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Shabbetai Zevi (1626—1676)



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The followers of Jacob Frank (1726–91) in Podolia, south-east Poland, who formed themselves into a Shabbetean sect (see SHABBETAI ZEVI). Frank, a charismatic figure but also, by all accounts, something of a charlatan and bold adventurer, boasted of his ignorance of the Talmud, claiming that the true, higher Torah is found only in the Zohar; hence the name Zoharists by which the sect was known in the eighteenth century. The name Frankists was not given them until the early nineteenth century, after Frank's death. The Frankists conformed outwardly to the Halakhah, the legal side of Judaism, but in secret believed it essential to disobey the law. They even went so far as to indulge in orgies at which the sexual prohibitions of adultery and incest were cast aside.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies.

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