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Chasidim and Old Order Amish A ComparisonThe two groups to be examined are the Chasidim and the Old Order Amish We will begin with a brief look at the history of each groupThe Chasidim or Hasidim as more commonly known are a cult within the tradition of Judaism The word Hasid derives from the Hebrew word for pious Hasidism dates back to the early eighteenth century and originated in central and Eastern Europe Its founder was a man named Israel ben Eliezer c1700-1760 He is otherwise known as the Baal Shem Tov In Hebrew Baal Shem means master of the good name It is a title given to men who are endowed with mystical powers According to Hasidic belief Adonai God chooses these men The Baal Shem Tov taught a new way of practicing Judaism that was strikingly different than what was considered acceptable at that time It was his contention that God was everywhere and in all thingsincluding man There was no need for rigorous study of Torah the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses A mans educationor lack thereof is unimportant Accordingly an honest prayer from an unlearned Jew is just as powerful than a prayer made by a talmid chachem an expert in Talmud The Besht insisted that unity with God was possible through spontaneous prayer ecstatic emotion song and dance Jews were to embrace their raw emotions release their passionsand not to suppress them as they might interfere with the analytic study of Judaism This new way of worship was unlike anything that had been previously seen in Judaism It appealed to great numbers of Jews namely the uneducated massesThe rise of popularity of Hasidism was also aided by its timing As Leo Rosten writes about the Baal Shem Tov in his book The Joys of Yiddish He brought the excitement of hope into the lives of Polish Jewry who had been decimated during a decade of savage Cossack progroms
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