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Rabbi Moses Hagiz was one of the most prominent and influential Jewish leaders of seventeenth-century Amsterdam. During Hagiz's lifetime there was an overall decline in rabbinic authority which the author argues was the result of migration and assimilation. Hagiz devoted his career to restoring rabbinic authority. His most prominent talent was as a polemicist, and he campaigned ceaselessly against Jewish heresy in an attempt to unify the rabbinate.
Elisheva Carlebach focuses on three of the most important episodes in Hagiz' organized campaigns against heresy: The Haylon Controversy in Amsterdam, 1713-1715; a campaign against Sabbatian emissaries in 1725-1726; and the Luzatto controversy of 1730-1736. Each episode, Carlebach argues, illuminates the struggle for control of the Jewish community between rabbinate and lay leaders.