Sunday, April 05, 2009

Passover is nigh

Well, here I am in Israel. (In answer to Hal's question below- and don't feel bad! I just hadn't let on!) Friday we (my brother-in-law and I) went matzah baking, the first time I ever did. Some pictures, courtesy of Chanan Morrisson, are here. (Late addition: Video.)

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
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.
(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.)

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 his
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...
The reason he's telling us this, he assures us, is to emphasize what a brave man R' Yonasan was.

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.


Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

Ha. R. Wein knows Leiman, and is evidently even somewhat friendly with him, judging by the fact that he thanks him for reviewing one of his coffee table books.

Yosef Chaim said...

I guess the Pnei Yehoshua or the Noda B'Yehuda aren't nichlal in the "traditional" community!

Nachum said...

Actually, the second quote explicitly mentions the Noda B'Yehuda and the Vilna Gaon as supporting R' Yonasan.

Any news, by the way?

Yosef Chaim said...

Hey Nachum,
That video was incredible! Hope to see you in Edison for Shabbat

Tr8erGirl said...

Hi Nachum...
I got to ur post thru Liz's. I also think we met one Shabbos that u were in staten island...what caught my eye is that you mentioned Rabbi Morrison, who was a teacher of mine waaaaaaaay back. Are you friendly with them? If so, pls tell them Sara Porter says hello! Thanks and be well!


Nachum said...

Oh, yes, we're friendly. Great guy. Has a lovely family (wife and five daughters, one married with a kid of her own I think, all live in Mitzpeh Yericho). He's in the video. I'll send regards!

Tr8erGirl said...

wow! married! I used to babysit them - wow -time flies!!