Section: Stories   Category: Gedolim Biographies
Rav Shlomo Molcho H'yd - A Savior And A Martyr

Born in the year1500 in Lisbon the capital of Portugal shortly after that countryadopted the Inquisition against the Jews, Rav Shlomo Molcho was raisedas a marranonamed Diego Perez, and even served in the King's court.  Under thecircumstances he did not know much about Judaism, but became veryinterested in his Jewish heritage when one of the more enigmaticfigures in Jewish history Dovid HaReuveni suddenly appeared in theKing's court.  Dovid HaReuveni claimed to be the brother of the King ofthe 10 lost tribes.  He swept through Europe offering the Christianpowers his warrior peoples full cooperation in fighting the Muslims andretaking control of Yerushalayim.  His charisma enabled him to receiveaudiences with the Pope and the ruling powers in Europe.

DiegoPerez wanted to join him but David* rejected his overtures fearing forboth their safety.  He sent Diego who decided to return to Judaism toTurkey.  He ended up learning Kabbalah from one of the Gedolei HaDorRav Yitzchok Taitatzak in Salonica and became friendly with Rav YosefKaro the Michaber of the Shulchan Aruch, who referred to him in hissefer Maggid Meisharim as "Shlomo my chosen one" and envied his deathas a martyr.  Rav Shlomo authored two seforim on Kabbala called Sefer HaMefoar and Chayas Kaneh.

Afterhis time in Salonica and Tzfas, Rav Shlomo returned to Europe withMessianic visions.  He exhorted the Jews of Europe to return toTshuva.  Many marranosreturned to religion through his impassioned speeches.  He commandedgreat respect all over Europe especially from the Pope after predictinga great flood in Rome and an earthquake in Portugal which provedaccurate. 

After being reported to the authorities as being aChristian apostate rather than a Jew from the east, Rav Shlomo wasimprisoned by the inquisition.  Through the intervention of the Pope hewas freed and told to escape to safety.  However Rav Shlomo continuedhis mission, appearing before Charles V the Roman Emperor.  Rav Meir (Marcus) Lehman writes in his book Rabbi Yoselman of Roshheim the great askan who was very close with Charles V, warned Rav Shlomo that his approach would not work with Charles V.  He did not heed the warning.  

Upon appearing before Charles V, Rav Shlomo imprisoned and told to choose between converting or being burnedat the stake.  Rav Shlomo Molcho would hear nothing of it and happilydied Al Kiddush Hashem at the young age of 32 years old on 5 Teves 5292/1532, while clinging to his religion after a short but accomplished life.  Yehi Zichro Boruch  (also see the Early Acharonim by Rabbi Hersh Goldwurm)

*Dovid HaReuveni was eventually arrested by the Emperor in Germany and is speculated to have died in prison.