Reb Yakov Leib HaKohain, Founder & Spiritual Director
The ancient Talmudic dictum of mitzvah ha'bah ba'ahverah -- "fulfilling a Torah commandment by violating it" -- which, along with other hidden teachings in the Jewish Oral Scriptures, underlay the antinomian notion of "redemption through sin" is not to be taken as a license for promiscuous or illegal behavior -- or as a kind of sanctimonious "permission" for perpetuating one's pre-existing, self-indulgent, personal whims.
There is "sinning for the sake of sin" and "sinning for the sake of redeeming sin;" the former defines the actions of "sinners," the latter those of "Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalists." The two are mutually exclusive. In the words of the Ba'al Shem Tov:
"The indwelling Glory of God prevails from above to below unto the rim of all rungs. That is the mystery of the word, 'And you animate them all.' Even when a man does a sin, then too the Glory is clothed in it, for without it he would not have the strength to move a limb. And this is the exile of God's Glory".... In the exhortation of Moses it says, 'See, I have placed before you this day life and good, death and evil.' From where has evil come? Evil too is good, it is the lowest rung of perfect goodness. If one does good, then evil too becomes good; but if one sins, then it becomes really evil. ("Instructions in Intercourse with God," trans. in Martin Buber's Hasidism and Modern Man, Horizon Press, 1958, p. 207)
Now, notice several things here:
"In all that is in the world dwell Holy Sparks, no thing is empty of them. In the actions of men also, indeed, even in the sins that they do, dwell Holy Sparks of the Glory of God. And what is it that the Sparks await that dwell in the sins? It is the t'shuvah [literally "turning," or "repentance"] "In the hour when you turn [i.e., "repent"] on account of sin, you raise to the higher world the sparks that were in it." (ibid, p. 189)
Such teachings are also to be found among the early "Libertine" Christians who believed it was necessary to sin in order to be forgiven, and furthermore claimed they had learned this teaching directly from "Jesus" himself. (See Morton Smith's Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, Harvard University Press, 1973, e.g. p. 258) Much later, the "mad monk" of Imperial Russia, Rasputin (who was and is highly misunderstood), taught a similar doctrine (possibly influenced by Frankist Sabbatianism) that "a great sin was necessary to be granted a great redemption."
Sabbatian Kabbalah -- prior to its more extreme interpreters such as Osman Baba and Yakov Leib Frank -- was actually quite conservative (one might almost say "prudish") about these issues, as demonstrated in the "Eighteen Commandments" Sabbatai Zevi laid down for his followers shortly before his death. It appears that at no time did either he or his prophet, Nathan of Gaza, suggest that others emulate his ma'asim zarim (mystical "strange acts") -- such as converting to Islam, eating forbidden foods or engaging in antinomian sexual practices -- which were seen, instead, as having been performed by Sabbatai Zevi for his followers and not as examples for them to emulate. It was only later that such extreme antinomian behaviors (and particularly those which dealt with sexual practices forbidden in the Old Testament) were adopted by the more radical interpreters of Sabbatai Zevi's and Nathan of Gaza's Kabbalistic theosophy.
I submit that our own "Yalhakian" Neo-Sabbatian Kabbalah is a course correction in the development of antinomian Sabbatian thought and practice. That is, we are replacing the extreme literal antinomianism of Osman Baba and Yakov Leib Frank with the virtual (or "spiritual") antinomianism of Sabbatai Zevi, from which it originated and, we believe, was intended to be transmitted.