The New Message


And now, our beloved, the entire House of Israel! We wish to inform you of what the Lord has bestowed upon us, that this year, 560, omitting the thousands [1799/80]; there shall be a period of tribulation for the Jews when each of the messianic pangs about which he [Frank] has written in his holy epistle will be fulfilled. Our hearts lament. For how can we see the trouble that will befall our people, and the destruction of our birthplace.[31]

It is incumbent upon us to give you the final warning, to do and to fulfill what he has written in his [Frank's] holy epistle. For there is still hope for your ultimate end.[32] Know that the time has come, the time to act on behalf of the Lord; abolish thy Torah.[33] And this is also what the sages of blessed memory meant by [the son of David will not come] until the entire kingdom shall turn [to apostasy];[34] when all of [the leper's skin][35] turned white then he, the leper, was declared pure and his servants pure as well, as is explained in the book Seror Hamor.[36]

The time has arrived of which Jacob promised, "I shall come to my lord in Seir." For up until now we have not found that he has gone [to Seir]. For our holy lord Jacob, the most perfect of all, the chosen of the patriarchs,[37] unites the two sides. It is he who is the bar [bridge][38] from one extreme to the ultimate extreme, and the ultimate is the most beloved. He [Frank] who lies in the ground shall rise up[39] to say Rise, O Virgins of Israel.[46] Surely he is not dead. For it is he who has led us on the path of truth to the holy creed of Edom. For anyone who is of the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must follow the path that they showed. For they [the patriarchs] show the way by which their children shall walk at the end of days.[41] Like Abraham who went to Egypt[42] and Isaac who went to Abimelech, and Jacob, the chosen of the patriarchs, who went from Beer Sheba - he went forth from the state of faithfulness [i.e. from the land of Israel]. And he went to Haran,[43] the other [evil] domain.[44] For necessarily in the places that are most sinful there you will find redemption, as it is explained in the Zohar.

And there he reached the well and found Rachel,[45] and rolled the rock away from the mouth of the well; and came to Laban and he became his servant, and chose his [Laban's] portion and lot.[46] Then he went to Esau, but his task has not yet been finished. He has rolled away the rock, but he has (not) replaced it, the rock, as yet. And he has not gone unto Seir. For all this was only a preparation, to teach the way of Jacob [Frank] the most perfect of all, in the end of days. As it is written in the Zohar, Jacob, Jacob,[47] the first Jacob is perfect; the last Jacob [Frank] is the most perfect of all! And he will complete everything.

As it is written in the Zohar, there is a son of man [Jacob Frank] in the form of Adam, and a woman in the form of Eve [Eva Frank].[48] And they shall act cunningly and wisely for the sake of the Lord, etc. It is incumbent upon us to follow his paths, for the paths of the Lord are straight and the righteous walk in them. This is also the meaning of masa duma.[49] And the heart may not reveal it to the mouth. But it is written: Thus thou shalt lead the blind in the way which they do not know and in the paths which they do not understand I shall make them go. I shall make light in their darkness and their crooked ways into a straight path.[50] And this explains why Jacob rendered honor to his Lord.[51] From then on: The Lord when you go forth from Seir, when you step forth from Edom[52] [will be fulfilled].[53]

And also: Who is it that is coming from Edom, etc. [will be fulfilled][53] as it is written in the Tanna debe Eliyahu: In the end of time the angels shall be searching for the Lord. The sea will say, He is not with me, and the depths will say, He is not with me either. Where will they find Him? In Edom, as it is written, who shall come forth from Edom?[54] Whoever shall follow him into the holy creed and cling to the House of Jacob will find protection in His shadow, we will live among the nations;[55] and as it is further written, Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the House of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways, [and we will walk in His paths. For out of Zion shall go forth Torah and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem].[56] For it is a lengthening of life for those who find them [Torah].[57] They shall merit to be among those who cling to the Lord,[58] as it is written, And there you shall seek the Lord your God, and there you shall find Him if you seek him with all of your heart and all of your soul.[59] From there necessarily, since through darkness light is known,[60] as it is written: Even when I dwell in darkness, the Lord is my light.[61] And soon you will merit the consolations He has promised us through His servants, the Prophets. Whoever enters the House of Jacob [Frank] will certainly find the well of living waters.

Our beloved! Know that had we wanted to write everything in detail there would not be enough paper. We have merely written a bit of the hidden; give a little bit to the wise as in all the ancient books, you will find that we possess the truth and you will truly know that it is not a vain matter. Pay close attention and you will find!

If you are willing and assent to our words[63] to carry out what he wrote in his holy epistle, the God of Jacob will be your support,[64] and He will guard you from all evil and from all the Messianic pangs. And you shall merit the enjoyment of the land of Jacob,[65] an inheritance that has no bounds.[66] And goodness will be yours forever. And let me conclude with [the blessing of] life.

[signed]
Franciszek Wolowsky, formerly named Shlomo ben Elisha Shor of Ruhatin
Michael Wolowsky, formerly named Nathan Nata ben Elisha of Ruhatin
Jerzedrzy Dembeitz formerly named Yeruham ben Hananiah Lippman of Czortkow


Footnotes

[31] Esther 8:6
[32] Jer. 31:16
[33] Ps. 119:126; also Rashi on this verse and Mishna Berakot 9:5. The Masoretic text reads heferu which means "they voided", which the rabbis transformed into an imperative reading, haferu, abolish! It is in the rabbinic sense that Frank understood the verse. Scholem, however, (note 1 of Introduction) rendered the phrase "they have made void thy law."
[34] Sanh. 97a
[35] Lev. 13:13
[36] Seror Hamor by Abraham Saba, Venice 1566 (printed facsimile Brooklyn 1960) vol. 3. Leviticus, col. 92.
[37] Zohar Genesis 156a
[38] Beer (see note 1 of Commentary) understands this to mean that Frank served to link Judaism and Christianity.
[39] Job 19:25
[40] No such Scriptural reference
[41] Zohar Genesis 147b
[42] Zohar Genesis 148a
[43] Gen. 28:10
[44] Zohar Genesis 147a
[45] Rachel was the Jewish name of Frank's daughter, better known by her baptismal name, Eva, alluded to below.
[46] Zohar Genesis 161b
[47] Zohar Leviticus 138a
[48] Cf. Zohar Genesis 186b
[49] Isa. 21:11
[50] Isa. 42:16
[51] Zohar Genesis 161b
[52] Judges 5:4
[53] Isa. 63:1
[54] Seder Eliyahu Zuta Ch. 19. Friedman ed. (1902) pp. 28, 29
[55] Lam. 4:20
[56] Isa. 2:3 alluding to Jacob Frank
[57] Prov. 4:22
[58] Cf. Deut. 4:4
[59] Deut. 4:29
[60] Zohar Genesis 161b
[61] Apparently not in Scripture
[62] Prov. 9:9
[63] Isa. 1:19
[64] Cf. Ps. 146:5
[65] Isa. 58:14; Cf. Rashi ad locum and Bavli Shabbat 118a
[66] Lam. 1:3




Commentary on The New Message[32]

The first line of this message is perhaps the most important one, since it gives the purpose of the entire document. Seventeen years after the author's embassy to the Jewish communities of Poland, Frank's predictions of doom had not come true. Page 2 line 27 assures the reader that Frank's prophecies would be fully realized in that very year (1799/1800). This is the core of the message. The remainder of the letter is a commentary on Frank's own correspondence. Contrary to Frank's predictions, the Jewry of Poland and Hungary retained its essential homogeneity and only a scattered few accepted Frank's call for baptism. The authors, however, insist that all of Frank's predictions would soon be literally realized. Indeed, this document was termed the final warning prior to the destruction awaiting Jewry.[33] Numerous proofs are adduced from Scripture, Zohar, and other sources that this was the case.

What remains is to note the new material introduced in this message. We gain an insight into Frankist thought by the exegesis of Psalm 119:126, "It is time to do for the Lord; Destroy the Torah!" The sense in which this verse is cited, although rooted in mishnaic tradition,[34] reflects the radical aspects of the Frankist movement. In order to fulfill the requirements necessary for the coming of the Messiah, it would be incumbent upon Israel to repudiate the Law. Such an interpretation of Ps. 119:126 reveals how far the Frankist sect had strayed from mainstream Judaism. From its very beginning, observance of the commandments was the main goal of Israel. No one before Frank, not even Jesus, has been extreme in the repudiation of the commandments.[35]

What was this repudiation of the Law? According to the writers, citing Sanhedrin 97a, "the son of David will not come until the entire kingdom becomes apostate." Israel, according to our document, is not excluded, but must also become apostate. Shemad, or apostasy, was a prerequisite for the coming of the Messiah. Here the letter touches on a central point of Frankist thought. The question is whether antinomianism, which in time became a main tenet of the movement, was the ultimate goal of the Frankists, or whether it originally had been intended as mere strategem to please the Christians. There is no doubt that antinomianism became a focal point of the sect, but a number of lines in this document may indicate that, at one time at least, antinomianism was only an ephemeral aspect of Frankist theology.

Certainly this document, summarizing Frankist thought, does not make it a chief tenet. It would last from the time of conversion to the time when Israel defeats Edom. The phrase, "It is time to do for the Lord; Destroy thy Torah!" was traditionally interpreted as a sanction for a minor violation of the Law in order to lead to a more perfect observance. The authors of this letter maintained that antinomianism had been prescribed in the Torah in order to achieve its ideal in the Messianic Era. The quote from Seror Hamor that when a leper's skin was completely white he was declared clean is interpreted here to condone the temporary acceptance of baptism. Abraham Saba, the author of the Seror Hamor, composed his book c.1500 in the aftermath of the Spanish and Portugese Expulsions, when many Jews were forced to accept Christianity.

The repudiation of the Law, like the outbreak on the skin, would be of limited duration.[36] At the end, Israel would be healed of its sores and would observe the commandments as well. And now that the time of Jacob's return to Seir was not distant, the period when Jews were to pose as Christians would not last long. If I read this letter correctly, the writers attempted to impress upon the people that antinomianism was only a strategem rather than a true element of Frankist doctrine. The authors of this letter assure us that Jacob Frank, who died in December of 1791, was alive in 1800.

This boast may rest on the Talmud and Zohar tradition that Jacob the patriarch did not die.[37] In the rabbinic sources, however, the claim is metaphorical. In our document it is literal, asserting the Master's immortality. Frank's immortality is mentioned once again: "and he who is in the dust will rise to say: Arise ye virgins of Israel"[38] Frank's daughter, whose Jewish name was Rachel and baptismal name Eva, symbolized these virgins. She was recognized as her father's apostle. The letter refers once again to her: "There is a man in the image of Adam and a woman in the image of Eve" (line 18 of page 3), alluding to father and daughter, respectively.

Our document contains some puzzling lines. For example, page 4 line 8: "in all of Scripture and in all the ancient books, you will find that we possess the truth: ki lo' davar req hu' vedoq vetishkah, that this is not a vain matter, pay attention and you will find." The phrase ki lo' davar req hu' vedoq vetishkah comes from the talmudic commentators who use it to conclude an abtruse analysis of Tosafot, alerting the reader to study the material with care. But what is intended here by this phrase is not apparent. Note also that req appears to be the only word in the letter that has vocalization, emphasizing once again the significance of the statement.[39]

Ordinarily, one might assume that this phrase, ki lo' davar req" is a gematria, a numerological concoction that contains the date of the coming of the Messiah. The total value of this phrase adds up to 567 which could only be translated as 1806/1807 in the Gregorian calender. As was pointed out above, this letter was apparently written in 1799/1800, seven years before the date implied in our gematria. The difficulty with this construction is that seven years would be too protracted a period for a messianic prognostication. It is possible that this phrase "it is not a vain matter" in light of the verse's conclusion: "For it is your life and thereby you will live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess." According to Rashi, the phrase "it is not a vain matter" assures Israel of God's promise that it will inherit the land beyond the Jordan. In our letter, this reaping the reward promises the followers of Frank the impending Messianic fulfillment.

It is interesting that the writers repeat also Frank's ultimate goal, the defeat of Rome. They do this by citing Massa' Dumah which they go on to say ought to remain the sect's code sobriquet. Massah' Dumah is a quote from Isaiah 21:11 "An oracle for Duma; someone shouts to me from Seir." Massah' Dumah was the sect's code word, but its symbolism has never been explained. In light of this letter, however, some of the mystery of this phrase can be unraveled. Dumah is taken as a synonym for Edom, since in Isaiah 21:11 it is parallel with Seir. But Dumah has two other meanings. This line is traditionally interpreted metaphorically. One must hear insults, bear them, and be silent. For the Frankists, therefore, Massah' Dumah was a warning to keep the secrets of the sect to themselves. But Dumah has yet another meaning, since it is sometimes read as ruma, as in Joshua 15:52, which the Frankists took as Rome. Massah' Dumah, therefore, was taken to be a codeword for the ultimate fulfillment of the oracle against Rome.[40]

It is remarkable that the writers of this letter not only kept the master's doctrine without any substantial alteration, but that they repeated the claim that the Frankist doctrines were intended not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. They invoke specifically only two works, the Tanna debe Eliyahu (a midrash composed in the early Middle Ages) and the Seror Hamor by Rabbi Abraham Saba ben Jacob (composed in the last decade of the fifteenth century), but they also put forth the contention that all rabbinic sources, especially the Zohar, predicted the coming of Jacob Frank.

Among "all the ancient books", the Frankists undoubtedly included the Talmud. The citation that "the son of David will not come until the entire kingdom turns to apostasy" is attributed in the letter to the chazal, the Sages of the Talmud, as is recorded in Sanhedrin 97a. Thus, in spite of their reputation among the Christians as anti-Talmudists, which was encouraged by the Frankists themselves, this letter wishes to impress the reader that all sources including the Talmud presaged the coming of Jacob Frank.[41] In view of the interpretation given above, that the Frankists' antinomianism was intended only as a strategem, our document predicts the ultimate unification of all Israel under the Frankist banner. The conversion to Christianity was part of the messianic pangs necessary for the ultimate fulfillment of the Torah.

All in all, this letter reflects an attempt by the Frankists to keep alive the movement that was threatened with dissolution after the master's death. Eva was still alive and the authors of the document who had devoted their lives to the cause would not admit failure. They put their hope in the reiteration of Frank's apocalyptic predictions to claim that the master's return was pending, perhaps in the year 1806/1807. Our letter contains, in a capsule, the history of the Frankist sect during its apogee.


Footnotes

[32] 2:26-4:12
[33] 2:30-3:1
[34] Cf. Mishnah Berakot 9:5, Bavli Gittin 60 a, Terumah 14b
[35] Cf. G. Scholem on Shabbatai Sevi
[36] Cf. Rashi B. Sanhedrin 97a uncensored
[37] "Jacob did not die." Zohar Genesis 235b, 248b; Zohar Exodus 141b, 175b
[38] The Frankists made it appear as though they were quoting Scripture. Note: this is not in Beer's translation.
[39] 1:6 l'ayalta may have a patach under the alef.
[40] Targum Jonathan Genesis 25:14; also Midrash Hagadol ad locum
[41] Cf. Graetz. Fraenkenscher Stiftung. Breslau, 1868



Letters Index: Intro First Second Oral New Appendix




BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES:
| 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 |
AUDIO LECTURES ON NEO-SABBATIAN KABBALAH BY REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
| The Zohar | Vedanta & Kabbalah | The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas |
| The Sponataneous Jesus Lectures | The Holy Qur'an |
| Special Topics |
ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES OF "YALHAKIAN" NEO-SABBATIAN KABBALAH:
| 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 |
KABBALISTIC WRITINGS OF REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
| 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 |
POETRY OF REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
|YaLHaK's Garden of Neo-Sabbatian Verses|
ROADMAPS TO GOD:
| 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 |
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