Insofar as Chasidus explores the mystical and esoteric dimension of Torah, it is often regarded as an extension of Kabbalah. In On The Essence of Chasidus, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, OBM, explains that, in fact, the advent of Chasidus spawned the development of a radically new era in Torah interpretation. It is through the aperture of Chasidus, argues the Rebbe, that doors are opened into deeper forms of interpretation, illuminating the essence of Pardes (the 4 levels of traditional Torah interpretation). Chasidus, then, is the fifth dimension of Torah, probing more intensely into each of the four levels and uncovering a particular sensibility in Torah interpretation. This is illustrated with a specific case study of the prayer Modeh Ani, the first words a person utters upon awakening in the morning and the fundamental starting point of the Jew's daily spiritual service.
On the Essence of Chasidus is a deep and searching inquiry into the central core of Chasidic philosophy and practice. It is not just an introduction to the subject, but is also an integral part of classic Chasidic literature.
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