Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Truly Scrumptious Messiah


Musing to myself about the recent passing away of Dr. Yosef H. Yerushalmi, I found myself flipping through his classic work From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto - Isaac Cardoso: A Study in Seventeenth-Century Marranism and Jewish Apologetics and ran into something I thought was worth sharing.


During the messianic movement of Sabbatai Sevi in the seventeenth century Abraham Cardoso, a Sabbatian who grew up as a converso in Portugal and Spain, attacks his brother, Isaac Cardoso, and Isaac Orobio de Castro, another former converso, for their failure to accept Sabbatai as their messiah and savior. Abraham mocks them for their unwillingness to accept the notion of a suffering messiah:

Let us return to the aforementioned messiah of Doctor Cardoso and his capricious companions; he is neither Christian nor Jew, but imaginary; he must come casting rays of light … and then, all at once, in a twinkling, he has to ingather the tribes, and the wheat from the chaff; he must come on a cloud of sugar candy, his body of butter paste, his garment of soft bread. And for support they drag in the great Rabbi Moses of Egypt [Maimonides], whom they see but do not understand even in the light … (Yerushalmi, From Spanish Court to Italian Ghetto
pg. 339)

So what have here are three Jewish former renegade Catholics, who never exactly got over the Catholic part. Once again we see how important Maimonides is saving Judaism from false messiahs. Also, now I understand what is wrong with Christianity; their messiah is cheap wine and crackers. We need a messiah who would be truly scrumptious to eat.

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