A mystical and Messianic religious movement,
heretical with respect to Judaism, which remained under the influence of
Sabbatianism. The movement's leader was Jacob Frank (Jacob Leibowicz),
and its basic beliefs were laid out in the "Manifest", published in Lwow
before the Kamieniec dispute (1757), in both Polish and Hebrew. Frank's
teachings, in the form of parables and aphorisms, were written down in
Polish by his followers and published in Brno and Offenbach am Main.
(Rozmaite adnotacje, przypadki, czynnosci i anegdoty panskie (Polish,
Various Annotations, Cases, Activities and Stories of the Lord,
published 1996; and Ksiega slow panskich (Polish, Book of the Words of
the Lord), published 1997).
The Frankists rejected Mosaic Law and the authority of the Talmud,
emphasizing instead the cabbalistic tome Zohar and later
interpretations, particularly Sabbathaistic ones. The adopted the
teachings about the sephiroth (sephiroth), personifying them in the Holy
Trinity: the Good God, the equivalent of the cabbalistic En Sof
[Hebrew, "Unfinished"]; the Big Brother or Ezav, the equivalent of the
sefira Tiferet [Hebrew, "Beauty"]; and the Maiden, the equivalent of
Shechina [Hebrew, "Presence" (divine)]. They believed that the fruit Eve
pulled from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Paradise
brought death and misfortune to humans. The fruit trapped the Maiden in
religious dogmas and institutions, however, hiding her under a false
appearance ("portrait"). Frank believed that he was the Messiah, the
third after Shabbetai Tzevi and Baruchya Ruso, and identified himself
with Jesus-Paraclete, the final Savior. Like other Sabbathaists, he
justified his own apostasy by "descending to the bottom of the abyss"
(which means voluntarily subjecting oneself to disdain and condemnation)
in order to free Shechina.
He did not see Catholicism as the essence of
evil, however, as Shabbetai Tzevi regarded Islam: he saw it as the last
veil separating us from God. He believed baptism was necessary for
attaining eternal life, and thus required it of all his followers, not
only selected ones. During his imprisonment in the Czestochowa fortress,
he regarded the painting of the Madonna of Czestochowa as being that
"portrait" in which Shechina was trapped. He also abandoned his divine
pretensions in the belief that his predecessors, Shabbetai Tzevi and
Baruchya Ruso, were just like Abraham and Izthak, who were preparing his
true mission. Frank's task was to liberate Shechina from the
Czestochowa painting of the Virgin Mary and serving Her as a "vessel",
before she joins the Big Brother, thus launching the messianic epoch.
His later activities indicated that he believed this process had not yet
come to an end.
Frank did not, however, link messianic aspirations with the idea of
returning to Palestine. He emphasized that "Jerusalem and the Temple
will never be rebuilt", and that Poland was to become the promised
messianic kingdom ("Poland is the ground where we will build").