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Men of SilkThe Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society$
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Glenn Dynner

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195175226

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195175226.001.0001

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The Social Composition of Hasidic Leadership

(p.117) 4 Yihus
Men of Silk

Glenn Dynner (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The familial ties between zaddikim and the elite helps define the social profile of Hasidic leadership and discover the root of dynastic tendencies outside of Central Poland. The chapter begins with a discussion ofyihus— familial and ancestral prestige based especially on scholarly attainment — in pre-Hasidic society. Hasidic homiletic sources are then mined for attitudes aboutyihus, revealing a palpable divide between the older, more meritocratic understanding of the concept among Polish zaddikim and the emergence of a more strictly hereditary understanding among certain other zaddikim. Yet a survey of genealogies and marriage strategies among fifty zaddikim demonstrates that, however moderate or radical their beliefs aboutyihus, most zaddikim still derived from the elite themselves and sustained their social status by marrying their children to otheryihuspossessors.

Keywords:   Jews, Hasidism, Poland, Eastern Europe, yihus, marriage, dynasty

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