Chasidim vs. Misnagdim: A Compilation of Mocking Humor
23 Pages Posted: 13 Mar 2019
Date Written: February 20, 2019
A schism that dates back to the 18th century divides what is commonly known as ultra-Orthodox Judaism – the Chasidim and the Misnagdim. Chasidic Jews (the term means “the pious one”) base their practices on the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov, a mystic who lived in Eastern Europe in the early 1700s, serve God with joy. They believe that even the simplest Jew can achieve spiritual growth by helping others and loving God. The Misnagdim (“the opponents”) ascribed to a more austere philosophy, feeling that one should refrain from levity and excessive joy; they considered the surest way to become close to God was through intense study of the Talmud. They tended to be more ascetic than the Chasidim. This paper will show how the two groups used humor to mock each other, based on mutual stereotypes. The differences between the two groups have narrowed considerably, but they still tell jokes about each other.
Keywords: Baal Shem Tov, Chassidim, Misnagdim, Jewish Humor
JEL Classification: J50, M12, M14, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation