"Moshiach is ready to come now-our part is to increase in acts of goodness and kindness" -The Rebbe

Friday, February 6, 2009

What is a chossid?

What is a chossid?

Some say that a
chossid is a kind person, for the word chossid is related to the word chessed, kindness. However, this cannot be the core of what a chossid is, for non-chassidim can also be kind.

Others suggest that a
chossid is one who goes beyond the letter of the law, but this can also not be considered a defining feature, for many non-chassidim are careful to go beyond the letter of the law.

Yet others suggest that a
chossid is joyful in serving Hashem. However, many non-chassidim also serve Hashem joyfully, so that can’t be it either.

Or perhaps being a
chossid is about what one believes. For example, chassidim believe in Hashgacha Pratis, personal Divine Providence. But again, a person can accept this belief without being a chossid.

chossid davvens very seriously. He engages in hisbonenus, deep meditation on Hashem’s greatness with the goal of inspiring himself to love for Hashem in prayer and to profoundly changing his character traits. Yet one could technically engage in all this without being a chossid.

These are all things that
chassidim do or should do, but they are external, and thus they do not truly define what is a chossid.

I submit that the core definiton is that a chossid is one with genuine bittul, self-abnegation, to his Rebbe, to whom he submits and whom he obeys. This is most succinctly expressed in the word used to describe a Rebbe: adonenu, our master. And this relationship is the most important relationship in his life, for he knows that this is the key to a true relationship with Hashem.

He then
also engages in kindness, scrupulous observance, joy, sensitivity to
Hashgacha Pratis, passionate prayer, and so on. However, all these external aspects stem from the core foundation of bittul to his Rebbe.


  1. I dont think you have to be a Chassid to have this last point too. I would maybe add that a Chossid is perhaps one that learns the teachings of Chassidus from the Chassidic Rebbes with that mentioned bitul. And if you still say that not a total uniqueness (baruch Hashem all Jews are all unite, one with Torah), but the way it is brought down is unique, to the Neshamos that are unique to it, with its unique emphasis and its history/stories.

  2. I would say that since the whole Rebbe-chossid relationship is, as I write, based on bittul, the shleimus of that bittul and resulting hiskashrus is only possible through this relationship--which is why this relationship was established.


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