Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Chasidim (Heb. holy), (1) a Jewish sect in the time of the Maccabees, noted for their austere observance of the letter of the law and of various rules deduced by them from it, like the Pharisees (q.v.), who, indeed, were a development of them. (2) In 1740 a sect of the name was founded in Podolia by a certain Israel Baal Shem ("Possessor of the Name," i.e. the Secret Name of God). Their creed is based on the Cabbala (q.v.), and is saturated with mysticism. At the death of their founder (1760) they split up into many congregations, each led by its own "Tsaddik" or saint, who is regarded as infallible, and who is supposed to work miracles, to have the power of protecting against disease, and to heal by his benediction. Their object is to obtain complete union with the Divine Essence, and their worship involves strange forms of religious excitement. They are said to be numerous in Poland, Roumanian Galicia, and Palestine.