Introduction to Frank's Second Letter

The preceeding letter was written in 5527 [1766/7]. And in the year 5528 [1767/8], while he was still in Czestochowa, he wrote a second letter to all Jewry. And these are his holy words:

The Second Letter

A voice, a mighty voice was awakened from on high to the world below. Our eyes were opened when a ball[20] came down from on high to the many sides of the world below. A mellifluous voice[21] came down from on high to the world below.

Awaken ye slumbering sleepers from the sleep that is in your nostrils,and you who do not know. They look but cannot see; their ears are closed; their hearts are heavy; they sleep and do not know the Torah that is standing in front of them, and do not pay attention, and do not know what they see; they look but cannot see.

The Torah has raised its voice, Look ye fools! Open your eyes and you shall know. There is no one who pays attention. Is there anyone to incline his ear? For how long will you be in the darkness of your willful evil? Seek to know, and light that is brilliant shall be revealed to you in time, etc.[22]

Surely you are wise and you know how to conduct a battle using a bow. When one pulls the bow lightly, it does not shoot far; when one pulls the bow with strength and lets them [the arrows] go, then the arrow shoots very far. Thus, know that at this time it moves slowly. You should know also that their time is beginning that you will forget your wives and your children on account of the evil decree, since it comes from the Lord Himself.

For all the emperors and kings, even of the kingdom of Prussia, the dukes and the princes of all the world will hate you exceedingly. When they see a Jew they will direct their spittle at him; and pleasure will turn into a plague, and troubles will come, the likes of which have never before been seen in the world.

You think that what I am writing you now resembles the first letter which has not been fulfilled so far. This is not the case. For what was said in the first letter was the awakener. And this epistle shall be your guide for what shall take place in the future in all of the countries, great and small: Poland, Lithuania, and all of Russia, Hungary, Walachia, Moldavia, Tartary and the entire Ottoman Empire, France and all of Germany, Bohemia, Moravia, and the lands of Prussia, and in all the places where Jews live. Woe, woe on this time! On account of what is intended against you, your wives and your children. Those who will be found in the houses will be slain in the houses and there will be no one to bury them on account of the multitude of corpses, and those in the fields will die in the fields and the dogs will devour them. I cannot write too much of what is about to happen to the world; a hint [suffices] for the wise. And if I were to write you in detail, there would not be enough paper.

I am informing you that there shall be no order [lit. wheel] in the world until the Law of Moses is fulfilled, until they have entered the holy creed of Edom. As we find that Jacob had promised to Esau, Let my Lord pass before his servant, and I will lead on slowly until I come to my lord in Seir.[23] And as it is written concerning Moses, And Moses dispatched messengers to Edom.[24] Anyone who is of the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must follow this holy creed of Edom. [The Lord comes from Sinai and shines forth to them in Seir] and he comes from his holy myriads.[25] Through his holiness there shall shine the primeval light; it shall come as a sign at the end of time. You shall make strife.

And it surely be clay, And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so part of the kingdom shall be strong and part thereof broken.[26] And I say to you that the weak shall smite the strong.[27] Were they wise, they would understand this; they would perceive their end.[28]

And he signed his holy name [i.e. Jacob Jozef Frank].


[20] Ball-planet, star, comet, etc.
[21] Zohar I 249a
[22] Zohar I 161b
[23] Gen. 33:14
[24] Num. 20:14
[25] Deut. 33:2; also cf. Beer p. 333 "When the stream breaks, and it surely will, then salvation will come.
[26] Dan. 2:42
[27] Cf. Joel 4:10
[28] Deut. 32:29; cf. Targum Jonathan and Rashi

Commentary on Frank's Second Letter

What is implicit in the first letter becomes explicit in the second. Frank begins with an extensive quotation from the Zohar I, 161b which becomes the leitmotif of his own message. In the Zohar, the passage serves as a comment on Genesis 30:37 ("Thereupon Jacob took fresh rods of white poplar"), a verse that reveals how the patriarch outwitted Laban. For the author of the Zohar, this serves as an introduction to the problem of why Scripture deals at length with matters that seem inconsequential or even debasing? (e.g., Jacob's breeding of spotted sheep). The answer, according to the Zohar, is that the stories of Jacob are but models of what will happen in the end of days. Jacob, while in Haran, felt it necessary to succumb to idol worship,[15] but repudiated it upon his return to the Holy Land.

According to Frank, when Israel is in galut it ought to follow the patriarch's willingness to share in the beliefs and practices of the pagan nations. But he insists that he is God's instrument through whom Israel will be redeemed.[16] In the first letter, he announces himself as the prophet to whom God has revealed the secret that redemption was approaching, provided that certain conditions were met. The Zoharic quotation at the beginning of the second letter repeats the same claim implying that he heard a heavenly voice that no one else perceived.[17] The voice was powerful and ought to have been audible to everyone, but the people, on account of their sinfulness, were in a deep trance, hearing nothing.[18]

Frank urges action to hasten redemption. It was through him that the people would awaken from their slumber and hear the heavenly voice of the Torah that was descending upon the world.[19] Curiously, Frank alludes to the military training of his followers as part of this awakening. Not only do they learn how to use a bow and arrow, they must also learn from the way the arrow behaves.[20] To achieve maximum effectiveness, one must pull the bow with force; so also must Israel act with utmost ruthlessness.[21] There was no other choice, for the predicted apocalypse was at hand, the nations of Europe were about to destroy Jewry.

To save them, Frank exhorts the Jews to convert to Christianity, but not to forget to arm themselves as a unit. This was modeled after Jacob, who on the one hand made peace with Esau, and on the other made preparations for war.[22] According to the Zohar, this means that Jacob followed the pagan way of life when associating with Laban or Esau.[23] This contrasted sharply with the attempt of the Jews to live a Jewish life in the Diaspora. Frank advocates, therefore, that when among the Gentiles, the Jews must accept their faith. In a way, Frank anticipates the assimilationist point of view that was incipient in Western Europe.

Most interesting is Frank's discussion of the contents of the first letter. He defends himself against the charge that one could not trust his prophecies since the predictions of the first letter had not been realised.[24] This apology tells us that Frank was in a quandary. The wording of the first message implies that the predictions of the impending doom would be realised immediately. As these predictions failed to materialize, Frank defends himself by claiming that his prophecies in the preceeding message were misunderstood, since they were only adumbrations for the message of the second letter. In other words, Frank insists that what was said in the past was to be understood metaphorically while what he is saying now is to be taken literally.

What we find here is the inevitable weakness of seers who have to deal with the present. Aware of the problem that some of his adherents were losing faith in his predictions, Frank raises the intensity of his rhetoric.[25] Lines 6-9 page 2 depict the imminent slaughter of European Jewry with stark vividness. He lists most of the nations of Europe as well as the Ottoman Empire to dispute the belief that one is to distinguish between nations that tolerate the Jews and those that do not. All of them, major and minor, including the relatively benign Prussia, would participate in the annihilation of Jewry. Concluding with the repeated claim that he is unable to enter into greater detail, he leaves much to the imagination. This anticipates the problem of resolving prediction with fact.

The remainder of the letter is devoted to an exegesis of the biblical account of Jacob as it pertained to the Frankist movement. The patriarch, Frank says, promised to visit his brother in Seir: "let my lord go on ahead of his servant, while I travel slowly at the pace of the cattle before me and at the pace of the children until I come to my lord in Seir" (Genesis 33:14).

In traditional exegesis, Seir and Edom are frequently synonyms of Esau, which in Zoharic parlance refers to Rome,[26] and by extension to the Roman Catholic Church. Genesis 33:14 therefore means that Jacob promised to come and to submit to Rome, a promise, according to Frank, that was never kept. The apparent baptism of the Jews would, Frank argued, carry out the patriarchal promise. It would as well lead to the ultimate defeat of Rome. In support of his exegesis of Jacob's visit to Esau, Frank cites Moses' dealings with the king of Edom. Moses dispatched messengers to the king of Edom requesting free passage through his land, a request that was denied.

Frank explains this to mean that Moses left the task of defeating Edom unfinished. Jacob's promise to return to Edom and Moses' failure to defeat the Edomite king left it to Jacob Frank to carry out the prerequisites that would bring about Israel's triumph.

This is also supported by Moses' words in Deuteronomy 32:2, "The Lord comes from Sinai and shines forth to them from Seir, and he comes from his holy myriads." As Frank explains it, this verse links the fulfillment of Sinai, i.e., the Torah, with that of Seir. The Torah cannot fully be realized unless the patriarch's promise to his brother to visit him in Seir is kept. The second Jacob, that is Frank, will pay the indebtedness incurred by the first Jacob. Frank fully exploited his name by interchanging it with the Zoharic exegesis of the patriarch Jacob.[27] Indirectly, this served to free the Frankist movement from its Shabbatean antecedents, pointing out that Jacob, not Shabbatai Sevi, was to be the true messiah.[28] The relationship of Jacob Frank and Shabbatai Sevi must be viewed on the basis of other documents as well. In this letter, however, contrary to Scholem, there seems to be no reliance upon Shabbateanism. That Jacob Frank was the metamorphosis of his ancient namesake became a central dogma of the Frankist movement.

The peroration takes advantage of Deuteronomy 32:2 ("and he shall shine forth from Seir"), using it as evidence for Israel's defeat of Rome on ins march to Zion. Israel will have to make war with Rome.[29] [It shall come as a sign of the end of time. You shall make strife.] Characteristically, this is stated in Zoharic language as part of the code found in these letters. As if this were not clear enough, Frank goes on to cite Daniel 2:42 more or less verbatim:[30] "And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so part of the kingdom shall be strong, and part thereof broken." In lines 20 and 21 of page 2 Frank claims that the last two words of this verse minah teverah (part thereof broken) reveal his claim that Israel will defeat Rome with a statement of his own: "and I say that the weak, i.e., Israel, will overcome the mighty, i.e., Rome." What is novel in the second letter is Frank's claim that he was the reincarnation of the patriarch Jacob, and if the latter embodied the beginning of Israel, Frank personified Israel's redeemer in the end of days.


[15] Cf. Genesis 35:2
[16] 1:8, 9
[17] 1:22
[18] 1:22-26
[19] 1:26-18
[20] 1:28, 29. The Frankists conducted military maneuvers.
[21] Cf. Genesis 31:19
[22] Cf. Genesis 32:8, 9 and Rashi ad locum
[23] 2:4-6
[24] 2:6-9
[25] 2:13
[26] Rome is mentioned only once in this document, 1:3. Cf. G. Cohen "Esau as a symbol in Early Medieval Thought," in Jewish Medieval and Renaissance Studies, ed. A. Altmann, Harvard Press, 1967, pp. 19-48, especially p. 27. Also Scholem (note 1 Introduction), pp. 41-70.
[27] 2:15, 16, 18
[28] Gershom Scholem. Shabbatai Sevi and the Shabbatean Movement in His Lifetime. Am Oved, Tel Aviv, 1974
[29] 2:18
[30] 2:19, 20

Letters Index: Intro First Second Oral New Appendix

| Sabbatai Zevi | Jacob Frank | Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain |
| A Critical Re-Assessment of Sabbatai Zevi |
| Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain's Professions of a Holy Sinner |
| The Zohar | Vedanta & Kabbalah | The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas |
| The Sponataneous Jesus Lectures | The Holy Qur'an |
| Special Topics |
| Knowing the Unknowable |
| A Brief Note on Enlightenment |
| A Neo-Sabbatian Discourse on the Son of God |
| A Primer of "Yalhakian" Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah |
| Participating in the Continuing Incarnation of God |
| Sabbatai Zevi's 'God of the Faith' | Evolution of the Ego |
| Two Torahs of Kabbalah: Torah D'Atziluth & Torah D'Beriah |
| On the Limits of Antinomianism | The Transformation of God |
| Commentary on the 13th Century "Treatise on the Left Emanation" |
| A Selection of Neo-Sabbatian Quotations Culled from Various Sources |
| Commentaries on Rabbi Azriel of Gerona's 12th Century Text, "Explanation of the Ten Sefirot" |
| Kabbalistic Genetics of the Holy Seed & Reclaiming the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel |
| A Commentary on the Book of Job | Kabbalah and the Interpretation of Dreams |
| To Die for the People: A Kabbalistic Reinterpretation of the Crucifixion of Jesus |
| The Shemot Shel Katzar Tikkunim: Revealing the Concealed Names of God |
| The Christian Myth of Melchizedek vs. Hereditary Jewish Priesthood |
| The Apocrypha of Jacob Frank | The Tikkun of Raising Animals |
| Appointment in Smyrna: A Neo-Sabbatian Odyssey |
| Sabbatai Zevi and the Mystery of the Red Heifer |
| The Kabbalah of the Hindu Mantra "OM" |
| The Mystery of the Middle Column |
| The Hidden Structures of Water |
| Exegesis on the Rod of Aaron |
| Book of Silence |
|YaLHaK's Garden of Neo-Sabbatian Verses|
| Ten Sefirot of Jewish Kabbalah | Sufi Lion of Bektashi Islam |
| Mandala of Tibetian Buddhism | Seven Chakras of Tantric Hinduism |
| Ox-Herding Pictures of Zen Buddhism | Rosarium Pictures of Christian Alchemy |
| Donmeh West Home Page |
| Schedule of Live Online Classes | Links |
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