Sabbatai Zevi

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Sabbatai Zevi

(säbätī` zā`vē), 1626–76, Jewish mystic and pseudo-Messiah, founder of the Sabbatean sect, b. Smyrna. After a period of study of Lurianic kabbalah (see Luria, Isaac ben SolomonLuria or Loria, Isaac ben Solomon
, 1534–72, Jewish kabbalist, surnamed Ashkenazi, called Ari [lion] by his followers, b. Jerusalem. In his 20s he spent seven years in seclusion, intensely studying the kabbalah.
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), he became deeply influenced by its ideas of imminent national redemption. In 1648 he proclaimed himself the Messiah, named the year 1666 as the millennium, and gathered a host of followers. In 1666 he attempted to land in Constantinople, was captured, and to escape death embraced Islam. Nevertheless, the influence of the Sabbatean movement survived for many years; it had secret adherents in the 18th cent. and was revived under Jacob FrankFrank, Jacob,
c.1726–1791, Polish Jewish sectarian and adventurer, b. Podolia as Jacob Ben Judah Leib. He founded the Frankists, a heretical Jewish sect that was an anti-Talmudic outgrowth of the mysticism of the false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi.
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. The name is also spelled Shabbatai Zvi.

Bibliography

See G. G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (3d rev. ed. 1954, repr. 1967), The Messianic Ideas in Judaism (tr. 1971), and Sabbatai Sevi, the Mystical Messiah (tr. 1973).

Sabbatai Zevi

false messiah, head of Kabbalic movement in mid-1600s. [Jew. Hist.: Wigoder, 544]
References in periodicals archive ?
Born in 1726, Frank spent his formative years as a European expatriate in Turkey, consorting with the underground communities of believers in the messiah Shabbetai Tzvi (profiled in the previous issue of AJL), who had died thirty years prior but who still had thousands of followers.
Yitzchak Kerem's essay "The Deunme: From Catholicism to Judaism to Islam" examines the bizarre case of the conversos who, after reverting to Judaism in Salonika, became adepts of the false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi and followed his example by converting to Islam, while remaining crypto-Jews.
So, while Orthodox rabbis have not hesitated to excommunicate heretics like Spinoza, Jacob Frank, and the followers of false messiah Shabbetai Tzvi, un-Orthodox and anti-Orthodox Jews have celebrated all of them, not to mention latter-day heretics such as Satanist Anton LaVey (born Howard Levey) and Screw's Al Goldstein.
Perhaps the greatest Jewish heretic is a man whose name is not well-known today, but was infamous in its day: Shabbetai Tzvi. In the mid-17th century, messianic fervor was widespread in the Jewish and Christian worlds--not unlike today, when more than 40% of Americans believe that Jesus will return to earth during their lifetimes.
Within twelve months, Shabbetai Tzvi counted among his followers more than one third of the European Jewish community.
Under duress, Shabbetai Tzvi converted to Islam on September 16, 1666.