As a young man he paid no attention to religion of any kind, but after moving to Venice and then Livorno (Leghorn) he and his brother returned to Judaism (the change of name from Miguel to Abraham probably dates from this time), and he resumed his medical studies, probably in Padua. He also immersed himself in Jewish studies and became an expert in Kabbalah - the mystical tradition of Judaism. He began to prophesy about the imminent coming of the Messiah, and moved to Cairo, then Tripolitania, where he became personal physician to Osman Pasha, the bey of Tripoli. When Rabbi Nathan of Gaza began to preach that the Messiah had indeed come, in the person of Sabbatai Zvi (see: Zvi, Sarah), Cardozo joined the movement. He rose to become one of the Sabbataians' principal apologists and remained faithful to Zvi even after his conversion to Islam in 1666. He later lived in Turkey, Libya, Italy, Greece and Israel.
After the death of Nathan of Gaza in 1680 Cardozo became the chief spokesman and theologian of the movement. He finally moved to Alexandria, Egypt, where he was killed by a nephew during a family quarrel. Much of what we know about this important and interesting episode in Jewish history we owe to Cardozo's published books and surviving letters.
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