Rabbi Shlomo Molcho

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(Hebrew: רבי שלמה מולכו‎ / Life: 1501 Lisbon, Portugal - 13 December 1532 Mantua, Italy / Other Names: Hakadosh Rebbe Shlomo, Solomon Molcho, Diogo Pires, HaRaShaM / Spelling: Malcho, Shelomo Molkho, Molko)


[edit] Early Life

Shlomo Malcho was born in 1501 to a family of marranos in Lisbon, Portugal. His original Christian name was Diogo Pires. Already recognized as a prodigy in his youth, Shlomo Molcho's mastery of various languages and royal social bearings secured for him at the young age of 22 a position as scribe in the royal court of Emanuel I King of Portugal.

[edit] Dovid Reuvani

After Dovid Reuvani appeared in Portugal in 1523, Shlomo Malcho started experiencing frightening and astounding dreams. Shlomo Malcho tried to convince Dovid Reuvani to draw him closer to Judaism but the later rejected him out of fear from the Christian rulers.

[edit] Brit Milah

In his dreams, Shlomo Malcho was commanded to circumcise himself. That night he went ahead and preformed a Bris Milah on himself with no one around, fainting and almost bleeding to death. Despite his almost complete lack of even the most basic elements of Judaism, he awoke from his circumcision with deep and broad knowledge of the Hebrew language and the Torah.

[edit] Turkey

After circumcising himself, Diogo Pires changed his name to Shlomo Malcho and left Portugal to head towards Salonica. Upon reaching his destination, he joined the Yeshiva of Rabbi Yosef Taitazak, whom taught him Kabbalah. While he was in Turkey, he met up with Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz and Rabbi Yosef Karo, both of whom he managed to impress.

[edit] Travels

Rabbi Shlomo Malcho reached Eretz Yisroel and preached at the gates of Yerushalaim also passing through Tzfat. In Tzfat he became engaged to a woman, although it is unknown if he ever married her.

[edit] Sermons

Wherever Rabbi Shlomo Molcho would go, he would give fiery speeches to the masses. The goal of his speeches was to awaken his listeners to take actions that would hasten the redemption. Rabbi Shlomo Molcho would preach about doing teshuva and about the nearness of the final redemption and urge people to fast, do Tikunim, and to pray to Hashem with great devotion.

Both Jews and Christians attended these sermons, and even priests that came were impressed by his visions. Often, Rabbi Shlomo Molcho would discuss his prediction of the upcoming fall of Rome and Christianity, and the revival of Judea. He announced that Moshiach would arrive in the year 1540. Many listeners believed his words and anticipated their actualization.

He had a very charismatic personality, which helped as well.

[edit] Rome

Met Pope Clement VII and tried convincing him that the redemption of the Jewish Nation was here. He tried convincing him to allow for the formation of a Morano army that would wage a war against the Ottoman Empire to free the Land of Israel from their hands. In Rome, Rabbi Shlomo Molcho lived amongst the paupers on the Tibur bridge for the period of one month as he was commanded to do so in his dreams. He prophesied about the Oct 8th, 1530 flood in Rome and about the Jan 26th, 1531 earthquake in Portugal, both of which came true. Rabbi Shlomo Molcho also preformed various Tikkunim in Rome to weaken the Klipah of Edom, similar to what was done by Rabbi Avrahom Abulafia and later imitated by Nason Hazi. Pope Clement VII was so impressed by Rabbi Shlomo Molcho that he granted him written approval to give public sermons and then have them published on condition that they would not be anti Christian.

[edit] Opposition

Rabbi Shlomo Molcho's prophesies and speeches created opposition amongst certain Jews, who were afraid their messianic inspiration to the masses would reawakening the wrath of the Inquisition. A number of these Jews made attempt to inform on him to the Inquisition, but he was protected by the Pope and heads of the Church who were impressed by his personality and his prophecies that came true.

His main opponent was Doctor Yackov Mantino who made numerous attempts to have Rabbi Shlomo Molcho arrested and brought to trial by the Inquisition for converting back to Judaism after being born a Christian. Eventual arrested by the Inquisition, Rabbi Shlomo Molcho was saved at the intervention of the Pope, who personally hid him and smuggled him out of Rome, burning a different man in his place.

[edit] Martyrs Death

After escaping Rome, Rabbi Shlomo Molcho fled to back to Turkey. He then made a joint attempt with Dovid Reuvani to influence Charles V, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, into creating an army of Moranos to fight the Turks and possibly asking him to convert to Judaism. Reb Yoslimon sent them a strong warning about the disastrous consequences that could result from such a meeting, and he himself fled the city to avoid association. Charles had them both arrested in Regensburg, Germany. Rabbi Shlomo Molcho was sentenced to death for heresy and Dovid Reuvani was sent to Spain, where he died in prison. Due to his personal feud with Charles V, the Pope was unable to intervene this time and save Rabbi Shlomo Molcho.

In 1532 Rabbi Shlomo Molcho was burnt at the stake at age 31 in Mantua, Italy, after refusing the opportunity to once again become a Christian and walk away free. His last words were "Regarding this that I lived with this religion (Christianity), my heart is bitter and troubled. Now do as is good in your eyes and let my soul return to her fathers house like her youth, for it was better for me then then now". As he was being burnt Rabbi Shlomo Molcho screamed Shma Yisroel as is customary for those dying Al Kidush Hashem. Due to his act of martyrdom, Rabbi Shlomo Molcho is called Hakadosh 'the holy one' by Jewish leaders, a title that is rarely used. Rabbi Yosef Karo envied his death and wished that he could too die Al Kidush Hashem.

[edit] Kabalist

Rabbi Shlomo Molcho was an expert of Kabblah and also delved deeply into Kabbalah Massit. Rabbi Chaim Vital in the introduction to Shari Kedusha uses him as a prime example of the dangerous consequences of using Practical Kabbalah. It was known that Rabbi Shlomo Molcho had a Magid who would come and reveal to him mysteries.

[edit] Books

His books were not reprinted often.

[edit] Sefer Hamefoar

Sefer Hamefoar is a collection of some Sermons given by Rabbi Shlomo Molcho during his travels, mostly in Italy. It includes kabalistic interpretations of the Torah and talks about the ten Sefirot. Sefer Hamefoar speaks a lot about the coming of Moshiach and the redemption of the Jewish Nation. This book shows the complete mastery that Rabbi Shlomo Molcho had over the entire Tanach. Sefer Hamefoar was first sent by Rabbi Shlomo Molcho to his friends in Salonica who had requested him to send some of his Torah.

In the introduction to Sefer Hamefoar Rabbi Shlomo Molcho includes a small poem composed from verses found in Tehilim 119, with the first letter of each line spelling out his name. Rabbi Shlomo Molcho writes that he had the ability to create this Sefer 2 years before he did so but held himself back since the time was not ripe. He also was afraid that his teachings might be misinterpreted and gives some explanation in the back of the book called Hitznaslus Hamechaber. Rabbi Shlomo Molcho writes at the end of Sefer Hamefoar that he was currently working on another Sefer to explain some of mysteries found in the words of the Sages, however it does not seem that this manuscript was ever published.

Sefer Hamefoar was first published in Salonica - 1527, during the life of its author. Since then it has been republished sparingly.

[edit] Chayas Kanah

Describes visions seen by the author and the Kabalistic mysteries that were revealed to him through dreams. Rabbi Shlomo Malcho inserts much autobiographical information about his personal life in this book. Chayas Kanah was first published in Amsterdam - 1656.

[edit] Rabbi Shlomo Malcho II

'Shemen Mishcas Kodesh' a Kabalistic commentary on Shir Hashirim, 'Shemen Zayis Zach' a book on the Kabbalah and Shoshanas Hamelech a book of Kabalisticly based songs were all written by Rabbi Shlomo Malcho the Second, ben Rebbe Dovid from Izmir and are often mistakenly attributed to the original Rabbi Shlomo Malcho.

[edit] Personal Articles

A number of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho's personal items are today displayed at Jewish Museum of Prague. These include his robe and flag. These were originally given over to Rabbi Yoslimon when he met with Shlomo Molcho before his meeting with King Carol. From these items were sent to the city of Raznishbork and were then moved to Prague where they were stored in the Pinchas Shul. These included his Tzitzis, robes and two flags. It seems that the Tzitzis and one flag were lost over the years.

[edit] Tzitzis

In the laws of Tzizis the Magen Avraham brings down the custom of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho of having the amount of wrappings that total the numerical value of the Shem Havaya. This is done by wrapping it ten times around the first set of knots, then five, six and ten. This tradition is practiced by some Sefardim until this day. Rabbi Shlomo Malcho also had his Tzizis strings dyed green. In his commentary on the Rosh, the Tosfes Yom Tov brings down this tradition in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Malch. He then mentions that he saw Rabbi Shlomo Malchos Tzitzis with his own eyes on display in the Pinchas Shul of Prague where he would study before he was appointed Av Bais Din.

The Tzizis are made from silk with a yellowish greenish tint. The strings are dyed green. They were brought to the Pinchos Shul from the city of Raznishbork.

[edit] Flags

On the flags were inscribed the letters Macabi that are and acronym for MI Kamocha Belim Hashem. A similar inscription was carried on the flags of the Macabees.

[edit] Signature

A copy of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho's signature has been preserved, where he lengthens the lamed into the 'Flag of Yisroel' as part of the design.

[edit] Hillula

Yortzite of Rabbi Shlomo Molcho is on the 5th of Teves.

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