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Judaism: Hasidic Mystics
Judaism: Hasidic Mystics

Judaism: Hasidic Mystics: Weekly Summary

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Hasidism is the great movement of religious revival that brought new spirit to the lives of Jews in the towns and villages of Poland and Ukraine toward the latter half of the eighteenth century. —Arthur Green

The essential message and practice of early Hasidism are simple. The message: “. . . the whole earth is full of God’s glory” (Isaiah 6:3). The practice: “. . . I place God before me always” (Psalm 16:8). Understand these and you understand Hasidism. —Rami Shapiro

The Hasidic masters were careful to point out that silent meditation is not an end in itself. It is a practice whose test must come in the world of action and interaction. Each night, as we review the events of the day, we must ask ourselves: Have I lived this day with awareness? —Or N. Rose and Ebn D. Leader

It is a greater thing if the streets of a person’s native town are as bright as the paths of heaven. For it is here, where we stand, that we should try to make shine the light of the hidden divine life. —Hasidic teaching, translated by Martin Buber

One who reads the words of prayer with great devotion / may come to see the lights within the letters. —Hasidic teaching, translated by Arthur Green

The Hebrew Scriptures, against all religious expectations, include what most of us would call the problem—the negative, the accidental, the sinful—as the precise arena for divine revelation. —Richard Rohr

A Prayer Upon Waking

The eighteenth-century Hasidic Rabbi Hayim Heikel of Amdur, active in Lithuania, counseled conscious remembrance of God first thing in the morning. Rabbis Or N. Rose and Ebn D. Leader introduce and translate:

What is your first thought upon rising? How often is it about physical or emotional exhaustion, time pressures, or worries about the new day? Are you aware of the process of waking from sleep, or do you immediately and automatically move through a series of activities to get yourself (and your family) up and out of the house? How does the beginning of your day affect the hours that follow? . . . .

Like many of the practices proposed by the Hasidic masters, changing our early-morning routine is not easy; at times it might even seem impossible. Yet imagine how this adjustment could reshape your day. How might your morning unfold if your first thoughts were devoted to what is most significant in your life? [1]

When you awake in the morning
immediately remember
that the blessed Creator has acted toward you with
goodness and kindness,
for He has returned the soul to you (Berakhot 2a);
the soul that fills your whole body. . . .

Before opening your eyes,
draw the Creator to you—
likewise with your ears, mouth, and mind.

If you follow this practice,
all your deeds will be holy that day,
as it is written, “I foretell the end from the beginning”
(Isaiah 46:10). [2]


[1] Or N. Rose and Ebn D. Leader, eds., trans., God in All Moments: Mystical and Practical Spiritual Wisdom from Hasidic Masters (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2004), 1.

[2] Hayim Heikel of Amdur, Hayim V’Hesed, #1, in God in All Moments, 3.

Explore Further. . .

For an introduction to the mystics featured in this week’s Daily Meditations, watch Managing Editor Mark Longhurst interview Jewish mysticism scholar Arthur Green. 

Image credit: Carrie Grace Littauer, Untitled 7 (detail), 2022, photograph, Colorado, used with permission. Menachem Weinreb, two Jewish boxes of tefillin unwrapped (detail), 2021, photograph, Jerusalem. Arthur Allen, Untitled 12 (detail), 2022, photograph, France, used with permission. Jenna Keiper, 2022, triptych art, United States. Click here to enlarge image.

This week’s images appear in a form inspired by early Christian/Catholic triptych art: a threefold form that tells a unified story. 

Image inspiration: God, unveiled, in our deepest rituals and traditions as well as in the simplicity of light moving across stones and trees.

Prayer for our community:

God, Lord of all creation, lover of life and of everything, please help us to love in our very small way what You love infinitely and everywhere. We thank You that we can offer just this one prayer and that will be more than enough,  because in reality every thing and every one is connected, and nothing stands alone. To pray for one part is really to pray for the whole, and so we do. Help us each day to stand for love, for healing, for the good, for the diverse unity of the Body of Christ and all creation, because we know this is what You desire: as Jesus prayed, that all may be one. We offer our prayer together with all the holy names of God, we offer our prayer together with Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Listen to the prayer.


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