As this novel begins, messianic zeal is sweeping through medieval Poland. The Jews of the town of Goray divide between those who, like the Rabbi, insist that no one can "force the end" and those who instead follow the messianic pretender Sabbatai Zevi.
But as hysteria and depravity increase, it becomes clear that it is not the Messiah who has come to Goray.
"A remarkable book, brilliant, enigmatic, it deserves the attention of anyone interested in modern literature . . . A work of the imagination which neither permits not requires easy statements."--Irving Howe