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What is Hasidic Judaism? This video explains the history of the Hasidic movement, from its beginnings with the Ba’al Shem Tov to the creation of a distinct community of mystical and observant Jews.
The Hasidic movement was formed in the mid 1800s by Jewish mystics in Eastern Europe, most notably the Ba’al Shem Tov, who was a traveled Kabbalist, providing spiritual advice to those he met. He introduced mystic rituals where everything became spiritual. His students (i.e. Dov Ber) would later create the movement of Hasidism. But many Jews at that time were opposed to this new emerging movement. The Hasids were prayer enthusiasts. When they prayed, they would jump, clap, somersault, and even cry.
Despite opposition, Hasidism flourished and suffused through most of Eastern Europe. Chasidic Jews became part of the community, by serving as spiritual advisers, kashering meats, attending to the ill and deceased, and so on. They continued to thrive until the persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union and World War II either killed them or drove them to seek refuge elsewhere. Some Chasidim that escape traveled to America and began the movement which we see today in Brooklyn and beyond.
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