Sunday 18 December 2022

410) Overview and character of Frankian ideology


Jacob Frank's passing in 1791


I have always been interested in possible areas of overlap between the three movements of Sabbatianism (under Shabbatai Tzvi), Frankism (under Jacob Frank) and Chassidism (under the Baal Shem Tov) which all emerged relatively at the same period in Jewish history. The last of these movements, the Chassidic movement, presented itself at the very zenith of the Sabbatian and Frankian storm. It is, therefore, important to understand some of this background because it is unlikely that movements suddenly emerge in a vacuum.

This article, based on previous and new research, explores the rather understudied movement known as Frankism.

Saturday 10 December 2022

409) Polemics of Intercession

Pachad Yitzchak by R. Yitzchak Lampronti (1679-1756)


This article, based extensively on the research by Professor David Malkiel,[1] looks at a fascinating but understudied anthology of eighteenth-century rabbinic ideas, debates and polemics between mystical and rationalist rabbis on various issues. These include intercessory prayer through the angels, appealing to the deceased, and appealing to various Divine ‘attributes.’ These debates and responsa are recorded in a section of a larger work, the Halachic encyclopedia entitled Pachad Yitzchak.[2] The seventeenth and eighteenth-century rationalist rabbis claim that the belief in these intercessional agents has its origins in non-Jewish sources, while their mystical counterparts counter-charge their interlocuters with the same offence.

Sunday 4 December 2022

408) Rebbe Professor Isadore Twersky


The two faces of  Rabbi Professor Twersky


This article, based extensively but not exclusively on the research by Rabbi Dr Carmi Horowitz,[1] looks at the extraordinary story of Rabbi Professor Isadore (Yitzchak) Twersky (1930-1997). As both a rebbe and professor, Isadore Twersky straddled two very distinct worlds.

The story

Rebbe Professor Twersky, as he was affectionately known, was born into a Chassidic line of rebbes from the Chernobyl dynasty. He was a great-grandson of Rabbi David of Talne, an important leader of the Chassidic movement in Ukraine during the nineteenth century. By all expectations, he should have just grown up to become another rebbe in the chain going back to R. Nachum of Chernobyl (1730-1789), a student of the Baal Shem Tov. The Talner Chassidim are a branch of the Chernobyl Chassidic dynasty.