Rabbi Norman Lamm, offers a monumental and magisterial history of Hasidism. When it emerged in the 18th century under the leadership of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (usually referred to as the Besht), Hasidism combined the mystical elements of Kabbalah with scrupulous observance of Torah and halakah. Because Hasidism was a strongly messianic movement, many critics accused it of not taking seriously enough halakic regulations concerning prayer and worship. Lamm’s invaluable collection of primary documents narrates Hasidism’s theological development. Each of the book’s 18 chapters focuses on intellectual topics ranging from “God and Providence” and “The Soul” to “Evil and Suffering” and “Exile and Redemption.” Lamm introduces each chapter with a brief historical and theological essay, then gathers the writings of various Hasidic teachers, from the 18th to the 20th centuries, on these topics. For example, the section on the soul opens with reflections on the “ten sefirot of the Jewish soul,” by Rabbi Shneur Zalman (1745-1813), and includes a meditation on the soul by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav (1772-1811), a grandson of the Besht, concluding with Rabbi Elimelekh of Lizhensk’s (1717-1787) reflections on “the soul as wife.” Included here are also the writings of the Besht and his successor, the Maggid of Mezeritch (1710-1772), who continued his teacher’s emphases on asceticism and mysticism. Lamm’s collection opens the pages on a fascinating chapter in religious history and practice.