„In the State of Walachia, Near the Border“ or: Was the Besht Indeed Born in Okopy?* Cover Image
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„In the State of Walachia, Near the Border“ or: Was the Besht Indeed Born in Okopy?*
„In the State of Walachia, Near the Border“ or: Was the Besht Indeed Born in Okopy?*

Author(s): Moshe Idel
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Editura Universitatii din Oradea
Keywords: Israel; Baal Shem Tov; Okopi; Walachia; Hasidism; Paisie Velicikovski

Summary/Abstract: Abstract: It seems to be an accepted opinion that the founder of 18 th century movement known as Hasidism, R. Israel ben Eliezer Ba‘al Shem Tov (c. 1698-1760), the master of the Good Name, often referred by the acronym ha-Besht, has been born in the Podolian village of Okopy or, at least, he was reported so. This assumption was unanimously expressed in both the more advanced academic studies on the topic, and in the various leading and most up-dated encyclopedias. Okopy was a fortress built in 1692, at the borderlines between the Kingdom of Poland and the Ottoman Empire, during the short period of the Turkish occupation of part of Podolia, between the years 1672-1699. The present article suggests that the Besht was born in Bukovina and arrived later on to Podolia and returned from time to time to Bukovina. In this context, we should mention a somewhat parallel, though geographically speaking, inverse phenomenon, related to the life of the major figure in Orthodox type of mystical movement known as neo-Hesychasm, Paisie Velicikovsky, (1722-1794). Though born in Ukrainian city of Poltava, he was active for some years in his youth and for important parts of his mature career in the three major Bukovinean monastery of Dragomirna, and the Moldavian monasteries of Secu and especially Neamtz, before he was forced, in his old years, to return to Ukraine. He was of Jewish origin, by the family of his mother, as he mentioned in his autobiography, and introduced in both Moldavia and Ukraine an intense interest in the Patristic literature, which he studied during his stay in Mount Athos, especially in some of its spiritual and hagiographical aspects .

  • Issue Year: 2008
  • Issue No: 5
  • Page Range: 14-21
  • Page Count: 8
  • Language: English