The Great Wedding in Uściług : The Making of a Myth.

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'The Great Wedding in Uściług' is a well known episode in the history of Hasidism. It serves as the main event in which the divisions between the different Hasidic groups in Congress Poland were formed and stabilized for generations to come. In this article I investigate the various traditions of this episode and trace the evolutionary pattern of its turning into a myth. Apparently the wedding, which I verify as a historical event that took place in the summer of 1821, has attracted additional narratives which were set over this casual event. The main element of this myth was the public debate mounted against the Przysucha school during the gathering in Uściług. Through a detailed dismantling of this famous legend, I came to the conclusion that its first formation and appearance in print were no earlier than the beginning of the twentieth century and I show how this event was utilized by different Hasidic groups as part of their inner competitive discourse. In the course of demolishing this well established literary myth, I re-examine the historiographical conception of the Hasidic movement in the nineteenth century and suggest how cautious one must be while using hagiographical sources as historical data.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)85-96
JournalTarbiz: a quarterly for Jewish studies
StatePublished - 2012


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