While Chassidism as a whole is easier to research in philosophy/history/concepts, the dynasty system and the distinctions within each community seem to be somewhat of a mystery to me.

Certain groups like the Satmar or Chabad are well known and their philosophies and beliefs are easier to research as a result. Other communities tend to have fewer resources (at least what I could find) and knowing what separates their practices from other Hasidic dynasties has been hard to come by.

  • Bobov
  • Ger
  • Skver
  • Belz
  • etc.

I know these names and I know general things about such groups but I don't have a definitive explanation about how a Ger is different from a Belz and Bobov and so on. I assume there are more obvious difference than purely a name.

Things like dress distinctions are more obvious but actual philosophy and variations in minhagim aren't so obvious.

I was curious if there was a definitive article/book/video/etc. which tries to give a more detailed explanation of various chassidic dynasties and how their beliefs and practices vary?

Does such a resource exist?

  • 2
    "I assume there are more obvious differences than purely a name." There may be, of course, but why isn't the obvious difference that these are following this rebbe, and those are following that one? לשבר את האוזן, does there need to be a philosophical difference between my son's school in Baltimore and my friend's school in Brooklyn, or can there be just the practical reasons why I prefer my son to stay in my town? Or loads of other practical reasons.
    – MichoelR
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:15
  • 1
    To back @MichoelR, Hassidus is a Jewish messianic idea about following a person, not an idea. (Not that the person IS the messiah, but he's the closest path to bringing him). That's why it was so criticized in the West. Basically, anything a Rabbi does is interpreted aposteriori into an idea - BESH"T did not originate them.
    – Al Berko
    Feb 27, 2021 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


For a historical work that also dives deep into the divergent philosophies of different Hasidic sages, it is hard to beat Hasidism: A New History by David Biale, David Assaf, Benjamin Brown, Uriel Gellman, Samuel Heilman, Moshe Rosman, Gadi Sagiv, and Marcin Wodziński. It actually contains much more than you are looking for as it is an in-depth study of Hasidism's historical development, but it does not try to be purely a history book, and there are many chapters devoted to comparing and contrasting the ideas developed by different Hasidic sages. The chapters that detail the development of ideas are well before the chapters that trace the development down to today's surviving dynasties, but you can see who picked up on which concepts and elevated their importance.

A word of warning: the book is over 800 pages and can be rather dense in places, but I think it would answer a large part of your question, just not in the concise form that you might be expecting.

  • Appreciate this. I'm into deep reads so this is a solid option for me. Thank you!
    – Michael
    Feb 24, 2021 at 18:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .