Towards a New Definition of Hasidism

Marcin Wodziński

The author of the article poses the question what Hasidism really is, and whether the belief, still widely-held today, that it was a sect, or a movement similar to a sect, is accurate. Although there are dozens of definitions of Hasidism, all of them are built on doctrinal categories. As the author argues, these kinds of ideological definitions are inadequate, given that they turn Hasidism into an abstract doctrine, disconnected from its believers and their daily practices. Instead, he offers a behavioral, or performative, definition of Hasidism as it was practiced in everyday life. This definition, based on low-profile, often folk testimonies, shows what rank-and-file followers understood by being a Hasid and how they defined their own distinctive features. 
Słowa kluczowe: Hasidism, Eastern Europe, behavioral definition, sect, confraternity