Eybenschitz, Jonathan

Eybenschitz, Jonathan a Jewish rabbi, was born at Cracow in 1690. He was not only a very learned Talmudist, but especially a follower of the cabalistic system of the pseudo-Messiah Chayon, whom he had met at Prague in 1726. At the age of twenty-one Eybenschiitz was president of a rabbinical college at Cracow, which soon became very famous. From year to year the number of his pupils increased, and he was soon recognised as a great authority. His position shielded him from the ban which was to be pronounced upon the followers of Sabbathai Zewi (q.v.) and Chayon. To avoid all suspicion, Eybenschintz himself pronounced the ban upon all the followers of the pseudo-Messiah, and in 1728 the congregation of Prague appointed him preacher. In 1740 he accepted a call to Metz, and in 1750 he went to Altona. It seemed as if with him an evil spirit had entered that place, which divided the German and the Polish Jews. When Eybenschitz came there; the famous Jacob Emden (q.v.) lived there, and, like his father, who had proscribed Chayon and his followers, regarded himself as the keeper of orthodoxy. An opportunity was soon offered to Emden whereby his vanity and his desire for heresy-hunting should be satisfied. At the time when Evbenschiitz came to Altona there was an epidemic in that city. Since every rabbi was regarded as a sort of magician, the new-comer was expected to put a stop to the disease. Eybenschitz prepared amulets, which he distributed among the people. For curiosity's sake one was opened, and lo! in it was written: "O thou God of Israel, who dwellest in the beauty of thy power, send down salvation to this person through the merit of thy servant Sabbathai Zewi, in order that thy name, and the name of the Messiah Sabbathai Zewi, may be hallowed in the world." This amulet came into the hands of Emden. Eybenschutz denied all connection with the adherents of Sabbathai, and as he had already:gained a great influence, it was believed; at least, everybody kept quiet. But Emden was not quiet, and finally the Wan was pronounced against Eybenschutz. The matter was brought before the king, Frederic V of Denmark, who decided in favor of Emden. Eybenschutz lost his position as rabbi of the congregation. As his best friends left him, in his perplexity he finally went to a former pupil of his, Moses Gerson Kohen, who after his baptism had taken the name. of Karl Anton (q.v.). Anton Wrote an apology in behalf of his teacher, which he dedicated to the king of Denmark. This, and other influences, had at last such effect that the whole affair was dropped, and Eybenschutz was elected anew as rabbi of the congregation. The Jewish community, however, became divided, and this division lasted as long as both Eybenschutz and Emden were alive. Eybenschutz died in 1764, and was followed twelve years later by his opponent Emden. Both are buried in the Jewish cemetery of Altona. Eybenschutz wrote, ס8 אהבת יהונתן, sermons and comments (Hamburg, 1766): — אלון בכית, homiletical comments upon the Lamentations (ibid. 1765), etc. See Furst, Bibl. Jud. 1:261 sq.; De' Rossi, Dizionario Storico, page 96 (Germ. transl.); Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 10:385 sq., note 7, page 54; Jost, Gesch. d. Juden. u.s. Sekten, 3:250 sq., 309 sq.; Jocher, Allgemeines Gelehrten-Lexikon, s.v. (B.P.)

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