Difference between Hasidic and Orthodox Jews

By: | Updated: Oct-26, 2023
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It can be confusing to understand different religions from the outside. Take Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, for example. How can they have such different approaches and still both be Jews? Read on to find out more.

Summary Table

Hasidic Jews Orthodox Jews
Is a sect of Orthodox Judaism Is an approach to Judaism
The strictest sect Contains strict and more adapted sects
Children mainly get a religious education Children can get both a religious as well as a secular education, depending on the sect they are part of
They have distinctive clothing Some sects have distinctive clothing, but modesty is required for all


Hasidic family
A Hasidic family

Hasidic Jews are actually a sect within the larger group of Orthodox Jews. Although they live in the secular world, Hasidic Jews keep to tradition and they try to integrate and adapt some of the modern elements into their everyday lives. Otherwise, they live by the Talmud, study the Torah and their entire community is dedicated to leading a life of piety, which their name represents.

Hasidism began in the 18th century in Eastern Europe. The founder of this sect was Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer, also called the Baal Shem Tov (which means “master of the good name.”). One day while he was working in the Carpathian Mountains, the Baal Shem Tov spent time in meditation. In about 1736, he became accepted as a spiritual leader and healer. It was his teachings that were used to form the Hasidic movement.

In the Hasidic movement, emphasis is placed on the spiritual rather than the intellectual. If a Hasidic Jew encounters a conflict between Jewish law and the kabbalah (Jewish mystical beliefs), they usually follow the kabbalah. Hasidic Jewish tradition puts much emphasis on joy and one’s personal relationship with God.

Orthodox Jews
Orthodox Jews

Orthodox Jews are a bigger category of Jews, with sects ranging from ultra-orthodox (highly isolated and very strict in following the rules) to modern Orthodox Jews. This group includes Hasidic Jews and represents a traditional form of keeping to the Jewish traditions.

Modern Orthodox Jews believe in combining Orthodox Judaism with life in the modern world. They usually have full-time jobs in the secular word and learn the Torah at night or on the weekends. Modern Orthodox tend to play more focus on the legal and intellectual aspects of their religion.

Orthodox Jews believe in the Torah (the Jewish Bible) and believe this is the literal word of God. They also believe that Jewish law is binding and never changes. Orthodox Judaism also believes in a Messiah, life after death, and restoration of the promised land.

Orthodox Jews are divided into several subgroups that include the Hasidic, Ultra-Orthodox, and Modern Orthodox.

Rather than avoiding the modern world, Modern Orthodox Jews respect other cultures (that are not Jewish), and they are very attached to Israel. However, they are very conservative when it comes to politics.

Hasidic vs Orthodox Jews

When looking for the difference between Hasidic and Orthodox Jews, it is important to keep in mind the relationship between these two concepts. Therefore, all Hasidic Jews are Orthodox Jews, but not all Orthodox Jews are Hasidic Jews. The comparison between the two is that of a group and a segment of the same group.

Relationship with the secular world

Of all the Orthodox Jewish sects, Hasidic Jews are the strictest and they are the ones considered ultra-orthodox. By comparison, in the Orthodox group there are also modern-Orthodox Jews who have adapted their lifestyle to more elements of modern life.


Hasidic Jews have distinctive garments, especially for the men who wear long coats and fur hats. They let their beards grow and have side curls. The women are supposed to wear modest clothes that cover them from the neckline to the knees. Also, married women must cover their hair. In some extreme cases, ultra-Orthodox Jewish women even shave their heads and wear scarves.

On the other hand, modern Orthodox Jews are more adapted to modern life and have no clothing restrictions, apart from the modest attire, which remains a must.


Hasidic Jews mainly receive a religious education, while modern Orthodox Jews have both a religious and a secular education.

Military service

In Israel, Modern Orthodox Jews serve in the military, unlike Hasidic Jews.

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