Shabbatai Zevi II

Lead: In 1665, Shabbatai Zevi declared himself the long-awaited messiah of Israel. Within a year, he had converted to Islam and thrown the Jewish world into chaos and disruption.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After being cast out of his home town of Smyrna, Zevi began a long period of wandering, through Palestine and Egypt, attracting followers and continuing his life-long struggle with alternating periods of manic-depression and exaltation, during the latter of which he evidenced truly bizarre behavior. This both offended and attracted a growing number of followers. His most important was a brilliant rabbi, Nathan of Gaza, who, after meeting Shabbatai Sevi in February, 1665, experienced an ecstatic vision that saw his new friend as the Messiah. From that point, Nathan tried to convince him and others that he was, in fact, the long-awaited representative of God. This highly respected, independent confirmation tying his appearance with the kabbalistic story of creation, kicked off the Shabbatean Movement. By May 1665, Zevi was sure of himself and fully engaged in asserting his messianic mission.

Shabbatai Zevi I

Lead: In the mid-1660s the Jewish world was rocked by the appearance and claims of a messiah, Shabbatai Sevi, who some have deemed the most significant millenarian movement in modern Jewish history. He, however, was a piece of work.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: He was born in Smyrna, a wealthy port city on the west coast of present-day Turkey. His family recognized a native intelligence which destined him for the rabbinate. He studied under some of the most prominent rabbis in Smyrna and probably around 15 began a life of isolation, abstinence and asceticism, during which he struggled with powerful sexual temptation. Shabbatai became a rabbi about the age of 18 and became attracted to Kaballism with its emphasis on the devotional life and the coming of the messiah.