Why So Many 17th-Century Jews Were Convinced an Eccentric Turkish Jew Was the Messiah

March 5 2021

Born in the city of Izmir (Smyrna) in 1626, Shabbetai Tsvi, while still in his twenties, pronounced God’s ineffable name and celebrated the three major festivals in a single week; later he married a prostitute. Only after that did he meet a mystic and self-proclaimed prophet named Nathan of Gaza who convinced him that he was the messiah. By the mid-1660s, much of European and Middle Eastern Jewry had become convinced that Shabbetai Tsvi was in fact going to lead them back the Land of Israel. They were thus shocked and disappointed when he converted to Islam—to avoid execution by the Ottoman sultan—but a minority of his followers interpreted this decision as a kabbalistic tactic to hasten the redemption. The distinguished medieval historian David Berger tells the story in detail, and seeks to explain why Sabbatianism had a degree of success unparalleled either before or since. (Audio, 64 minutes.)

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Read more at YU Torah

More about: Kabbalah, Messianism, Ottoman Empire, Shabbetai Tzvi

In Yemen, Iran Is Preparing for Its Next War with Israel

Sept. 20 2021

In the past few weeks, Houthi rebels backed by Iran have escalated their attacks on Saudi and Emirati positions in Yemen. On September 4, they also launched multiple ballistic-missile and drone attacks on several Aramco facilities within Saudi Arabia. The U.S. removed some of its anti-missile batteries from Saudi Arabia a week later, rendering the kingdom even more vulnerable. The Houthis—who mark every missile and drone launch by chanting their slogan, “God is great, death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, and victory for Islam!”—are part of the network of militias and proxy groups Tehran dubs the “axis of resistance,” which also operate in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip. Michael Segall writes:

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Gaza Strip, Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Yemen