Polish Hasidism emerged in Poland in the second half of the seventeenth century on a wave of messianic hopes. Its ideology was elitist par excellence. It could be pursued only by a chosen few who focused in their life on Hasidic ideas. After several splits and transformations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth it eventually developed into a mass movement in the late eighteenth century with unique characteristics unimaginable in any other historical or geographical context. The pivotal moment in the shaping of ascetic Polish Hasidism was the messianic campaign of the year 5500 (1740). The messianic fever lasted several years, and the pilgrimages and discussions caused many Hasidim to abandon the ascetic paradigm, which had been understood as the road to holiness and salvation. This gave rise to new, anti-ascetic trends in Hasidism, from which there emerged the Hasidism known as Beshtian Hasidism.


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pp. 41-54
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