Chassidus and the Arts

By Devorah Eber, Brooklyn, NY
Essays 2017

MyLife Essay Contest 2017

Art is an expression of the soul and its innermost emotions. Not always is it understood, and in most cases it’s understood by no one but the artist themselves. This is because shift in anything that’s usual is hard to accept, and because people tend to look at new or peculiar things with a biased outlook.

Chassidus and its foundation were delivered by the Baal Shem Tov and were immediately accepted by his devout followers. Others, however, namely the Misnagdim, rejected this new philosophy vehemently. Through all opposition, Chassidus prevailed and pulled through stronger than it had been to begin with.

Both Chassidus and the arts share an incredible quality; perseverance.

Throughout the course of history in the ages, art has been ridiculed, has been loved, and has been valued as a significant part of everyday life. And its finest features were brought out because it did not allow itself to quietly fray on the back shelf. It persevered, and it continues to persevere.

Chassidus has a strong note in perseverance as well. The well known concept of the ‘short long way’, illustrates that point perfectly. With time, with patience, with effort; so much can be spread and accomplished. In history, too, Chassidus has persevered against the forces that had fought intensely to hold it back.

Time has only brought out the best in Chassidus and art. There are so many ways in which they connect; art can be transformed into anything, and Chassidus can be taught into anything. They have both been intertwined numerous times, especially in modern Jewish art which has cultivated tremendously over the years. Each has gotten opposition, but that has only made them stronger. Both are always and forever relevant today as it will always be and has been.