||A biography of Jacob Frank (1726–1791) and the heretical Jewish sect named after him. The Frankists comprised the last stage in the development of the Shabbatean movement. This important work on the Frankist movement is a Hebrew translation of the Polish Frank i frankicci polscy.
Jacob Frank was born in Korolowka (Podolia) about 1726 as Jacob Leibowitz. His father was expelled from the community for belonging to the secret society of Shabbateans, and moved to Chernowitz, Bucovina in 1730, where the influence of the Turkish Shabbetaians was strongly felt. While still a boy at school Frank displayed an aversion to Jewish learning founded on the Talmud, and afterward often styled himself "a plain man" or "an untutored man." In the capacity of a traveling merchant he often entered Turkey; there he was named "Frank," a name generally given in the East to a European; and there he lived in the centers of contemporary Shabbethaianism; Salonica and Smyrna. In 1755 he appeared in Podolia, and, gathering about him a group of local sectarians, began to preach to them the revelations which were communicated to him by the successors of the false messiah in Salonica. In their secret gatherings was performed, under the leadership of Frank, much that was directly opposed to the religious-ethical conceptions of the orthodox Jews. One of these gatherings ending in a scandal, the attention of the rabbis was drawn to the new propaganda. At the rabbinical court held in the village of Satanov many of the sectarians confessed to having broken the fundamental laws of morality; and women confessed to having violated their marriage vows.
As a result of these disclosures the congress of rabbis in Brody proclaimed a strong herem against all impenitent heretics. The sectarians informed Dembrowsky, the Catholic Bishop of Kamenetz-Podolsk, that the Jewish sect to which they belonged rejected the Talmud and recognized only the sacred book of Kabbalah, the Zohar, which they alleged admitted the truth of the Christian doctrine of the Trinity. The bishop took seriously the "Anti-Talmudists," or "Zoharists," as the sectarians began to style themselves, and in 1757 arranged a religious discussion between them and Jewish rabbis. The Anti-Talmudists presented their theses, to which the rabbis gave a very lukewarm and unwilling reply for fear of offending the Church dignitaries who were present. The bishop decided that the Talmudists had been vanquished, and ordered them to pay a fine to their opponents, and to burn all copies of the Talmud in the bishopric of Podolia.
After the death of their patron, the bishop, the sectarians were subjected to severe persecution by the Jewish authorities. The Anti-Talmudists succeeded in obtaining from Augustus III of Poland, (1733-1763) an edict guaranteeing them safety; but even this did not avail to free them from the unfortunate position of men who, having parted from their coreligionists, had not yet succeeded in identifying themselves with another faith. Eventually Frank and his followers converted to Christianity. Their babtism was celebrated with great solemnity in the churches of Lwów, members of the Polish szlachta acting as god-parents. The neophytes adopted the names of their godfathers and godmothers, and ultimately joined the ranks of the Polish nobility.
The insincerity of the Frankists soon became apparent, however, for they continued to intermarry only among themselves, and held Frank in reverence, calling him "the holy master"; and it was also discovered that Frank endeavored to pass as a Muslim in Turkey. He was therefore arrested in Warsaw (1760) and delivered to the Church's tribunal on the charge of feigned conversion to Catholicism and the spreading of a pernicious heresy. The Church tribunal convicted Frank of heresy, and imprisoned him in the monastery in the fortress of Częstochowa, so that he might not communicate with his adherents.
Frank's imprisonment lasted thirteen years increased his influence with the sect by surrounding him with the aura of martyrdom. Many of the Frankists kept up constant communication with the "holy master," who inspired his followers by mystical speeches and epistles. After the first partition of Poland Frank was released from captivity. Until 1786 Frank lived in the Moravian town of Brno, and was surrounded by a numerous suite of sectarians and "pilgrims" who came from Poland. For many of the pilgrims there was great attraction in the person of Eve, the beautiful daughter of Frank, who at this time began to play an important role in the organization of the sect. In his "court" of Brno, he held an army of 600 people, partly from the Cossack Jews of general Potemkin. Towards the end of his life Frank and his daughter and his suite to Offenbach, a small German town. Here he assumed the title of "Baron of Offenbach," and lived as a wealthy nobleman, receiving money from his Polish and Moravian adherents, who made frequent pilgrimages to Offenbach. On the death of Frank (1791) Eve became the "holy mistress" and the leader of the sect. As time went on the number of pilgrims and the supply of money constantly diminished, while Eve continued to live in her accustomed luxury. She finally became involved in debt, and died neglected in 1816. The Frankists scattered in Poland and Bohemia were gradually transformed from feigned to real Catholics. Their descendants merged into the surrounding Christian population. The sect disappeared without leaving any traces in Judaism, they become the source of Polish gentry of Jewish origins.
Aleksander (Alkar) Kraushar (1843–1931) was a poet, historian, and Polish jurist. He was educated at the Royal Gymnasium in Warsaw and at the preparatory college instituted by the marquis Wielopolski, where he devoted himself to the study of jurisprudence and graduated master of law and administration in 1866. He practised law till 1872, and was appointed to the high position of government advocate in the senatorial department of Warsaw (1873). Kraushar was elected member of learned societies in Paris, Posen, and Cracow, and received a decoration from the reigning prince of Schaumburg-Lippe for his work Sprawa Zygmunta Unruga. Kraushar was among those intellectuals who hoped for the eventual merging of the Jews into the Polish nation. He is credited with more than thirty titles. Kraushar’s first literary products appeared in the Jutrzenka: Kolko Domow, Przeglad Tygodniowy, and Niwa. He has also published numerous articles in other literary periodicals of Warsaw and other cities. Among Kraushar's numerous works, which treat mainly of historical subjects, are: "Historie Zydow w Polsce" (2 vols., Warsaw, 1865-66), "Syn Pulkownika Berka" (Frank i Frankisci Polscy, 2 vols., 1895), etc. His poetical compositions includeTytana, Argona z Koryntu, Strofy," and Elekcja w Babinie. He is also well known for his translations of works by Heine.