The Shabbatean Frankists
A new order would be formed within Freemasonry, a secret society within a secret society, founded by members of a Jewish family, the Rothschilds, who were affiliated with a development of Lurianic Kabbalah headed by false messiah known as Shabbetai Zevi. According to Gershom Scholem, the foremost authority on the Kabbalah, the Shabbatean movement was “the largest and most momentous messianic movement in Jewish History” since the destruction of Jerusalem. In 1666, Shabbetai Zevi, followed by his prophet, Nathan of Gaza, proclaiming himself the promised Messiah of Judaism. Zevi succeeded in rallying a large following, involving nearly half of the Jewish population of the world, including the Jews of Palestine, Egypt, and Eastern and Western Europe. The movement was shattered however, when, forced by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire to choose martyrdom or conversion, Zevi chose conversion to Islam.
Nathan became a Roman Catholic, and the movement largely collapsed, though some followed Zevi into conversion, and there is down to the present time an Islamic sect in Turkey that follows his teachings, known as the “Doenmeh”, who profess Islam only outwardly, while adhering to a mixture of traditional and heretical Judaism in secret.
The Shabbatean heresy, which until that time had survived in secret circles akin to something of a Masonic organization, reemerged definitely through the Jewish sect of the Frankists. They were also known as the Zoharists, or the Illuminated, or, in Podolia, from where they originated, as Shabbatean Zevists, for their allegiance to the false messiah of the preceding century. The leader of the Zoharists was Jacob Frank, originally named Jacob Leibowicz, who regarded himself as a reincarnation of Zevi.
Frank, who rejected the Talmud in favour of the Zohar, maintained that certain elect individuals are exempt from the moral law. The Shabbateans believed that in the Messianic age, the laws of the Torah were no longer valid, and all that had been formerly prohibited was now permitted, or even mandatory. This included all the prohibited sexual unions and incest. Therefore, their practices, which included orgiastic, sexually promiscuous rites, led the Jewish community to brand them as heretics.
Frank preached a “Religious Myth of Nihilism”. Ultimately, Frank taught his followers that the overthrow and destruction of society was the only thing that could save mankind. Despite the fact that they were all outwardly religious, the Frankists sought “the annihilation of every religion and positive system of belief, ” and they dreamed “of a general revolution that would sweep away the past in a single stroke so that the world might be rebuilt.” Of the revolutionary philosophy of the Frankists, Gershom Scholem wrote in Kabbalah and Its Symbolism: “for Frank, anarchic destruction represented all the Luciferian radiance, all the positive tones and overtones, of the word Life.”
Jacob Frank promulgated his nihilistic religion as “the way to Esau” or “Edom”. According to Frank, all the great patriarchs had sought the way to God, but without success. It was therefore necessary to find a new way, which leads to “true life”, which Esau or Edom symbolize as liberation, or man’s nature unbridled by law. In order to achieve this goal, it would be necessary to abolish all laws, but to be accomplished in secret. As the “true believers” had already passed through Judaism and Islam, they ought now also to assume the “religion of Edom”, or Christianity, outwardly, using it to conceal the real core of their belief of Jacob Frank as the true Messiah and the living God.