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Annihilation of Selfhood


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The mystical state in which the ego, confronted by the divine, especially in prayer, loses its separate identity; Heb. bittul ha-yesh. The doctrine of self-annihilation is prominent in Hasidism in general but is stressed particularly in the Habad group. In cultivation of this attitude some Hasidim would try never to use the ‘I’ pronoun in conversation. Bittul ha-yesh has strong affinities with the unio mystica in general mystical theology and it is therefore incorrect to say, as some scholars do, that in Judaism the gulf between God and human beings is so vast that no version of the religion teaches the possibility of the soul of the mystic being absorbed in the divine.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.


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