Rabbi, Mystic, or Impostor?

The Eighteenth-Century Ba'al Shem of London

Michal Oron

£39.50
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ISBN: 9781904113034

Publication: June 30, 2019

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

The enigmatic kabbalist Samuel Falk, known as the Ba’al Shem of London, has piqued the curiosity of scholars for generations. Eighteenth-century London was fascinated by Jews, and as a miracle-worker and adventurer, well connected and well read, Falk had much to offer. Interest in the man was further aroused by rumours of his dealings with European aristocrats and other famous characters, as well as with scholars, Freemasons, and Shabbateans, but evidence was scanty. Michal Oron has now brought together all the known source material on the man, and her detailed annotations of his diary and that of his assistant give us rich insights into his activities over several years. We learn of his meetings and his travels; his finances; his disputes, his dreams, and his remedies; and lists of his books. We see London’s social life and commerce, its landed gentry and its prisons, and what people ate, wore, and possessed. The burgeoning Jewish community of London and its religious practices, as well as its communal divisiveness, is depicted especially colourfully. The scholarly introductions by Oron and by Todd Endelman and the informative appendices help contextualize the diaries and offer an intriguing glimpse of Jewish involvement in little-known aspects of London life at the threshold of the modern era.

Michal Oron is Professor Emerita of Jewish Mysticism, Department of Hebrew Literature, Tel Aviv University.

Note on Transliteration and Conventions Used in the Text

Translator’s Note

Note on the Editing of the Diaries

Introduction to the English Edition

            Todd M. Endelman

INTRODUCTION

I. A Brief History of Ba’alei Shem

II. A Biography of Samuel Falk

III. Falk’s Activities According to the Diary of Zevi Hirsch

IV. Samuel Falk as Seen by Jacob Emden

V. Samuel Falk and the Freemasons

VI. The Diaries and Their Research

THE DIARIES

The Diary of Zevi Hirsch of Kalisz

The Diary of Samuel Falk

APPENDICES

A. People Featuring Prominently in the Diaries

B. Falk’s Dreams

C. The Letter of Sussman Shesnowzi to His Son

D. The Letter of Jacob Emden

E. Falk’s Library

F. Falk’s Will

Glossary

Bibliography

Index

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

384 Pages

Copyright: © 2018

ISBN: 9781904113034

Publication: June 30, 2019

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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