MIDEAST 490 - Topics in Middle East Studies
Fall 2022, Section 001 - Hasidism and Mysticism: The Radical Teachings of Nahman of Breslov
Instruction Mode: Section 001 is  In Person (see other Sections below)
Subject: Middle East Studies (MIDEAST)
Department: LSA Middle East Studies
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Waitlist Capacity:
May be elected twice for credit. May be elected more than once in the same term.
Primary Instructor:


Spiritual longing and the search for meaning, dreams, sadness and joy, shatteredness and wholeness, doubt and faith, conflict and growth, complexity and simplicity. The radical writings of Nahman of Breslov (1772-1810), one of the most celebrated masters of Jewish mysticism and Hasidism, wrestle with all of these themes and more, attaining the status of spiritual classics. The ongoing fascination with Nahman stems both from his singular, questing personality and from his astonishing Tales. In this class we will explore the existentialist Nahman confronting the absence of God (his Torah of the Void); the messianic Nahman confronting depression and healing; and the mystical Nahman, finding vivid manifestations of the divine in the realm of nature (in Forest and birds, the grasses of his native Ukraine), in song and the outpouring of the heart, and in interpersonal dialogue and spiritual practices that deconstruct the ordinary self.

Students will probe Nahman’s creative rereading of the spiritual life: including his theology of music and sacred dance. As Nahman continuously integrated his life-story into his thought, we will investigate the relationship between his biography and his teachings (including his vivid dream texts).

Intended Audience:

Upper-level undergraduates and graduate students interested in Religion, Literature, Folklore, and Judaic Studies

Class Format:

One three-hour meeting weekly


MIDEAST 490 - Topics in Middle East Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
 In Person
W 2:00PM - 5:00PM
Note: Meets-with JUDAIC 417.005/JUDAIC 617.002
002 (SEM)
 In Person
W 11:00AM - 2:00PM
Note: Meets-with JUDAIC 425.001/JUDAIC 625.001/COMPLIT 750.003

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