Hîstôry¯a yêhûdît = Jewish history

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 79–104 | Cite as

“One from a town, two from a clan” — the diffusion of lurianic Kabbala and Sabbateanism: A Re-Examination

  • Moshe Idel


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  1. 1.
    See Gershom Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi the Mystical Messiah — 1626–1676, tr. R. J. Zwi Werblowsky (Princeton, 1973), 67–68.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Gershom Scholem,Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (New York, 1967), 288–89; Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 33–66, 69–71, 75. InKabbalah (Jerusalem, 1974), 246, Scholem speaks about an “intense propaganda of Lurianism” which “had created a climate favorable to the release of the messianic energies aroused by the victory of the new Kabbalah.” It should be noted that Scholem argues that messianic energies, not simply eschatological impulses, were inherited by the masses from the Lurianic “propaganda.”Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Scholem, Sabbatai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)evi, 68–69; Scholem,Kabbalah, 245.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Scholem,Kabbalah, 48, 52–77, and see especially Scholem,Major Trends, 287: “The spread of Lurianic Kabbalah with its doctrine ofTikkun⋯ could not but lead to an explosive manifestation” [emphasis mine]. This sentence is preceded by mention of the “new element of messianic fervor.” See also notes 2 above and 7 below. For the impact of Scholem's theory on one important historian, see Hayyim Hillel Ben-Sasson,A History of the Jewish People (Cambridge, Mass., 1976), 704–705.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Scholem,Major Trends, 275. Recently, the importance of the exile of theShekhina and of her redemption as they appear in the writings of R. Moses Cordovero were described by Brakhah Sack, “The Exile of Israel and the Exile of theShekhina inSefer Or Yaqar by R. Moses Cordovero” [Hebrew],Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought 1/4 (1982): 157–78. However, the idea is a recurring topos in midrashic and classical kabbalistic literature; see Sack, “Exile:” 159, n. 10.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Scholem,Major Trends, 274.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Scholem,Major Trends, 284: “Once the doctrine ofTikkun had entered into popular consciousness, the eschatological mood was bound to grow.” Compare also to Scholem,Kabbalah, 76: “A messianic explosion like this [Sabbateanism] was unavoidable at a time when apocalyptic tendencies could easily be resuscitated in large sections of the people because of the dominance of the Lurianic Kabbalah.” See also note 4 above and Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 75. Thus the affinity of Lurianism and spiritual processes related to popular circles is stated explicitly. The “eschatological mood” of the masses depends, in the period discussed by Scholem, on the propagation of a certain kabbalistic theology. Isaiah Tishby has accepted this view; cf. hisNetivei Emunah u-minut [Paths of Faith and Heresy] (Ramat Gan, 1964), 236–37. Joseph Dan faithfully repeats the same view in several places without offering a more variegated analysis of the concept oftikkun, accepting as he does the testimonies and the analysis as presented by Scholem. See, e.g., hisGershom Scholem and the Mystical Dimension of Jewish History (New York and London, 1987), 270–80, 291–92.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Scholem,Major Trends, 276.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Scholem,Major Trends, 277. This far-reaching assertion remained, unfortunately, undocumented by Scholem and I am unable to concur with this argument.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    On Scholem as a historiosopher, see Eliezer Schweid,Judaism and Mysticism According to Gershom Scholem, tr. D. A. Weiner (Atlanta, 1985). On the other side see Joseph Dan who considers Scholem to have been a pure historian; see, e.g., hisGershom Scholem, 2–3.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    SeeRaaya Meheimna, Zohar, III, f. 119a; Daniel Matt, “The Mystic and the Mizwot,” in Arthur Green, ed.,Jewish Spirituality I (New York, 1986), 384, 391 and 402, n. 50.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    See the detailed analysis by Yehuda Liebes, “The Messiah of the Zohar” [Hebrew], inThe Messianic Idea in Israel (Jerusalem, 1982), 182–91. See also Sack, “Exile:” 176–78.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See Gershom Scholem, “On the knowledge of Kabbalah in the Eve of the Expulsion” [Hebrew], Tarbi\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) 24 (1955): 172–74; M. Idel, “The Evil Thought of the Deity” [Hebrew], Tarbi\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) 49 (1980): 364; M. Idel, “The Image of theSefirot above theSefirot” [Hebrew], Daat 4 (1980): 48–55; M. Idel, “More on R. David ben Yehuda he-\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)asid and R. Isaac Luria” [Hebrew], Daat 7 (1981): 69–71.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    See Brakhah Sack, “R. Moses Cordovero's Doctrine of\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)im\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \)um” [Hebrew],Tarbi \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) 58 (1989): 207–37.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Moshe Idel,Kabbalah: New Perspectives (New Haven and London, 1988), 173–99. See even Scholem's view inKabbalah, 426–27: “There is a characteristic contradiction between Luria's theoretical kabbala, with its numerous bold innovations in theosophical doctrine and the concept of creation which changed the face of kabbala, and his marked tendency to extreme conservatism when interpreting ritual customs and folkways.”Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    For a criticism of Scholem's thesis that the Spanish expulsion was a formative factor in structuring the Lurianic Kabbala, see Idel,Kabbalah: New Perspectives, 264–66 and Idel, “Particularism and Universalism in Kabbalah: 1480–1650,” inEssential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy, ed. D. B. Ruderman (New York and London, 1992), 334–37.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    See notes 1–3 above and Scholem, “Rabbi Yisrael Sarug, A Student of Luria?”Zion 5 (1940): 214 where he states that “fifty years passed until the process of the infiltration of the new Kabbalah in larger masses had started. It is only in the generation that immediately preceded the explosion of the Sabbatean movement, between 1620 to 1640 approximatively, that Kabbalah in its Lurianic version (or at least what was thought to be Lurianism — not Kabbalah in general), has become a historical active force — and important conclusions [have to be drawn] for the understanding of the Sabbatean movement.” On the same page Scholem indicates that, out of the many kabbalistic books printed during the years 1572–1632, only seven or eight deal with Lurianic issues. Compare also to his formulation in his important essay, “The Idea of Redemption in Kabbalah” [Hebrew], in Gershom Scholem,Explications and Implications (Tel Aviv, 1975), 206–207: “Lurianic Kabbalah has attained something that no other kabbalistic system has achieved: it was accepted as the response to questions concerning [the meaning of] existence not only in small circles of mystics, those who were introduced in the secrets of Kabbalah, but also in popular masses, in the largest masses of Jewry, especially in those masses where there were the most fertile and vital forms of religious life.” The first scholar who took issue, in a short passage, with Scholem's attribution of a great importance to the study of Lurianic kabbala for the emergence of Messianism was Azriel Shohat in his review of the Hebrew version of Scholem'sSabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, inKiryat Sefer 33 (1958): 418 [Hebrew]. Shohat has indeed saliently questioned the nexus created by Scholem between the two topics, without, however, entering into any details.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    See Gershom Scholem, “A Document by the Disciples of Isaac Luria” [Hebrew],Zion 5 (1940): 132–60. See also note 45 below.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See Scholem,Kabbalah, 79.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Responsa Beit Hadash [ha-Yeshanot], no. 5.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    On the whole affair see Moshe Idel, “Differing Conceptions of Kabbalah in Early Seventeenth Century,” inJewish Thought in the Seventeenth Century, ed. I. Twersky and B. Septimus (Cambridge, Mass., 1986), 142–52, especially 143–44.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    See the criticism by Bernard D. Weinryb,The Jews of Poland (Philadelphia, 1973), 226–27, who attempts to minimalize the influence of kabbala in Poland in general, without distinguishing between pre-Lurianic and Lurianic types of literature. On the greater dissemination of Cordoverian kabbala in comparison to Lurianic, see Moshe Idel, “Perceptions of Kabbala in the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century,”The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 1 (1991): 55–78.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    See hisHiqrei Kabbala u-Shlu \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) oteha [Studies in Kabbala and Its Branches] (Jerusalem, 1982), 177–254.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    See M. Idel, “Major Currents in Italian Kabbalah Between 1560–1660,” inItalia Judaica II (Rome, 1986), 253–55.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Idel, “Major Currents,” 252–53; David Ruderman,Kabbalah, Magic and Science. The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (Cambridge, Mass., 1988), chapter 9.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Joseph Avivi, “The Writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria in Italy Before 1620” [Hebrew],Alei Sefer 11 (1984): 91–134. On the distantiation of the kabbalists from the larger public in this period in Italy, see Robert Bonfil, “Changes in the Cultural Patterns of a Jewish Society in Crisis: Italian Jewry at the Close of the Sixteenth Century,”Jewish History 3 (1988):24–25.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    See Joseph Dan,Jewish Mysticism and Jewish Ethics (Seattle and London, 1986), 98.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Yehuda Liebes, “Shabetai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)vi's Attitude Towards His Own Conversion” [Hebrew],Sfunot, n.s. 2 [=17] (1983): 290–93; see also Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 58, n. 132. On the scanty evidence regarding the spiritual concern with Lurianic kabbala in the environment of Sabbatai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)evi, see Joseph Hacker, “Patterns of the Intellectual Activity of Ottoman Jewry in the 16th and the 17th Centuries” [Hebrew],Tarbi \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) 53 (1984): 591–93, English version in I. Twersky and B. Septimus, eds.,Jewish Thought in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, Mass., 1987), 122–23; and also his remarks in “Agitation against Philosophy in Istambul in the 16th Century — Studies in Menachem de Lonsano's Derekh\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayyim,” in J. Dan and J. Hacker, eds.,Studies in Jewish Mysticism, Philosophy and Ethical Literature Presented to Isaiah Tishby [Hebrew] (Jerusalem, 1986), 522–23.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    For details on this figure see Gershom Scholem, “On the History of the Kabbalist R. Jacob\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayim\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) and His Literary Activity” [Hebrew],Kiryat Sefer 26 (1950): 185–88 and 27 (1951): 107–109; Isaiah Sonne, “Contribution to the Portray of Rabbi Jacob\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)” [Hebrew],Kiryat Sefer 27: 97–106; and Idel, “Differing Conceptions,” 169–72, 197–99. See also n. 87 below.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Cf. Jeremiah 3:14. This phrase, which will recur in several texts to be discussed below, is the classic expression in Hebrew literature for the rarity of a given phenomenon.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    This is an important bit of evidence for awareness of competition between kabbala and halakhic studies. On the whole question, see Jacob Katz,Halakha ve-Kabbala [Halakha and Kabbala] (Jerusalem, 1984), 52–101. Our text is not discussed there. It should be noted that\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) was a conservative figure; his remarks as to people's preference for Talmudic study do not imply any unease about halakha. See his confession in Katz,Halakha ve-Kabbala, 189, dealing with his own halakhic studies.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Moshekh. This seems to be the single source for Scholem's phrase “to draw down the Messiah,” inSabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) avi, 70. It should be noted that the view of\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) as to the way of attaining the redemption differs drastically from the classical way of Lurianic kabbala, where the assumption is that the kabbalistic activity is primarily directed to the mending of the supernatural world, the advent of the Messiah being only an indirect result of this activity. See also below, part IV, especially n. 87.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    See Zohar III, fol. 124b (quoted also by Nathan of Gaza, cf. Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 126) andTikkunei Zohar (Vilna, 1867), Tikkun 6, fol. 25a.Google Scholar
  34. 35.
    This is another work by\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \). The passage referred to here was printed from a manuscript of a student of Vital, who seems to have been\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)'s source and analyzed in Idel, “David ben Yehuda”: 69–70. Another part of the introduction ofRonu le-Yaakov will be discussed below, part IV.Google Scholar
  35. 36.
    On this text see also Ronit Meroz,Messianism in Lurianic Kabbalah [Hebrew], Ph.D. thesis, Hebrew University (Jerusalem, 1988), 169–71.Google Scholar
  36. 37.
    This passage is a topos among kabbalists and expresses their awareness that the dissemination of kabbala and the disclosure of its secrets are signs of the last generation — that is, the one preceding the coming of the Messiah. Its source seems to be R. Judah\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayat's preface to his commentary onSefer Maarekhet ha-Elohut (Mantua, 1558), fol. lb, from where it was copied by many kabbalists.Google Scholar
  37. 38.
    See Gershom Scholem, “On the History of the Kabbalist R. Jacob\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayim\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) and His Literary Activity,”Kiryat Sefer 26 (1950): 194; Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 70, n. 99 refers to this text in a short note without discussing the implications of\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)'s passage for his thesis. Scholem's note inSabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi was referred to also by Weinryb,The Jews of Poland, 226, in the context of the status of kabbala in Poland.Google Scholar
  38. 39.
    Emek ha-Melekh (Amsterdam, 1648), fol. 132b. Strangely enough, the messianic discussion on this folio was ignored by Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 70–74. See also below alongside n. 81.Google Scholar
  39. 40.
    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 7d of the introduction of the author. See also n. 45 below.Google Scholar
  40. 41.
    See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 68.Google Scholar
  41. 42.
    See the introduction to Joseph del Medigo'sMazref le-Hokhma (Warsaw, 1890), fol. 9b–10a.Google Scholar
  42. 43.
    Medigo,Mazref, fol. 10b.Google Scholar
  43. 44.
    Introduction to Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 7d.Google Scholar
  44. 45.
    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 4b mentions the interdiction to disseminateE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) ayim outside the Land of Israel, and the strict limits on revealing it even in the Land of Israel (compare n. 18 above). Bacharach also indicates that there was no kabbalist acquainted with the concept ofShi⊂ur Qoma. No doubt Bacharach was right, as we see from R. Meir Poppers' preface toE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) ayim, fol. 1b. Writing a decade after Bacharach, he indicated thatE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) ayim was in the possession only of R. Samuel Vital: “This book was hidden and sealed, in the hands of his [Vital's] son.” See also ibid., fol. 1d. Compare also the comments of R. Samuel Katz, cited in the text above, n. 42. On the paradox, on the one hand, of Scholem's view that Lurianism was not understood and, on the other hand, that it was widely disseminated, see David Biale, “Gershom Scholem's Ten Unhistorical Aphorisms on Kabbalah: Text and Commentary,” inGershom Scholem, ed. Harold Bloom (New York, New Haven and Philadelphia, 1987), 105 f.: “Lurianic Kabbalah suffered a paradoxical fate: precisely that Kabbalistic system whose mysteries could only be approached through silence was the subject of a public campaign. The popularization of this quite essentially secret doctrine succeeded to the point where it became virtually the sole ‘public’ Jewish theology of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.” Scholem's assumption in his second aphorism that Lurianic kabbala was very enigmatic undercuts his speculations concerning that teaching's dissemination and influence.Google Scholar
  45. 46.
    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 6c.Google Scholar
  46. 47.
    On the metamorphoses of this treatise, see Avivi, “The Writings,” 92–96.Google Scholar
  47. 48.
    BTSanhedrin, fol. 97a; Zohar III, fol. 125b.Google Scholar
  48. 49.
    Cf. Isaiah 29:14.Google Scholar
  49. 50.
    Maayan \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) okhma (Amsterdam, 1652), fol. lb and MS JTS 2166, fol. 16b.Google Scholar
  50. 51.
    Shnei Luhot ha-Brit (New York, 1946), fol. 41b, where the author quotes verbatim the discussion of R. Judah Hayat in his introduction toMinhat Yehuda, a commentary toSefer Maarekhet ha-Elohut (Mantua, 1558) fol. la. See also Weinryb,The Jews of Poland, 226, who presents the copied passage as the view of Horowitz himself. The theme of derision occurs also on R. Jacob\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)'s introduction toRonu le-Yaakov, MS JTS 2122, fol. la. See below, part IV.Google Scholar
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    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, author's introduction, fol. 3a and fol. 4a.Google Scholar
  52. 54.
    (Amsterdam, 1649). This work consists of 156 folios — not, therefore, a very extensive edition.Google Scholar
  53. 55.
    MS Paris BN Heb. 880 fol. 4b.Google Scholar
  54. 56.
  55. 57.
    Ibid. fol. 5a. The view, implicit in this quote, thatE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) ayim was not widely available, corroborates del Medigo's statement cited above.Google Scholar
  56. 58.
  57. 59.
    SeeE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) ayim, fol. 1d.Google Scholar
  58. 60.
    Poppers indicates, ibid. fol. lb d, that there was a wealth of Lurianic writings in existence in Palestine, but these were fragmentary and, because the precise order of those texts was not known, they were confusing:garam lanu bilbul gadol. Compare Bacharach's view discussed above, alongside n. 39.Google Scholar
  59. 62.
    Va-Yakhel Moshe (Amsterdam, 1775), fol. 13a.Google Scholar
  60. 63.
    Another printed book, which could have been relevant in the above context, R. Mena\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)em Azaria da Fano'sYonat Elem, is not mentioned in the above passage, though Graff envisions it, immediately afterwards, as one of the starting points for the studies of Luria's doctrine. See ibid., fol. 10b. R. Mena\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)em'sAsara Maamarot, which was printed three times before Graff's book, is also missing.Google Scholar
  61. 64.
    Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 79–86, especially p. 83, and Scholem,Kabbalah, 79.Google Scholar
  62. 65.
    See Zeev Gries, “The Fashioning ofHanhagot (Regimen Vitae) Literature at the End of the Sixteenth Century and During the Seventeenth Century and Its Historical Importance” [Hebrew]Tarbi \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) 56 (1987): 561–63, 570. Gries' conclusion is corroborated by Meir Benayahu's statement that Lurianic kabbalah arrived to Northern Africa in 1670, by the intermediacy of Nathan of Gaza's father, Rabbi Elisha\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayyim Ashkenazi; see Meir Benayahu, “Rabbi Abraham ibn Mussa and His Son, Rabbi Moshe” [Hebrew],Michael 5 (1978):71. In this context it should be mentioned, as Dr. Bat-Zion Eraqi Klorman has kindly drawn my attention to, that apparently there is no significant relationship between Jewish messianism in Yemen and Lurianism; see her salient discussion in “The Messianic Movement in Yemen” [Hebrew],Pe amim 15 (1983): 53–57.Google Scholar
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    Gries, “Hanhagot Literature:” 563, 572.Google Scholar
  64. 67.
    Even a so-called “popular” genre of literature was intended by the Lurianic authors only for the few; see Gries, “Hanhagot Literature:” 571–72; Tishby,Netivei Emunah, 37–41. A succint but interesting attempt to challenge Scholem's supposition concerning the dissemination of Lurianic kabbalah, based solely on the material already mentioned by Scholem himself, can be found in Steven Sharot,Messianism, Mysticism and Magic: A Sociological Analysis of Jewish Religious Movements (Chapel Hill, 1982), 100–101. See also n. 71 below. See however, the view of Joseph Dan who assumes that the proliferation of the ethical kabbalistic literature throughout “the whole Jewish people” was based on “a new set of symbols introduced into Judaism by Rabbi Isaac Luria Ashkenazi,”Jewish Mysticism, 92 and 103.Google Scholar
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    Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 26. See also n. 27 above.Google Scholar
  66. 69.
    Jacob Katz,Masoret u-Mashber [Tradition and Crisis] (Jerusalem, 1958), 251–52; Scholem,Major Trends, 284. The same assumption as to the acceptance of Lurianic kabbala by the masses was espoused by Joseph Dan, “No Evil Descends from the Heaven,” inJewish Thought in the Sixteenth Century, ed. B. D. Cooperman (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), 103 — albeit for slightly different reasons than those of Scholem. Unfortunately, Dan does not supply fresh material about the alleged diffusion of kabbala beyond what had been presented by Scholem. I do not know what documents serve as the basis for his argument that the masses were interested in a specifically Lurianic doctrine concerning the origins of evil. Indeed, it is difficult to find out what the expectations of the masses were, or, for that matter, to assume that they were in a position to understand the intricacies of Luria's thought as outlined in Tishby's scholarly analysis of the chathartic nature of the\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) im \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) um process; details of such a complex question escape the understanding of even some modern scholars of kabbala. It seems that Dan has a great esteem for the kabbalistic education of the masses. He speculates that given the “fact” that Lurianic kabbala was accepted by the masses, it would be instructive to find out the “reasons” for such an acceptance. Even the possibility that Luria's theosophical and theurgical views were transmitted essentially orally by the elite to a larger audience through sermons, etc., cannot be proven, for the time being, from the extant material, though it has been too easily assumed as evident by scholars.Google Scholar
  67. 70.
    Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 68.Google Scholar
  68. 71.
    Ibid., 67.Google Scholar
  69. 72.
    Ibid., 70–73.Google Scholar
  70. 73.
    Ibid., 69.Google Scholar
  71. 74.
    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 141c; Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 71.Google Scholar
  72. 75.
    Bacharach,Emek ha-Melekh, fol. 33a and 104a.Google Scholar
  73. 76.
  74. 77.
    Ibid., fol. 132a–b.Google Scholar
  75. 78.
    This year is first calculated to be a messianic date in the Zohar,Midrash ha-Ne elam, and from there it was copied by numerous kabbalists; see Abba Hillel Silver,A History of Messianic Speculation in Israel (New York, 1927), 92, 138–39. See also Jacob Elbaum,Ptihut ve-Histagrut [Openness and Insularity] (Jerusalem, 1989), 218–19.Google Scholar
  76. 79.
    It seems helpful to distinguish between a more moderate use of eschatological elements in Lurianic kabbala, similar to what Paul Hanson called a prophetic eschatology, and the Sabbatean eschatology, which is much more apocalyptic in its essence. In any case, to use Hanson's concepts once more, Lurianic kabbala cannot be conceived of as an apocalypse, that is, as writings which fall within the literary genre devoted to acute eschatology. Though there is an eschatological perspective in Lurianism, as in kabbala generally, it never took the shape of an apocalyptic phenomenon. See Paul D. Hanson,The Dawn of the Apocalyptic, revised edition (Philadelphia, 1979), 429. Hanson's terminology was already used in connection with Sabbateanism but in a different context by W. D. Davies, “From Schweitzer to Scholem: Reflections on Sabbatai Svi,” inGershom Scholem, ed. Harold Bloom, 97. Davies, who accepted Scholem's analysisin toto, based his speculation on the possible similarities between the background of the emergence of Christianity and that of Sabbateanism in Scholem's historiosophy.Google Scholar
  77. 80.
    Tuv ha-Are \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) (Venice, 1655), fol. 37a; Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 74–75.Google Scholar
  78. 81.
    When adducing this text in the Hebrew version ofSabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, as part of the discussion of messianic effervescense, Scholem was not aware of its ultimate source in Abraham Azulai'sHesed le-Avraham. He did, however, point out this source in the English edition. The view seems to originate from Cordovero's eschatology, and thus the text has nothing to do with Lurianism. Scholem also mentioned a similar view of another pre-Lurianic kabbalist, R. Solomon Turiel. See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 74 and 274; Isaiah Tishby, ed., Sefer\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) i \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \) at [R. Jacob Sasportas' Work\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) i \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \) at Novel \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) vi] (Jerusalem, 1954), 12, n. 1.Google Scholar
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    See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \) evi, 68, 77; Dan,Jewish Mysticism, 98. It should be stressed that the two major Lurianic kabbalists, contemporary to Sabbatai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)evi, Nathan Shapira of Jerusalem and R. Jacob\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \), did not accept\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)vi's messianic pretensions.\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)ema\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \), notwithstanding his belief that the study of Lurianism would precipitate redemption, criticized\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \)vi severely; see Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \) evi, 183 and 248. I wonder why such facts were not given their due attention by Scholem, since they constitute a major problem for his theory on the link between Lurianism and Sabbateanism. In the case of two other important Lurianic kabbalists related to the Sabbatean movement: R. Samuel Vital and R. Moses Zacutto, it is symptomatic that the extant material specify solely their involvement in acts of repentance connected to Sabbateanism, whereas no clearcut evidence relates them to a belief in Sabbatai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)evi as a Messiah. See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 276, 501–503.Google Scholar
  80. 83.
    Scholem writes that Graff's view that the Messiah can be drawn down by Lurianic practices “was current in Kabbalistic circles even before Sabbatai's appearance.” This is a strange statement, since there is not even one bit of evidence for the existence of Graff's view before the end of the 17th century. See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 69–70.Google Scholar
  81. 84.
    Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 69; Elbaum,Pti \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{h} \) ut, 221, n. 136, as well as Elbaum's own pertinent observation on p. 221.Google Scholar
  82. 85.
    See Tishby,Netivei Emunah, 29; Idel, “Differing Conceptions,” 196.Google Scholar
  83. 86.
    R. J. Zwi Werblowsky, “O Felix Culpa: A Cabbalistic Version,” inStudies in Jewish Religious and Intellectual History Presented to Alexander Altmann, ed. S. Stein and R. Loewe (University, Alabama, 1979), 356–57, 360. On this kabbalist's attitude to the theoretical aspects of Lurianism as an esoteric lore, see Elliot R. Wolfson, “The Influence of Luria on the Shela,” inLurianic Kabbalah, ed. R. Elior, Y. Liebes (Jerusalem, 1992), 423–48.Google Scholar
  84. 87.
    See Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 18–19, 268–90. It is strange that in the generations preceding Luria there were at least two major mystical messianic figures, R. Asher Lemlein and R. Solomon Molkho, whereas between Luria and\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{Z} \)vi no major messianic figure is known. Furthermore, it may well be that the traces of the messianic tensions connected to the earlier two influenced Jewry much more than did the messianic ingredients of Lurianic teaching. In the case of Molkho, the impression of his personality lingered for decades in Italy and Poland, an issue which required more elaborate analysis. On Molkho's influence on Nathan of Gaza, see ibid., 227, 773.Google Scholar
  85. 88.
    Though Scholem does not ignore the possible function of popular elements in the formation of Sabbateanism, he does not give it the same attention and emphasis he gave to Lurianic messianism; see Scholem,Sabbatai \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \) evi, 465. See the critique by Michael Lowy, “Pour une sociologie de la mystique juive. A propos et autour du ‘Sabbatai\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{S} \)evi’ de Gersho Scholem,”Archives de sciences socialės de religions 57/1 (1984): 8–10. Lowy suggested also a more moderate attitude to the importance of Lurianic kabbala for the emergence of Sabbateanism without however disputing the material as described by Scholem. Unfortunately, but quite symptomatically, his timid critique of Scholem was ignored by those who faithfully repeat the views of this scholar. Originally, independent of Luria's personality and views, the eschatological expectations and speculations related to the year 1575 might have also contributed somehow to a more open attitude to messianism. An issue that cannot be discussed here, but which seems to me to be of crucial importance for the understanding of the portrayal of Luria as a Messiah is\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayim Vital's own self-perception as a messianic figure. This avenue has to be explored in order to properly distinguish between a genuine Lurianic “prophetic eschatology” and the messianic posture attributed to Luria by his disciple; David Tamar, “R.\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \)ayim Vital's Messianic Dreams and Visions” [Hebrew],Shalem IV, ed. J. Hacker (Jerusalem, 1984), 211–29.Google Scholar
  86. 89.
    See R. Moses Graff, Introduction toVa-Yaqhel Moshe, fol. 6c; ibid., fol. 46a–b and 67d. Another version of this passage is found in the introduction toE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) ayim, fol. 5b.Google Scholar
  87. 90.
    MS JTS 2122 f. la, copied, with some varia, at the end of Vital's preface toE \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) \(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{z} \) ayim, f. 5s and see also Moses Graff,Va-Yaqhel Moshe, fol. 6b. To be sure, also this view of the task of kabbala is not new in Lurianism: it is explicitly found in Cordovero's writings and in those influenced by his thought; see Brakhah Sack, “The Sources of R. Abraham Azulai's Book\(\underset{\raise0.3em\hbox{$\smash{\scriptscriptstyle\cdot}$}}{H} \) esed le-Avraham” [Hebrew],Kiryat Sefer 56 (1981): 168.Google Scholar
  88. 91.
    The emphasis on the need for a sociological approach to Sabbateanism was already proposed by Lowy, “Pour une sociologie,” 8–10 and Sharot,Messianism, 5, 101–14.Google Scholar
  89. 92.
    See Scholem,Major Trends, 287, which is to be read in the context of p. 327: “Lurianic Kabbalah, Sabbateanism and Hasidism, are after all three stages of the same process.”Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Haifa University Press 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Moshe Idel
    • 1
  1. 1.The Hebrew University of JerusalemIsrael

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