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Dissident RabbiThe Life of Jacob Sasportas$
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Yaacob Dweck

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183572

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183572.001.0001

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(p.367) Eight Zion
Dissident Rabbi

Yaacob Dweck

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Gershom Scholem and Joel Teitelbaum as readers of Jacob Sasportas. Both Scholem and Teitelbaum considered the middle of the twentieth century as a period of crisis, and each, in his own way, turned to Sasportas's The Fading Flower of the Zevi as part of a larger response to that crisis. If Scholem and his student Isaiah Tishby had engaged in something akin to lower criticism in their editing and analysis of Sasportas, Teitelbaum employed analysis similar to higher criticism in his use of Sasportas. If Scholem saw Sabbatianism as generative of a crisis and fundamental rupture in Jewish history and turned to Sasportas as a witness to this crisis, Teitelbaum experienced the middle decades of the twentieth century as a crisis in and of itself. To him, Sasportas was not an intellectual instrument with which to reconstruct the past; rather, he functioned as a moral resource that served as a guide for the proper rabbinic response to religious messianism in the present. Ultimately, Scholem's and Teitelbaum's readings of The Fading Flower of the Zevi placed Sasportas squarely at the heart of a central debate in modern Jewish life: Zionism.

Keywords:   Gershom Scholem, Joel Teitelbaum, Jacob Sasportas, Isaiah Tishby, Sabbatianism, religious messianism, Jewish history, modern Jewish life, Zionism

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