Judah Ḥasid (Segal), Ha-Levi

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JUDAH ḤASID (Segal), HA-LEVI (1660?–1700), Shabbatean preacher, born in Dubno. Of his early life nothing is known, but it is possible that he is "the ḥasid Judah Ashkenazi," who stayed in Italy in 1678 and is mentioned in the responsa of contemporaries. His affinity with the Shabbatean movement in Poland has been proved from reliable sources which have been verified by modern research. Judah was Maggid in Szydlowiec, Lithuania, in 1695, when the Shabbatean preacher Zadok b. Shemariah visited that town. Judah became active in preparing the people for the second appearance of *Shabbetai Ẓevi (in 1706) which was anticipated by many. An impressive preacher, he traveled throughout the communities and urged total repentance, mortifications, and fasts. In 1697, a "holy community" (ḥavurah kedoshah), consisting of 31 families of scholars, organized itself in order to emigrate together to Jerusalem and there await the revelation of the Messiah. Early in 1699 they left Poland for Moravia and stopped for a long time at Nikolsburg, where there were many Shabbateans. It is reported that in the spring of 1699 about ten scholars assembled there, "all believers" (i.e., Shabbateans), among them Judah, Heshel *Ẓoref, and Ḥayyim Malakh, who discussed matters pertaining to Shabbetai Ẓevi "with great joy until midnight" (Ms. Ben-Ẓvi Institute, Jerusalem). Some leaders of the group, among them Judah, left Nikolsburg and wandered through Germany and Austria in 1700, where they urged the communities to repent and to contribute toward the support of the emigrants in Ereẓ Israel. They received sympathy and support from some rabbis and wealthy men in the communities, but some opposed them and suspected Judah of being Shabbatean in secret. Emigrants from numerous circles joined the group, including some scholars, apparently mainly from circles with Shabbatean tendencies. It is reported that the number of emigrants traveling from Germany and Moravia via Turkey or Italy reached 1,300, of whom approximately 500 died en route. These numbers perhaps are exaggerated, but there is no doubt that several hundred journeyed to Jerusalem.

Judah traveled through Italy and arrived in Jerusalem on Oct. 14, 1700; he died suddenly a few days later. His death disheartened the remnants of his followers. After they had been in the country for a few years, disputes broke out among them. Some remained in Jerusalem, others returned and joined various Shabbatean groups in Poland and Germany, and others, out of disappointment, converted to Islam or to Christianity. Among the latter was Judah's nephew. Judah's group was the first organized Ashkenazi immigration to Ereẓ Israel. It left a deep impact on his contemporaries, and there are many testimonies to its appearance and customs, as well as sermons and zemirot by some of its members. According to tradition, Judah succeeded in buying a large plot in the Old City, on which was built 150 years later the chief synagogue of the Ashkenazi community in Jerusalem, Ḥurvat R. Yehudah he-Ḥasid.


Z. Rubashov, in: Reshumot-Me'assef le-Divrei Zikhronot, 2 (19272), 461–93 (second set of Reshumot); Yaari, Sheluhei, 322–3; G. Scholem, Beit Yisrael be-Polin, 2 (1953), 56; M. Benayahu, in: Sefunot, 3–4 (1960), 133–82; S. Krauss, in: Abhandlungen zur Erinnerung an Hirsch Perez Chajes (1933), 51–94.

[Gershom Scholem]