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Title: The problems of succession in the Hasidic leadership with special reference to the circle of R. Nachman of Braslav.
Author: Rapoport-Albert, Ada.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1974
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This study is concerned with the formation of a fixed pattern of succession in the Hasidic leadership. Establishing the personal-charismatic nature of this leadership in the early generations of the movement, it proceeds to demonstrate that at that time there had not yet evolved any consistent rules by which succession to the office of Zaddik could operate. The subsequent introduction of the hereditary principle and the rise of the Zaddikite dynasties signified the inevitable 'routinisation' of the leadership's charisma; it formed an integral part of the wider process of adaptation and change, both ideological and organisational, which, characteristically of sect-type religious organisations, the Hasidic movement underwent in the course of the latter part of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth. Special attention is paid to the exceptional Braslav circle whose founder, R. Nachman, was never succeeded in office by another Zaddik, although this did not prevent the circle from retaining its identity and preserving a distinct existence within the movement. R. Nachman's conviction that he was the first and last True Zaddik of all the generations precluded the possibility of succession. After his death, in the lack of a ready successor, the circle suffered a severe crisis and was only saved from total dissolution by R. Nathan Sternharz, a disciple of R. Nachman and his scribe. R. Nathan was a relatively late recruit into the Braslav circle and, although an excellent and prolific Scribe, he never became as close to his master as were some of R. Nachman's early associates. His sL~cere, though factually unfounded claim to have been appointed by R. Nachman to undertake the re-organisation of the circle was rejected by these elder disciples. In the face of their persistent opposition to his activities, R. Nathan based the revival of the circle on a new generation of young recruits whom he had converted to the teachings of his late master. They accepted R. Nathan's authority without treating him as their Zaddik, and continued to worship the 'only true Zaddik' - R. Nachman. Thus R. Nathan founded the tradition of non-Zaddikite leadership in Braslav, which facilitated the survival to the present day of the circle whose only Zaddik remains its dead founder.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available