In recent years, the study of Sabbatianism and its final phase, Frankism, has experienced a renaissance...Rapoport-Albert examines the role of women in Sabbatianism by incorporating a number of innovative studies on women in Hasidism...if one wants to look for the roots of "feminism" in the premodern period it can be found precisely in Sabbatianism, not Hasidism.My impression?
It is this statement that she tries to prove within the pages of her book. In the first chapters she examines all the available sources that mention the involvement of women in Sabbatianism...Another interesting subject examined in the book is virginity. In addition to various sexual practices and prostitution, commitment to preserving virginity was paradoxically one of the main characteristics of Sabbatianism. This is attributed to Christian influences on the doctrine. Rapoport-Albert draws attention to the religious activity of women in Sabbatianism that was expressed through sexual relations with other women's husbands (various partners) and seen as being an active part in the work of _tikkun _(rectification). She suggests that "we may well suppose that their active involvement with Sabbatianism gave these women a new sense of power and self-worth" (p. 90)...According to the author, egalitarianism appeared in full in the immediate vicinity of the "sisters" and "brothers" of Jacob Frank, and especially in the messianic incarnation of Eva Frank (pp. 157-174)...
....she believes that the emergence of the idea of the Redemptive Maiden in Frankism was influenced primarily by the traditions drawn from Jewish mysticism and inspired by the cult of the Black Madonna in Czestochowa. In the concluding chapter, she suggests that in Sabbatianism we are dealing with two tendencies: egalitarian and libertine. The first strove to equalize the status of men and women, and was characterized by, among other features, women's participation in the messianic campaign of Sabbatai Zevi. The second was associated with dropping the "weight of tradition and law." This second theme is often seen by observers as only being associated with the right to sexual relationships. Rapoport-Albert argues that in Hasidism, whose adherents feared a situation similar to that which had occurred in Sabbatianism, neither tendency took root...
Another post-modern deconstruction claiming feminist empowerement rather than simply extra-marital traditional sexual mores being violated.
Rapoport-Albert, Ada, Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi, 1666-1816, Translated by Deborah Greniman. Oxford Littman
Library of Jewish Civilization, 2011