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Hasidism, Jewish pietistic movement, that can be divided into 3 distinct historical eras. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. the first Hasidim (Hasideans or Assideans) were devout members of the Jewish faith who resisted Greek influence. In Germany during the Middle Ages there developed a messianic Hasidim known as Hasidei Ashkenaz. In 18th-century Poland, Israel ben Eliezer (Ba'al Shem Tov), reacting against the studious formalism of rabbinical traditions established a movement grouped around tzadikkim, holy men, whose followers are hasidism (“pious ones”). Hasidism still flourishes in Israel and the United States.

See also: Ba'al Shem Tov.

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