Monday, May 16, 2016

Luzzatto and Metatron

ARCHANGEL METATRON WATCH: This Day in Jewish History 1746: A Messianic Kabbalist Blackballed by the Establishment Dies. Though his ideas about redemption upset the rabbis, Moshe Luzzatto's works are still admired for their beauty, and their ethical messages (David B. Green, Haaretz).
May 16, 1746, is the date on of around which rabbinical scholar, mystic and moral philosopher Moshe Chayim Luzzatto died (sources vary on both the day and the year). Luzzatto was a prolific and charismatic writer and teacher, who had the misfortune of living in the shadow of the false Messiah Shabbetai Zevi. As a consequence, many of his rabbinical contemporaries feared he would similarly lead followers astray from traditional Judaism with his kabbalistic teachings. Matters were not helped by the hints given by Luzzatto in his writings that he himself was the Messiah.

This story is a little late for PaleoJudaica, although I do try to keep an eye on messianic traditions from all periods. But the more immediate reason for noting it is that the archangel Metatron receives a mention:
Luzzatto was part of a group of like-minded students of kabbala, possibly at the University of Padua, and it was with them that he shared his reports of the visits he received from various divine messengers, beginning when he was 20. He spoke in particular of encounters with a maggid, an angel-like figure who brought him news about the coming of the Messiah.

In one of his written accounts, Luzzatto described how the maggid was followed by an appearance of the prophet Elijah, who told the rabbi  that “Metatron [the angel], the great prince, will come to me…. Souls whose identity I do not know are also revealed to me. I write down each day the new ideas each of them imparts to me."
There's no word in the article on whether Metatron ever showed up.

Past posts on Shabbetai Zvi and Sabbateanism are here and links.