Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: "I belong to chasidus"


I belong to chasidus. 

My background was such that chasidus was the only way that Judaism appeared, to me, in any significant way. 

So now I can think about it backwards and perhaps give it some intellectual meaning, but still you must remember that I am biased. 

Generally speaking, as far as I can be objective, I would say that the last phase in the history of Judaism is such that to ignore chasidus would be like going back to the Judaism of the Gemorrah and ignoring the Acharonim, as if you didn’t even come across them. 

The reason chasidism did not spread all over the world was the twin historical disasters of assimilation and the destruction of the Jews, both as a result of the pogroms in Russia and the second World War’s destruction of the heartland of World Jewry in Eastern Europe. 

So chasidism was stopped in its track, so to speak, but even today if you “count heads,” you’ll find that a majority actually daven Nusach Sefard (the favored liturgy of the Baal Shem Tov, and influenced by Lurianic Kabbalah)and are connected to a chasidic tradition.

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
From “The Mystic as Philosopher – An Interview with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz
Interview conducted by Sanford L. Drob and Harris Tilevitz for The Jewish Review.