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The Gaon of VilnaThe Man and His Image$
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Immanuel Etkes

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223943

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223943.001.0001

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The Vilna Gaon and the Mitnagdim as Seen by the Hasidim

The Vilna Gaon and the Mitnagdim as Seen by the Hasidim

(p.96) 4 The Vilna Gaon and the Mitnagdim as Seen by the Hasidim
The Gaon of Vilna

Immanuel Etkes

University of California Press

This chapter examines how the persecuted Hasidim regard their persecutor and how did the Hasidic leaders explain to themselves and to their flocks the fact that their chief opponent, Vilna Gaon, was the greatest scholar of their generation. It analyzes the letters written by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady. The findings reveal that Zalman's response to the role played by the Vilna Gaon in the struggle against Hasidism was dual. While he acknowledged the Gaon's eminence as the greatest scholar of his day, he also challenged his authority to determine that Hasidism was a heresy.

Keywords:   Hasidism, Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lyady, scholar, heresy

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