Chasidim of Karlin

[Yiddish, Karliner chasidim] - A Chasidic group founded by Aron (1736-72), who was known as Aron of Karlin (Aron Karliner), or Aron the Great, He was a pupil of one of the main Chasidic leaders and outstanding Talmudist, Dov-Ber of Miedzyrzecze.

Aron's teacher sent him with the mission of spreading Chasidism to the various corners of Poland. In approximately 1760, he came to Karlin, near Pinsk. Despite objections from Gaon of Wilno (Eliyah ben Shlomo), he gained many pupils and founded the first center of Chasidism in Lithuania. Karliner advocated thorough knowledge of the Torah, and daily study of the Mishnah. He rejected ascetic practices, and considered joy and inner contentment as conditions needed in order to come closer to the Creator. A Jew living joylessly did not, in his opinion, deserve to enter heaven. It was only possible to achieve a sense of joy and contentment when man's basic needs had been taken care of, such as eating, drinking, sleeping and sex.
Most of the Lithuanian tzaddikim had been Karliner's pupils, or his pupils' pupils. He did not leave any writings; his successors later preserved his teachings in writing. He wrote the popular Sabbath hymn, sung by the Chasidim of Karlin and other Lithuanian Chasidic groups. One of Aron's sons, Yakub, settled in Palestine, where he helped the Chasidic movement to develop and popularized his father's teachings.

Aron's successor was his youngest son, Asher (1760-1828), a pupil of Boruch of Miedzyboz and Israel ben Shabtay Hepstein of Kozienice. He emphasized the importance of studying, and believed everyone should devote time to their studies insofar as they are able.

Another Karlin tzaddik was Asher's son, Aron, known as "the Second" (1802-72), who dealt with legal matters related to the observance of holidays. He stressed the importance of joy and singing, and introduced instrumental music into the ceremonies of the Chasidim of Karlin. He was forced by the tsarist authorities to leave Karlin, and he settled in Stolin in 1908.
Aron the Second's son, Asher the Second (1827-73), succeeded him; his teachings were strongly influenced by mysticism. His successor was his five-year-old son, Israel Perlov (1868-1922), known later for his community work. He also actively supported the development of religious schools for girls, Beys Yakov. The last of the dynasty was Israel's oldest son, Abraham Elimelech Perlov, (1891-1942), who founded a yeshiva of the Karlin Chasidim near Jerusalem. He was killed in Pinsk by the Nazis, along with other of his family members. Chasidic groups from Karlin still exist in the United States and Israel.

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