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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.419) Coda
Dissident Rabbi

Yaacob Dweck

Princeton University Press

This coda details how Jacob Sasportas, as well as his three most intensive readers—Jacob Emden, Gershom Scholem, and Joel Teitelbaum—all perceived their worlds to be in crisis. For Sasportas, the crisis in the middle of the 1660s was one of order. This manifested itself as contempt for the law. Sasportas used all the resources of the textual tradition he called his own to make sense of the world around him, a world that a Messiah whom he had never met and who lived half a world away had turned upside down. He gestured toward a position that validated his own provisional skepticism as a better path to genuine repentance than the ardent and collective certainty of the Jewish crowd. A half century after Sasportas died, Jacob Emden reedited and reprinted Sasportas, thereby forging an image of Sasportas as a heresy hunter. A century and a half after Emden's death, Gershom Scholem turned to Sabbetai Zevi and the messianic movement around him, which enabled Scholem to tell a story about Jewish immanence without the law. Meanwhile, Joel Teitelbaum lived through the same geopolitical catastrophe as Scholem but reached a different conclusion about it. Just as Sasportas had the courage of his convictions to speak out against the Jews of his day, nearly all of whom had become believers in Sabbetai Zevi, Teitelbaum similarly rebuked the Jews of his own time, nearly all of whom had become Zionists.

Keywords:   Jacob Sasportas, Jacob Emden, Gershom Scholem, Joel Teitelbaum, Jewish crowd, Sabbetai Zevi, messianic movement, Jewish immanence, Jewish law, Zionists

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