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I have recently seen reference to the “chassidic classics”, a term which I understand encompasses works by the great rebbes of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Examples that I have seen mentioned are the Kedushat Levi, Tanya, Noam Elimelech and Sfas Emes. However, I have struggled to find any good secondary sources dealing with them in enough detail to explain their contents and special characteristics.

I am keen to know more about this area, and I wondered if anyone could recommend a guide / overview to these and other texts.

  • I should add that my level is such that I do not think I would be in any way ready to read such texts themselves. I am just interested in knowing more about them in a good level of detail. – Jm Lewin Dec 7 '18 at 16:25
  • How much do you want to know about each work? Are you just looking for some sort of summary of the contents? – ezra Dec 7 '18 at 16:31
  • Yes, that’s right. Something that gives a good idea of the contents, why the book has become a classic, and an indication of what makes it different. Most descriptions that I have seen are so high level as to not give any information (typically there is very little beyond: “X book represents Y teachers great work, and is structured around the weekly Torah ready”). – Jm Lewin Dec 7 '18 at 16:42
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    But for what it's worth, Wikipedia has a pretty good page summarizing the Tanya. – ezra Dec 7 '18 at 16:44
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    Some of the English books mentioned here would be useful. – Oliver Dec 7 '18 at 17:32
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Likutei Moharan. They have Hebrew/English editions in stores. https://mysefer.com/Product.aspx?ProductID=2404&L=1 There's also a fantastic Shuir given in English by Rav Nosson Maimon. https://www.breslovtorah.com/series/likutey-moharan-1/

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Jewish Spiritual Practices by Yitzchak Buxbaum has numerous quotes from the classic works of many chassidic rabbis, on a variety of themes having to do with spirituality in everyday life.

An abridged version of Rebbe Nachman's teachings, Likutei Eitzot, focused on the practical advice they contain, can be read online in English for free:

http://www.azamra.org/spirit/advice.php

The Tanya can also be read online in English with commentary on Chabad.org. Here's today's portion:

https://www.chabad.org/dailystudy/tanya.asp?tdate=3/3/2019

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This is a great intro book. It provides a glimpse and samples of each work presented :

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