The Pursuit of Holiness and Non-Duality in Early Hasidic Teachings,” The Jewish Quarterly Review 89 (1998) 344.

47 The link between the ten creative utterances of Gen 1 and the Ten Commandments of Exod 20 is a commonplace assertion in the writings of the Maggid’s school.

48 ’Or ha-Me’ir, Bere’shit, 1:8.

49 ’Or ha-Me’ir, Bere’shit, 1:8.

50 ’Or ha-Me’ir, Tiśśa’, 1:182–84.

51 Ze’ev Wolf often returns to the issue of the ṣaddiq embracing language for the sake of others. This struggle with the beckoning of meditative silence distinguishes him from Menaḥem Naḥum of Chernobil, whose teachings evince none of this reticence toward the spoken word. See, for example, the text translated in Green, Arthur, Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings from Around the Maggid’s Table, with Ebn Leader, Ariel Evan Mayse and Or N. Rose (2 vols; Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2013) 1:125.

52 On the phrase “speaking Torah” and the Hasidic sermon as a moment akin to revelation, see Green, Arthur, “The Hasidic Homily: Mystical Performance and Hermeneutical Process,” in As a Perennial Spring: A Festschrift Honoring Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm (ed. Cohen, Bentsi; New York: Downhill Publishing LLC, 2013) 241–42.

53 ’Or ha-Me’ir, Tiśśa’, 1:184.

55 ’Or ha-Me’ir, Šaḇu‘ot, 2:11–13; based on the translation in Green, et al., Speaking Torah, 2:216–17.

56 Green, et al., Speaking Torah, 2:217.

57 See Tiqqunei Zohar, Haqdamah ’Aḥeret, 17a.

58 Green, et al., Speaking Torah, 2:217–18

60 See Qedushat Levi (2 vols.; ed. Michael Derbaremdiger; Brooklyn: Mekhon Kedushat Levi, 2007), Va’era’, 1:156; and also, ibid., Vayyigash, 1:116.

61 Based on the translation in Green, et al., Speaking Torah, 1:202–203.

62 Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:205.

63 From the Rosh ha-Shanah liturgy.

64 See Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:199

65 Levi Yitsḥak interprets the verse, “Moses returned the words of the people to God” (Exod 19:8) to mean that Moses attributed Israel’s words to none other than God; šekinah, the ultimate source of their inspiration, was speaking through them. See Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:202.

66 See Zohar 2:82a-b; Zohar Ḥadash, fol. 77a. See also Zohar 2:93b–94a; 2:156b; 3:152a. See Wolfson, “Hermeneutics of Visionary Experience,” 379. Building on an ambiguity in Exod 19:19 (qol may be translated as “voice” or “thunder”), the Zohar claims that šekinah itself spoke from Moses’ throat on Sinai. See Zohar 3:7a, 265a, and especially 232a (R. M.), and see also b. Berakhot 45a. This teaching is often summoned up in Hasidic descriptions of the ṣaddiq’s sermon as a moment of divine revelation. See Heschel, Heavenly Torah, 530–31; and Green, “Hasidic Homily,” 261–62 n. 21.

67 Levi Yitsḥak frequently emphasizes the exclusion of non-Jews from revelation. This may be the inverse of the unflagging love for Israel evidenced in his work, but it is also linked to Levi Yitsḥak’s understanding of Sinai as the moment in which God relinquished interpretive control of Torah—and indeed, command of the physical worlds—to Israel alone. See Qedushat Levi, Ve-Zot ha-Berakhah, 1:434, interpreting b. Shabbat 89a; see also b. Avodah Zarah 2b; and Qedushat Levi, Šaḇu‘ot, 1:319–20. See also ibid., Ha’azinu, 2:432; and Liqquṭim, 483.

68 Kuzari 1:87–91, and see also 1:9 and 1:79. See Lobel, Diana, Between Mysticism and Philosophy: Sufi Language of Religious Experience in Juda Ha-Levi’s Kuzari (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2000) 3544, 144–45; and Harvey, Warren Zev, “Judah Halevi’s Synthetic Theory of Prophecy and a Note on the Zohar,” in Many Voices: Rivka Shatz-Uffenheimer Memorial Volume (ed. Elior, Rachel and Dan, Joseph; Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 13; Jerusalem: Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies, 1996) 141–56 (Hebrew). See Guide 2:33; and 1:54, and see also Mishneh Torah, Hilkhot Yesodei ha-Torah, 8:1–2. See also Ivry, Alfred, “Revelation, Reason and Authority in Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed,” in Reason and Revelation as Authority in Judaism (ed. Samuelson, Norbert M.; Melrose Park, PA: Academy for Jewish Philosophy, 1981) 133.

69 For an alternative reading of Levi Yitsḥak’s universalism and its implications for revelation, see Magid, Shaul, Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism, Christianity, and the Construction of Modern Judaism (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2015) 6265 and 76–79; and see also Or Rose, N., “Protest or Discernment? Divine Limitation & Mystical Activism in the Qedushat Levi,” Be-Ron Yahad: Studies in Jewish Thought and Theology in Honor of Nehemia Polen (ed. Mayse, Ariel Evan and Green, Arthur; Boston: Academic Studies Press, forthcoming 2019).

70 Qedushat Levi, Va’etḥannan, 1:375, 378. See also ibid., Ha’azinu, 1:432, where Levi Yitsḥak makes a similar point about Moses’s prophecy and the song of Deut 32.

71 See Qedushat Levi, Liqquṭim, 2:458, which refers to the famous story of the “Oven of Akhnai” in b. Baba Meṣi‘a 59b.

72 Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:212–13.

73 See b. Mo‘ed Qatan 16b; Green, “Hasidism and Its Response to Change,” 332–33; and idem, “Teachings of the Hasidic Masters,” Back to the Sources: Reading the Classic Jewish Texts (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984) 374–86.

74 For example, see Qedushat Levi, Va’etḥannan, 1:379–380. See also Idel, Moshe, “White Letters: From Levi Isaac of Berditchev’s Views to Postmodern Hermeneutics,” Modern Judaism 26 (2006) 16992.

75 See Qedushat Levi, Liqquṭim, 2:463–64; and Mayse, Ariel Evan, “The Ever-Changing Path: Visions of Legal Diversity in Hasidic Literature,” Conversations 23 (2015) 84115.

76 Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:206–207.

77 See, inter alia, y. Pe’ah 2:4.

78 Qedushat Levi, Yitro, 1:206, following the translation in Green, “Hasidism and its Response to Change,” 332.

79 Rose, “Protest or Discernment,” deftly links God’s willing abandonment of exegetical control to Levi Yitsḥak’s theory of ṣimṣum, one that he inherited from the Maggid but further developed in light his own theological goals.

80 Qedushat Levi, Purim, 1:237–38.

81 Ibid., Bešallaḥ, 1:197–98.

82 See also Beit ʾAharon (Brody: 1875) 62a; and the translation in Green, et al., Speaking Torah, 1:201–202. See also Divrat Shlomo (Jerusalem: Ya‘akov Yitsḥak Weiss, 2011) Yitro, 170. See also ʾOr Torah, no. 92, 128; and ’Or ha-Me’ir, Yitro, 1:141

83 See Green, “The Hasidic Homily,” 237–65; Polen, Nehemia, “Hasidic Derashah as Illuminated Exegesis,” in The Value of the Particular: Lessons from Judaism and the Modern Jewish Experience. Festschrift for Steven T. Katz on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (ed. Zank, Michael and Anderson, Ingrid; Leiden and Boston, MA: Brill, 2015) 5570.

84 Green, Arthur, “Typologies of Leadership and the Hasidic Zaddiq,” Jewish Spirituality: From the Sixteenth-Century to the Present (ed. Green, Arthur; New York: Crossroad, 1989) 127–56.

85 See Etkes, Immanuel, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady: The Origins of Chabad Hasidism (trans. Green, Jeffrey M.; Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2015); and Elior, Rachel, The Paradoxical Ascent to God: The Kabbalistic Theosophy of Habad Hasidism (trans. Green, Jeffrey M.; Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1993).

86 Liqquṭei Torah (Brooklyn NY: Kehot Publication Society, 2006) 12c–13b. See also Liqquṭei ’Amarim-Tanya, Sefer shel Beinonim (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1998) ch. 47, 67b; TorahOr (Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 2008), Megillat ’Ester, 91b and fol. 93b; ibid., Yitro, 70d–71c.

87 Hasidic thinkers outside of the Maggid’s immediate circle, such as Pinḥas of Korets, Moshe Ḥayim Efrayim of Sudilkov, Naḥman of Bratslav, Yeḥiel Mikhl of Zlotshev, and Yitsḥak of Radziwiłł, were also deeply concerned with revelation.

88 See b. Yoma 28b, and parallels; Green, Arthur, Devotion and Commandment: The Faith of Abraham in the Hasidic Imagination (Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1989); and Gellman, Jerome, “The Figure of Abraham in Hasidic Literature,” Harvard Theological Review 91 (1998) 279300.

89 See Kahana, Maoz and Mayse, Ariel Evan, “Hasidic Halakhah: Reappraising the Interface of Spirit and Law,” AJS Review 41 (2017) 375408.

90 Maggid Devarav le-Ya‘aqov, no. 134, 234. See also Zornberg, Avivah Gottlieb, Bewilderments: Reflections on the Book of Numbers (New York: Schocken Books, 2015) 263–85.

91 See Jacobs, Louis, Principles of the Jewish Faith (London: Valentine Mitchell, 1964); Halivni, David Weiss, Revelation Restored: Divine Writ and Critical Responses (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997); Sommer, Revelation and Authority; Shapiro, Marc B., The Limits of Orthodox Theology (Oxford: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2004); and In the Eyes of God and Man: Biblical Criticism and the Person of Faith (ed. Yehudah Brandes, Tova Ganzel and Chayuta Deutsch; Jerusalem: Beit Morasha, 2015) (Hebrew).

92 See Marcus, Ahron, Der Chassidismus: Eine Kulturgeschichtliche Studie (Pleschen: Jeschurun, 1901) 239.

93 On Buber, Scholem and Rosenzweig, see Horwitz, Rivka, “Revelation and the Bible according to Twentieth-Century Jewish Philosophy,” in Jewish Spirituality: From the Sixteenth-Century to the Present (ed. Green, Arthur; New York: Crossroad, 1989) 346370; see also Scholem, Gershom, “Religious Authority and Mysticism,” in On the Kabbalah and Its Symbolism, trans. Manheim, Ralph (New York: Schocken Books: 1996) 2931.

94 The goal of Heschel’s Heavenly Torah was to demonstrate the variety of opinions in classical rabbinic sources, but he refers to mystical sources (implicitly and explicitly) throughout; see esp. Heschel, Heavenly Torah, 658–700.

95 See Green, Arthur, Seek My Face: A Jewish Mystical Theology (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2003) 97144; idem, Radical Judaism: Rethinking God and Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) 79–119.

96 See Ross, Tamar, Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2004) 184224.

97 Sommer, Benjamin D., “Revelation at Sinai in the Hebrew Bible and in Jewish Theology,” The Journal of Religion 79 (1999) 422–51. Sommer invokes the tradition attributed to Menaḥem Mendel of Rimanov (1745–1815), made famous by Scholem, in which revelation is described as consisting of only the aleph of the first word of the Decalogue. See also the remarks of Idel, Moshe, Old Worlds, New Mirrors: On Jewish Mysticism and Twentieth-Century Thought (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010) 121–24; and Harvey, Zeev, “What did the Rymanover Really say about the Aleph of Anokhi?,” Kabbalah 34 (2016) 297314 (Hebrew); and Gellman, Jerome, “Wellhausen and the Hasidim,” Modern Judaism 26 (2006) 193207.

98 In a different vein, there is much to be gained from charting the ways in which the Hasidic sources challenge the ideas of Emmanuel Levinas, Eliezer Berkovits, or Joseph B. Soloveitchik; see Levinas, Emmanuel, “Revelation in the Jewish Tradition,” The Levinas Reader (ed. Hand, Sean; Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd, 1989) 190210; Moyn, Samuel, Origins of the Other: Emmanuel Levinas Between Revelation and Ethics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2005); Berkovits, Eliezer, “The Encounter with the Divine,” Essential Essays on Judaism (ed. Hazony, David; Jerusalem: Shalem Press, 2002) 235–46; and Soloveitchik, Joseph B., Uviqqashtem mi-Sham (Jerusalem: World Zionist Organization, 1979) esp. 143178.

99 See Gershom Scholem, “The Meaning of the Torah in Jewish Mysticism,” (trans. Ralph Manheim; New York: Schocken Books, 1996) 35; Holdrege, Barbara, Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996) esp. 131223; and Graham, William, On the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987) esp. 177 and 117–54.

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Harvard Theological Review
  • ISSN: 0017-8160
  • EISSN: 1475-4517
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