I recently saw something that made me think of a recent post by Fred. The post is self-explanatory- a lot of "professional historians" put in a lot of work so that he could do what he does, and the sneering (especially when it takes on a tone of religious judgmentalism) is really uncalled for. And this book only drove the point home more strongly. Don't get me wrong- it looks like a great Haggadah and, innocent or not, I have no problem at all with studying R' Eybeshit'z works; my only issue is with the following passages in the various introductions. (I can't say I'm the world's biggest expert here, so while I'm pretty sure of some things, other things I simply question with some basis. But it's the tone that's most important. For background, see here and here.)
Anyway, the Haggadah first has an introduction by Berel Wein. Thank God for little favors (for something of the opposite, see, for example, the end of this post), they face the whole controversy head-on. But on their terms, of course. R' Wein writes:
Traditional Jewry has always sided with Rabbi Yehonatan [NL: I appreciate the sentiment, but that's quite a stretch from "Yonasan"] and accepted his(Notice that R' Wein either thinks, or would want his audience to think, that a "rarified atmosphere" is somehow a bad thing. I'll be the first to admit that academics live in an ivory tower, but "rarified atmosphere" isn't the phrase I'd use.)
denials of all the charges made against him [NL: Did he really deny it? Not so sure about that]. Only in the rarified atmosphere of Judaic academia does the dispute still rage in our time.
Then, the author of the book, in his introduction, quotes...his rebbe, R' Wein:
Rabbi Yehonatan [NL: OK, I'm pretty sure R' Wein's original didn't use that form] rallied [NL: Really?] his disciples and colleagues to hisThe reason he's telling us this, he assures us, is to emphasize what a brave man R' Yonasan was.
defense. [NL: The Vilna Gaon is among those listed, which is really quite a stretch, leaving aside that he wasn't really a "colleague"] The innocence of Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshitz has been established...
Anyway. My point is, leaving the revisionism, bad enough as it is, aside, there's that sneering attitude toward "academia" that Fred rightly decries. To make matters worse, there's this placing "academia" and "traditional" somehow in opposition when, in fact, some of the more well-known academics dealing with this are very much "traditional." And R' Wein, at least, knows that. Or should.