Abstract

According to an opinion voiced by G. Scholem, the messianic movement of Shabbatai Zevi owed much of its success to the attraction that his paradoxical message exerted among Conversos returning to Judaism in the 17(th) C. With the intention of criticizing this explanation, the author presents and analyzes in this article a recently discovered satyrical pamphlet that was distributed by the anti-Shabbatean party in Amsterdam following the arrival of news concerning Shabbetai's prison on May 3, 1666. This text shows that some of the more influential and prosperous Jewish communal leaders did not believe in the false Messiah. Confronting the Shabbatean party, these "unbelievers" used tactics of literary deceit similar to those used in their relation to Catholic Spain. Their Iberian Marrano origins did not arouse in them any mystical enthusiam. To the contrary, they were concerned with keeping the reputation of rationality and trust they had enjoyed in the European world of finances. This controversy includes an ironical reference to the sanctions that the Amsterdam Jewish community imposed on their heretics Uriel da Costa and Baruch Espinoza.