FALK, SAMUEL JACOB ḤAYYIM

FALK, SAMUEL JACOB ḤAYYIM (c. 1710–1782), kabbalist and adventurer, known as the "Ba'al Shem of London." Falk, who was born in Galicia, was intimately connected with leaders of the Shabbatean sectarians for many years, e.g., Moses David of Podhajce. He became known early as a magician, escaped burning as a sorcerer in Westphalia, was banished by the archbishop elector of Cologne, and about 1742 made his way to England. Here he achieved notoriety in both Jewish and non-Jewish circles for his kabbalistic practices based on the use of the mysterious Name of God, hence becoming known as a Ba'al Shem ("Master of the (Divine) Name"). He had a private synagogue in his house in Wellclose Square, and also established a kabbalistic laboratory on London Bridge where he carried out alchemical experiments which aroused some notice. Among those who were attracted to him, was the international adventurer Theodore De Stein, who claimed to be king of Corsica and hoped to obtain through Falk's alchemical experiments sufficient gold to enable him to "regain" his throne. He was also in touch with, among others, the Duke of Orleans, the Polish Prince Czartoryski, and the Marquise de la Croix. On one occasion, Falk is said to have saved the Great Synagogue from destruction by fire by means of a magical inscription which he inscribed on the doorposts. On the other hand, he was denounced as a Shabbatean heretic and fraud by his embittered contemporary jacob emden . He was, at the outset, on the worst possible terms with the official London community. However, in the end he became reconciled with   it and received the support of the Goldsmid family. As a result of this, or possibly of success in a lottery, he died in relatively affluent circumstances, leaving a considerable legacy to Jewish charities and an annual payment for the upkeep of the chief rabbinate in London. Much light is thrown on his personality and activities in the semi-literate diary of his henchman Hirsch Kalish, preserved in manuscript in the Adler Collection in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, N.Y.; one of his own kabbalistic notebooks is in the library of the bet ha-midrash in London. Toward the end of his life, his portrait was painted by the distinguished Anglo-American artist John Copley. This is now frequently reproduced erroneously as the portrait of the famous Israel Ba'al Shem Tov , founder of Hasidism. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. Roth, Essays and Portraits in Anglo-Jewish History (1962), 139–64; idem., Mag Bibl, 124–5; Wirszubski, in: Zion, 7 (1942), 73–93. (Cecil Roth)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk — Ce portrait souvent considéré à tort comme celui du Baal Shem Tov, serait en réalité celui de Rabbi Falk, le Baal Shem de Londres. Hayyim Samuel Jacob Falk (1708/10 1782) connu aussi comme le Baal Shem de Londres, ou encore Doctor Falcon, était… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Falk, Hayyim Samuel Jacob — (c. 1708 82)    English mystic. He was born in Podolia and settled in England in about 1742. He was reputed to be a miracle worker and became known as the Baal Shem of London …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • FALK, JACOB JOSHUA BEN ẒEVI HIRSCH — (1680–1756), rabbi and halakhic authority. Falk was born in Cracow and was a descendant of joshua heschel b. joseph of cracow , the author of Meginnei Shelomo. He studied in Polish yeshivot and took up residence in Lemberg after his marriage to… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • FALK, JOSHUA BEN ALEXANDER HA-KOHEN — (c. 1555–1614), Polish yeshivah head and halakhist commonly referred to as Sma from the initials of the title of his major work. Falk was born in Lublin and studied under Moses Isserles and Solomon Luria, but refused to serve as rabbi of the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • SHABBETAI ẒEVI — (1626–1676), the central figure of Shabbateanism, the messianic movement named after him. Background of the Movement Shabbateanism was the largest and most momentous messianic movement in Jewish history subsequent to the destruction of the Temple …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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  • Baal Shem of London — Variations of this portrait, originally subtitled Baal Shem , are popularly used to represent Israel Baal Shem Tov. Instead it is held to depict rather, Rabbi Falk, the Baal Shem of London[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Wellclose Square — lies in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, between Cable Street to the north and The Highway to the south.The western edge, now called Ensign Street, was previously called Well Street. The southern edge was called Neptune street. On the north… …   Wikipedia

  • CODIFICATION OF LAW — This article is arranged according to the following outline: the concept and its prevalence in other legal systems in jewish law in the mishnah format and style of the mishnah the talmud and post talmudic halakhic literary forms variety of… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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