Portraits and Legends of Hasidic Masters By Elie Wiesel (276 Pages)Publisher: Touchstone, 1972
Elie Wiesel reenters, like an impassioned pilgrim, the universe of Hasidism. "When I am asked about my Jewish affiliation, I define myself as a Hasid," writes the author. "Hasid I was, Hasid I remain." Yet Souls on Fire is not a simple chronological history of Hasidism, nor is it a comprehensive book on its subject. Rather, Elie Wiesel has captured the essence of Hasidism through tales, legends, parables, sayings, and deeply personal reflections. His book is a testimony, not a study. Hasidism is revealed from within and not analyzed from the outside. "Listen attentively," Elie Wiesel's grandfather told him, "and above all, remember that true tales are meant to be transmitted - to keep them to oneself is to betray them." Wiesel does not merely tell us, but draws, with the hand of a master, the portraits of the leaders of the movement that created a revolution in the Jewish world. This is a loving, personal affirmation of Judaism, written with words and with silence. The author brings his profound knowledge of the Bible, the Talmud, Kabbala, and the Hasidic tale and song to this masterpiece, showing us that Elie Wiesel is perhaps our generation's most fervid "soul on fire."