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Student Group Prezi #2 The Eastern European Center

Available until midnight EST on Wednesday, February 18.

Henry Abramson

on 7 June 2015

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Transcript of Student Group Prezi #2 The Eastern European Center

The Chasidic Movement
Chasidism and the study of Chasidus continued to spread. The many different sects of Chasidim could be found throughout the world today
Council of the Four Lands
Jewish Self Government
From the 16th-18th century the Jews enjoyed a period of self government.
The council of four lands "Va'ad Arba Artsot" served as a Jewish parliament.
They had meetings two times a year in Lublin. They made decisions that covered areas from the Baltic to the Black seas.
This level of Jewish self government was not seen since the Babylonian times and never again thereafter.
They made decisions regarding marriage/divorce, copyright laws, and consumption restrictions.
The kehillah leaders met in Lublin, Poland two times a year to discuss important issues of the entire region.

Issues discussed were copyright laws and issues of marriage and divorce.
Sumptuary legislation laws were put in place to limit the extravagance of Jewish simchas. These laws were put in place again and again, since the Jews of Poland did not stick to the suggested restrictions.
By mid Seventeenth Century, Kaballah- otherwise known as Chassidus- gained popularity in Eastern Europe
The head of this Chasidic movement was Yisrael Baal Shem Tov – Israel Ben Eliezer. When he passed away in 1760, he was succeeded by Reb Dov Ber- The Maggid of Mezherich
The Chasidic movement reached out to every Jew- no matter how unlearned
It also focused on the positive aspect of “loving” G-d, and particularly love of one’s fellow,
while non Chasidic circles traditionally focused on fear of Divine Retribution

• As Chasidim spent their time learning the Chassidus, they retreated from the traditional study of the Talmud, which left the non-Chasidic circles resentful towards the Chasidim. What added to the conflict was the movements' implementation of new levels of Kashrus with regard to the way meat was slaughtered
• Those who opposed the Chasidim- known as the Mitnagdim (opposers)-, were led by the Vilna Gaon. In 1722, the Vilna Gaoon excommunicated Chasidic leaders, and he in turn was excommunicated by them. It was eventually the Vilna Gaon's disciple, Rabbi Chaim Volozhin, that helped put an end to the hostilities between the Misnagdim and the Chasidim
By the end of the 18th Century, Chasidism
had divided into smaller groups. Each group was
led by a Rebbe. The'Rebbe' was viewed as one with unearthly powers
This is a niggun-a melody-
of the first Chabad Rebbe, The Alter
Brenner, Michael: A Short History of the Jews
Lubavitcher Rabbis Memoirs

(Gabriella Yachad)

Miriam Sussman
The Ba'al Shem Tov - leader of the Hasidic Movement
The Vilna Goan -
Eliyahu ben Shlomoh Zalman
Leader of the Masnagdim

Masnagdim complaints against Hasidim included that the Hasidim downplayed Torah Study
The Hasidim believed the pleasures of the world are for people to enjoy. The Masnagdim believed physical pleasures took a person away from proper worship.
Every Jew could have a personal connection with Hashem. Neither wealth nor education mattered.
The Masnagdim did not like that the Hasidim changed the prayer book, portions of the service and did not adhere to established times for prayer.
By David Cohen
The Chassidic Movement, Then and Now
Before the era when Chassidus came to be, Kabbalah and mysticism had previously only been reserved for a select few. Chassidus, starting from the Baal Shem Tov and continuing with his successors, sought to set aside the focus of Kabbalah on the Heavenly Spiritual Worlds and incorporate Kabbalah into everyday life. The masses were now able to better feel Hashem's presence in everyday life through this new Kabbalistic revival.
Through Chassidus, one did not have to be the most learned or the wealthiest. Even the "average Joe" could enjoy a personal connection with Hashem. This helped a lot in lifting the spirits of the masses who had since been crushed by persecutions and expulsions.
Above: Image of the Baal Shem Tov, the first to introduce Chassidus
In fact, Chassidus shunned arrogance, thus emphasizing the equality of all who serve Hashem-even going so far as to elevate the simple and sincere one over the arrogant learned person.

Chassidus also emphasized the positive aspect of "loving and cleaving to Hashem" as the highest point of service to Him, as opposed to focusing more on fear of punishment.

Furthermore, Chassidus emphasized finding the presence of Hashem in even the seemingly mundane aspects of everyday life. Eating, for example, can be elevated to the equivalent a korban in Hashem's eyes through reciting the blessings properly and eating with the proper intentions. Business transactions can serve a righteous purpose when done within the boundaries of halacha, and so on. Because Chassidus incorporated Judiasm more into everyday life, people became more enthusiastic and optimistic about Judiasm through Chassidus.

Though Chassidus made Judiasm more accessible and uplifting to the masses, it was not without its opposition. At the head of the Chassidic movement stood the Baal Shem Tov, while the head of the Misnagdim(those who opposed the Chassidim)was the Vilna Gaon.

Above:Vilna Gaon
The Misnagdim, particularly the Vilna Gaon were against the way Chassidus seemed to downplay studying of the Talmud. In direct contrast, the Lithuanian Jews emphasized much more of a focus on Talmud study. Another point the Misnagdim were not happy about was that Chassidim seemed to believe in the performing of miracles, for example, by the Baal Shem Tov and his disciples . They held that spiritual greatness can only come about through natural human efforts at Torah study, and not through outside "visions or miracles."
Since the Chassidus movement had followed Shabbetai Tzvi, the Misnagdim also criticized the way Chassidum seemed to resemble the Shabbetai Tzvi movement and expressed concerns that another Shabsai Tzvi movement could spring up from the Chassidim, particularly because the way each Chassidic sect followed and still follows their leader or Rebbe, seemed to resemble the mesianic cultlike following of Shabtai Tzvi.
In 1777 the Vilna Gaon issued the first ban against the Chassidim. A letter was also sent to all the large Jewish communities, telling them to deal with their Chassidim in the same way as the Vilna Gaon, and to keep watch over the Chassidim until they recanted their behavior.
It wasn't until the time of R' Chaim Volozhin that the ban against the Chassidim was lifted. R' Chaim sought more dialogue with the Chassidim and, more understanding of their views, stopped the hostilities against them.
The reconciliation continued among their descendants. The Rashab(Sholom Dovber Schneersohn, fifth Rebbe of Lubavitch) was held in great respect by the Chofetz Chaim, to th point where the Chofetz Chaim declared of him "the words of the [Lubavitcher] Rebbe are holy, and anyone who argues disagrees with him [should know that] it is as if he is disagreeing with Moses". The Rayatz(Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch) recieved smicha(Rabbinic ordination) from Rav Chaim Brisker. Rav Yosef Ber Soleveitchik, as well, had an extremely close relationship with the late Lubavitcher Rebbe. indeed, when the Lubavitcher Rebbe, lo alenu, had a heart attack in 1977, Rav Soleveitchik began crying during morning prayers. His response to someone who asked him what was wrong: "I can't envision a world without the Lubavitcher Rebbe"
Hasidism popularized the Kabbalah and mysticism.
The Hasidim added stringencies which caused divisiveness in the community
The battle against the Hasidim was fierce.
Most Jews however, did not share the Masnagdim's disdain for the Hasidim.
The conflict with the Hasidim lessened during the 19th century and the goal of Jewish Unity once again became paramount.
"Mitnaggedim." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 14. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 371. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
Klausner, Israel, et al. "Elijah ben Solomon Zalman." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 6. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 341-346. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
"The Backbone of the Jewish Economy"
Polish noblemen hired the Jews to be the lease holders of the lands.
Jews would manage all of the affairs in the region. They would collect tax on farming and collect revenue.
They got large amounts of money from the Ukrainian peasants, which started a rebellion by the Ukrainian Peasants.
By: Dan Bamshad
Prof. Abramson lectures

of the Jews in the 17th Century in Eastern Europe
From the 11th-13th centuries, many Jews had moved eastward from Germany due to rabid anti-semitism.
By: Yosef Goldsmith
The Poland-Lithuania Commonwealth extended the Magdeburg Rechtto, or charters that were meant to entice the Jews settle in their lands in the hopes of spurring economic growth. These charters included the right to distill, monopolize, regulate trade and even to defend themselves.
Life for the Jews seemed to be on the upswing. In fact, during the 16-18th centuries, the Arenda System began to take root. Under this system, Polish nobility made an arrangement where the Jews would exact taxes from the peasants. After the quota set by the Polish overlords were reached, any further money exacted from the peasants would belong to the Jews. This increase of economic and social success contributed to a growing numbers of Jewish immigrants.
However, the prosperity enjoyed by these Jews didn’t last forever. These peasants who were now being oppressed by their Jewish tax masters started a rebellion. This resulted in the uprising of the Cossacks (militarized outlaws) who waged a “war of liberation.”
These attacks led to the infamous uprising headed by Hetman Bohdan Khmelnitsky. Dubed the “Khmelnytsky massacre”, this devastating upheaval resulted in the death of many Poles as well as the deaths of over 50,000 Jews.
Following this devastation, the Jews were subject to even more pain. A man by the name of Shabtai Tzvi, a self-proclaimed messiah, gathered a large following. However, when challenged by the Sultan, he renounced his Judaism and converted to Islam bringing with him many of his followers. This dealt another blow to Jews who were still reeling from their previous desolation.
This led to the Hassdic movement led by the Baal Shem Tov. For quite some time this movement was met with much opposition from the Mitnagdim led by the Vilna Goan due to its differing standards regarding Jewish law. However, with the rise of the Haskalah movement, both groups found common ground and joined together to resist their new common enemy.

-Prof. Abramson's Essential Lectures Video Series

Rav Yisrael Baal Shem
The Ba'al Shem Tov
Yisrael Ben Elizer is better known as Yisrael Baal Shem or the Baal Shem Tov. He is called by this name meaning "Master of the Good Name," referring to the name of God. This title alludes to Reb Yisrael's mystical abilities in the realm of miracle working. Numerous stories have been passed down telling of his otherworldly powers and how he used them to heal!
Rabbi Yisrael was born in Okop, a small Ukrainian village on the Polish-Russian border. His parents, Sarah and Eliezer, passed away when the Baal Shem Tov was still very young, and he was brought up by the community. The Baal Shem Tov is known to have hidden his greatness until a time when he felt people could recieve him properly. He spent many years in isolation in the Carpathian Mountains meditating, praying, and studying the great mystical works.
The Baal Shem Tov innovated a path of simple faith and joy in the service of God. He moved away from the aesthetic ways of the Kabbalists before him and stressed the importance of embracing and elevating all of ones spiritual and physical activities. He emphasized the greatness of the simple Jew and his dedication to God through acts of faith, honesty, and devotion to God.
The Ba'al Shem Tov's emphasis on prayer, faith, and the elevation of mundane activity was intended to encourage the simple Jews in their service of God. The Ba'al Shem Tov taught that even if one didn't have the knowledge and skill to learn Gemara, he needn't think less of, or give up on, his service of God. Simply going about one's profession in a holy manner is a very precious form of serving God.
Opponents of the Chassidic movement of the Baal Shem Tov were known as Misnagdim. They feared that the Chassidic teachings undermined the importance of Torah study and observance of Halacha. They pointed towards prayer times and the ignorance of much of Chassidic Jewry as examples of this. They were also very weary that the movement echoed the messianic fervor of the Shabtai Tzvi movement. The opposition to the Chassidim was led by the Vilna Gaon.
The opposition to Chassidism began dying out with the emergence of the "Haskala" or period of "Enlightenment" which threatened both Chassidim and Misnagdim. Circumstances ultimately required that these groups stop fighting and join forces in staving of this radical new movement.
Thanks for watching!
By: Yavniel Field
By: Yavniel Field
Wikipedia (of course!)
The Jewish Movement and Settlement in Eastern Europe
The Jews were being continually oppressed and experiencing Anti-Semitism to the point that they decided to migrate to another place.
They chose Eastern Europe due to the fact that it presented a major economic opportunity for the Polish and Lithuania people as well as for the Jews.
The opportunities presented to the Jews were as follows: They must gain a certain amount of revenue each month by collecting from the Ukrainian peasants. Any extra money they earned would be their own to keep.
Additionally, they were given the opportunity to create their own laws early on. The Jews were extremely happy about this, prompting the move to Eastern Europe.
The Start of the Eastern Europe Experience
The Jews were hired to be the lease holders of the Ukrainian peasant lands in order to help collect the revenue for the Polish Nobility.
The peasants were ultimately turned into slaves by the Jews and they did not like this at all.
As a result, a group of Ukrainian outlaws known as the Cossacks spiked a revolt against the Polish Nobility.
Their religious belief system was Orthodox Christianity versus the Polish Nobility who were Catholic. The Polish Nobility had been trying to spread Catholicism onto the Ukrainians.
The Revolt began in 1648, and the Cossacks took all their anger out on the Jews because they were closer in distance to them than the Polish Nobility.
The Cossacks wreaked havoc on the Jews, destroying their homes as well as killing 50-60 thousand Jews.
By Malka Benedict
Chasidim Vs Misnagdim
In the 18th century a new movment called chasidus was started by the Bal Shem Tov
Chassidus is a way of jewish life that emphasizes how a person can and should become closer to G-d through everything he says or does
There was tremendous opposition against the chassidus movement as many thought it was another flase messiah like Shabbtai Tzvi which caused many Jews to leave Judiasim or be dissapointed due to the false hope.
The classic Lithuanian style of learning was intense study of gemarah and halacha. Followers of the Chassidus movement learned different seforim and challenged traitional norms, for example the proper time for teffilah. It was because of these and other reason a group of people, called Misnagdim, were very against the Chassidus movement.
The leader of the Misnagdim was the Vilna Goan, Reb Eliyahu Kremer, who put the Chassidus movement in excommunication as he felt the Chassdim were going against traditional Judiasim in a unacceptable way. The leaders of the Chassidus movement responded with a ban of thier own, which led to tremendous fighting between the two groups.
Eventually the two groups realized that there was a much greater threat form the haskala movement, which wanted Jews to integrate into European society, and they made a truce which has lasted until today.
After the Bal Shem Tov passed away his student the Magid of Mezeritch became the leader of Chassidus. Many of his stuents spread Chassidus through out Europe and many new branches of Chassidus, each with their own individual rebbe, were formed. The Rebbe is the spiritual leader who gives insight and help to his students on how to serve G-d in the proper way.
Shabbetai Tzvi
The False Messiah
By: Avishai Zitron
Shabbetai Tzvi was born in the early 1600's to a family of poultry merchants in Turkey.
His family put him through a rigorous Talmud education, in a Yeshiva under Rabbi Joseph Escapa, who was also the leading Rabbi of Smyrna at the time.
Get the pun? His father was a poultry (turkey included) merchant in... ah forget it.
Shabbetai was extremely sharp and very good at learning talmud; in fact, when only in his teens he was declared a Chacham.
However, Shabbetai had many odd tendencies and was eccentric to a fault.
Shabbetai wasn't so interested in learning Talmud, though. He began learning Kabbalah at a very young age
By: Coby Dorfman
Biliography: Professor Abramson's video
A Chassidush Rebbe dancing at a wedding.
The Cossacks: Hell's Angels of Imperialist Russia
Because the Jews were appointed as money collectors over the Ukranian peasants, they were perceived as oppressors that needed to be killed.
Wherever they found Jews, the Cossacks killed them all, sparing neither women nor children. They pillaged the estates of the Jews and nobles, burned churches and killed their priests, leaving nothing whole. It was a rare individual in those days who had not soaked his hands in blood.
False Messiahs
Shabbetai Zevi and Jacob Frank
Shabbetai had a very charismatic personality. As a result, people flocked to him very readily.
Final Results
Nathan of Hanover recorded some very graphic accounts of the massacres. According to him, some 200,000 jews were killed during these tragic times, however, that figure is somewhat inflated. The more realistic number is 50-60 thousand, which was, at that time, an astronomical number.
Many people now say that his behaviour could have been classified as either schizophrenic or manic depressive.
Here is an account of one of the massacres that took place:
Shabbetai Zevi
Jacob Frank
At times he was a brilliant student and kabbalistic teacher, but at other times he claimed to have had "brilliant" visions or times of "fall" where the shechina was veiled to him. He also used to fast for weeks on end, take many "ritual baths", and indulge in other strange activities.
The uprising also led to a decree on July 3, 1661, at the Council of Vilna in which Jewish elders banned merrymaking, including the setting of limitations on wedding celebrations, public drinking, fire dances, masquerades and Jewish comic entertainers. Stories about massacre victims who had been buried alive, cut to pieces or forced to kill one another spread throughout Europe and beyond. These stories filled many with despair, and resulted in a revival of the ideas of Isaac Luria, and the identification of Sabbatai Zevi as the Messiah.
Shabbetai Zevi claimed he was born on the 9th of Av in 1626, which is the same day many years later that the 1st and 2nd Temples were destroyed.
He supposedly had Manic-Depressive Disorder, leading to very unusual behavior.
All this prompted the Rabbi's of the generation to be suspicious of him and be on the verge of throwing him out of all major cities in eastern Europe.
In 1648, he claimed himself to be the Messiah in his hometown of Smyrna, although he had been banished.
There happened to be theories about how "The End of Days" was supposed to occur in 1648 as well, which added fuel to Shabbetai Zevi's fire.
But Shabbetai Tzvi didn't stop there. During the time of the Chmielnicki massacres in the mid-1600's, Shabbetai claimed to have performed miracles to survive, including tearing apart dogs and fighting serpents. Since the world at that time was very superstitious, many people believed him and considered him to be the Messiah performing miracles.
By: Eitan Joshua
Nathan of Gaza declared himself as Shabbetai's prophet, further propelling the cause. Nathan of Gaza declared Shabbetai the Messiah in 1665
The Rabbi's of Smyrna whipped Shabbetai in public and sent him out, and other Rabbi's in Salonika and Constantinople frowned upon his practices and in some cases excommunicated him as well. However, Shabbetai's eccentricity and charisma always left him with a following, and he was always funded by wealthy people to continue his "heavenly" practices.
The Roots and Fruits of the Chassidic Movement
Shabbetai's fame would have stopped there if it wasn't for another man named "Nathan of Gaza"
I hope this Prezi shed some light on who the Cossaks were to us Jews.

- Wikipedia.org
- Nathan of Hanover and the Ukrainian Rebellion of 1648 - Dr. Henry Abramson
- Jewishencyclopedia.org
- steampunkopera.wordpress.com
- Dr. Abramson's Lectures
In 1665, Shabbetai conSULTed the SULTan in Istanbul, but he was arrested. When given the choice to either convert to islam or be beheaded, he chose to live, giving up on his beliefs.
as blood libels became popular and massacres of Eastern European Jews became more frequent
Many of his devout followers felt deceived by his conversion, and renounced their ties to him. His
devout followers, however, deluded themselves to believe that his conversion was a necessary step towards salvation. Even after he died in 1667, these people still believed him to be the Messiah.
a contract that granted Jews rights like regulating or monopolizing certain trades and defending themselves, by Western Europe in attempt to have the Jews modernize their economic systems
Parts of the Jewish community had fractured in to two segments, the "believers" and the "non-believers." (Not to be confused with the modern day "Beliebers.")
Nathan from Gaza was a brilliant man who was well respected in his community as a Torah scholar. However, after leaving his hometown, he started learning Kabbalah, and took a wrong turn from there.
Instead of understanding kabbalah the way it was supposed to, he started speaking with "celestial beings" who, unbeknownst to him, were really damaging angels. He had dreams of meeting the Messiah, and although he meant well, this was a big mistake on his part.
Antisemitism in the Rhine Lands rose
Eastern European Jewry was offered the Magdeberg Recht
Nearly 100 years later, in the 1750's, Jacob Frank accused rabbinic Judaism of using the Talmud for distortion of jewish Law.
When Nathan met Shabbetai, he reconvinced him of his spiritual destiny as the Messiah, and during Shavuot of 1665, Nathan announced Shabbetai as Moshiach.
He was one of the remaining followers of Shabbetai Zevi, and although he did not consider himself to be the Messiah like the Shabbetai did, he had equally deleterious intentions.
The Jews in Gaza were mesmerized by both Shabbetai Tzvi and Nathan of Gaza (who was then considered an honorary Torah scholar), and the 2 of them gathered a following once more.
Large Migrations To Western Europe
He incorporated many Christian Ideas into his teachings, such as the holy Trinity.
Jewish Authorities turned to the Bishop for help in stopping Frank. However, the Bishop sided with Frank, with dire cosequences.
Jews felt a sense of security in Poland and the Ukraine where they played a crucial role in the Arenda System. However, their role as tax collectors and land managers over the Latifundia did not endear them to the Ukrainian peasants.
The Chmielnicki massacre in 1648-49 gave Jews an especially good incentive to believe in Shabbetai for being the Messiah, as many Jews were killed as part of the massacre. So out of desperation they turned to Nathan of Gaza, Shabbetai, and their followers.
In a formal disputation between Frank and the Jewish leaders, the Bishop declared Frank the victor.
As a result, fines were placed on the Jews of Kamenetsk, and all copies of the Talmud that were found were burned.
At this point, Frank considered himself to be the successor to Shabbetai Zevi, and he believed himself to be some sort of Messiah.
The Safed circle in Israel a few years prior introduced a concept (that was hidden for many years) to the Rabbanim at the time - Kabbalah from the Ari'zal.
He and 500 followers had public conversions to Chritianity
He ended up spending the final years of his life in a prison, due to many suspicious activites.
Because practical Kabbalah, a relatively new concept at the time, became so popular, accepted, and widespread, Jews all over Europe conceived Shabbetai's "kabbalistic" teachings as part of that group, or an off-branch. Never did they think that Shabbetai was an imposter, or his visions false.
Cossack Peasant Uprising
Against the Polish Rule in the Ukraine
There were many people left who still believed in either Shabbetai Zevi or Jacob Frank as the Messiah, all the way until the 19th century.
The spit among the communities of the believers and non-believers led many to foresee a fracture in the community structure that seemed inevitable.
Even today, we still have many sects of Judaism, and it is believed that was started in part by the rift between believers and non-believers.
As key players in the Polish Arenda System, the Jews of Western Europe were a major target during the Ukrainian pesant's uprising under Khmelnitski.
Only 2 years later, the Sultan captured Shabbetai. The Rabbi's "nudged" the Sultan to deal with him as they saw that Shabbetai's eccentricities turned into blatant offenses and events strictly forbidden by Jewish law, including annuling fasts and signing his letters with the name of Hashem as it is written in the Torah.
By: Binyamin Weiss
1) P' R' Abramson's lecture in Unit 3
2)Michael Brenner's "A Short History of the Jews," Chapters 10 and 11, pages 137-166
The Sultan gave Shabbetai a choice: either the Sultan will kill Shabbetai or he would convert to Islam and work for the palace. Valuing his life, Shabbetai chose the second.
Demoralization of the Jews
Shabbetai Tzvi in jail, pondering his choices.
due to the horror and tragedy of the Gezeras Tach V'Tat was overwhelming, leaving the Jews vulnerable and desperately seeking comfort.
Followers all over were disappointed in Sabbetai's decision to say the least, and were finally disillusioned of Shabbetai's and Nathan's practices.
Shabtai Tzvi
Disillusionment and Despair
Disconnection and Distance
As the suffering ended, the Jews welcomed the idea of a messianic age. However, Shabtai Tzvi, who they followed hoping for redemption, converted to Islam upon the sultan's threat, proving him to be a false messiah. Many of his followers converted along with him and the rest returned home in a sorry state.
In the meanwhile...
However, many followed Shabbetai into Islam, and still believed in his prophecies. These were later known to be called Sabbataians.
Elitist Approach
to Torah Learning in Lithuania
For comic relief, please enjoy this Sabbat- I mean turkey.
Presentation by: Avishai Zitron
became very prominent. It focused on a process called Pilpul where scholars were commended for fiery technical exploration of the texts over a practical or personally relatable learning style.

The masses of European Jewry were at a loss. They were so broken and lost from the destruction and disappointment that followed. The events of the preceding years took a major toll on the faith and composure of the people.
The masses of Western European Jewry were uninspired by the Lithuanian learning style because of its lack of practical application and felt it was out of their reach if they lacked the texts of the skills. Torah felt dry and unrelated to them.
Popularity of the Chassidic Movement
The Chassidic Movement, spearheaded by Rav Yisroel Baal Shem Tov, became quickly popular amongst the masses as it filled their many voids. It brought warmth, purpose, and meaning to their lives, provided connection to and guidance from a great master, and valued them as prominent members of the Jewish community regardless of their knowledge or abilities. In effect, it revitalized Western European Jewry in a dark and cold time.
Amongst its prominent teachings were:
The presence of God in everything in day to day life
The mission of Jews to repair the world through mitzvos and Godly acts
The denial of asceticism, the belief that self flagellation brings redemption
Reaching out to the populace and not just the scholarly and elite
The belief that lay men are no less important than the scholarly
The focus on prayer as a key means to connecting to God
The importance of connecting to and following a master or Rebbe
By: Tovi Bochner
"Essential Lectures in Jewish History: The Eastern European Center" by Dr. Henry Abramson
"The Baal Shem Tov", Torahcafe.com lecture by Dr. Henry Abramson
The Effect Of Jewish Migration to Poland/Lithuania
Misnagdim (the Vilna Gaon)
The beginning of the emergence of Chasidim provoked only occasional opposotion by prominent Rabbis, including Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, and Rabbi Yaakov Emden.
With the spread of Chassidus to Lithuania and Belorussia, there began an organized opposition to the movement.
Eastbound and Down
It was the Vilna Gaon who galvanized the major Jewish communities in Lithuania and Belorussia (such as Brisk, Vilna, and Minsk) into a major battle with the Chasidim.
Some of the methods employed included threats of Cherem and burning of Chasidic literature.
Prominent Jews in the 17th Century
The death of the Vilna Gaon in 1797 and the decision of the Czarist government in 1804 to legalize Chasidic prayer houses and severely restrict the anti-Chasidic measures of the Misnagdim had the combined effect of dashing the Misnagdim’s dreams of utterly destroying Chasidism.
Between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Jews moved east from their traditional Ashkenazic roots, into the Polish- Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Source: The YIVO Encyclopeia of JEws in Eastern Europe, "Misnagdim"
Fraida Shonek

Shneur Zalman of Liady was the founder of Chabad, a branch of Chasidic Judaism, then based in Russia. He is the author of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Tanya, and his siddur Torah Or. He is also known as the Baal HaTanya, and the Alter Rebbe.
Elija ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, known as the Vilna Gaon, was the foremost leader of Mitnagdic Jewry, which was against Hasidic Jewry. He encouraged his students to study secular sciences.
Shabbetai Tzvi was a Sephardic rabbi and Kabbalist who claimed to be the Messiah. He was the founder of the Jewish Sabbatean Movement. He was giving the choice by the Sultan of facing death or having to convert to Islam. He chose the latter and so did many of his followers. This was a disaster for the Jews.
One of the lasting effects of the major jewish fallout in Poland was the eventual creation of the false messiah, Shabsai Tzvi. Due to the very fragile jewish times Shabsai Tzvi was able to convince thee Jews that all of their suffering was not for naught and that he was their messiah. Eventually after a series arguments over giving back Jerusalem to the Jews Shabsai tzvi was threatened to be killed if he did not convert to Islam. He did, and the Jews, as you can imagine, were in despair. Many think that a direct consequence of the entire Eastern European/Shabsai Tzvi fallout was the creation of the Chasidic Movement.
There were 2 main reasons for jewish migration to Poland and Lithuania. One, Anti-semitism and two, the jews felt like they would be welcomed in Eastern Europe.
There was an enormous uproar from the Ukrainian Peasents as a direct consequence of the Amenda System. In 1648 a rebellion was made, led by a man known as Khmel'nyts'ki. Jews were on of the main targets of this rebellion since they were essentially the opposite of the Ukrainian peasants. As a result of this violent rebellion over 50-60 thousand jews were killed. This messed with the psyche of the jews at the time as they felt no matter where they went they would be persecuted.
Eventually the Jews became a prominent part of the economic system. This system was known as the Amenda System and was based on 3 classes of people; the Jews, the Polish Nobility, and the Ukrainian Peasants. The jews job was to essentially work under the Polish nobility by being tax-farmers of the Ukrainian Peasants. Beacuse of this the relationship between the Jews and Ukrainian Peasants became very sour very quickly.
The Polish wanted the jews in order to boost their economy. They welcomed the jews with open arms. In fact, in order to try to persuade the jews to move to their towns the Poles created the Magdeburg Recht which offered Jews certain rights that would make the Jews feel welcomed and empowered.
2 Reasons:
a) Anti semitism in Western Europe was rising at a dangerous pace
Blood libels
b) Jews were welcomed/ invited to bolster the rudimentary economy in that region
Offered a charter that granted them rights that they didn't have in Western Europe
The economic structure in place was the Arenda System. The Jews were hired by Polish nobility to manage their estates in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian peasants within the estates.
Polish Nobility
Ukrainian Peasants
This system did not engender the Jews to the Ukrainian peasant population. As a result, they formed a new partisan movement called the Cossacks. The Cossacks traveled in groups, raided Polish nobility, and vented against their Jewish overlords, who were in Ukraine.
From 1648-1649, a Cossack uprising called the Khmel'nyts'kyi Rebellion tore through Ukraine and Poland. The Jews were heavily targeted, and by the end of the rebellion, around sixty- thousand Jews were killed
Naturally, this was a heavy blow to the Jewish psyche, and many Jews believed that after the destruction wrought on the Jewish community, the Messiah was right around the corner.
The Life and Times of Shabbetai Tzvi
Shabtai Tzvi played upon this, and he came out the Messiah, gaining many followers in the process. Eventually, when the sultan gave him an ultimatum, death or Islam, he converted. Although many Jews realized that he was a false messiah, many converted with him.
Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, also known as the Baal Shem Tov, is considered to be the founder of Chassidic Judaism. He had opposition from the Vilna Gaon.
Born in Smyrna, 1626, young Shabbetai Tzvi quickly proved himself to be an exceptionally bright individual. However, he was prone to strange behavior, making outlandish claims such as possessing the ability to levitate. Since he did not live in a comic book, it is suggested he may have suffered from mental illness.
Pictured above:
Not Shabbetai Tzvi
The overall psyche of the Jewish people was left very fragile as the backlash to Shabtai Tzvi, and a new controversial movement emerged. The Chassidic Movement, started by the Baal Shem Tov, put emphasis on different parts of Judaism than the "litvish" way, and changed certain aspects within Judaism, such as Shechita. Additionally, new Rebbes formed their own branches of Chassidus. As a result, many of their followers discounted traditional rabbinic authority.
Eventually the Vilna Gaon and Baal Shem Tov stopped fighting because of the Haskalah Movement.
Jewish Life After the Revolt
Shabbetai Tzvi first declared himself to be the messiah in 1648, at which point he was asked to leave his hometown. He found a follower in Nathan of Gaza who propagated the claim that Shabbetai was the messiah.
The Chassidic Movement was met with tremendous resistance. Their opposition, called the Misnagdim, was headed by the Jewish leader of that period, R' Eliyahu Kramer, the Vilna Gaon. This "battle" was only settled with the more pressing need to fight the Enlightenment, also known as the Haskalah Movement, which was rapidly gaining popularity. The Haskalah was a movement that sought to integrate Jews into secular society. Although the movement did not try to alter the Halachos, many Jewish morals and laws were left by the wayside.
Dr. Abramson Video Lecture Series
Created by:
Alexander Mehl
After suffering such a large loss of Jews to the revolt, the Jews were looking for answers and maybe even a miracle.
Just trust me on this, you guys
A man named Shabbetai Tsvi emerged claiming to be the messiah for the Jewish people.
The climate of persecution, specifically the Chmielnicki massacres, led many to believe Shabbetai Tzvi's claims were true. But Shabbetai's own delusions proved to be his undoing. When he tried to meet with the sultan of Istanbul, he was arrested and told he must convert to Islam or be executed.
The Jews believed Shabbatai Tsvi to the point that they believed that the Messianic Era was about to begin.
Shabbetai Tsvi went to the Sultan to demand back Jerusalem and was met with a death threat which led to Shabbetai Tsvi and some of his followers taking on the Islamic way of life.
Presentation By: Avraham Boroosan
Prezi by Professor Abramson
A Short History of the Jews
by: Michael Brenner
At the same time, the Hasidic movement was rising. They were led by the Baal Shem Tov. They gained a tremendous amount of followers from the people who were still reeling from what Shabbetai Tsvi had done.
The Chassidim and their way of life was greatly challenged from the Lithuanian community (the Mitnagdim), who believed that the Chassidim were too left wing for Jews and their traditional values.
Despite (or perhaps because of) his many stunts, such as marrying a sefer Torah and abolishing certain fast days, Shabbetai Tzvi developed a large following. However, not everyone approved of him. Many Rabbis, such as Rabbi Yaakov Sashpertas, were vehemently opposed to the movement and did their best to stop it.
While arguments continued from both sides, they finally realized that they had to come to an agreement so that they could defend themselves from the threat of the Haskalah movement.
By: Joseph Schwartz
Guys, no
Source: Dr. Abramson's Essential Lecture Videos
In a shocking twist, he went with converting
Most of Shabbetai Tzvi's followers went home to repent and rebuild their lives. Some extremely loyal followers converted with him. They were known as the Dönmeh, and avoided intermarriage until the 20th century.
Some people don't know when to quit
By Asher Horovitz
Sources: The Eastern European Center (Lecture by Dr Henry Abramson)
Shabbetai Tsvi: False Messiah of the 17th Century (Lecture by Dr Henry Abramson)
A Short History of the Jews
by Michael Brenner
Wikipedia article on Shabbetai Tzvi

The Alter Rebbe
Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
1745- 1812
Early Life
The Alter Rebbe was born in a small Polish town called Liozna. He was a disciple of the Maggid of Mezritch, who was the founder of Chassidus. As a child, the Alter Rebbe expressed true brilliance and wrote commentary on the rashi and ramban.
The Alter Rebbe was the founder of Chabad Chassidim. He chose the name CHABAD from the sefirot- Chochma, Binda, Daas.
Alter Rebbes works
The Alter Rebbe is known as the "Baal Hatanya." He wrote the Tanya which deals with Jewish spirituality and psychology from a Kabbalistic point of view. It expounds on profound themes as the Oneness of God, Tzimtzum, the Sefirot, simcha, bitachon, among many other mystical concepts.
The Misnagdim had opposed Chassidus and the teachings of the Alter Rebbe. The Alter Rebbe and his Chassidim were being falsely accused and in 1798 the Alter Rebbe was a imprisoned due to "treason". In Chabad it is believed that his physical imprisonment was a reflection of the heavenly accusations.
Works of the Alter Rebbe
By: Devorah Solomon
Rabbi Shneur Zalman is well known for the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, his version of the Shulchan Aruch is an authoritative code of Jewish law and custom commissioned by Rabbi Dovber of Mezeritch and composed at the age of twenty.
They were not a specific race, they were a group of nomads who first emerged in the 14th and 15th centuries. "If you were a disgruntled serf, who could manage to run away and survive into the wild long enough to find them, you could be one."
The Khmelnytsky Rabbelion
During the Cossack rebellion against the poles,
their leader, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, told the ukranian peasants that "the poles had sold them as slaves to the accursed Jews." This spurred on the massacre of Jews in Eastern Europe.
The Polish nobility stipulated how much money they wanted, the Jews would go and collect as much money as they could, and then they would be able to keep the extra.
Khmelnitsky Massacre

-Jews came to Poland because of anti-semitism in Germany and because they were invited to develop the weak economy.

Jewish Migration From Western to Eastern Europe
The Move:
From the 11th to the 17th Century, Jews, in large numbers, began migrating from Western Europe to Eastern Europe.
- Poles gave Jews power to collect taxes from the Ukrainian serfs.

-Bogdan Khmelnitsky
became the leader of rebellion against Polish authority and was joined by Ukrainians,Cossaks, and Tatars in killing thousands of jews and poles.

Following the Crusades, Jews were not looked at under a good light. Christians created lies and fables about the Jews. The Blood Liable was created as a way to scare Christians from doing business and commerce with Jews by claiming Jews needed Christian blood for their unleavened bread on Passover. The Image of the "Jewish Pig" was also created to depict the Jews as sub-human beings. Jews became fed up with these accusations and decided to move Eastward.
Invitation to Eastern Europe
Nathan Hanover in his book "Yeven Metzulah"
describes the barbaric killing the jews were forced to endure at the hands of the cossaks.
Jews were welcomed to Eastern Europe in exchange for their assistance in advancing the economy. In countries such as Poland, where the economy was primarily based off of bartering, there was a great need for economic advancement. Jews were invited for their assistance in exchange rights and liberties including regulating trade.
It was after this that the jews were in desperate need of a savior.
False Messiah
Shabtai Tzvi was very bright but also had psychological issues, his third marriage was to a prostitute, and he was known to say G-d's name in vain
Shabtai Tzvi was excommunicated from Jerusalem, but he had acquired a following as he claimed to have visions of himself being Messiah
When he was joined by Nathan of Gaza who called himself the prophet of S.Z they told the world he was the Messiah.
This was called the Sabbatian movement, he made new laws such as abolishing fast days and allowing the korban pesach to be slaughtered outside of jerusalem.
Facts about Khmelnisky:
- He was a Cossak
- He was very rich even before he came to power
- He is considered a hero to the Ukrainians nowadays
The Sultan heard about the antics of S.Z and quickly put it to rest by making S.Z convert to Islam. Even after he converted he still had a following because they thought he was searching for the sparks of light(netzitzus- a Kaballah term) in the darkness(kalifos) of Islam and once find it then it will be the end of galut.
One of the Sultans
By: Daniel Lieberman
The Results:
The most densely populated Jewish communities in Europe. By the 1900's there were nearly 3 million Jews Living in Poland.
Prof. Abramson's lecture
"Yeven"Metzulah by Nathan Hanover
Prof. Miller's lecture
Arenda System
The Jews of Southern Poland were placed in charge of Ukrainian surfs in order to collect taxes and fees from them. They were not liked by them.
Khozaks Rebellion
As a result of the Arenda system, many peasants rebelled against the Jews and Pols invading
into Poland and killing many Jews. Some estimate up to 60,000 Jews were killed.
Shabbti Tzvi
While living in Eastern Europe, he claimed to Mashiach. After amasing many followers he traveled to Constantinople where he damanded a right to return to the Jewish Homeland. He was threatened with death and forced to convert to Islam bringing many of this followers with him.

During the 18th Century, the Ba'al Shem Tov created the Chassidus movement. It was a change on the way Judaism was looked at and it swept throughout Southern Poland and Ukraine. Traditional Judaism under the Vilna Gaon did not agree with Chassidus and there was much opposition from each side.
The Precarious
Tale of
Shebbtai Tzvi:
The Making
of a False

By Jonathan Saleman
A tremendous devastation resulted to the Jews, they were located in Ukraine. Around fifty to sixty thousand Jews died.
The Chelmentski Massacres
ravaged the land. Jews fell to utter
despair from the destruction that
befell them. They searched for
hope. They needed a savior. What they got was a man by the name of Shabbetai Tzvi.

The Beginning

Shabbetai Tzvi had redeeming qualities from a young age. He was handsome, had
a good voice, and so brilliant that his family
could not find a sufficient teacher. However, he exhibited rather eccentric behavior. He wandered in the forest and claimed to have visions from god. He reiterated antinomian, beliefs; in other words, against socially established law. Once he claimed ti be the Messiah, he was asked to leave.

The Rise and Reign

On his journey to spread his name as the
messiah, he met Nathan of Gaza. He became an
ardent follower and propagandist proclaiming Shabbetai Tzvi the savior of the Jewish people. Taking advantage of their vulnerability, he garnered followers all across the Mediterranean. . Although he introduced wildly out of the ordinary behavior, such as abolishing fast and marrying a torah scroll, to many, he was the light at the end of a very dark diaspora.
The Fall

As the depicted by Torah Scripture and Talmud, the role of the Jewish Messiah is to conquer the Holy Land of Israel. That is exactly what Shabbetai Tzvi would try to do. He marched to the Sultan, Mehmed the Fourth, demanding Israel be free from Ottoman control and given over to the Jews. The Sultan simply replied by imprisoning him, which interestingly enough attracted more followers. He was later freed and given a profound choice; death by beheading, or conversion to Islam. The Jewish population was utterly devastated at his choice to convert. Many became impoverished because they sold there possessions to follow Shebbetai Tzvi.
Others repented by inflicting themselves in various ways. Few thought that this was actually part of the divine plan of the Messiah; they were called "Dunmeh."

Jewish belief dictates that there is no one to far from the right path. He actually makes an effort to return by asking to get a conventional prayer book and mezuzot. Although he committed such heinous acts, he is still remembered for his great knowledge of Kabbalistic works. He died at the age of 49.

By Josh A.
Despite the opposition of the Vilna Gaon,
the Chassidim still revered him during his lifetime and thereafter, and believed that the Gaon acted only because of slander from the Misnagdim. The Chassidim point
out the wording of the Gaon's ban against them as proof.
The council of the four lands was the center body of Jewish authority in Poland from 1580 -1764.
By: Malka Benedict
Full transcript