Uniter of Heaven and Earth

Rabbi Meshullam Feibush Heller of Zbarazh and the Rise of Hasidism in Eastern Galicia

By Miles Krassen

Subjects: Jewish Mysticism
Series: SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791438183, 309 pages, October 1998
Hardcover : 9780791438176, 309 pages, October 1998

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Table of contents


1. Meshullam Feibush Heller and His Circle in Eastern Galicia

2. Sources of Devequt in Early Hasidism

3. Cosomological Bases for Meshullam Feibush's Concept of Devequt

4. The Barrier to Divine Aid

5. The Problem of Corporeality: Conditions for Devequt

6. The Remedy: Prayer, Torah, Sacred Calendar

7. Meshullam Feibush and the Maggid of Mezeritch

8. The Importance of Zaddiqim

9. Meshullam Feibush's Place in Early Hasidism




A clear and penetrating account of the basis of Hasidic mysticism. Includes translations of many texts never before available in English.


Uniter of Heaven and Earth explores an important stage in the development of Hasidism, the eighteenth-century Jewish mystical movement. The author presents a clear and penetrating account of the basis of Hasidic mysticism, clarifying its basic beliefs and contemplative practices. The underlying teachings of Hasidism are elucidated through translations of many authentic Hasidic texts previously unavailable in English.

Including a wide-range of Hasidic texts, the book focuses on the writings of a seminal figure in early Hasidic history, Rabbi Meshullam Feibush Heller. A disciple of Rabbi Yehiel Mikhel, the Maggid of Zlotchov, perhaps the prototype of the Hasidic Rebbe, Heller formulated a version of Hasidic teachings that highly influenced later stages and schools of the movement, including HaBaD Hasidism. Central to these writings are an argument for faith in Hasidic masters and an account of radical spiritual approaches that enable the masters to transform negative thoughts and emotions into means of discovering God.

This book clearly explains Hasidic mysticism's use of the Kabbalah, discusses the meaning of Jewish holidays in early Hasidism, and provides an edifying and insightful account of the ethical basis upon which Hasidism's mystical aspirations depend. What emerges is an essential understanding of the mystical experience and distinctiveness of the Hasidic Zaddiq, and the controversial spiritual practices which he alone could safely employ.

Miles Krassen is Assistant Professor of Religion and Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at Oberlin College. He is the author of Isaiah Horowitz: The Generations of Adam.


"The book is a learned and thorough analysis of one of the most important figures in early Hasidism. The structure of the work takes the reader from the predecessors of Meshullam Feibush and shows how his ideology is an amalgam of the early Galician Hasidic masters and the dominant teachings of the Maggid of Mezeritch. The author makes an important contribution to the study of early Hasidism and rightly corrects the inaccuracies of earlier scholars in the field." — Shaul Magid, The Jewish Theological Seminary