Two Jewish Heresies Spinozism and Sabbatianism

  • Richard Popkin


Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not have central authorities for determining what is a heretical belief. In earlier times, when there was more coherence and control, certain views were deemed heretical, and this has stuck through the ages. In the eighth century A.D., the Caraites refused to accept the Talmud as the Oral Law, or to accept the authority of the rabbis to interpret Jewish law.1 They were expelled as heretics, and have remained so to this day, as far as Orthodox Judaism is concerned. Rabbis are supposed to refuse to marry a Jew to a Caraite. The Caraites persist in pockets in Lithuania, the Crimea, Egypt, and Turkey, and act as if they are a continuation of the Jews of ancient Palestine. Even Hitler accepted the Jewish view on this, and ranked the Caraites as “other religions.” Those in Nazi-dominated territory survived the Holocaust without suffering the horrors of the Jewish world.


Eighteenth Century Jewish Community Jewish History Jewish World Jewish Practice 
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© John Christian Laursen 2002

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  • Richard Popkin

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