The Hasidist branch of Judaism specializes in the Cabala. About half of all Jews were Cabalists at the end of the 19th Century, we are told.
Hasidism, like so many Talmudic words, is spelled in various ways: Chasidism; and with a "C" and two "s's," an "H" and two "s's." The Jewish Encyclopedias of 1905 and 1943 use the first spelling, however.
Hasidism is called a religious movement within the fold of Talmudism "which won over nearly half of the Jewish masses." Its leading promoter was one Israel Baal Shem Tob (shortened to the "Besht"). Father-to-son dynasties were set up of Hasidist leaders, wonderworkers, fortune-tellers, invokers of spirits, healers, who employed drunkenness, singing, and dancing, to create states of "ecstasy." Evil was indulged in to "purify" it.
Gershom Sholem, head of the Department of Jewish Mysticism at the Hebrew University in Palestine, in his book of lectures delivered at red Rabbi S.S. Wise's Jewish Institute of Religion in N.Y. (Schocken Books, N.Y., 1946), extolls Baal Shem Tob, the 18th Century evangelist of Hasidism, as does Rabbi Louis Finklestein, head of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, in his The Pharisees. (See Exhibit 1, Exhibit 2, and Exhibit 3)
Sholem calls Baal Shem Tob "a true Baal Shem, that is to say ... a master of practical Kabbalism, a Magician" (page 349). He closes his book with the prophecy that Jewish mysticism still has its greatest role to play. In that he certainly coincides with the Bible and the prophecies of the Anti-Christ and his wonderworking after the order of Satan. (II Thes. 2:9)
The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, under "Hasidism" states that "Hasidism had not introduced any religious novelties into Judaism." (page 240)
To quote the Jewish Encyclopedia of 1905:
"The teachings of Hasidism are founded on two theoretical conceptions: (I) religious Pantheism and (2) the idea of communion between God and man which was adopted from the Cabala not only that Deity influences the acts of man, but also that man exerts an influence on the will and mood of Deity. Every act and word of man produces a corresponding vibration in the upper spheres. From this conception is derived the chief practical principle of Hasidism - [page 33] communion with God for the purpose of uniting with the source of life and influencing it . "
Pantheism is the oldest pagan concept of God as being the composite of nature. The sum total of nature being "god," man can be ruler of everything if he but knows the right secrets.
In Jewish Hasidism, "Baal Shem," or master of the name, is also called a saint or Zaddik who, to quote the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia: "rules by the possession of the largest number of . 'sparks' of divine emanation . he stands on the same level as Moses and the Prophets, and not only speaks with the authority of the Torah, but may even change and abrogate it. The Hasidim must live in submission to the Zaddik, surround him with their love and confidence, bring him gifts, cater to his every whim, and not question his conduct even when it seems to depart from the accepted norm."
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