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August 09, 1974 - Image 47

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

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Encyclopedic Work on Notable False Messiah

Professor Scholem's Great Work on Sabbatai Sevi

The mounting "euphoric
of confidence and defiance
not only rewriting the He-
manifested by the Jews did enthusiasm" of the messianic
brew, to do justice to the
not fail to provoke anti-Jew- king reached heights of great
spirit of the English lan-
ish demonstrations and even excitement during his ruler-
guage, but also occasionally
riots. The Jews menacingly ship while in the Galipoli
paraphrasing, enlarging or
told their Christian neighbors fortress when he declared
adding explanatory remarks.
that the day of vengeance the Seventeenth of Tamuz
Werblowsky's virtuosity in
was at hand, and carried and the Ninth of Av as feasts
this respect and his deep
about pictures of Sabbatai rather than fast days as an
familiarity with the subject
Sevi and Nathan. The Chris- affirmation of the arrival of
enabled him to carry out this
tian mobs seems to have at- the day of liberation: "The
decidedly difficult task. I
tacked the Jews in several abolition of the fast of the
wish to ekpress my gratitude
places, for example in Pinsk Ninth of Av constituted
and obligation to Prof, Wer-
(March 21), Vilna (March climax of the movemen
blowsky, without whose as-
28), Lublin (April 27). A.re- the Orient." It similarly ex-
sistance this book could not
script of May 5 by King cited Jewries in other com-
have attained the degree of
John Casimir forbade the munities.
readability which I hope will
Jews to carry Sabbatai's pic-
The apostasy did not end-
recommend it to the reader."
ture and made the local the Sabbatian movement. It
Nathan of Gaza was the
authorities responsible-- for persisted among many be-
inspired prophet who pro-
lievers, and traces of the
keeping the peace."
moted the Sevi messiahship.
movement have been found
"The great messianic awak-
by Prof. Scholem more re-
ening," Scholem indicates,
cently, so that a subsequent
"began on the Seventeenth of
volume will serve as an
Sivan. A prophet as well as
to Constantinople to the Sab- addendum to the present
a king had arisen in Israel,
batai jail and later to Gali- great study.
but the people accepted their
Sabbatai's activities were
poli. Vizier Ahmed Koprulu
king only because the prophet
is credited with having avoid- halted when he was moved to
had confirmed his kingship."
ed disturbances -because he Adrionople, 150 miles from
This was in the crucial
"evidently realized that out- Galipoli, on Sept. 15, 1666,
year 1665 and events began
of some kind would and it was on the following
to move swiftly when Sevi
be inevitable if the messiah, day that he was brought to
proclaimed himself the mes-
in whom practically all Jews the sultan's court to be told
siah in May. The chain re-
believed, would be put to that it was either abandon-
action began from Palestine
ment of Judaism and accept-
Sabbatai Sevi
(commonly known under the when the prophet proclaimed
Therefore, boatloads of pil- ance of the Mohammedan
spelling Shabbatai Tzvi or his selectee to be "worthy of
faith or death. He readily ac-
Shabasai Tzvi in the Yiddish- being
ning king over Israel." Sab- of its short duration, • as ed the Turkish government grims came, brought jewels, cepted the clemency. He was
ized pronounciation) is not batai then more seriously traced here, is in itself a against "the madman."
paid homage, and Sabbatai
only a great work 15iographi- began to "connect himself study of events in all Jewish
The Turkish government held court in kingly style. 'given the name Mehemed
took action. Sabbatai's ar- While wealth was reportedly Effendi or Aziz Mehemed
cally: it is an immense study with the names of God " communities of that time.
and was given the
of the events and the people while "the prophet saw si
While the Sabbatian move- rival was delayed by a storm mobilizing for the messianic Effendi
office of kapici
movement, there were indi-
involved with Sabbatai, a that 'the exaltation of gths
thorough evaluation of the rabbi Sabbatai Sevi as the ment began in the Holy at sea. His arrest took place ca tions that most of the fol- bashi, keeper of the palace
kabalistic ideas and influ- Anointed of the God of Land, its worldwide spread on Feb. 8, 1666.
lowers were the poverty- gates.
Some of his associates also
ences, a commentary on the Jacob' was about to begin." commenced when Sevi left Prof. Scholem states
may stricken who were hoping for
IV, that
(Concluded on Page 20)
Christian millenarians and on
Among his major acts at were accepted in Egypt and not have been in Constanti- relief from want.
the chiliastic views in Chris- the outset was to proclaim an
from there spread widely in nople, but Grand Vizier
tian theology.
end of Shiva Asar b'Tamuz, the Diaspora. Enthusiastic Ahmed Koprulu, who is de-
More: Dr. Scholem's "Sab- the Seventeenth of Tamuz letters from the Sabbatians scribed as "one of Turkey's
batai Sevi" is an example of (commemorating the day carried the word of his mes- greatest statesmen," was
unsurpassed research by a when the Babylonians made siahship and the role of the there to deal with the case
great scholar. The 1,000-page the first breach in the wall Prophet Nathan of Gaza. himself. The case was treat-
book is a classic in theologi- of Jerusalem during the siege Hymns were composed, pam- ed as a rebellion and Sab-
cal, historical, biographical of 586 BCE) as a fast day phlets were written, the wrd batai as a rebel ,
s such
and socio-theological studies. and declaring it a day of of redemption came to Italian was to forfeitis
h life
This volume therefore as- feasting.
One of the recorded stories
Jewry and it fell in line, as
sumes great significance in
It was not a unanimous did the JewrieS of other Eu- about Sabbatai's imprison-
literature. This 93rd volume endorsement of his work in ropean countries, and for ment is that he might have
in the series of works spon- Jerusalem, where rabbis re- Polish Jewry it was a sign been ransomed for a large
sored by the Bollingen Foun- belled, where there
from heaven that redemption • sum of money, but he re-
dation at Princeton Univer- suspicion of the honesty was
fused, still envisioning great
sity is worth every penny of his distribution of funds
was arriving
the hor- things about to happen.
y o he rible
its $25 cost.
collected in Egypt for the
Indeed, there were the
Meanwhile, tensions con-
Because of the immensity needy. There was the charge challengers, as there later tinued between the two con-
of this work, it is worth of embezzlement,
were the repenters. There flicting Jewish forces in
noting Prof. Scholem's tribute • There was no way of sub- were the doubters and there Turkey who were divided on
to an associate who assisted duing the preachings of the were repudiations, as in the Sabbatianism. The wise vizier
in making possible its ap- "true prophet"; the effects impressive verses against desired to allay
pearance in the English of Nathan's success in "ex- Sabbatians by Em a n u e 1 After two months in prison
translation. Dr. Scholem as- plaining to selected indivi- Frances.
in Constantinople, Sabbatai
duals — including Sabbatai
The Sabbatian fever kept was transferred to the Gali-

"The credit for the English
mounting. Rabbis and lay poli fortress and a new chap-
is due to Dr. R. J. significance of the strange supporters of Sabbatai gath- ter commenced in his move-
Zwi Werblowsky, professor and repellent aspects of the ered en masse, acclaimed ment.
of comparative religion at messiah's personality."
It was a veritable mes-
Kabalists from many quay- Sevi in Smyrna where he an- sianic revolution, as Prof.
the Hebrew University in
Jerusalem, who — over sev- ters pass in long review in of kings and emissaries who Scholem details them at great
eral years — invested much the story of the rise of the were to begin to rule the re- length. Nathan prophesied,
time and work in its prepar- Sabbatian movement. Nathan deemed Jewish kingdom. Sabbatai preached — Jews
ation. Literary Hebrew is of Gaza as much if not even The appointees were headed were called upon to repent
notoriously difficult to trans- more than Sabbatai was in by Sabbatai's two brothers, and to mend their ways if
late into English. The or- constant search and was Elijah Sevi having been they were to benefit from the
iginal edition of the present tested for proof of the verity named king of kings of Israel rulership of the Anointed
work was addressed to He- of his preachments. Scores and Joseph Sevi king of King. The enthusiasm, the
brew readers — which, in of legends are rec(irc' ,,c1 by kings of Judah. The list of maddening rush to join the
the nature of things, also Scholem in chronicling the known appointees fills two Sabbatian ranks in all Eu-
means, in the main, Jewish story of the False Messiah, pages in Scholem's book.
ropean countries, especially
readers. Hence, the author the Zohar is under scrutiny
B u t i n Constantinople, in Poland and in Russia
and the source of the inspira-
could assume familiarity with tion
for the Sabbatianism, where it was believed by the. where the. pogroms of 1648
certain ideas, concepts, tradi- the adherence to the mysti- Sabbatai followers that he left their marks of suffering
tions, institutions, rituals, cism of Isaac Luria, provides would soon take over the and despair, are minutely
From Gershom S. Scholem's "Sabbatai Sevi": Sabba-
liturgical practices, historical additional immense data in kingdom of the sultan of outlined.
kingly throne, under a
events and names.
It was . not easy sailing, and tai Sevi as messiah, sitting on the and
bearing the inscrip-
"In the case of the English the volumonious Sabbatai Turkey,
position, an antagonism that there were riotous occur-
Tribes studying the
reader such familiarity could Sevi story.
was helpless against' the en- rences, resulting from the
The spread of the Sabba- thusiasm of the Sabbatians. messianic faith, including
Torah with the messiah. From an etching after the title
not be taken for granted, and
page of one of the editions of Nathan's "Tiqqun Qeri'ah"
therefore translating meant tian movement in the period It is believed, Scholem states, conflicts with Christians, as
(Amsterdam, 1666)
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS that the opponents had warn- in Poland: "The new mood
48 Friday, August 9, 1974

Prof. Gershom S. Scholem,
perhaps the world's outstand-
ing authority on kabala and
Jewish mysticism, has pro-
duced a work that is without
question one of the most sig-
nificant studies of the mystic
trends in an important era
in Jewish history. His "Sab-
batai Sevi, the Mystical Mes-
siah," (Princeton University
Press), about the most
famous of the False Messiahs

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