Sabbataï Tsevi (or Tzvi, or Zevi), (שבתאיצבי Hebrew Shabtaï Tzvi in ) was born in Smyrna (currently Izmir, in Turkey) in 1626. It was at the 17th century considered per many Juif S as the Messie. He is the founder of the Turkish Secte of the Sabbatéens or Dönme . He died in exile with Ulcinj (Dulcigno) in current Montenegro near Albania (then under Othoman influence) in 1676.
Tsevi was born in an easy family of Andalusian origin. Wire of the Mordekhaï trader, and his wife, Clara Tsevi, it had two brothers: Elie and Joseph.
It was the student one of Joseph Eskapha, large the Rabbin of Izmir. At 18 years, he was already regarded as large a kabbalist.
Creation and development of the movement
Sabbataï Tsevi proclaimed Messie in 1648, at the 22 years age. It was based on a disputed interpretation of the Zohar (a book of Jewish mystic), according to which the year 1648 was to see the redemption of the Jewish people.
While proclaiming Messiah, it was going to cause a major Schisme within the Judaïsme, between those which would accept it and those which would refuse it.
It however had at the beginning a limited success. It remained in Smyrna several years, and its reputation grows slowly, until its Messianic claims make him undergo the Herem , a kind of banishment of the Jewish community, that one sometimes compares with the Excommunication at the Catholique S.
It there met preacher, Abraham ha-Yakini (a disciple of Joseph di Trani), which accepted Sabbataï Tsevi like Messie, and even affirmed to hold an old Hebraic prediction. This one announced the birth of a Messiah named Shabbethai, wire of Mordecaï Zevi, in year 5386 (1626 of the Christian era).
With this important support, Sabbataï Tsevi settled with Salonique, city of the Othoman empire today in Greece. It was then an important Jewish center and kabbalist, and it developed to with it a strong propaganda centered on its own messianity. It seems to have met there an important success in the Jewish mediums, which caused finally its expulsion by the rabbinical authorities of the city.
After a new badly known wandering, it settled with the Cairo, in Egypt, and remained there between 1660 and 1662. It gained there with its cause an influential Jewish personality and very rich person, Raphael Joseph Halabi (Halabi means “Alep”). This last placed part of its richness at its disposal, enabling him to develop its activities.
In 1663, Sabbataï Tsevi settled with Jerusalem, then returned to Cairo, where it obtained from its patron of the sums necessary for the community of Jerusalem, which seems to have increased its prestige. After its marriage, it returned to Palestine, where it met Nathan Benjamin Levi, known as Nathan of Gaza, which quickly became its right-hand man.
The year 1663 is one year of rocker for the action of Sabbataï Tsevi. Hitherto leader of a suspect small group (with the eyes of the rabbis), it obtained as from this year a repercussion growing throughout the Jewish world. One of the explanations of this growing popularity is undoubtedly the approach of the year 1666.
At some Christian of the time, the year 1666 (666 is the figure of the animal in the Apocalypse of Midsummer's Day) was the year of the Apocalypse, or at least of religious great events. This apocalyptic idea seems to have had an influence on Sabbataï Tsevi and its disciples.
Sabbataï Tsevi was follower of severe body mortifications, like frequent baths in the sea, even the winter, which undoubtedly contributed to its prestige like supposed Messie.
The religious exaltation reached its roof in often miserable Jewish masses, dreaming of a release and a transfigured life. Contrary, the rabbinical authorities remained generally reticent or hostile.
In 1665, Sabbataï Tsevi was accepted like the Messiah by the Jews of Alep, then of Smyrna, its birthplace. Its capacity on the Jewish masses became immense. It deposited the chief rabbi of Smyrna, Aaron Lapapa, and replaced it by Hayyim Benveniste. Rabbin S joined.
Many communities in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and with the the Middle East recognized it with an incredible enthusiasm as Messie of the Jews, intended to bring back them in Holy Land and to make reappear the kingdom of Israel. Whole communities prepared at the beginning.
The partisans of Tsevi also started to call into question certain celebrations or ritual obligations. Indeed, according to certain traditions, these obligations would disappear after the advent from the Messiah. This questioning, unacceptable for many Jews, further increased divisions inside the communities.
Conversion with Islam
Denounced with the authorities Othoman be by the leaders of the local Jewish community as being a troublemaker, Sabbataï Tsevi was convened with the palate in 1666 to return accounts there.
After 2 months of imprisonment to Constantinople, Sabbataï Tsevi was sent to the prison of State of Abydos, or it was treated with great regards. It will be then transferred in the prison from current the Edirne.
In September 1666, probably fearing for its life, it agreed to convert with the Islam. It was carried out in front of the Sultan Mehmet IV, and converts there indeed. It took the name of Aziz Mehmed Efendi.
Sabbataï Tsevi adopted an ambiguous attitude thereafter, justifying its conversion by a divine order, but preserving some practical Jewish and kabbalists who will be worth finally his exile to him.
Continuations of Sabbatianisme
The shock with the advertisement of the conversion of Tsevi was immense, and disappointment was with the height of the indescribable hope which it had raised.
Many waited some time, thinking of a short episode. But gradually, the majority of its faithful gave up Sabbataï Tsevi.
The memory of Sabbataï Tsevi will remain a long time a traumatism in the Jewish memory, as well in Europe as in the world Musulman.
There be in the following years of the resumptions in hand by the Rabbi S through the many communities touched by the partisans of Sabbataï Tsevi.
A certain mistrust with regard to the Jewish mystic, the Kabbale, whose Sabbataï Tsevi was a follower, will also develop among rabbis. The Kabbale will never be prohibited, but its teaching will be framed much more.
As from the end of the 17th century century, the Judaïsme thus becomes very being wary with regard to the mystic and of the messianism, and develops a notable doctrinal hardening.
It is against this relative " sècheresse" religious life that the hassidic reaction will develop Baal Shem Tov, at the 18th century. The Hassidisme can thus be included/understood like an indirect product of the preaching of Sabbataï Tsevi.
In Europe , the hopes born of the preaching of Sabbataï Tsevi had not completely disappeared, and these are the memories which explain resurgence partial of the movement, in Eastern Europe of the 18th century, under the control of a new car-proclaimed Messiah: Jacob Franck.
In Turkey , some decided to remain faithful to Sabbataï Tsevi and followed it in its conversion. They still practice an officially Moslem religion, but which is in fact a mixture of Jewish and Moslem influences, with same certain Christian contributions. They are the Sabbatéens or Dönme.
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