Friday, January 30, 2009


From the year 1740:

Podolia. In Poland, Kabbalah broke out with renewed energy; fresh Zadikkim and Ba'al Shems arose, the most noted of these being Israel of Podolia, known as Ba'al Shem Tov, or by the initial letters of his name, Besht, who founded his sect of Hasidim at this time. Besht, whilst opposing bigoted Rabbinism and claiming the Zohar as his inspiration, did not, however, adhere strictly to the doctrine of the Kabbalah that the universe was an emanation of God, but evolved a form of Pantheism, declaring that the whole universe was God, that even evil exists in God since evil is not bad in itself but only in its relation to Man; sin therefore has no positive existence. As a result, the followers of Besht, calling themselves the "New Saints," and at his death numbering no less than 40,000, threw aside not only the precepts of the Talmud, but, according to Nesta Webster, all the restraints of morality and even decency.

Under the year 1742 Sellers writes:

London. Arrival of Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk, the Ba'al Shem, in London, from Podolia. He was regarded by his fellow Jews as an adherent of Shabbetai Zevi. In Westphalia at one time Falk was sentenced to be burned as a sorcerer, but escaped to England. On his arrival in London, Falk appeared to be without means, but soon after he was seen to be in possession of considerable wealth, living in a comfortable house in Wellclose Square., where he had his private synagogue, whilst gold and silver plate adorned his table. His Journal, still preserved in the library of the United Synagogue, contains references to "mysterious journeyings" to and from Epping Forest, to meetings, a meeting-chamber in the forest, and chests of gold there buried. It was said that on one occasion when he was driving thither along Whitechapel Road a back wheel of his carriage came off, which alarmed the coachman, but Falk ordered him to drive on and the wheel followed the carriage all the way to the forest.

In general, Falk appears to have displayed extreme caution in his relations with Christian seekers after occult knowledge, for the Jewish Encyclopaedia goes on to say: "Archenholz mentions a royal prince who applied to Falk in his quest for the philosopher's stone, but was denied admittance."

Among those who were attracted to him, was the international adventurer, Theodore De Stein, who claimed to be king of Corsica and hoped to obtain through Falk's alchemical experiments sufficient gold to enable him to "regain" his throne.

He was also in touch with, among others, the Duke of Orleans, the Polish Prince Czartoryski, and the Marquise de la Croix.

On one occasion, Falk is said to have saved the Great Synagogue from destruction by fire by means of a magical inscription which he inscribed on the doorposts. On the other hand, he was denounced as a Shabbetean heretic and fraud by his embittered contemporary Jacob Emden.

He was, at the outset, on the worst possible terms with the official London community. However, in the end he became reconciled with it and received the support of the Goldsmid family.

As a result of this, or possibly of success in a lottery, he died in relatively affluent circumstance, leaving a considerable legacy to Jewish charities and an annual payment for the upkeep of the chief rabbinate in London. See other entries throughout this Timeline for connections between Falk and other London circles.

Under the year 1744-45 according to Sellers:

In his Journal of Dreams (1744-45), Swedenborg described the difficult discipline required to control and manipulate the sexual energies. Despite the intensely erotic character of the images he visualized (while meditating upon the male and female Hebrew letters and sephiroth), he must not dissipate his sexual energies in masturbation, nocturnal emission, or premature ejaculation. By maintaining the "pure intention" (kawwanah), he must resist the tempting visions produced by evil spirits. During the early stages of his training, he noted that "I could not keep control of myself so as not to desire the sex, although not with the intention of proceeding to effect." The Register Books of the Royal Society reveal Swedenborg's previously unknown attendance and contacts with the Masonic scientists J.T. Desaguliers, Martin Folkes, Hans Sloane, and Cromwell Mortimer in 1740 and 1744-45, as well as a shadowy network of British scientists, physicians, and authors (Theobald, Stuart, Hampe, Smith, Marchant, Morton, Woulfe, etc.), who shared his interest in Hermetic, Rosicrucian, and Kabbalistic studies.


In his Journal of Dreams (1744), Swedenborg wrote a veiled description of his Kabbalistic-style ecstatic experience, which he achieved through meditation on the Hebrew letters; ...during the whole night something holy was dictated to me, which ended with "sacrarium et sanctuarium."

1745 - 1755.

In Bucharest, Jacob Frank began to earn his living as a dealer in cloth, precious stones, and whatever came to hand. Between 1745 and 1755 his trade took him through the Balkans and as far as Smyrna....


Early. London. In London, Swedenborg received reinforcement for his Kabbalistic-Yogic interests from Dr. James Parsons, an Irish- and French-educated physician and Fellow of the Royal Society, who met Swedenborg when both attended meetings of the society in early l745.

Under the heading 1744:

Nicolai asserts that after the Society of Jesus [Jesuits I presume] was dissolved in 1744 by Pope Clement XVI it began to permeate the Rosicrucian Order.

In October, 1948:

Swedenborg was torn between his attraction to the Moravian and Jewish arcana of visionary sex and his guilt at its libertine ramifications. According to [Moshe?] Idel, some Shabbeteans (including the more radical disciples of Falk, Eibeschutz, and Frank) turned "orgiastic practices" into a "via mystica of the new aeon."

Under the year 1755:

3 December. Podolia. Frank, accompanied by R. Mordecai and R. Nahman, crossed the Dniester River and spent some time with his relatives in Korolewka. After this he passed in solemn state through the communities in Podolia which contained Shabbetean cells. He was enthusiastically received by "the believers," and in the general Jewish community the news spread of the appearance of a suspected "frenk" - which was the Yiddish term for a sephardi. Frank, who had spent about 25 years in the Balkans and was thought to be a Turkish subject, actually conducted himself like a Sephardi and spoke Ladino when he appeared in public. Subsequently he assumed the appellation "Frank" as his family name.

In 1756:

January. Landskroun. Frank's appearance here led to a great scandal, when he was discovered conducting a Shabbetean ritual with his followers in a locked house. The opponents of the Shabbeteans claimed that they surprised the sectarians in the midst of a heretical religious orgy, similar to rites which were actually practiced by members of the Baruchiah sect, especially in Podolia. Later, Frank would claim that he opened the windows deliberately to compel the believers to show themselves publicly instead of concealing their activities as they had done for decades. Frank's followers were imprisoned, but he went free, because the local authorities believed him to be a Turkish citizen. Frank crossed the Turkish frontier, returning once more to his followers....

March. Kopyczynce. Frank was arrested again, and set free. After this he remained for almost three years in Turkey, first in Khotin on the Dniester, and afterward mainly in Giorgievo on the Danube.

2 August. Brody. The Frankists presented nine principles of their faith for debate. The rabbis managed to avoid accepting the invitation to the disputation for nearly a year. After great pressure from the bishop, the disputation finally took place....

Southern Germany. According to R. F. Gould, the New or Gold Rosicrucians arose at this time in Southern Germany. One important feature: each new Brother knows only his Master, and there were people known as "Unknown Fathers." Johann Christoph von Woellner (1732-1800), a preacher near Berlin, was one of their number. He was also an active member of the Strict Observance. The Rosicrucians gave out that they had been the originators of Freemasonry; that the Craft was designed as a nursery for adepts; that in the higher degrees the symbols would receive their true interpretation, and so on; that ultimately the true adept would not only make gold, brew the elixir of life, command spirits white, black, and grey, but would absolutely incorporate himself with God, and partake of the knowledge, prescience, and power of the Deity. Every ten years the Fathers were supposed to meet and decide what was to be revealed during the next decade.

Frank was imprisoned at Czestochowa (site of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Patronness of Poland, and beloved by Pope John Paul II?). Under the date 1762, Sellers writes:

The conditions of Frank's imprisonment were gradually relaxed and from 1762 his wife was allowed to join him, while a whole group of his chief followers, both men and women, were allowed to settle near the fortress, and even to practice secret relihgious rites of a typical sexual nature inside the fortress. When talking of this circle Frank added a specifically Christian interpretation to his view of the virgin as the Shekhinah, under the influence of the worship of the virgin which in Poland was actually centred in Czestowa....

Under 1765:

Poland. In 1765, when it was apparent that the country was about to break up, Frank planned to forge links with the Russian Orthodox Church and with the Russian government through the Russian ambassador in Poland, Prince Repnin. A Frankist delegation went to Smolensk and Moscow at the end of the year and promised to instigate some pro-Russian activity among the Jews, but the details are not known. It is possible that clandestine links between the Frankist camp and the Russian authorities date from this time. These plans became known to the Jews of Warsaw....

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