truth is stranger than fiction

I can’t claim the credit for this piece of research, which was sent in by another reader.

It’s R’ Yehuda Fetaya’s discussion of the excorcism he performed of Shabtai Tzvi’s spirit, when it demonically possessed a Jewish man in Baghdad for 30 years.

Before we continue, I just wanted to make something clear:

We have nothing to fear from the truth.

Nothing at all.

‘Truth’ is Hashem’s seal, and whenever we are pursuing the truth for it’s own sake, and not just to win an argument or to big ourselves up, then that process of pursuing the truth, and loving the truth, brings us closer to Hashem.

Whatever the outcome of this process of trying to uncover the truth, it’s only going to be good.

We all know that the ‘world of lies’ has to fall, before the world of truth can truly be established and flourish.

Sometimes, dismantling all these lies is a painful and scary process. But once it’s completed, we’ll be ready to go forward into that world of truth, with no more ‘lies’ to keep pulling us away from Hashem, and our own souls.

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So, here is what my correspondent sent me – thank you!

(English is not their first language, so please excuse any errors in their introduction, which I’m bringing here as it has some more clues about what is really going on, here.)

Dear Rivka, Are you familiar with the book by Rabbi Yehuda Fetaya – Minhat Yehuda?

This contains a large part about Ezekiel 37. The Rabbi told in this section about contacts he has with souls of the deceased. The Rabbi is in conversation with a certain Bechor, and indicates that the soul that speaks through him first says that he is David, the son of Shabbatai Zevi, but a little later he says he is Zevi himself!

Rabbi Fetaya then has a long conversation with him from many pages.

Below I display a short part from the book, translated by Avraham Leader, edited by Yehuda Herskowitz – Mechon Haktav Jerusalem 5770-2010.

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Rabbi Fetaya: I asked  him more questions, and I am writing only the answers, since the questions will be obvious by the answers, and these were his answers:

I am Shabbetai Zevi

He died by strangulation.

He did not repent and was buried in a gentile cemetery.

When he was alive, the husks would appear before his eyes.

The reason he became wicked was because he was not conceived in holiness.

He was reincarnated in countless numbers of reincarnations.

He merited a psyche and a spirit, but when the soul began to flicker within him, what happened happened.

Now he concedes that Moses, our teacher, of blessed memory, was true, that his prophecy was true and that his Torah was true, but these words of his have no effect, since once a person has died he is exempt from the commandments [Shabbat 30a].

His reward for fulfilling the commandments is already credited to another righteous man.

The reason he speaks within the heart rather than through the mouth is because the aforesaid Bechor studies Torah, by means of which he subdues the spirit within him and causes it pain. This is why the spirit interrupts his studies and communicates to him foreign thoughts.

==

(He lied to me concerning this, because even though being occupied with Torah subdues the evil spirit, it does not cause the spirit to speak within the heart rather than through the mouth. Proof of this is that in the year 5675, a thirty-five year old maiden who was blind in both eyes came to see me. A sage who had lived in my lifetime who I knew and recognized, had become reincarnated in her. Although she was blind and did not study Torah, he spoke within her heart but not through her mouth.

During his lifetime, this sage had a questionable reputation. Now, too, he attempted to seduce the said maiden to behave promiscuously with another sage and told her that the Messaiah would be born from their Union, but she did not listen to him. After a number of unifications and efforts I managed to determine that it was indeed that infamous sage.

It became known to me that when they bathed his corpse [i.e. the corpse of the Sage], they noticed a tattoo on his heart resembling a cross.

==

The actual reason he [i.e. the Sage who was known to R’ Fetaya] did not speak through the mouth was so that he would not be recognized by the people and be ridiculed and mocked. See Sha`ar Hagilgulim, preface 22, 22a, where he writes:

These incarnations which possess people occur in one of two ways.

The First are the souls of the wicked, who have not merited entering hell after death. They enter the bodies of people who are alive in this World and recount all that has befallen them there, may the Merciful One deliver us. The second relates to their impregnation in a person, in accordance with the secret of Pregnancy, as previously mentioned in former discourses, and they cling to him very secretively.

Therefore, if that person sins, the soul impregnated in him overpowers him, causes him to sin and incites him down an evil path, etc.

See there. It could be that when the master wrote: they cling to him very secretively, it is for the reason we have already cited, so that they not be recognized and made a mockery by the people. Now, then, let us return to our tale [of Shabtai Tzvi.)

==

His spirit has been reincarnated in the aforesaid Bechor, but his psyche still resides among the beasts of the forest.

He would like to leave this place, never again to enter the body of a Jew, and go the forests.

He was thirty-five years old when he died. (Actually he was fifty, see Encyclopedia Judaica, Shabbetai Zevi.)

I asked him other questions, but he would not reply. All he told me was that he was presently enclosed with the Other Side, in a the thickness of approximately one cubit.

Five days later I spoke to him again, very gently, and I saw that he was subdued. He was bemoaning his transgressions. He entreated me exceedingly to effect a rectification for him, and blessed me and my family with many blessings. He said that in order to honor me he would speak only the truth.

The beginning of his downfall was when he sinned with  a married woman, and what I heard is true; he fornicated with a male while wearing a prayer shawl and phylacteries.

He also sent a young man to be with his own wife Sarah and explicitly commanded him, saying, “Whatever Sarah tells you, obey her.”

==

His beating in the grave lasted twelve years.

Until now he had been reincarnated in the beasts of the forest. This was his First reincarnation in a person, in the aforesaid Bechor.

The reason for having entered him was that he had kissed a Young girl when he was a young boy. It was now thirty years since he had entered him. Beforehand, he had circled around Bechor`s head, because he was from the same root (as written in Sefer Halikutim, Jeremiah 8:13:

What I gave them will pass away, (I will give them spirits) that will pass into a body that is close to them, according to the hidden meaning of: “Either his uncle or his cousin shall redeem him etc.” [Leviticus 25:49].

On account of the aforesaid kiss, he entered him.

He was condemned to be with the Nazarene in boiling feces from the second hour until the fourth and a half hour of Friday.

====

Lots of interesting things to pick up here.

Firstly, that Shabtai Tzvi partially shared the same punishment as Yoshki in gehinnom, being boiled in feces together – but only for 2 1/2 hours on a Friday.

And also, that he sinned because he was conceived in impurity.

I have a lot of stuff I’m currently going through about the SHACH’s ancestors, and a lot of surprising information to share with you on that score, too, but we’ll keep that for another post.

But the thing that really stood out for me was that reference to:

David, the son of Shabbatai Zevi

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I have been reading through Sabbatean history for months and months, but so far, I haven’t come across any other references to ‘David, the son of Shabbatai Zevi’.

I still have 100 pages left to go in Gershom Scholem’s oeuvre, so maybe he’ll turn up there, we’ll see.

But in the meantime, in one of those strange strokes of serendipity, just before I got sent this email, I tripped across another family tree for the SHACH on geni that looks like this:

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Number 1 is next to R’ Moses Isserles, the REMA.

I have actually been combing through the tangled knots of his family tree for quite a while now, as his family tree is at the heart of so many of what became the Sabbatean-Frankist network.

I will do a separate post on him soon, BH, but I’ve already found grandchildren for the REMA who appear to be Polish xtians, possibly related to Polish nobility.

And that’s only a bit of what I’m discovering.

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Number 2 is next to ‘Shabsai Cohen – The Shach Kasvan’ – i.e. the SHACH.

And Number 3 is next to his son, ‘Dovid Kasvan’.

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That’s when I recalled that I’d done a family tree a long time ago, when I was trying to figure out more of the tangled relationships around the SHACH, forwards and backwards, where I’d had a lot of question marks about what was going on with ‘Dovid Kasvan / Katvan’.

In that ‘other’ family tree, which you can see HERE, ‘David Katvan’ is meant to be the SHACH’s son-in-law, married to a daughter ‘Toyba’ or ‘Tova’.

Toyba / Tova’s other husband is an ‘Aharon Mi-Geza Tzvi’.

It’s that surname again.

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So, which version is correct?

‘David Katvan’ the Shach S-I-L version says that his father is one ‘Yitzhak HaLevi Katvan of Prague‘ – and then he’s connected to nothing and no-one else after that.

At this stage, that always strikes me as invitation to dig deeper, especially as we’re dealing with a prominent, wealthy individual here, described in the Pinkas of the Zolkiew chevra kadisha as follows:

“[T]he leader of the province, officer, the head, sir, the wealthy.” [Rosenstein. The Lurie Legacy.]

Here’s the text that is brought to support that version of David Katvan’s family tree:

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Meanwhile on the other side, the version that has ‘Dovid Kasvan’ as the SHACH’s actual son, the family tree shows that ‘Dovid Kasvan’s’ daughter marries this Yitzhak Babad mentioned above, the ABD of Brod.

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They can’t both be right.

Why does this matter?

If you trace the descendants of ‘Dovid Katvan’, on the version of the SHACH’s family tree that has him as the son-in-law, it goes like this:

DOVID KATVAN > ELLA ANSCHEL marries R’ SIMCHA HAGADOL HACOHEN RAPPOPORT > R’ YOSEF RAPPOPORT > RIVKA marries R’ YITZHAK ITKOVITZ > RABBI CHAIM OF VOLOZHIN.

You probably heard of Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin.

He founded the Volozhin Yeshiva, where so many of the ‘big zionists’ – both secular and ‘religious’ apparently spent some time.

And he’s the ancestor of Shimon Peres.

Amongst many others.

One day, I’ll do a post on the links between the Volozhin Yeshiva, and all the people intimately connected to what became the nascent State of Israel and modern ‘Zionism’, because there are just so many of them….

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In case you were wondering, the family tree for R’ Chaim of Volozhin is a total, utter mess.

The progression I set out for you above took me months and months of comparing data to get to, and I have the feeling that in the middle of that whole mess, we will probably find Rebbe Nachman’s grandfather, R’ Nachman Horodenka.

If you remember from THIS post, on Jacob Frank, the data seemed to be showing this:

Rabbi Nachman Horodenka, the grandfather of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, appears to be the brother of R’ Chaim of Volozhin:

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Because all this is so very deliberately convoluted, it could also be that Rabbi Nachman’s father, Simcha, is actually the brother of R’ Chaim of Volozhin. I’m still unpicking it.

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But you can see that IFFFFF Shabtai Tzvi = SHACH, and IFFFFF Shabtai Tzvi /SHACH’s son was ‘David Katvan’, why a lot of effort would be put into rearranging the family tree, to try and cover that information up.

Because otherwise, we’d all know that the direct descendants of ‘Shabtai Tzvi’, in the person of Shimon Peres (and probably many others…) are still ruling the State of Israel in our days.

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And that Rabbenu, our holy Rebbe, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, was really the ‘light’ sent down into the midst of all that Sabbatean ‘darkness’ on his father’s side, to sweeten what was happening with his Torah and advice, so we’d be able to get through this ‘Sabbatean-Frankist’ onslaught of the last 200 years in one piece, spiritually.

And it also explains why Rebbe Nachman knew so much about the ‘Jewish Demon Torah Scholars’ in our midst, and why they all tried so hard to shut him up, destroy his teachings, and end his branch of chassidut.

Let’s stop there for now.

I have about 15 more family trees to ‘comb through’ again now, to try and figure this out a bit more.

But slowly, slowly, it’s all starting to come together.

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