Jewish learning Old Wine, New Vessels: A Hasidic Master Addresses Today’s Seekers

By Sydney Gross
rabbi art green

Hebrew College Rector Rabbi Arthur Green, a renowned Jewish scholar who founded the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College, is about to offer a first-time online course to help both Jewish and non-Jewish seekers around the world connect with the deep spiritual wisdom of  Hasidism. He will be teaching from his new translation of the Hasidic classic, The Light of the Eyes, about to be published by Stanford University Press.

Rabbi Green is an expert on this 18th Century spiritual revival movement of Jews in Eastern Europe, and is the leading figure within Neo-Hasidism, the attempt to apply Hasidic teachings to life in the contemporary world. He also recommends the healing power of beautiful Hasidic teachings as an intellectual and spiritual distraction from the global pandemic.

“There are millions of Jews who are descended from the people who heard these sermons, who have no idea of this spiritual tradition. These people had a legacy of very beautiful spiritual teachings. And that legacy has mostly been forgotten,” Rabbi Green said. “I’m trying to recall them for the great-great-grandchild of the people who first heard these teachings, but also for the many others who may be ‘adopted’ into this family of listeners.”

Rabbi Art Green's book Light of the Eyes

For several decades, Rabbi Green has had a special interest in this work, called Meʾor ʿEynayim in Hebrew. He considers its author to offer the most authentic version of the teachings of Hasidism’s founder, the Ba‘al Shem Tov. It re-reads the entire Torah, he suggests, as a “a guide to the cultivation of spiritual awareness and the implications of such awareness for one’s emotional life and personal qualities.” That is why he wants to teach it to community learners and seekers today.

“The descendants of 18th century Hasidim, both masters and disciples, are today scattered around the world,” Rabbi Green said. “Their spiritual descendants, if we read the work through a universal lens, are to be found everywhere.” Now we have the opportunity, because of Zoom, to have people all around the world learning together—to discover the original Hasidism of the Baʿal Shem Tov and work toward a spiritually reawakened Judaism in new and exciting ways.”


Rabbi Arthur Green’s Hebrew College special online community learning series, “The Light of Our Eyes,” will begin on October 19. Learn more and register.

 

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