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The Faith of the Mithnagdim

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The Faith of the Mithnagdim

Rabbinic Responses to Hasidic Rapture

The Faith of the Mithnagdim is the first study of the theological roots of the Mithnagdic objection to Hasidism. Allan Nadler's pioneering effort fills the void in scholarship on Mithnagdic thought and corrects the impression that there were no compelling theological alternatives to Hasidism during the period of its rapid spread across Eastern Europe at the turn of the nineteenth century. In Nadler's account, Mithnagdism emerges as a highly developed religious outlook that is essentially conservative, deeply dualistic, and profoundly pessimistic about humanity's spiritual potential—all in stark contrast to Hasidism's optimism and aggressive encouragement of mysticism and religious rapture among its followers.