‘Bekhor Satan’ is the name of a book written by R Marvin Antelmann about the excommunication of Jonathan Eybshutz.
As part of the process of getting more of this information ‘out there’, below you will find my precis of the main material brought in the book, which was originally written in Hebrew with a short English ‘addenda’ at the back.
In this post, I am just setting out the information in that book, with minimal explanation or additions from me.
Before I do that, I just wanted to state two things for the record:
- While I’m putting this information ‘as is’ from R Antelmann’s book, everything still requires more double-checking and birur, to really get to the bottom of what went on, here. Also, I don’t necessarily agree with everything R Antelmann concludes, as personally I am still in the process of doing that ‘double-checking’ myself.
- The reason I’m doing this, is because Jonathan Eybshutz’s legacy of ‘secret Sabbatianism’ is still distorting the orthodox Jewish world today.
For example, many of his descendants are heading up branches of chassidut, and were big poskim in Bnei Brak – and that’s just the ones that are known.
As you read on, you’ll see why the frum descendants of Jonathan Eybshutz wanted the whole matter of him being a Sabbatian-Frankist hushed up so badly, and his reputation ‘whitewashed’.
And you’ll hopefully also understand why the time has come to take another look at what really happened between Jonathan Eybshutz and Yaakov Emden – and other rabbis, who were also trying to combat the growing Sabbatian-Frankist problem in the Jewish world, back in the mid-1700s.
Let’s start with the Chapter Headings in the book, then I will give a precis for each chapter:
- IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE COURT
- THE AUTHORITY TO WRITE AGAINST EIBESCHUTZ
- THE CONFLICTS OF YAVETZ THE SCRIBE
- ETERNAL POLEMICS AND CENSORED HISTORY
- THE CONSPIRACIES OF EIBESCHUTZ
- WOULD EIBESCHUTZ BE GUILTY WITHOUT YAVETZ?
- CONCERNING THE ULTERIOR MOTIVATED HISTORIANS
- FOUR REQUIRE PUBLIC EXPOSURE
- WHERE THE CHASIDIM ENAMOURED WITH EIBESCHUTZ?
- LEGENDS INTENDED TO FRIGHTEN THE PUBLIC
- CONCERNING THE MOETZET GDOLAI HATORAH AND VAAD ARBA ARATZOT
- NETUREI KARTA PHILOSOPHY AND JONATHAN EIBESCHUTZ THOUGHT
- REGARDING THE BOOK KAVANOT TEKIYAT SHOFAR
- HOW TO DESTROY JUDAISM WITH EXTRA CHUMROT
All snippets below are my free translations from the original Hebrew, unless otherwise stated.
IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE COURT
Here, R’ Antelmann introduces himself, and explains why he is writing this book.
He also explains how he was called to defend himself in a Beit Din for his statements about Eibeshutz, after his first book ‘To Eliminate the Opiate‘ was published – and how he came through that process vindicated.
Snippet (from Antelmann’s English notes, at the back of the book):
“This book deals primarily with the halachic problems surrounding the life and deeds of the Sabbatian satanic gaon, Jonathan Eibeschutz, (1690-1764), who was excommunicated by the Vaad Arba Aratzot [Council of the Four Lands] – which was considered the supreme Rabbinic Court of Europe – on 20 Sivan 1756.
His excommunication was part of a total ban against the Sabbatian and / or Frankists, whose “wives are whores and children are mamzerim to the 10th generation.”
Heretical books were banned and named, such as Eibeschutz’ ‘V’avo HaYom El HaAyin, a book advocating adulterous and incestuous s*xual relations on spurious kabbalistic grounds, characteristic of Sabbatian theology, prompting the Court to warn persons not to study the Zohar until the age of 30 or 40, when one has been saturated with halacha.”
Ed. note: If we consider a generation to be 25 years, that means that the stigma of being a mamzer if you were descended from Sabbatian/Frankists ended in 2006 – 250 years after this ban of excommunication was pronounced.
Also, since R’ Antelmann wrote this work well over 20 years ago, other scholars have come out with additional evidence that:
a) Jonathan Eybshutz was indeed the author of the infamous book of Sabbatian theology that promoted incest called ‘V’avo HaYom El HaAyin’.
b) The amulets he wrote showed conclusively that he was still a secret Sabbatian, and hadn’t made teshuva, at that late stage of his career.
2. THE AUTHORITY TO WRITE AGAINST EIBESCHUTZ
R Antelmann explains that before he published ‘To Eliminate the Opiate’, he discussed the information about Eibeshutz with a number of other leading rabbis.
He set out the sources for the information about Eibeshutz from the following books (all in Hebrew):
- Rav David Kahana’s book, Al HaSabbateam
- Prof. Moshe Perlmutter’s book, Al Yachso LeSabatuot
- Prof. Gershom Shalom‘s book, Lekat Margoliot
And was given permission, in writing, to continue with the publication of ‘To Eliminate the Opiate’ volume 1.
But then, when the book actually came out, one of his rabbinic advisors reversed his position and even summoned R Antelmann to a Beit Din in Boston for writing negative things about Eybshutz.
Antelmann got the Beit Din moved to the jurisdiction of the chareidi community of Los Angeles instead – and emerged victorious.
“[The Los Angeles] Beit Din ruled that anyone who wanted to accuse Eybshutz of doing evil was permitted to do so, inasmuch as – at the very least – he had permission to follow the opinion of Rav Emden, z’l. The Rav who gave this psak was one of the students of the Chofetz Chaim, z’l, called R’ Chaim Uri Etner, z’l.”
3. THE CONFLICTS OF YAVETZ THE SCRIBE
In this chapter, R Antelmann describes more of the background about R’ Yaakov Emden’s (1697-1776) fight against the Sabbatian-Frankists, as described in many of his books.
His books are written in a modern, lucid Hebrew, and contain a mixture of what we’d call ‘investigative journalism’, history, eye-witness accounts, polemics, philosophy and letters between R’ Emden and other rabbis.
Antelmann explains that R Emden (also known as ‘Yavetz’) wrote his books as part of a much wider ‘war’ against the Sabbatian-Frankist movement.
His main work, ‘Megillat Sefer’, (which you can download HERE) was published by a student after his death, which lead to accusations that Yavetz himself didn’t actually write it.
Antelmann explains that most of the ‘investigative journalism’ conducted by Yavetz has already been shown to be factually correct, by our times.
[Ed. note: and if that was true 30 years ago, it’s even more true today, when we know that Eybshutz’s amulets WERE Sabbatean; that the Nodah be’Yehuda characterised him as a Sabbatean in correspondence he had with Austrian officials; and that he was the author of the incest-and-wife-swapping treatise, V’avo HaYom El HaAyin.
And don’t forget that here on the blog, we’ve also been making a number of other connections with leading Sabbateans identified by the Yavetz, including Chaim Samuel Falk, founding black magician of the Order of the Golden Dawn and Jacob Frank’s first father-in-law.]
Nevertheless, after 200+ years, most of the criticism we hear is still being directed against R Yaakov Emden – and particularly from within the world of Torah.
He then brings a quote from Gershom Scholem, who put out a book about the Sabbatians called ‘Leket Margoliot’ in 1941 – which instantly invoked the ire of Neturei Karta.
Scholem wrote (translated snippet):
“I thought to myself that after 200 years (!) – we’d finally got to the time where we could talk about the Sabbateans with a little more understanding… I thought that – but I was mistaken. Neturei Karta are ‘guarding the city.'”
Neturei Karta – and others – in the Torah world immediately accused Scholem of wantonly injuring the honor of the ‘holy gaon of Israel, Rabbenu Yonatan Eybshutz’ – and made every effort to shut the conversation down.
[Ed. note: I’ve covered on the blog previously how the founders of Neturei Karta descend from the interesting families I’ve been researching here. Perhaps that explains their strong reaction to Scholem’s factual investigation into the roots of the Sabbatean-Frankists.]
R’ Antelman goes on to say that after more than 200 years, it’s really time to investigate and check Yavetz’s claims against the Sabbatean-Frankists, and Eybshutz.
Not from the side of ‘attacking the Torah’, like a secular academic, but from within the dalet amot of halacha.
He concludes that Yavetz’s books and the information and warnings they contain weren’t just written for his generation – they were written for ours, too.
4. ETERNAL POLEMICS AND CENSORED HISTORY
R’ Antelmann turns to the question:
Why do so many Jews, including so many talmidei chachamim, believe that Jonathan Eybshutz is ‘clean’ of any suspicion of being a Sabbatean?
He explains the following:
“On the 2nd Marcheshvan, 1753, the Council of Four Lands publicised a statement against Yavetz, where they praised Eybshutz greatly…The statement was recorded in the Pinkas of the Council of the Four Lands, as recorded by Yisrael Halperin, Mossad Bialik Yerushaliyim, on pages 392-3.”
This is a screenshot of that statement, from 1753:
Rabbi Yaakov Emden – book 13 – מגילת ספר – מהדורת כהנא עם הגהות והוספות – Warshawa 1897
And here’s a main snippet, from amidst all the paeons of praise being sung about Eybeshutz:
“The honor of his Torah and his ‘tzaddik-ness’….is such that he is not to be ‘suspected after’. And all those who ‘suspect after him’, it’s as if they are also ‘suspecting after’ the Shechina.”
It then continues:
“Who is the man who will fill his heart and raise his hand to ascend the mizbeach (holy altar) by printing the books of the Yavetz, and his writings….those worthless books, as described…”
It then goes on to encourage people to literally burn Rav Emden’s books in the streets!
And forbids people from entertaining any more doubts about Eybshutz’s holiness and behavior.
It’s signed: Rav Abraham of Lublin.
Then in 1755, Eybshutz himself published a defence, called ‘Luchot Eidot’, which contained writings of many rabbis – nearly all his own students, some of whom were later shown to also be Sabbateans.
In that self-same book, R Antelmann says that Eybshutz includes a known song of the Sabbateans, called ‘Ayelet Ahuvim’ full of allusions to Shabtai Tzvi, which Yavetz describes as a ‘shir shel pagim’ – or song of ‘desecration’, referring to the type of pagam habrit the Sabbatean-Frankists were notorious for.
But in Luchot Eidot, Eybshutz says that this is all wrong, and that the song is only designed to:
“Awaken love and dveikut to HaKadosh Baruch Hu, and His Shechina.”
There is also a letter in Luchot Eidot, apparently supporting Eybshutz, from none other than the Vilna Gaon.
In his rebuttal to Luchot Eidot, (which you can download HERE), Yavetz states that this letter was forged, and R’ David Kahana, in his book about the Sabbateans (page 61) agrees with this assessment:
“The truth that the letter was forged in his name is in fact the case.”
R’ Antelmann explains that the Jewish community by this points was already full of secret and not-so-secret Sabbatean-Frankists, including at every level of community leadership, both lay and religious.
One of these Sabbateans was a man named Shimon Rogoler, who was a Dayan in Vilna – he is the person likely responsible for forging the letter that appeared on the last page of the Luchot Eidot, in the Vilna Gaon’s name.
[Ed. note: You can read more about this ‘Shimon Ragoler’ HERE, and you can also read the text of the letter purported to be from the Vilna Gaon, included by Eybshutz, and make your own mind up about what really happened there. Here’s a snippet:
The 300 rabbis who supported Eibeschuetz were mostly disciples of his who, for the most part, were not distinguished as Kabbalists. That they supported Eibeschuetz comes as no surprise. But the Gaon was not a disciple of Eibeschuetz, and was a distinguished Kabbalist.
Interestingly, there is also a man who’s been on my ‘watch list’ for a while, named ‘Avraham Ragoler‘, who is shrouded in mystery, and listed as the Vilna Gaon’s brother (and / or son or even uncle, depending, on what you read.)
This ‘Avraham Ragoler’ was run out of town very quickly on a cart – this is clear sign that you are dealing with a Sabbatean.
The custom was to put these Sabbateans on a dung cart once they were discovered, and to railroad them out of town.
He also has a lot of very interesting influential descendants, including Obama advisor Cass Sunstein, and writer AJ Jacobs.]
What most people don’t know, is that the ‘psak din’ in favor of Eybshutz from 1753 was totally reversed, in 1756 – when Eybshutz and his books were excommunicated, along with the other Sabbatian-Frankists.
Here’s that statement, from page 16 of Bekhor Satan (my free translation – the language is very tricky for me to decipher, so feel free to amend any mistakes you spot):
“The Parnas of the holy Council, Rabbi Abraham, from the holy community of Lublin, and his son, Rabbi Pinchas, reverse themselves from the former [position].
What can we say and what can we speak about how the Satan seduced us, [as a result of] how many [threats of] damages we had to endure, both to our souls (i.e. physical safety) and also to our money, from every side?
[So] that all of the former writings were libels against him [i.e. Yavetz], words of falsehood.
And today we will clearly state that he is ‘Yonatan Bekhor Satan’, who ‘satanises’ Israel.
And so we, the holy Council, proclaim a herem against his books and against his amulets.
(From the Pinkas of the Council of Four Lands, p 416)
The statement from 1756 continues by excommunicating the Sabbatean books:
“And the worthless sefer V’avo HaYom Al Ha’Ayin.
And whoever has in his hand these seforim of tumah (spiritual impurity), that we are talking about, or a parchment of the amulets of these reshaim, the likes of whom have never been heard or seen before, the herem also rests on them, if he doesn’t burn them…”
Ed. note: What changed, between 1753 and 1756?
The answer is Jacob Frank and his followers, who ‘came out of the Sabbatean closet’ publically, and that’s when the Rabbis started to realise that wife-swapping, incest and other disgusting, evil antinomian behavior had become widespread amongst the Sabbatian-Frankists – including the thousands of ‘rabbis’ and talmidei chachamim in their ranks.
“One of (Frank’s) gatherings in Landskron ended in a scandal, and the rabbis’ attention was drawn to the new teachings. Frank was forced to leave Podolia, while his followers were hounded and denounced to the local authorities by the rabbis (1756).
At the rabbinical court held in the village of Satanów (today Sataniv in Ukraine) the Sabbateans were accused of having broken fundamental Jewish laws of morality and modesty.”
At that point, even the threats and bribes of Eybshutz and his followers wasn’t sufficient to shut the argument down, because Yavetz accusations against the Sabbatians were being unavoidably shown to be true.
In the rest of this chapter, R Antelmann comments on how the only book of halacha that Eybshutz published in his own lifetime was the ‘Kreti U’Pleti’.
Meanwhile, other books like ‘Bnei Ahuva’ (printed 1819) were published by known Frankists only many years after his death, including by his secular Frankist grandson, Gavriel Eybshutz.
Why would antinomian ‘anti-Torah’ Frankists be spending their own time and money to publish halachic works?
You’ll find one possible answer to that mystery in Part II.
5. THE CONSPIRACIES OF EIBESCHUTZ
In this chapter, R Antelmann explains more about how history proved Eybshutz to be a secret Sabbatean.
We already covered the facts that:
- His amulets were undoubtedly ‘Sabbatean’.
- His books, including notably V’yavo HaYom Al Ayin, promoted twisted Sabbatean kabbalah about wife-swapping and incest being ‘mitzvahs’.
R Antelmann now brings some examples of the texts of Eybshutz’s amulets, to prove their Sabbatian nature.
(Ed. note: This book was written before that mystery was decisively settled by modern historians like Sid Leiman, see HERE.)
Antelmann writes (translated snippet):
“Leibele Prossnitz [another Sabbatean prophet, and principal teacher of Eybshutz at Meir Eisenstadt’s yeshiva] pronounced about him [Eybshutz] that he was the Moshiach. [The Sabbatians] had four Moshiachs: Shabtai Tzvi, Jacob Frank, Eliyahu HaNavi, and Jonathan Eybshutz.”
The initial letters of the names of these four ‘Moshiachs’ were a big feature of Eybshutz’s amulets.
(Image below is a picture of one of the amulets in Bekhor Satan):
R Antelmann then explains how Eybshutz gives Hashem a ‘corporal body’ in his books Ve Yavo HaYom and ‘Shem Olam’ – something that is clearly proscribed in Jewish law.
He explains how Moshe Perlmutter describes this at length in his book Al Yachso LeSabatuot, where he also states there is no doubt that Eybshutz wrote Ve Yavo HaYom, when you compare it with another undisputed book of his, the ‘Shem Olam’.
Antelmann writes (translated snippet):
“In xtianity, you find a few different signs of the beliefs of the heretics (Gnostic religions), namely [references to] the son, the ruach (spirit) and the ‘father’, that are left over from the heresies of the Babylon cult that was called ‘Barbelo’…
According to many such writings from the [Gnostic] heretics, a live human being can ‘become’ God.
The Sabbateans accepted ‘Jonathan’ the same way the xtians ‘accepted Yoshki’.
The xtians, and the [Jewish] leaders of that generation understood what was really going on. But ultimately, the Sabbateans still succeeded in presenting Jonathan Eybshutz as one of the ‘gaons of Israel’.
Antelmann continues by bringing snippets of the testimonies presented to the Beit Din in Satanov in 1756, that started to expose the Sabbatean-Frankist practices.
Many of the people who participated in this Beit Din were Jews who had been ‘seduced’ into wife-swapping and adultery and incest after reading Eybshutz’s book, VaYavo HaYom, and who now wanted to make teshuva and try to return to the Jewish community.
Many witnesses explicitly stated the role Eybshutz’s book had played in their seduction to the dark side, to the Beit Din of Satanov.
Antelmann brings some of this first-hand testimony about the ‘wife swapping’ and other actions that was going on.
He also brings a snippet from the Yavetz’s book ‘B’hitavkoot’, where he describes some of the first-hand testimony he recieved from people who were trying to leave the ‘cult’ of Shabtai Tzvi.
This is the part where R Yaakov Emden states that Eybshutz had relations with his own daughter, deliberately, and that a bastard son was born of that liaison, by the name of ‘Moses Berachyia’.
You can find the ‘Sefer ‘B’hitavkoot’ HERE, as a PDF to download, and if you feel like helping me to track down the snippet below in the original book, that would be fab-u-lous.
Here’s a translated snippet of what R Antelmann brings in Bekhor Satan, in the name of the Yavetz (above), page 38:
“…Moshe Berachyia, as described…[the Sabbatians] made a big deal of him, as described.
He’s from the old man, the sinner Eybshutzer, who had relations with his wanton daughter.
And it’s said of him that he is in his shape and likeness… And so they are very fond of him, and hug him and kiss him, and say of him that he’s a ‘great light’.
And it’s said that also the wife (Elkele Spira-Frankel) of the old man, who’s been dead already for these last six years, used to be adulterous with others, as he himself did and does, him with eshet eish. Everything is for ‘tikkunim’ – i.e. the exact opposite – with keri (spilling seed.)
[Ed. note: Perhaps now it’s getting easier to understand why the descendants of Eybshutz who remained in the orthodox world are so keen to clean up his reputation….]
R’ Antelmann brings this snippet of Eybshutz’s ‘philosophy’ from his book Ya’arot Dvash:
“According to Eybshutz’s understanding, before the sin of Adam HaRishon, there was no such sin as ‘ervah’ (forbidden s*xual relationships) in the whole world…There was no issur around ariyot (forbidden relationships) or krovot (incest) at all…
And so, according to this, upon the tikkun (rectification) of the sin of Adam HaRishon as required, the situation will return to its former state, where close relatives (i.e. incest) will be permitted. (Ya’arot Dvash 281.)
“By the Sabbateans, it was known that a brother would sleep with his sister, and a father would come to his children.”
[Ed. note: This sentence sums up why certain parts of our so-called ‘frum community’ has a huge, unacknowledged, child abuse problem.]
Then, he explains how more Sabbateans were ‘outed’, in the years after the herem was pronounced.
In Altona in 1668, a Sabbatean prophet by the name of ‘Shabtai Raphael’ from Greece was caught committing sins of ‘eshet ish‘ – i.e. adultery and s*xual immorality in Altona.
Meanwhile in 1667, Binyamin Wolf, a seller of tobacco who lived in Hamburg was also excommunicated for being a Sabbatean, so, he moved to Dessau and just carried on as usual.
Binyamin Wolf’s sister was Moses Mendelsson’s grandma.
Mendelssohn’s books were published by a non-Jew linked to the Freemasons and other secret societies we’ve been discussing here like the Order of the Golden Dawn, named Friedrich Nicolai.
Antelmann also brings a ‘legend’ that was put around by Eybshutz’s followers to emphasis ‘what a Tzaddik he was’, that has no historic basis.
Long story short, the legend explains how Eybshutz is meant to have saved the Jewish community of Metz from being expelled by their local ruler, or ‘Hegman’ with his great intelligence and ‘practical kabbalah’.
“This story never happened.
There was no such ‘Hegman’ in Metz, and the ‘Hegman’ didn’t have the power, at that time, to do what was being described in the legend. This legend comes from the Frankists, and it has a ‘taste’ of hidden xtian beliefs combined with black kabbalah.”
Ed. note: The Sabbatean-Frankists published lots of these types of ‘incredible’ miracle stories about their leaders who remained in the Jewish community.
Partially, that was to encourage gullible Jews to become their followers; but it was also to ‘hide’ the black magic side of how so many of their ‘supernatural miracles’ were actually being done, i.e. by using the names of demons and performing black magic kabbalah.
Once you learn how to spot these Frankist stories, which really do have the same sort of ‘taste’ – sadly, you find them everywhere in the Jewish world today.
Let’s stop there for today.
I will continue with Part 2 tomorrow, BH, and then I’ll sum up the main points at the end of that post, and probably also pull this into a PDF, so you can download it, print it and send it to other people easily.
I know this isn’t easy reading.
But so much has gone wrong in our frum world, and we are now at the time where we need to stop dodging the issue, and to take a deep breath, and to fix it – with God’s help.
PS: I know this is a very emotional issue for many people.
I’m very happy to have the discussion on the blog, but please keep it civil. Any comments that bring different facts and different view points in a respectful way – particularly if sourced and referenced – are welcome.
But personal attacks will not be tolerated.
We’re all just after the truth here, whatever that ends up being.
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