The Founding of Polish Chassidut: Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk
Zeev Kitsis / June 16, 2016
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Rav Elimelech of Lizhensk, a founder of Polish chassidut, is also one of the most original and complex of the early chassidic thinkers. Among the tensions explored in his thought – and embodied in his life – is that between love and criticism. He was, in a sense, a “specialist in rebuke,” and yet his prescription of this form of spiritual guidance coexists in his thought alongside an expansive notion of love. In this session, we will explore this interplay between love and rebuke as well as Rav Elimelech’s conception of the “tzadik,” which he describes in his work Noam Elimelech, and for which he is perhaps best known. Finally, we will touch upon the deep influence of Rav Elimelech on his successors in Polish chassidut, in particular the Kotzker Rebbi.
Zeev Kitsis has taught Chasidut and Jewish thought for many years in Israel at Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa and Bar Ilan University. His area of specialization is Chasidic tale and Nigun. Dr. Kitsis recently has been involved with a project of creating an exhaustive compilation of Hasidic stories under the auspices of the Ministry of Education, the Avi Chai Foundation, and the National Library. He lives with his family on Kibbutz Ma’ale Gilboa.