A Messianic religious movement considered to be a Jewish heresy. Sabbatianism originated in Turkey in the seventeenth century, and drew its inspiration from the Lurian interpretation of the Kabbala (Itzhaak Luria). The founder and leader of this movement was Shabbetai Tzevi. Sabbatianism as an ideology was formulated by Natan of Gaza (1643-80), and was focused on problems related to the origins of evil, sin and universal salvation, further developing Luria's Kabbalistic reflections. History began with the creation of the world, but it caused the division of divine sefirot (sefira); Shekhina was, however, imprisoned in the material world, in a "shell of evil".

Sabbatianists believed that by extracting the "divine sparks" from the "shell of evil", it is possible to turn back this process, bringing about a reunion of Shekhina and the sefira known as Tiferet. Jews did this by observing religious laws, and also over the course of their history, which imitates the "expulsion" of God at the time of the emanation of the sefirot. Jews first had to leave Jerusalem, then Spain, in order to acquire as many "divine sparks" as possible during their peregrinations. They were nevertheless also imprisoned in "shells", which remained beyond the reach of pious Jews, "in the depths of sin". Shabbetai Tzevi, with selected of his supporters, in going "to the depths of sin", was to release them from the chains and, ending the entire process, was supposed to result in the advent of the Messianic era.
At first Shabbetai Tzevi believed this would happen in 1666-hence the ostentatious breaking of Judaic religious laws, which belonged to the "old", "pre-Messianic" order. When the prophecy did not come true, and Shabbetai Tzevi was arrested and confronted with forced conversion to Islam, he said that Shekhina is imprisoned in that faith, which is why he seemed to convert to Islam after he went into "exile", along with a group of selected supporters. He believed that he had become a "vessel" preserving Shekhina, and as a result had became divine.

After Shabbetai Tzevi's death, two sects developed: one whose members were known as the Donme [Turkish, donme = converted], who believed Jakub Kerido was the Messiah; and the Koniozos, whose name comes from the name of its leader, Konio (Kunio) Ruso. Konio's son, Barucha Ruso, was believed to be the Messiah. Both sects were active among the Sephardim in Turkey (Adrianopol, Smyrna, Istanbul, Thessaloniki, Wallachia). During the nineteenth century, the sects disintegrated. By 1924, the Donme sect had just a few hundred members.
Several important activists of the Young Turk movement came from these circles, including K. Atat�rk (1881-1938), the first president of Turkey after the republic was proclaimed in 1922.
The Sabbatianist ideas influenced the Jewish elite in Europe, including Poland. Many kabbalists secretly studied them and became swept up in the expectation that the Messiah would return soon. Frankism, which developed in the eighteenth century, was clearly under the influence of the Koniozos sect; Jakub Frank, however, repeated Shabbetai Tzevi's act of apostasy, first converting to Islam, then to Catholicism.

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