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Intensity and Embrace: The Mystical Life in the Sfat Emet & the School of Ger

Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse / June 23, 2016

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Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Leib Alter of Ger, better known by the title of his classic workSfat Emet, was one of the greatest and most creative chassidic masters of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. At once highly traditional and strikingly modern, the Sfat Emet articulated a powerful mystical theology that speaks to the spiritual needs of the individual seeker situated within the community as a whole. His teachings reflect a careful synthesis between the mystical beckonings of the Infinite, on one hand, and the mandate that humankind perform their primary spiritual work here, in the realm of the mundane and corporeal. In addition to exploring these core ideas, we will touch upon some of the salient processes involved in the creation of chassidic books, such as the relationship between Hebrew and Yiddish and between oral and textual traditions as well as the transmission of ideas from teachers to students. We will see how the recent discovery of new manuscripts of Rabbi Alter’s teachings has changed the way we study chassidic texts.


Recording - 06/23/2016



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Rabbi Dr. Ariel Evan Mayse

Ariel Evan Mayse joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2017 as an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and serves as the rabbi-in-residence at Atiq: Jewish Maker Institute ( Previously he was the Director of Jewish Studies and Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Jewish Thought at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. Mayse holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University and rabbinic ordination from Beit Midrash Har'el in Israel. His most recent publications include Speaking Infinities: God and Language in the Teachings for Rabbi Dov Ber of Mezritsh (University of Pennsylvania, 2020); Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020), edited with Sam Berrin Shonkoff, and The Language of Truth in the Mother Tongue (Magnes Press, 2020, in Hebrew).


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