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August 09, 1974 - Image 20

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1974-08-09

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Prof. Scholem's Encyclopedic 'Sabbatai Sevi'

(Continued from Page 48)

accepted the Moslem faith,
as did his wife Sarah, about
whom much is recorded as
indication of the rationality.
of the famous Jewish im-
postor. His wife was given
the name Fatima Cadin,
Lady Fatima.
The story of Sabbatai's
marriages, rumors of liber-
tinism while Sabbatai was in
Galipoli, Sarah's purported
life as a prostitute before her
marriage — these and many
other details form a veritable
work of fiction based on
many affirmations of reali-
Upon Sarah's conversion
with her husband, the follow-
ing is noted by Dr. Scholem:
"Sabbatai also agreed to
take a second wife and to
marry one of the queen's
maids (or slave girls)—pos-
sibly in order to demonstrate
his fidelity to his new re-
ligion and to put himself be-
yond suspicion. The • mar-
riage was duly denounced by
anti - Sabbatian polemicists
and glossed over in the Sab-
batian accounts, which mere-
ly suggest that a proposal of
this kind was made to Sab-
batai but rejected by him."

Efforts were made by the
Sabbatians to mitigate the
effects of the apostasy.
Prophet Nathan of Gaza sur-
rounded it with a "smoke-
screen or rather a halo of
kabalistic mysteries." Many
of his followers kept treating
him as the AMIRAH, the
title that had been accorded
him. AMIRAH are "the ini-
tials of the Hebrew words for
`Our Lord and King, his
Majesty be exalted,' the cus-
tomarj designation for Sab-
batai E!vi by his followers,"
Dr Scholem explains.

Sabbatian believers per-
sisted in their activities and
Nathan carried on his activi-
ties in support of the false
messiah's visions in spite of
rabbinic opposition and some
excommunications. Nathan,
who died in 1680, and some
of the other Sabbatians, re-
jected stigmas imposed upon
them. Dr. Scholem conceded
that "there must have been
many kabalists and believers
during the first years after
the apostasy who were im-
pressed by the kind of argu-
ments of Nathan and Car-
dozo," the latter's fanaticism
and inconsistencies constant-
ly having emerged in all of
the Scholem exposes of the
entire Sabbatian case.

Sabbatai kept contact with
his followers from his new
role as a Muslim. He had
gone, according to the
legends and some actual
stories in the great Scholem
account, with fellow-converts
to conduct services in a
Constantinople synagogue and
he was arrested, tried, ban-
ished. This was on Sept. 12,
Legends spread about his
death, his disappearance, the
" godly links, Sabbatai having
professed contacts with God
in his later years as a con-
vert and his believers having
retained faith in him. It- was
primarily the result of the
inspirations that still stem-
med from Nathan.

Dr. Scholem's record shows
that Sabbatai died in 1676 in
Albania. But "in the year

1678-79 the notion that Sab-
batai's death was merely an
`occultation' w a s already
gaining ground. The term
was probably introduced by
Nathan after he had recover-
ed from his initial melan-
An interesting concluding
assertion by Dr. Scholem de-
scribes Sabbatai Sevi as "a
great man." Dr. Scholem
"There is a sense in which
legend expresses more truth
and accurate enumeration of
facts and the legends a great
man often tells us more
about him than historical re-
search ever can."

Prof. Scholem especially
disproves that Sabbatai was
under influence of Christian
sentiments in believing that
the year 1666 was the year
for messianic realizations.
The views of the eminent his-
torican, Heinrich Graetz, that
Sabbatatai's father, Mordecai
Sevi, has acquired such views
from English merchants are
disputed. Prof. Scholem de-
"There is not the slightest
historical justification for
any of these fond inventions.
Sabbatai Sevi needed no
Christians to be impressed
with the probability of 1666
being a messianic year. He
had much closer stimuli in
direction from his im-
mediate religious tradition
and upbringing. There is not
a shred of evidence to show
that Mordecai Sevi's employ-
ers were millenarians, and
we may positively assert that
they could not have mention-
ed 1666 as a messianic year.
The propaganda for this date
made its appearance in
Dutch and English literature
in the 1650s only, that is,
after Sabbatai had left
Smyrna. There had, of
course, been a few mediaval
writers who had interpreted
the 'number of the beast,'
666, in Revelation 13:18 as a
phophecy of the coming of

Euro-Arab Economic Commission OKd

PARIS (JTA) — Plans for
Antichrist in the year 1666,
but these isolated views were a permanent joint commis-
not widely - known. Shortly sion to develop long-term
before 1666, some Protestant economic cooperation were
chiliasts remembered the approved here at a meeting
date and began to propagate of the nine-nation European
the view that the 'fifth king- Common Market and the 20-
dom' would begin that year. nation Arab League.
They also connected that date
The commission is sched-
with the hope for a restora- uled to have its first meeting
tion of the Jews to Palestine •in November.
and their conversion to Chris-
French Foreign Minister
tianity. It was mainly in the Jean Sauvagnargues, who
1650s that the year 1666 gain- led the talks for Suromart as
ed_in importance in the Latin current chairman of the
writings of the few chiliasti- European Community Coun-
cally inclined theologians . .
cil of Ministers. said the
There is, however, no casual agreement was an extremely
connection between this type
of literature and the history
of Sabbatai's development. Netherlands Ends
although the synchronicity of Subsidy to Dutch,
the tracts of Peter Serrarius
and others, published in 1665, Israeli Chambers
with the happenings in the
Jewish world, is certainly Netherlands Ministry of Eco-
worthy of attention. Parallel- nomic Affairs has decided to
ism and synchroncity are no discontinue an annual sub-
rare phenomena in history, sidy of 45,000 guilders (about
but as an explanation of Sab- $18,000) to the Central
batai's developments they are Dutch-Israel Chamber of
useless. Discussions between Commerce located in the
Jews and their Christian Hague and Tel Aviv.
neighbors concerning the ex-
These funds are usually
pectation of the messiah or used for the promotion of
the Second Coming probably Dutch-Israeli trade.
took place in Europe at all
A spokesman for the eco-
nomic affairs ministry said
Dr. Scholem emphasizes the decision was taken for
that "a longing for redemp- "economizing. reasons." It
tion through the mystical will go into effect as of Nov.
power of holiness, invested 1.
The decision will mean the
this (the Sabbatai) legend
with a sense of mystery and end of both Dutch market re-
tragedy, present even in the search in Israel and publicity
versions of the non-Sabba- for Israeli products in The
tians trying - to recount the Netherlands. Trade between
story of the great messianic the two countries now
revival that shook a whole amounts to nearly 200,000,000
guilders (about $80,000,000
In this great work, we have yearly.
The Netherlands imports
the compilation of legends as
well as facts. Documents, re- from Israel mainly citrus
produced • prints, long and fruits, textiles, diamonds,
undiluted historical records— chemicals, bromides and
all add up to a masterful spare parts for computers
and automobiles.
Dutch exports to Israel in-
A great work: this- is the
unchallenged description of clude agricultural products,
"Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical food products, naval con-
Messiah" by Dr. Gershom S. struction and electronic equip-
Scholem. —P.S. ment.

important "political fact."
Ma hm oud Riad, Arab
League secretary-general,
said the "Arab world" was
trying to build a strong base
for economic development by
combining European tech-
nology at:d Arab capital.
Observers said that the
European community, which
depends heavily,- on Arab oil
for energy, hopes that of-
fering long-term technology
aid to the Arab world will
prevent interruption to oil
supplies, such as that which
occurred during the Yom
Kippur War, when the oil-
producing Arab nations re-
duced or halted crude oil
shipments to European cowl-

Even after the oil boycott
was ended, soaring oil prices
led the European community
to seek the agreement with
the Arab League.

20—Friday, August 9, 1974

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