Can the Hasidic Community Ever Change?

Can the Hasidic community Change?

To many, within the community and without, the question may seem ridiculous. Secular Jews and other outside observers, after all, often look at Hasidim as throwbacks, strange folks whose key characteristic is the refusal to catch up with the times. And Hasidim themselves make much of their resistance to change: Growing up in the community, I was often taught the dictum of the Hungarian rabbi the Chasam Sofer: “Chadush asur min hatorah,” what’s new is forbidden by the Torah. This fear of change predates the holocaust, and was popularized by the Chasam Sofer largely in response to waves of change that came with the current of its times, as Socialism, Zionism, and the Jewish Enlightenment threatened conservatism.

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