William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History, Harvard University; Resident Faculty & Seminar Chair, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Director, The Center for Jewish Studies, Harvard University; Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of History, Harvard University
November 28, 2023
4:00pm - 5:30pm
Hoffmann Room, Adolphus Busch Hall
The controversy around Jonathan Eibeschütz, one of the most celebrated rabbinic authorities of the 18th century, has been termed “the most contentious Jewish debate of the past three hundred years.” It has been deemed as a pivotal moment in Jewish history, and even, if perhaps somewhat exaggeratedly, the “Jewish French Revolution.” The controversy erupted in early 1751, when Eibeschütz was accused of having, over a period of 20 years, dispensed amulets containing references to the discredited messiah-claimant, Sabbatai Tsevi. Pawel Maciejko's research has uncovered that Eibesschütz’s detractors supplemented this initial charge with another accusation: Eibeschütz was a crypto-Christian collaborating with Christians in spreading their religion among the Jews.