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HOME . What's New? . STORIES . ARTICLES . RESOURCES

Links: An Annotated Internet Guide to Hasidic Stories

compiled by Debbie Rittner

Updated August 19, 2001

Table of Contents:

Background Information
People
Organizations
Books Published by Jason Aronson
Other Stories

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Background Information

The Shamash Jewish Internet Consortium

Shamash is one of the largest and best known of the Jewishly oriented services available throughout the Internet, or anywhere online. You can find background information on Hasidism (also spelled Hassidism, Chasidism, Chassidism) here.

soc.culture.jewish faq
This page addresses the question of "What is Chassidism and how does it differ from other Orthodox groups?" This one-page summary is an interesting read and makes you want to know more...hence, the reading list:

Chassidism reading list
The reading list and the one-page summary about Chasidism were both written by Chabad, or the Lubavitch movement of Hasidism, whose headquarters are in Brooklyn. All the recommended books about Chasidism are published by 2 Lubavitch publishers, Kehot and Sichos.

Other Sources of Background Information

Israel Faxx Calling itself "A free Israeli and Middle Eastern news roundup (in Acrobat PDF format), as well as a searchable full text database dating to March 1994)," Israel Faxx features a large collection of links to Jewish web sites on a variety of subjects.

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People

www.baalshemtov.com WEB site
This is an entire WEB site devoted to the Baal Shem Tov. It is being created by Tzvi Meir Cohn, a Lubavitcher Hasid. The WEB site contains many attractive color photos, including a group photo of a visit to the grave of the Besht. At the home page, click on "legends" for 5 Baal Shem Tov stories. Clicking on "bibliography" provides the user with some interesting source material.

Breslov Research Institute
There is an entire WEB site devoted to Rebbe Nachman, great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. It includes his bio, his teachings, and how to become a follower of the rebbe.

Shlomo Carlebach's unofficial WEB site
While this is not the only Shlomo Carlebach WEB site, this is the only one where you will find modern-day Hasidic stories that often cite the Baal Shem Tov or Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav. (This site is now apparently maintained by Shamash.)

Rabbi Gedaliah Fleer's WEB site
Rabbi Fleer is a world-renowned authority on Jewish mysticism and the teachings of Rebbe Nachman. He is the author of 2 books, Rabbi Nachman's Fire and Rabbi Nachman's Foundation, as well as several articles. Fleer was the first person from the West, in recent generations, to travel to Uman, Russia to visit Rabbi Nachman's grave.

Gedaliah Fleer is a master teacher and storyteller of Kabbalah and Hasidism and its many applications to everyday life.

Recent lecture topics have included:

  • "Healing in Kabbalistic Tradition,"
  • "The Healing Power of Forgiveness," and
  • "The Power of Jewish Storytelling."

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Organizations

Jewish

Jewish Communication Network (JCN)
JCN is a hub of electronic communications for the Jewish world with links everywhere and with subject matter ranging from food to holidays to Israel. The JCN WEB site hs several interesting documents containing Hasidic stories.

Hasidic Tales for Hanukkah
Scroll down to the heading "A Hasidic Hanukkah" and choose from among 4 very short tales:

"The Cantor and the Righteous Man"
This is a fascinating Russian Hasidic tale retold by Yori Yanover.

Virtual Yeshiva
Rabbi Rami Shapiro of Miami, Florida has created a WEB site for people who want to be part of the Jewish renewal movement. It is especially for individuals who are drawn to Reconstructionist Judaism, or who are seeking an alternative concept of G-d or deity.

The Virtual Yeshiva WEB site allows users to:

  • link up with well-known rabbis like Zalman Schachter Shalomi and Arthur Waskow,
  • join a virtual minyan, or
  • peruse course material on the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes).
And, by clicking on Talebearers, you will find several Hasidic stories, including 2 Baal Shem Tov tales.

People living in the Miami area can also access a local phone number for TorahTales, a 24-hour a day telephone learning service which focuses on Hasidic stories.

Havienu L'Shalom WEB site
This site was set up to be a "virtual" congregation led by Rabbi Meilech Leib DuBrow, a follower of the Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Throughout the site one can find excerpts of teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Browsers can send email to the Rabbi who lives in St. Louis.

"http://www.tzivos-hashem.org/">The Storyteller" at Tzivos Hashem WEB site
Tzivos Hashem is an international Jewish children's organization formed with the backing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe in 1980. Tzivos Hashem reaches out to Jewish children using the media that appeal most to kids, including the Internet.

"Tzivos Hashem" literally means "the Army of G-d." Their WEB writer describes it as "an army in which rank is earned through the performance of mitzvot."

"The Storyteller" contains 40 Jewish short stories selected from the Lubavitch monthly educational magazine for children, "Talks and Tales," by its editor, Nissan Mindel. There are lots of Hasidic stories here.

Bas Ayin
Shema Yisrael Torah Network is a Jewish site on the Internet that was created so that Hasidic Jews living in Israel and elsewhere could safely explore the Internet without fear of being exposed to "indecent or immoral sites." Bas Ayin is an occasional periodical, with excerpts available on the Internet, that includes some Hasidic stories of Rebbe Nachman as well as modern-day Hasidic tales.

Jewish Storytelling Coalition
Founded in 1989, the Jewish Storytelling Coalition is the voice of Jewsh storytelling in New England. On their home page you will find a very abridged version of the story that Doug Lipman calls The Soul of Hope.

Buddhist

The Art of Dying: Talks on Hasidic Stories by Osho
Born in India in 1931, Osho was a world-renowned Buddhist leader whose unique meditation techniques and insights on religion and contemporary life drew thousands of followers. At the Osho WEB site one finds a description of Osho's comments on Hasidic stories originally compiled by Martin Buber. In these talks Osho helps the reader to face the reality of death without fear. The WEB site has "on-line shopping" in the event that browsers want to purchase this, or other tapes.

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Books Published by Jason Aronson

These books contain Hasidic stories and legends, as well as reference material about Hasidism. Check out the author index on the site.

The Encyclopedia of Hasidism, edited by Rabbi Tzvi Rabinowicz

This English-language reference work, published in 1995 is the first of its kind and covers all aspects of Hasidism. It includes biographical entries for the great hasidic leaders of the past two hundred years, from the Baal Shem Tov to the leaders of the dynasties of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries. Eighty distinguished scholars from all over the world contributed to this work.

The Great Hasidic Masters
Avraham Yaakov Finkel's book, published in 1996, gives us a glimpse of the personality and psyche of the rebbe. The table of contents lists 50 tales that begin with the Baal Shem Tov and stretch into the present.

The Hasidic Movement and the Gaon of Vilna
Rabbi Elijah Schochet's 1994 book is for anyone who thinks Hasidism was always an accepted view of the world. In fact, in 18th century Eastern Europe, the Gaon of Vilna led the Jewish opposition to this movement. The WEB site also contains an interesting interview with the author.

The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalmun Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto
This book, by Rabbi Nehemia Polen, is not a book of Hasidic stories. But it is a valuable work that allows the reader to see how a 20th century Hasidic rebbe spiritually struggles and grapples with the Holocaust.

In Praise of the Baal Shem Tov: The Earliest Collection of Legends about the Founder of Hasidism
Published in 1993 by Jason Aronson, this important work is co-authored by Dan Ben-Amos, chairman of the department of Folklore and Folklife and the University of Pennsylvania, and Jerome R. Mintz, professor of anthropology and Jewish studies at Indiana University.

Their book is the first complete English translation of Shivhei ha-Besht, published in Hebrew in 1814, just fifty-four years after the Baal Shem Tov's death. These stories were originally committed to writing by Rabbi Dov Ber, the Maggid of Mezeritch who was the son-in-law of Rabbi Alexander the Shohet, the Baal Shem Tov's scribe.

Legends of the Hasidim: An Introduction to Hasidic Culture and Oral Tradition in the New World
Jerome R. Mintz's 1995 book, about the Hasidim of New York City, contains more than 370 tales that range from Napoleonic times to the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. Mintz, being an anthropologist, explores the connections between hasidic tales and hasidic law, ritual, values, and social structure.

Meetings with Remarkable Souls: Legends of the Baal Shem Tov
In his 1995 book, Eliahu Klein has translated a collection of twelve legends about the Baal Shem Tov. These are lesser-known stories that Klein has now made accessible to an English-speaking audience.

Niggun: Stories behind the Chasidic Songs that Inspire Jews
Mordechai Staiman has put together a book of 39 stories about niggunim, the wordless melodies composed by Hasidic rabbis and their disciples. These tales range from those of the famous rebbes of Eastern Europe to a story about the late Leonard Bernstein. Staiman wrote the book because, at the time, he was living in Brooklyn's Crown Heights and was fascinated by all the niggunim he kept hearing.

The Prince Who Turned into a Rooster: One Hundred Tales from Hasidic Tradition
Rabbi Tzvi Rabinowicz, the author of this collection, is a descendant of famous hasidic and rabbinic families in Poland. This collection includes stories told by the Baal Shem Tov, and tales of the Baal Shem Tov and his followers. There is a table of contents at the WEB site which lists all 100 stories.

Shlomo's Stories: Selected Tales
Published in 1996, this book contains 30 of Shlomo Carlebach's favorite Hasidic tales. The book's authors are Carlebach and Susan Yael Mesinai. The WEB site contains a table of contents which lists all the stories.

Souls and Secrets: Hasidic Stories
Raphael Patai has translated 25 Hasidic stories first told by his father, Joseph Patai, in Hungarian. Through Patai one learns even more about everyday Hasidic life in Eastern Europe. In most of the tales there is some unusual event that shook the entire community as well as an explanation of the event by the Tzaddik, the spiritual leader.

Why the Baal Shem Tov Laughed: Fifty-Two Stories about our Great Hasidic Rabbis
Sterna Citron's book, published in 1993 by Jason Aronson, contains the stories of Hasidic rebbes from the Baal Shem Tov to the Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The book includes 6 Baal Shem Tov tales, as well as tales of Dov Baer - the Maggid of Mezeritch, and rebbes Zusia, Elimelech, and Israel of Rhyzhin - all mentioned in Lipman's "http://soulofhope.net/">The Soul of Hope."
Many of these stories had never before been translated into English. Ms. Citron, who grew up in a Hasidic household and is descended from a long line of rabbis, hunted down these stories. Her book also contains brief biographies of each of these rebbes.

Hasidic Stories by Sterna Citron
If your computer has audio capability, you can listen to 8 of the stories from Sterna Citron's above-mentioned book.

The World of a Hasidic Master: Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev
Samuel Dresner's 1994 book is the first, ever, to cover the life and work of Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev. The stories and legends about this rebbe are the source material of the book.

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Other Stories

www.baalshemtov.com is a site devoted to the teachings, legends, and spiritual practices of the Baal Shem Tov. It is written and operated by a Chabad Chasid. Includes six legends of the Baal Shem Tov.

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