Thursday, July 26, 2007


Aharon Yosef (AY) pontificates about him in the blog I began unpacking this morning. In an effort to corroborate what AY has written, I went to the Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Wolff. Yes, Wolff was a real-life historical Jew. He converted to Catholicism, but

having publicly attacked the doctrine of infallibility, he was expelled from the papal dominions on account of erroneous opinions. After a brief stay at the Monastery of the Redemptorists at Val Sainte...he went to England to visit the eccentric Henry Drummond, M.P.

He traveled around the orient, but raised the hackles of Asian potentates as well. According to the Encyclopedia "he confronted the sovereigns of Central Asia with imperturbable audacity, refusing to conform to their court etiquette or to observe any ceremony in his speech".

He shifted religious committment again by joining the Anglican Church:

In 1845 he was presented with the vicarage of Ile Brewers in Somerset, where he resided until his death. Before joining the Church of England, Wolff had entertained all sorts of religious opinions. He was a member of the little band which met in Henry Drummond's house at Advent, 1826, for a six days' study of the Scriptures, which resulted in the orgination of the Catholic Apostolic Church under the leadership of Irving....His greatest opposition came from the Jews...Wolff was possessed of many erratic ideas. In India he was considered a fanatic; in England he was at one time ostracized by the clergy; and he bent all facts to suit his theories of the lost tribes.

Wikipedia offers an interesting Wolff fact:

In his travels in Bokhara he found the doctrine of the Lord's soon coming held by a remote and isolated people. The Arabs of Yemen, he says, "are in possession of a book called 'Seera,' which gives notice of the coming of Christ and His reign in glory, and they expect great events to take place in the year 1840." "In Yemen I spent six days with the Rechabites....With them were the children of Israel of the tribe of Dan,...who expect, in common with the children of Rechab, the speedy arrival of the Messiah in the clouds of heaven."

In his Pontification, AY calls Joseph Wolff "a famous Jewish convert to Christianity". I think "infamous" would be a better choice of adjectives.

Incidently, Wikipedia has an entry for Tzadikim Nistarim and describes them as AY has described them.

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