"You must believe that this was how it was . . . I spoke with people who ate and drank and were near him . . . who were not proponents [of Sabbatai Zevi's] and they told me that there was none like him in stature and in the way his face looked, like that of one of God's angels . . . And they testified that when he sang Sabbath hymns to God, which he did several times a day . . . it was not possible to look into his face, for one who looked at it, it was as if he looked into fire...And this is one of the greatest occurrences, clearly supernatural, that came to pass in those days and a reason for the great belief in Shabtai Zvi, for in the year five thousand four hundred and twenty-six of creation [1665], in the month of Tevet, it happened in many places, in Izmir and in Constantinople and in Adrianople and in Salonika, that prophets arose in hundreds and thousands, women and men, boys and girls and even little children; all of them prophesied in the holy tongue [Hebrew] and in the language of the Zohar as well, and none of them knew a letter of Hebrew and all the less so the [idiosyncratic] language of the Zohar." -- Rabbi Leib ben Ozer (17th Century Chronicler of the Sabbatian Advent)

In 1666 the entire Jewish world -- and much of the Christian and Muslim as well -- accepted the Jewish Kabbalist, Sabbatai Zevi, as the Mystical Messiah of Israel (See Gershom Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, Princeton University Press, 1973.) Perhaps the defining moment in this Sabbatian advent -- at least according to his detractors -- was his "conversion" to Islam, concerning which four points should be kept in mind:

1. Despite the conventional wisdom of contemporary mainstream Judaism that Sabbatai's conversion to Islam was a cowardly act of betrayal that almost annihilated Judaism, a careful reading of modern historical data (particularly those of Gershom Scholem) strongly suggests that his apostasy had been predicted by Nathan of Gaza, long before it happened, as a necessary step in the Messiah's redemption of the world.

2. After "becoming" a Muslim, Sabbatai openly continued in his Messianic activities as a Jew with the full knowledge of the Islamic authorities.

3. It is questionable that he ever required others to follow him into Holy Apostasy, more likely seeing it as an action that he alone, as the Messiah, was called upon to take, but that others were free to follow if they chose; the specific notion of "following the Lord into the Maw of Satan" was instituted by others, primarily the most radical of Sabbatian theologians, Baruchia Russo and, later, Sabbatai's 18th century spiritual heir, Yakov Leib Frank.

4. Nathan of Gaza -- Sabbatai's "prophet" and chief interpreter -- never himself made Holy Apostasy to Islam, or any other "alien" religion, but remained to his death a practicing Jew. Nor, in fact, did Sabbatai ever ask Nathan to convert, not even during their several post-conversion meetings.

The point of Holy Apostasy is Tikkun, and not formal conversion. That is, the goal is to bring about a Sacred Reconciliation between two religions in order to Repair the Face of God, rather than to actually practice either. This is accomplished by internalizing an "alien" religion into one's own person in order to reconcile inwardly what is outwardly antagonistic -- thereby effecting a Tikkun between two seemingly opposite systems and raising up the Holy Sparks in each to their Source.

Yeshua HaNotzri is reputed to have done this by his "sacrifice" on the Cross and Sabbatai Zevi (for whom there is far better historical evidence) by his "conversion" to Islam -- in both cases, "actually destroying in his own person the hostility [between opposites]...to create one single New Man in himself out of the two and by restoring peace [between them] . . . to unite them in a single Body and reconcile them with God." (Ephesians 2:11-16)

But "Holy Apostasy" is only one of many Tikkunim to be performed for the Redemption of God. There are yet many Holy Sparks waiting to be liberated from the realms of stones, plants and animals and returned to their Source, which is God -- thus restoring Ayn Sof and the universe to their premundane state of Unity from which they have fallen by the act of creation.

When you chew food, raise up its Holy Spark. When you saw wood, raise up its Holy Spark. When you see a dead animal on the road, raise up its Holy Spark. When you embrace another, raise up their Holy Spark. There are many, many "things of this world [that draw near to us] in order that the Sparks of Holiness in them should be raised by us back to their Root."
(Baal Shem Tov, Instructions in Intercourse with God, trans. by Martin Buber in Hasidism and Modern Man. )

Nathan of Gaza, for the most part, conceived of Sabbatai's entry into Islam not as a model for others to follow, but as a one-time sacrificial act -- akin, I might point out, to Jesus' acceptance of his crucifixion -- performed by the Messiah on behalf of the world. In a sense, this "holy apostasy," like Christ's crucifixion, and the condemnation that followed it, can be seen as a fulfillment of the Messianic prophesy of Isaiah,

"We thought of him as someone...brought low. Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Consequently, both "Jesus" (who may or may not have existed) and Sabbatai Zevi (who most definitely did) "died for the people," as it were, in order to "heal their wounds" -- Jesus allegedly on the cross of Calvary and Sabbatai on the "cross" of heresy. Yet the similarity between the two martyrdoms can be seen as even greater than this. It may be that Jesus also went to his death for an act of "holy apostasy." According to the Talmud,

"On the eve of the Passover Jesus was hanged [on the cross]. For forty days before the execution took place a herald went forth and cried, '[Jesus] is going to be [executed] because he . . . enticed Israel to apostasy'." (Babylonian Talmud, Tr. Sanhedrin 43a)

Thus, the sacrificial act of Jesus (if it took place at all) may not have been his death, per se, but his "apostasy," for which he, like Sabbatai, was later "crucified" by the "Sanhedrin" of Jewish public opinion. In other words, it was not (as his critics insist) that Sabbatai Zevi "betrayed" the Jewish people by "converting" to Islam, but rather that the Jewish people abandoned him out of a lack of understanding of the Ma'asim Zarim ("Mystical Strange Actions") he was compelled to perform as a vessel for the incarnating Messianic Spirit, including that of his highly paradoxical and antinomian, "Holy Apostasy."

"Was it not a great opportunity missed, rather than a big lie? A victory of the hostile powers, rather than the collapse of a vain thing." -- Professor Gershom Scholem (Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah, Princeton University Press, 1973, p. 929)

 


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 KABBALAH BY REB YAKOV LEIB HAKOHAIN:
| The Zohar |
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 |
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 |
GENERAL INFORMATION:
| Donmeh West Home Page |
| Schedule of Live Online Classes | Links |
| Join Donmeh West |

 
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