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It isn't clear to me, however, that the haredim, at the centre of Rabkin's thinking, do represent traditional Judaism. They are divided into two great families - the hasidim and the  mitnagdim. The hasidim were, as I remarked in an earlier article in this series, an innovation in Judaism, coinciding with the incorporation of the whole area that became the pale of Settlement into the Russian empire with the Polish partitions at the end of the eighteenth century. Hasidism could be described as a charismatic movement, both in terms of a much more intense emotional life on the part of the believer and a gathering round the individual leadership provided by the 'rebbe', himself a product of a charismatic family - Schneerson in the case of the Lubavitchers, Teitelbaum in the case of the militantly anti-Zionist Satmar hasidim. The term 'mitnagdim' however, means 'rejecters' or 'opponents' and what they were rejecting was the hasidic innovation so, as a response to an innovation, they too could be characterised as something new. They were characterised by a much more intellectual, analytical approach to the study of the Torah and the authoritative interpretations of the Torah in the Talmud. In the extract I have quoted from Rabkin's book he refers to 'Rabbi Elhanan Wasserman (1875–1941), disciple of Hafetz Haim and an eminent authority on Lithuanian Judaism.' 'Lithuanian Judaism' is one of the major branches of the mitnagdim.

I would suggest that both hasidim and mitnagdim could be seen as products of the disruption of the older 'kahal' system which was essentially a system of law, of the policing of a whole society. Like an established church which all members of the society would be required to attend, the kahal made it easy to be a Jew in the religious sense of the term, in fact difficult not to. Maybe not a good Jew but a Jew nonetheless. It enabled, or rather obliged, Jews to organise their lives on a basis quite different from that of the society surrounding them In Poland it was, as we have seen, disrupted by the deterioration in the position and wealth of the Jews following the seventeenth century Khelmnitsky rising. In more general terms, in Europe in the nineteenth century, it was disrupted by emancipation, opening up greater possibilities for Jews to integrate with the surrounding society and therefore greater temptation to abandon the disciplines specific to Judaism. We have just seen Rabbi Schwab complaining against secularised Jews after the arrival in power of the Nazis not wanting to 'get back into the ghetto again.'. He obviously saw it as an opportunity to do just that. According to Shlomo Avineri, in his book The Making of modern Zionism:

'The problems of Jewish identity had not been solved by liberalism and tolerance but, in a way, had been exacerbated. Being Jewish no longer meant a single, sometimes heroic, decision to stand by one’s conviction and not succumb through conversion to majority pressure. Rather, it now became a series of innumerable daily decisions, bringing out the difference and distinction within equality in hundreds of individual decisions ... With the young person’s entry into professional life, now open to the Jews, the problems continued to accumulate. If he opened a doctor’s practice, he had to decide whether to have his clinic open on Saturday and the Jewish holidays, and if he shared a clinic with gentile associates the dilemma became even more acute. If he became a clerk in a bank or a state employee or a teacher in the public school system, he had to solve the same problem. The necessity - and desire - to socialise with gentile colleagues again brought up the question of kosher food.' (4)

(4)  Shlomo Avineri: The Making of modern Zionism - the intellectual origins of the Jewish state, Basic Books, New York, 2017 (first published in 1981). I have it in a Kindle version that doesn't give page references.

'Reform Judaism' could be seen as an adaptation to these new circumstances as religion increasingly became a matter of private opinion rather than of social organisation. Although the word 'emancipation' may not sound quite right in relation to the Pale of Settlement, the conscription of Jews into the Russian army, the legal suppression of the kahal and the more liberal policies of Alexander II after 1860 all tended in the same direction. Under those circumstances the haredim, wanting to maintain and indeed intensify the coherence of the traditional disciplines could be seen as themselves a symptom of the breakup of the traditional disciplines.