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Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Sabbatian Heresy

Writings on Mysticism, Messianism, and the Origins of Jewish Modernity

Distributed for Brandeis University Press

Sabbatian Heresy

Writings on Mysticism, Messianism, and the Origins of Jewish Modernity

The pronouncements of Sabbatai Tsevi (1626–76) gave rise to Sabbatianism, a key messianic movement in Judaism that spread across Jewish communities in Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The movement, which featured a set of theological doctrines in which Jewish Kabbalistic tradition merged with Muslim and later Christian elements, suffered a setback with Tsevi’s conversion to Islam in 1666. Nonetheless, for another hundred and fifty years, Sabbatianism continued to exist as a heretical underground movement. It provoked intense opposition from rabbinic authorities for another century and had a significant impact on central developments of later Judaism, such as the Haskalah, the Reform movement, Hasidism, and the secularization of Jewish society. This volume provides a selection of the most original and influential texts composed by Sabbatai Tsevi and his followers, complemented by fragments of the works of their rabbinic opponents and contemporary observers and some literary works inspired by Sabbatianism. An introduction and annotations by Pawel Maciejko provide historical, political, and social context for the documents.

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"The combination of eye-opening historical sources and Maciejko’s learned commentary make this a perfect volume for undergraduate and graduate courses on religious studies, messianic movements, Jewish history, and the histories of both East Central Europe and of the Ottoman Empire. This is a lively and engaging study that few readers will be able to put down."

Religious Studies Review

“The best collection in English of this extraordinary messianic movement. . . . Maciejko’s introduction is the most original contribution to the history of this movement since Gershom Scholem’s 1936 essay ‘Redemption Through Sin’ and will set the agenda for all future research.”

David Biale, University of California, Davis

Table of Contents

Foreword • Introduction • I: SABBATIAN MOVEMENT PRIOR TO SABBATAI TSEVI’S CONVERSION TO ISLAM • Nathan of Gaza, A Letter to Raphael Joseph • Thomas Coenen, Vain Hopes of the Jews • A Letter of Rabbi Aaron Sarfatti of Amsterdam to Rabbi Jacob Sasportas of Hamburg • Exchange of Letters between Isaac Nahar of Amsterdam and Jacob Sasportas of Hamburg • II: SABBATAI TSEVI’S CONVERSION AND ITS INTERPRETATION • A Letter of Rabbi Joseph Halevi of Livorno to Rabbi Hosea Nantawa of Alexandria • Moses Ben Habib, A Testimony Given before the Rabbinic Court in Jerusalem • Sabbatai Tsevi, A Letter on Conversion • Sabbatai Tsevi, Bury My Faith! • Nathan of Gaza, A Letter on Conversion • III: SABBATIANISM IN THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE • Israel Hazzan of Kastoria, Commentary on the Midnight-Vigil Liturgy • Songs and Poems of the Dönmeh • Yehudah Levi Tovah, Commentary on the Torah Portion Bereshit • IV: Avraham Miguel Cardozo • Avraham Miguel Cardozo, A Letter to Isaac Cardozo • Avraham Miguel Cardozo, A Letter to Baruch Enriques • Avraham Miguel Cardozo, Abraham’s Morn • Elijah Kohen, The Book of the Sacred Contention • V: THE HAYON CONTROVERSY • Nehemiah Hiyya Hayon, Power to the Lord • Tsevi Hirsch ben Yaakov Ashkenazi (Hakham Tsevi), In the Sight of All the House of Israel • Moses Hagiz, Destruction of the Wrongdoers • Anonymous, A Review of Hayon’s Oz le-Elohim • VI: THE EIBESCHÜTZ CONTROVERSY • Jonathan Eibeschütz, And I Came This Day unto the Fountain • Jacob Emden, Purim’s Letter • Jonathan Eibeschütz, A Letter to Rabbi Jacob Yehoshuah Falk • David Friedrich Megerlin: Hidden Testimonies for the Truth of the Christian Religion Deduced from Twenty-Four New and Rare Jewish Amulets • Jacob Emden, A Whip on the Fool’s Back • VII: JACOB FRANK AND THE FRANKISTS • Jacob Emden, A Bridle for the Deceiver • Jacob Frank, The Words of the Lord Spoken in Brünn • Jacob Frank, Appendix to the Words of the Lord Spoken in Brünn • Jacob Frank, The Red Letter • Eleazar Fleckeles, The Love of David • VIII: LITERARY ACCOUNTS OF SABBATIANISM • Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, Sabbatai Tsevi • Isaac Bashevis Singer, The Man of Dreams • Shmuel Yosef Agnon, Knots upon Knots • Suggestions for Further Reading • Index

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