Spirit and Body of the Hasidic Movement (1935)
Movements that strive for a renewal of society mean, for the most part, that the axe should be laid at the root of the existing order; they set in contrast to what has come into being a fundamentally different product of willed thought. Not so the religious movements that proceed from a renewal of the soul. However much the principle that is advocated by a genuine religious movement may be diametrically opposed to the prevailing religious status of the environment, the movement experiences and expresses this opposition not as one to the essential original content of the tradition; it feels and explains itself rather as summoned to purify this original content of its present distortions—to restore it, to “bring it back.” But from this same starting point the religious movements can progress very differently in their relation to the prevailing faith. On the one hand, the old-new principle may set its own message in bodily opposition to and as the original state of the late stage of the tradition. It presents its message, therefore, as the obscured original truth, rescued and brought to light, represented by the central man “come” to restore it, and actually identical with him. Then the complete transformation and separation soon takes place. Such movements may be designated as founding ones. On the other hand, the principle may simply return to an older stage of the tradition—to the “pure word” that it has to liberate and whose distortion it combats.
KeywordsJewish Community Religious Status Immersion Bath Pure Word Active Prayer
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