Because, until recently, the existence of Sabbateanism has been largely underground, it is easy to discount its influence on Jewish "Kabbalah" in particular and non-Jewish "Cabalah" in general. Yet, Rabbi Hayyim Falk, the 18th century "Baal Shem of London" - who deeply influenced Christian Cabalah through such luminaries as W.B. Yeats and his esoteric group, as well as the Imperial Courts of Europe - was, at least according to Gershom Scholem, almost certainly a Sabbatean, along with other prominent Jewish Kabbalists and Rabbis of his time.
Less frequently discussed, however, is that Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto (whose works are studied in virtually every Orthodox Jewish Seminary in the world) was deeply influenced by the Kabbalah of Sabbatai Zevi and Nathan of Gaza. For example, Gershom Scholem writes:
"The heated controversy about. . . [Moshe Hayyim Luzzatto's Sabbatean tendencies] in Padua, which began in 1727, and the [Sabbatean] messianic tendencies of his group engaged much attention in the following ten years. Although even in their secret writings Luzzatto, Moses David Valle, and their companions repudiated the claims of Shabbetai Zevi and his followers, they were without doubt deeply influenced by some of the paradoxical teachings of Shabbatean Kabbalah, especially those concerning the metaphycial prehistory of the Messiah's soul in the realm of the klippot. Luzzatto formulated these ideas in a manner which removed the obviously heretical elements but still reflected, even in his polemics against the Shabbateans, much of their spiritual universe. He even tried to find a place for Shabbetai Zevi, though not a messianic one, in his scheme of things." (Kabbalah, page 282)
Thus, Judaism - both Orthdox and, particularly, that of the so-called "Modern Renewal Movement" - as well as the Non-Jewish Hermetic Cabalists, have been formed and directed in their thinking and practices by Sabbatai Zevi and Nathan of Gaza in ways they are completely unaware of. As a consequence, Jewish Renewalists and (to a lesser extent) Non-Jewish, Hermetic Cabalists, have been inventing a wheel for which there is already a 300 year old patent, while loudly congratulating themselves for their brilliant discoveries.
Yakov Leib haKohain
posted on the Donmeh mail list
Sun, 13 Jun 1999
page historypage uploaded 14 June 1999