The Active Tale

The Active Tale
New Explorations on the Hasidic Story
Avishar Har-Shefi

“This book raises a new research angle on the Hasidic tale. The questions of the origin and basis of the Hasidic tale, its different types, its place and role in the Hasidic movement, are all explored in a definitive manner that fills a gap that has been missing in the research of modern Hasidism to date. The fascinating insights that emerge in the book about the working power of the story are of great importance not only for the study of Hasidism but also for the study of human culture, in which narrative speech plays such a central role.”

Zvi Mark

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Danacode:   110-20325 ISBN:  978-965-226-618-7 Language:   Hebrew Pages:   208 Weight:   500 gr Dimensions:  17X24 ס"מ cm Publication Date:   11/2021 Publisher:   Bar-Ilan University Press


Introduction 11

Chapter 1: Origins of the Hasidic Story 15

Sources 17
Parables 21
The Literary Persona 25
Visions 26
Connection of Narrative to Core Ideas of the Hasidic Movement 28
A. Contact with the Physical World 28
B. “His Glory Fills the Entire W orld” 31
Conclusion 34

Chapter 2: Stories of Initiation and T ransformation 37

A. The Initation of Rebbe Yaakov Yosef, the “Toldot” according to Ma’asiot u’Ma’amarim Yekarim 38
Reading the Story 41
1. Division of the Story 41
2. Identification of the Fields 41
3. Division into Categories 43
4. Development of the Story 43
Methodological Summary 45
Replacement of Leadership 45
The Role of the Story 46
The Character and Transformation of Rebbe Yaakov Yosef 47
The Story in Shivchei HaBesht 51
B. The Maggid’s Initation 53
Keter Shem Tov Version 53
Examining the Story 55
Shivchei HaBesht Version 58
Examining the Story 61
Conclusion 64

Chapter 3: Changes in the Story Role and Meaning in Hasidism – From “Yichud” (Unification) to “Zivuga d’Katnut” (the Minor Match) 65

“For her Face was Concealed” – Biblical Tales as Garments 66
The Ahistorical Approach 70
“How He Adorned His Pure Wisdom”: Tales of the Righteous as a Garment 72
Zivuga d’Katnut (the Minor Match) 74
Exceptions 78
The Existentialist View 80

Chapter 4: “And Now, there is a River Flowing from the Source of Wisdom” – Rebbe Nachman of Breslav’s Turn to Tales 82

A. The Turn to Tales 84
Torah 60: Tales of Seventy Years 85
Tales of Ancient Days 86
Likutei Moharan 2, 78: “The Path of Eretz Yisrael” 89
Torah 60 and Torah 78: “Ancient Days” and “The Path of Eretz Yisrael” – Commonalities and Differences 92
“The Beauty of Adam Ha’Rishon” 93
The Turn 96
B. The Connection to Rebbe Shimon bar Yohai 97
“To Receive the Torah” 98
“For it will not be Forgotten out of the Mouth of his Seed” 103

Chapter 5: Fantasy and Faith in the Stories of Rebbe Nachman of Breslav 106

“Walking the Path Alone “: Exiting Normalcy as a Restoration of Order 109
“And in the Image of G-d he will Gaze” 115
“Beyond the Entrance” 123
Faith and Fantasy 125
The Tales 126
Stories and Teachings 127
“In the Fables that the World Tells there are Many Secrets” 128
The Messianic Element 131

Chapter 6: The Story that Brings Salvation 134

“In the Word of G-d the Heavens were Made”: Language and the Story 135
Divestment of Corporeality 139
“Just to Show What He Did, and How He Did:” Source and Derivatives 148

Chapter 7: The Hasidic Story – Between Early and Late, Raw and Styled 151

Hasidic Awareness 152
Early Blossoms of Later Praises 155
1. Censorship 157
2. Design 158
Late Trends in the Story of the Initation of Rebbe Yaakov Yosef 160
The Raw and Designed Story 161
“Words of Messiah” 162

Chapter 8: Reading Beyond the Words: The Story as Happening and the Anecdotal Tale 166

A. “The Act of [Telling the] Story by Itself is an Event”: The Story as Happening 168
The Story as Ethos 170
The Affective Telling 171
B. Anecdotal Stories: Lacanic Reading of the Hasidic Story 174
Lacan and the Hasidic Story 175
The Musician with His Eyes Covered 177
“Where is this World of Yours?” 179
Stories of Awakening 180

Epilogue 182

Bibliography and Abbreviations 184

Index 199

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