Topics in Modern Hebrew Literature and Culture
Narratives of the Hasidic Mystics
Fall 1999, 10A
Lewis Glinert
Office: 305 Bartlett Hall


Of all the Hebrew literature of modern times, the Tales of the Hasidim, with their immediately accessible yet underlyingly Kabbalistic message, have probably had the greatest impact on Jewish identity. American Jews’ rediscovery of their Eastern European folk ‘shtetl’ roots, and the positive images that the wider world has had through Fiddler on the Roof, Yentl, and Chagall, is largely due to the ability of thinkers like Martin Buber and Elie Wiesel to transmit the Tales of the Hasidim to a modern readership. This course examines the thematics and form of these tales and the broader cultural genre to which they belong. You will focus on the stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, probing their literary force and spiritual intent, and setting them in the context of traditional Hebrew wonder tales and the world-view of the emerging Hasidic movement. You will also study Buber’s and Elie Wiesel’s versions of the tales and new tales that have sprung up among Hasidim today, a token of their ongoing effect on Jewish culture. No knowledge of Hebrew or Judaism is assumed.

Course requirement

There will be a midterm (30%) and two final essays (50%), and one or two thematic projects (20%) for which you will do library research, write up your findings and describe them briefly in class.


The following books are required and can be purchased at the bookstore: The following have been placed on 24-hour reserve in Baker Library:



Week 2:

Week 3:

Weeks 4 and 5:

Weeks 6 and 7:


Weeks 9 and 10:

Final projects:


Regular and punctual attendance is expected. If there are unavoidable reasons to miss a class, please inform me at least a day in advance.

* If you have any questions about this course, you can reach Prof. Glinert at Lewis.H.Glinert@Dartmouth.EDU.

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