The Hasidic movement dates from the eighteenth century

The Hasidic movement dates from the eighteenth century -...

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The Hasidic movement dates from the eighteenth century, when a traveling healer and storyteller  named Israel ben Eliezer began to preach in Eastern Europe to the common Jewish people.  Preaching a Judaism that relied less on books and more on personal experiences, he perceived that  Jewish practices of the day, with their overemphasis on fine scholarly issues and complicated ways  of studying Jewish texts, were alienating the common Jew. Given the name Ba'al Shem Tov, which means  Master of the Good Name , he began to preach that  God accepts prayer not only through scholarship and study but also through piety, love, prayer, and  worship full of song and dance. He emphasized the mystical presence of God in everything. It was  very important, he said, to be cheerful. Serving God cannot be done in an atmosphere of gloom. A  Jew who is conscious of God's closeness is automatically happy. In addition, the Ba'al Shem Tov decreed that excessive fasting and self-denial are worthless goals. It 
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