Tuesday, April 13, 2010

U2 fits the four planks of Hasidic Judaism

Bono once wrote that he hopes he's half Jewish..
it must be a Hasidic half.

Whether or not this report from an Israeli newspaper is true or not,
he's more than halfway there!

To hear him yell "Shalom" and "Todah" during "Where the Streets" at an Israel gig is chilling...though not as chilling as his hasidic nigun at the castle..

The article below (link) on four elements of Hasidism thought dovetails well with our previous comments on U2's "Elevation"...
But not just on that obvious connecting point of "elevation prayer,"
but all four planks.................uh, "enthusiastic worship" anybody?

Defining Hasidic Thought. Some of the most significant attempts to designate a theological concept central to Hasidism have emphasized the following features:

devekut (communion with God); transformation and elevation of evil to goodness; the concept of let atar panui mine (no place is empty of God); and enthusiastic worship versus Torah study.

Devekut. Some scholars have maintained that Hasidism is distinguished by its insistence that the starting point of religious life is complete adhesion to and communion with God. Before Hasidism, it is asserted, devekut was described (by kabbalists and writers of kabbalistic ethical works) as the pinnacle of religious and mystical achievement, a temporary spiritual status attained by the devout for short periods of time. By contrast, Hasidism, it is claimed, considered devekut the initial rung of the spiritual ladder of ascension, which should be maintained constantly during the ordinary Hasid’s daily life and work. Thus the Hasidic concept of devekut is regarded as replacing the messianic endeavor that was central to Lurianic and Sabbatian conceptions of worship.

Most of the evidence supporting this hypothesis was derived from the writings of Dov Ber, the Magid of Mezritsh. It is similar to Martin Buber’s description of Hasidism as sanctifying Jewish daily life and endowing with religious significance the “neutral” and “secular” aspects of life (‘avodah be-gashmiut). This is a valid theory, relevant to the understanding of the school of the Magid, but it has minimal significance with respect to other and later Hasidic schools. In most Hasidic sects, for example, communion with God was replaced as a guiding principle by adhesion to the tsadik. Moreover, the very concept of devekut has been defined in various ways by different Hasidic teachers, some of whom have regarded it more generally as refined and lofty religious enthusiasm.

Transformation and Elevation of Evil to Goodness. Hasidim believe that evil thoughts (mahashavot zarot) and inclinations that haunt a
person, especially during worship, contain spiritual energy that originally emanated from the divine realms of goodness and were disfigured in the lower world. The task of the Hasid is neither to ignore this energy nor to overcome it, but rather to elevate it to its source and transform it back into goodness, thus strengthening the powers of good and weakening those of evil. This idea is emphasized in several early Hasidic works, including those of the Magid, and has been designated by some as a Hasidic innovation. The concept is undoubtedly found in Hasidism and is sometimes prominent in Hasidic thought, but its sources actually go back to kabbalistic ethical works of the Safed school (especially Shene luhot ha-berit [Two Tablets of the Covenant] by Yesha‘yahu ben Avraham Horowitz). In the eighteenth century, the concept was interpreted in a more radical way by non-Hasidim than by the Hasidim themselves.

Let Atar Panui Mine. Hasidism asserts that the divine presence is in every aspect of existence; a person is always surrounded by and immersed in it, and the recognition of this is the paramount directive that should guide one’s emotional and intellectual behavior. This concept is central in the teachings of the Ba‘al Shem Tov and is prominent in the theology of early Habad Hasidism. It actually encompasses the previous two ideas: the centrality of devekut and the elevation of evil. However, let atar panui mine (no place is empty of God) permeates earlier kabbalistic and ethical-kabbalistic thought as well, and cannot be considered unique to Hasidism.

Enthusiastic Worship versus Torah Study. Other suggested essential principles, including the importance of joy in worship or the love of the downtrodden and the ignorant, are actually commonly encountered in early and non-Hasidic Judaism and should be regarded as characteristic of what we might call literary neo-Hasidism; they cannot be found as distinguishing elements in the first Hasidic writings. In the early history of Hasidism it was claimed that whereas the misnagdim, the opponents of Hasidism, put the study of the Torah at the center of Jewish religious life, Hasidim emphasized prayer, enthusiasm, and spiritual devotion. These differences were minimized in succeeding generations, when the study of Torah became more important in Hasidic communities, especially in the nineteenth century, while groups among the misnagdim (for example, the Musar movement) emphasized the spiritual and ethical aspects of religious worship.
link, PDF

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!