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101 << Chapter >> Home | TOC | Index This Library PDF version is for the use on an institutional computer only. com The Sociopolitical Foundations of Hasidism 25 Thus, the oppressive measures taken by the Austrian government, together with the necessity of consolidating all conservative religious forces in the face of the Haskalah, resulted in the virtual triumph of Hasidism in Galicia by the middle of the nineteenth century. 102 The gradual process of domination of Jewish religious and communal life by the Hasidim was described by Joseph Perl in his books as well as in his memoranda to the government.

The struggle between the old and the new conception of the so­ cial role of the rebbes, which began in the early nineteenth century, is succinctly reflected in the following Hasidic tradition. An old Hasid of Lublin mocked Rebbe Meyer of Przemyslany for living in hardship and want. ” 121 Jacob Isaac of Lublin interpreted this aggadah as a rhetorical question: How can the whole world draw its sustenance because of Hanina my son if he satisfies himself with a kab of car­ obs from one Sabbath eve to another?

As early as 1837, Perl submitted a report to the Austrian government100 in which he divided the Galician Jews, according to their religious views, into almost the same four classes as the “kitot” that Mendel of Kosów had enumerated several decades earlier. ” Perl explained that the “common mass,” having no doctrine of its own on religious questions, fell under the influence of whichever group it came in close contact with. The fact that this was written at the end of the 1830s, when Perl was submitting one memorandum after another to the Austrian government, indicates that, in his view, Hasidism had already captivated the Jewish people to such an extent that there was almost nothing left to save.

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