Thursday, December 07, 2006
Jews in Apostasy
Jews in apostasy are those Jews who have abandoned Judaism and have joined another religion. The term apostasy is derived from Greek, meaning "political rebel", as applied to rebellion against God, its law and the faith of Israel. Other expressions for apostate as used by rabbinical scholars are "mumar" (literally "the one that changes") and "poshea israel" (literally, "transgressor of Israel"), or simply "kofer" (literally "denier").
Other terms used are meshumad, meaning one who has abandoned his faith, or min and apikorus which denote the "negation" of God and Judaism implying atheism.
The first recorded case of apostasy in Judaism is referred to in the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezek. xxxii, 23,24), thought to be prophetic of the High Priests Jason and Menelaus who deserted their religion and their nation to the horror and hatred of their contemporaries.
In the Talmud, Elisha Ben Abuyah is singled out as an apostate and epicurean by the Pharisees. In Medieval Spain, a systematic conversion of Jews to Christianity took place, some of which under threats and force. The cases of apostasy of these Conversos provoked the indignation of the Jewish communities in Spain. Several notorious Inquisitors in the later Spanish Inquisition, such as Tomás de Torquemada, and Don Francisco the archbishop of Coria, are suspected to be descendants of apostate Jews. Other apostates, that made their mark in history by attempting the conversion of other Jews in the 1300s, include Juan de Valladolid and Astruc Remoch. Some Spanish Jews, however, were compelled to convert to Christianity, and remained "hidden" Jews (see Anusim). They are called Marranos. Sabbatai Zevi presented himself as the Jewish Messiah. Under the threat of death by the Ottoman Sultan, he and many of his followers converted to Islam. However, many of these conversions were insincere and the Donmeh (Turkish for "converse") remained rendering cult to Zvi while externally being Muslims. Jacob Frank presented himself as the successor of Zevi and attracted many followers in Poland. He was later baptized as a Catholic in the presence of the king of Poland. His Frankists also simulated being Catholics while adoring Frank.
See also: Heresy, Schisms among the Jews, Who is a Jew?, Halakha
Ger tzedek, Muslim Jew, Religious disaffiliation. Kaufmann Kohler and Richard Gottheil. "APOSTASY AND APOSTATES FROM JUDAISM." Jewish Encyclopedia. JewishEncyclopedia.com.