On Sunday, May 19 at 2:00 PM, Rabbi Barbara Cohen will present a program on 17th century false Messiah, Shabbatai Tzvi, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 15 North Street, Great Barrington, MA.
Rabbi Cohen explains, “The longing for a Messiah has often risen in the fertile soil of troubled times, watered by the blood of our ancestors. Many times throughout the history of the Jews, when circumstances became almost unbearable due to oppression, exile and slaughter, the hope for redemption and deliverance from a Messiah, a God chosen anointed warrior king, a promised deliverer, emerges from the collective misery of the time. Our prophetic writings in the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, speak of this individual, who announced by the prophet Elijah, will arise from the line of King David, from the root of Jesse. The anticipation of a Messiah flourishes like a beacon in the darkness of collective Jewish suffering. There have always been individuals, sane or not, who believe themselves to be the next Messiah but their influence is usually limited to a small group of adherents in a limited geographic area. Our exploration of the false Messiah, Shabbatai Tzvi, a 17th century figure of immense impact on the Jewish world, was unlike other outbreaks of messianic fervor in its appeal, scope and effect.”