Chassidei Ashkenaz

Chassidei Ashkenaz

The Chassidei Ashkenaz (literally "the Pious of Germany") was a Jewish movement in the 12th century and 13th century founded by Rabbi Judah the Pious (Rabbi Yehuda HeChassid) of Regensburg, Germany and several other German Jews members of the Lehr family and the Kalonymus family.

Rabbi Judah was born in Speyer, Germany in 1150 during a time of persecution for Jews. He was a Tosafist and attended the schools of the Tosafists. At a young age though he came to learn under his father Rabbi Samuel (Rav Shmuel HaChassid) who taught him the intricate words of Jewish esoterica. Rabbi Judah soon became a renowned and famous pietist. He with his father and several other German Jews took upon themselves an oath of piety and became purely pious men. They were known throughout the German lands and many flocked to learn from them.

Their philosophy is explained in their prominent Chassidei Ashkenazic works such as Rabbi Judah's Sefer Chassidim and famous liturgal poem An'im Zemirot which is recited every Sabbath in most Ashkenazic synagogues.

Rabbi Judah's student Rabbi Elazar Rokeach is best known for his Sefer HaRokeiach. Rabbi Rokeach's student was Rabbi Moses ben Nachman, commonly known as Nachmanides, who wrote a famous commentary on the Torah.

Due to extreme persecutions many of the Chassidei Ashkenaz migrated to Spain during the early part of the 13th century. After Rabbi Judah died in 1217 and the Rintfleisch-Pogrom in the early part of the 13th century, almost all the Chassidei Ashkenaz moved out of the Germanic lands. The ones that came to Spain changed their movement's name and they and their students became the great Kabbalists of the Jewish Golden Age in Spain in the 13th century. By the onset of the 14th century the movement had ceased to exist. Sefer Chassidim and the Rokeach have had a major influence on Jewish customs and Torah study.

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