We live in a world of lies.
One of the things that I’ve learned over the last few years is that whenever Hashem puts ‘good’ in the world, He counterbalances that ‘good’ with something that appears to be the same, but is really it’s opposite.
This is in order to maintain our free choice.
The whole reason why humanity was created was in order for us to CHOOSE to serve Hashem, and to CHOOSE to overcome ‘bad’ – both our internal yetzer haras, and the ‘bad’ we find manifesting in our environments, too.
That’s why God created a ‘Bilaam’ – a tremendous prophet for the evil side – to balance out Moshe Rabbenu, and maintain free choice.
That’s why when you had the revelations of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the world, you also had Yoshki (imach shemo).
That’s why when the holy Arizal (1534-1572) was starting to disseminate his ‘good’ kabbalah, there was also a massive upswing in ‘bad’ kabbalah, and even ‘Christian kabbalah’, with even respected rabbis like the Maharal of Prague (1520-1609) poring over ‘magick’ books like Sefer Raziel, amongst others, to create his legendary golem.
Sefer Raziel describes how to use holy names and demonic forces to manipulate nature, and is one of the leading handbooks of what people like to euphemistically call ‘practical kabbalah’.
We can carry on pretending that all this stuff is whiter than white, or we can actually start to make the birur, the clarification, required, that any time people cut God, and God’s will, out of the picture, and start trying to force changes in the world by manipulating holy names and spiritual forces instead of praying on something – that smacks of black magic.
But let’s continue the theme of ‘the good one and the bad one’, as it definitely continued down the generations.
When the founder of chassidut, the holy Baal Shem Tov showed up in 1698 (until 1760), we were into the next stage of revealing a new direction for yiddishkeit – one that was greeted with tremendous suspicion by many in the Jewish community.
When I wrote those articles, I hadn’t realized just how widespread, and entrenched, the abiding practice of ‘Sabbateanism’ still was in the global Jewish community of that time.
It’s not just (or even) that the secret Sabbateans lurking all over the Jewish community were holding out for the ‘second coming’ of Shabtai Tzvi, as the messiah. Some of them were, but most of them weren’t.
Most of the Sabbateans held by a doctrine that the soul of Shabtai Tzvi was being ‘reincarnated’ into one of his followers, and that the whole game was to figure out which of his followers was the new ‘Shabtai incarnate’, and would go on to become the leader of the movement.
(I know. This sounds worrying familiar. Believe me, I know.)
But people weren’t attracted to ‘Sabbateanism’ because they wanted redemption, at least, not after Shabtai Tzvi famously converted to Islam and then died.
They were attracted to ‘Sabbateanism’ because it enabled them to indulge their most immoral lusts, and to pretend to themselves that doing so was a holy endeavor that would ultimately ‘fix’ the world.
Without getting into a whole big discussion, you can sum Sabbateanism up as the idea that if the Moshiach will only come when the world is totally good (= ‘impossible’) or totally bad, then you better get to work making the world as ‘bad’ as you can, as fast as you can.
And man, did they take that job seriously.
So, the holy Baal Shem Tov shows up, and at the same time that he’s putting the power of chassidut in the world, there are all these other ‘secretly Sabbatean’ miracle workers, too, many of whom are also called ‘Baal Shem’.
But while the Baal Shem Tov is on the side of good, and acting totally in accordance with Hashem’s will, and trying to bring people closer to Hashem and true mitzvah observance, these evil, secretly Sabbatean ‘Baal Shems’ were using black kabbalah and black magic to achieve their miraculous outcomes and ‘healings’.
And most people in the Jewish community had no idea who was really ‘good’ and who was really evil.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s post, a man called Samuel Hayyim Falk (1710-1782), aka ‘the Baal Shem of London’.
Before I give over what I’ve found out about him – and I’ll try to do that as succinctly as possible, as I know all this is really a lot to take in and process – let me tell you HOW I found out about him.
I was researching Jacob Frank’s family tree, and trying to figure out where all his descendants disappeared off to.
It’s not as easy as you may think, because even though the Frank family (and many of their followers) notoriously converted to Islam, and then christianity, and also engaged in all sorts of illicit behavior including orgies and black magic rites, many of them still managed to ‘blend back in’ with the orthodox Jewish community.
Let that piece of information sink in, and try to understand what I’m really telling you.
So, the first surprising thing I discover, as covered more in THIS post, is that Jacob Frank had two wives. The custom of the time was to marry at 13, so Frank was apparently already married, widowed and the father of six small girls before he became a notorious ‘Sabbatean prophet’ at the age of 25.
But Frank’s family were already Sabbateans, and these ‘secret Sabbateans’ were already marrying each other, as much as possible, and were often outwardly prominent members of the orthodox Jewish community.
So, Frank’s first wife is called ‘Chana Josefa Falk’ (b 1727) – and she has six daughters with Frank, before she dies in 1752.
Me being me, I started researching who this woman was, and who her parents were – and that’s how I got to Samuel Jacob de Falk Tradiola Laniado, aka the Baal Shem of London.
Falk’s family were Spanish ‘new xtians’ who moved to Poland in the 16th century. While official researchers can’t seem to trace his ancestry back past his father, Raphael, I quickly found a reference to a ‘Solomon Laniado’ who was one of Shabtai Tzvi’s most enthusiastic, and prominent followers in Syria.
(Interestingly, the Syrian city of Aleppo had a long, unbroken chain of ‘Laniados’ as their chief Rabbis. There are interesting, and hitherto unexplained, links between Aleppo in Syria, and Frankist Jews in Ireland. That’s a post for another time.)
So, Samuel Falk is living in Podhajce, Poland – known as a hotbed of Sabbateans – while his son-in-law Jacob Frank was born in Korolowka, just 40 kms up the road, also to a Sabbatean family.
We’ll leave Frank alone for now – I will have a great deal to say about him another time – and come back to Falk, his father-in-law.
Falk is good friends with someone called Moses David of Podhajce, who is a notorious Sabbatean. These two hang out together doing ‘practical kabbalah’ – which we’ve already established is effectively black magic.
Falk then moves from Podhajce to Furth in Germany – which was also known as a hotbed of secret Sabbateans – and from this point on, his reputation as a ‘Baal Shem’ starts to take off.
He shows up in Westphalia claiming to be able to heal the sick, find buried treasure, and to have the secret of how to turn metal into gold.
Falk is writing cabbalistic amulets for the people who flock to be healed by him, which also includes members of the non-Jewish landed gentry, like Count Rantzow.
Here’s what Rantzow wrote about him:
“[M]y father frequently received the renowned prince and High Priest [sic] of the Jews, by the name of Hayim Samuel Falk. My father told me that this prince [sic] considers himself to be a scion of the line of King David.”
Falk then starts quoting the New Testament at Count Rantzow, and then Rantzow recounts some of the (black magic…) miracles he’s told about, by another of Falk’s gentrified friends, Baron von Donop:
“[Donop] saw [Falk] at prayer in Cassel, where his reputation is not called into question. At that time, he cured the daughter of the Court Jew. The girl fell ill almost every day due to some hidden malady, and he, by means of kabbalistic amulets, protected her from this mishap, without giving her any medicine.”
Donop then goes on to tell Rantzow how Falk conjured up an ‘angel’ (aka demon…) when he brought him to his estate.
Then, he walked through his gardens, and said: “’I want to make you richer.’ He drew a circle and held in his hand a 30 ft long parchment scroll filled with letters. He prayed in Hebrew, and I immediately saw that a fire issued forth from the ground and rose to a height of 7 or 8 feet.”
Then, Donop continues that the ground had opened by an oak tree, where he could see an enormous quantity of gold by its roots.
Falk does other ‘black magic’ miracles for him, too, like making knives fly through the air, and performing ceremonies where ‘spirits’ suddenly fill empty parchments with writing.
“The greater my repugnance for this person, who is so renowned, the greater is my sense of trust in him.”
After spending a few years ‘finding gold’ for various members of the landed gentry (and it’s rumored, also the Jesuits) – Falk is charged with witchcraft and sorcery, and is forced to flee Europe before he’s burnt at the stake for being a wizard.
Where does he show up next?
And in London, the Spanish and Portuguese community greet him with open arms, and he quickly gets chummy with expat German banking Jews (and secret Sabbatians….), including Aaron and George Goldschmid, contemporaries of Nathan Mayer Rothschild.
He also maintained close contact with the Chief Rabbi of England:
“Rabbi David Tavli (our Rabbi and Teacher David Tavli the son of Shlomo Zalman HaKohen Shiff).”
In case you’re wondering, yes, of course these Shiffs are related to the Jacob Schiff who worked for the Rotschilds and became the head of the infamous Kuhn, Loeb Banking House in New York:
“The [Schiff] family has intermarried with the Adlers, Oppenheims, Wertheimers, Günzburgs, Geigers, Glogaus, Mannheims, and Hanaus, and one member married a cousin of Zunz…
Among the rabbinical authors included in the family are Meïr ben Jacob Schiff, known as Maharam Schiff (d. 1644); David Schiff, editor of the “Ẓemaḥ Dawid”; and Tebele Schiff, chief rabbi of the Great Synagogue, London (1765-92), and author of “Leshon Zahab.” The most distinguished recent member is Jacob Henry Schiff, banker and philanthropist, of New York.”
Rabbi Yaakov Emden warns the Jewish community at that time that Falk is a secret Sabbatean, and “master of the demon” – but most people just ignore him.
He’s more subtle now about his black magic, having learned his lesson from Poland, but he still demonstrates black magic ‘miracles’ on a number of occasions to his Jewish and non-Jewish followers, again involving ‘practical kabbalah’.
Another secret Sabbatean, Zusman Shachnowitz, ‘friend’ of Falk and of Moshe David fro Poland wrote a letter that later came into the possession of Yaakov Emden where he describes Falk in London:
“[A]s some sort of sublime person. His room is illuminated with silver lamps on the walls and with a central eight-branched chandelier made of a solid piece of pure silver. Even though it only held enough oil to last for one day and night, it remained lit for three weeks. On one occasion, he closed himself off in his house in isolation for a period of six weeks, without food or drink. At the end of that period, ten men gathered to enter to him. They found him sitting on a royal throne, with a golden miter on his head, and around his neck a gold chain with a gold star upon which holy names were inscribed.”
“Indeed, this man is unique in his generation on account of his knowledge of holy mysteries. I cannot describe to you in detail all of the wonders that he performed. I consider it a great honor and mercy that this man found me worthy to be numbered among those who sit in his shadow and wisdom.”
It was so easier to be fooled, to think that Falk’s black magic / ‘practical kabbalah’ miracles meant he was the holy-of-holies.
In reality, he was the archetype of evil in the Jewish community, and the total mirror image of true miracle workers on the side of holiness, like the Baal Shem Tov, z’tl.
In 1778, the CHIDA is in Paris trying to raise money for the Jewish community back in Israel. In the book that he wrote about his travels, the CHIDA describes how he met the non-Jewish nobleman Da Suma and the noblewoman Da Krona, who tell him how Falk has been teaching them ‘practical kabbalah’, i.e. black magic.
The CHIDA is not impressed.
And Falk has many other connections with European nobility too, including:
Baron Theodore Da Neuhauf, (1694-1756) the King of Corsica
Prince Adam Czartoryski (1734-1823), the ruler of Podolia
A “servant of the king of France (Louis XVI)”, called Emmanuel
The Duke of Orleans (1747-1793), and the Baron Da Charter, who later is crowned as King Louis Phillippe of France after Napoleon is deposed.
But that’s not all.
Falk was also up to his eyeballs in all the ‘secret societies’ that had been starting to coalesce all over Europe during this time, many of which were heavily steeped in occultism and black magic practices.
With his knowledge of ‘practical kabbalah’, Falk quickly became a highly desired tutor in these dark arts.
“Cagliostro himself stated… that he had been born of Christians of noble birth but abandoned as an orphan upon the island of Malta. He claimed to have travelled as a child to Medina, Mecca, and Cairo and upon return to Malta to have been admitted to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, with whom he studied alchemy, the Kabbalah, and magic.”
It’s no coincidence that around this same time, his son-in-law Jacob Frank – who has now been formally acclaimed as the continuation of Shabtai Tzvi in his generation, by most of the Sabbateans – is also up to his neck in beginning a number of secret societies too, including the Order of the Asiatic Brethren, begun in Brunn, where Frank’s cousin (and fellow Sabbatean) Schnondl Dobrushka lived:
‘Jacob Frank and his court remained in Brünn for almost fourteen year until the spring of 1786. As we shall see these were the formative and most essential years during the short life-span of the Asiatic Brethren. During this time Frank developed strong connections into the Masonic communities of Vienna as well as into Germany…
Freemasons and secret societies during this period most of all were interested in re-discovering the ancient wisdom and purported truth hidden in the Jewish mystery tradition.”
There’s so much more to say, but let’s end with this.
My husband wanted to know what is the value in me sharing this information more widely?
The laws of lashon hara still apply, even to evil, dead people, so what is the toelet, the positive reason for sharing this information about this demon-worshipping ‘bad’ Baal Shem Tov?
I told him that when I started looking up more information about Samuel Chaim Falk, I quickly discovered that 99.9% of the Jewish world has no idea that he was a black magic sorcerer and father-in-law to the notorious Jacob Frank.
Most people still believe he was a holy man – a British counterpart to the Baal Shem Tov haKadosh of Medzhibozh.
Not only that, there is apparently a large crowd of chassidim in the UK that make the pilgrimage to Falk’s tomb in London on Tisha B’Av, to go and pray at the site of the ‘tzaddik’.
When I read that, I shivered.
It literally makes me nauseous to think of sincere religious Jews connecting to this guy, on any level, spiritually.
So, that’s at least one of the toelet reasons for unmasking this evil Baal Shem Tov.
But there are many, many more.
This guy’s direct descendents (via his daughter Chana Josefa, married to Jacob Frank) literally intermarried all over the orthodox Jewish community. Some of his descendants (and their Sabbatean followers) ‘came out’ as Frankists, and outwardly converted to Catholicism, but many of them didn’t.
Many of them continued to be secret Sabbateans, secret Frankists, secretly ‘anti-Torah’ Jews on the inside, whilst flourishing some very impressive yichus credentials as rabbis and leaders of their Jewish communities all over the world.
And their descendants (and followers…) can still be found in very prominent positions in every strata of Jewish life, orthodox and otherwise, in Israel and in the diaspora, today.
That’s why there has been such a massive cover-up, in so many areas, and why Falk is still being touted as a ‘holy man’.
Because when all the truth about his descendants comes out, it will rock the Jewish world to its foundations – but also clear the way for geula and the true Moshiach.
 Baal Shem literally means ‘master of the name’ – a reference to using Divine names to manipulate nature and do ‘miracles’.
 The perceptive reader will notice that I’m opening a massive can of worms here.
 The perceptive reader will understand that I’m opening yet another massive can of worms, here.
 While this is the date given for her on geni, there is so much deliberate disinformation occurring around Frank’s family tree that I’m not entirely convinced it’s correct.
 I am currently in the process of trying to uncover Frank’s real relatives, as part of the process of unpicking who was a secret Sabbatean, and who wasn’t.
 Read this, for a detailed account of Moses David’s Sabbatean actions and reputation for being a ‘Baal Shem’ in Poland and Germany: https://www.jewishgen.org/yizkor/Podhajce/pod056.html
 There was a famous publishing house of Jewish literature established in Furth at this time, and many of the rabbis with secret Sabbatean ties published their works in Furth.
 Count Rantzow’s family later intermarried with the crypto-Jewish ‘Jacobs’ family. I’m almost certain this ‘Jacobs’ family were disguised descendants of Jacob Frank (and via his first wife, Falk himself.)
 So many of the ‘dodgy’ Jewish (and also non-Jewish…) characters in this saga take great pains to emphasis their connection to King David.
 See Rabbi, Mystic or Impostor, by Michal Oron.
 Rabbi Yaakov Emden famously – and with hindsight rightly – accused Jonathan Eybeshutz of being a secret Sabbatean. I’ve discovered a lot more information about Eybeshutz and his Sabbatean connections. For example, Jacob Frank’s cousin Schondl Dobrushka was closely aligned with Wolf Eybeshutz, son of Jonathan, and self-proclaimed ‘Sabbatean prophet’.