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PERSONALITIES-----r' yonason eyebuschitz

There is not question at all, that the charges leveled against Rav Yonason Eyebuschitz ZTL were absurd. The reason is, because there has been not one shred of evidence to back up any of the claims against him.

While it is true that some Gedolim believed it (Rav Yaakov Emden obviously - the Noda Beyehuda I am not sure about - I am not convinced that Rav Margoles' points are wrong), it was all based on hearsay and less than hearsay. Get a copy of Rav Yaakov Emden's autobiography, "Megillas Sefer", where you will find these accusations, and also the reasoning behind them - all of it, without exception, all based on nothing close to solid.

And when they did think they found some evidence, it was swiftly debunked. Such as the amulets that Rav Yonason wrote that his opponents accused him of writing according to the Shabse Tzvi - this was the only accusation of substance that they had - until they brought the amulets to the Vilna Gaon, who said that they were 100% kosher, written according to the strictest and purest Kabbalistic methods.

When the dust clears, there is not a single shred of evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, to use against Rav Yonason. Just rumors and loshon horah.

You can’t ask someone to prove his innocence- that is impossible. Can you prove that you are not a closet Christian (which was another one of the accusations against Rav Yonason, as per Megilas Sefer).

We do not have records of which of his opponents changed their minds; but that doesn’t mean they did or didn’t. What we do have on record is that despite countless attempts to muster up something against Rav Yonason, nothing has been found. And the smoking gun that was supposedly found - such as the amulets - was exposed as a fraud.

The fact that Gedolim did believe this stuff is indeed an issue. Rav Schenur Kotler ZTL used to say to his Talmidim that they can gladly delve into any issue in Jewish history, but he would not recommend they do so with the Rav Yonason Eyebushitz/Rav Yaakov Emden controversy, because it is so inexplicable.

These things sometimes happen. We are told in the seforim that the Satan sometimes blinds the eyes of even great Gedolim when the generation is not worthy. The Gemora says in Gittin that even the great Rav Yochanan ben Zakai was "made foolish" from on high when he "didn’t think of" fulfilling his one wish granted to him by Aspasyanus, by asking him not to destroy the Bais HaMikdash. The Maharsha explains that if the generation is unworthy, even the greatest Gedolim are forced from on high to be blind to even the most obvious things.

And even a high school kid would have seen what Rav Yochanan ben Zakai didn’t.

So if someone tells me that there were Gedolim who believed something that was not true, the onus would lie on them to prove it, but it is possible. Chazal say it can happen even to the great Tannaim.

When something so weird and inexplicable happens, it is obviously min hashamayim.

You seem to agree with me that in this case, we only can choose the least difficult of all the difficult possibilities. There is no easy option.

To me, the best of all difficult options is indeed maishiv chachamim achur. The alternative is that Rav Yonason Eyebushitz was indeed not only possibly a Shabse Tzvinik, but for sure was.

For these Gedolim did not merely say he was suspect, but whatever evidence they had - if they had any - they considered conclusive. You don’t publicly condemn someone like Rav Yonason Eyebushitz as being a Meshichist unless you know for sure.

And I find that the most unreasonable of all mathematical options. For the combination of the following reasons:

(1) Subsequent to the time period of the controversy, when the dust settled, we find not a single Godol who did not accept Rav Yonason Eybuschitz. That includes Rav Yaakov Emdens own descendants. Apparently, those who were chronologically closer to the issue were not concerned. There were plenty of Gedolim who were controversial, and still are, because of policies that they had. But Not Rav Yonason. Ours is a religion of tradition. If the controversy quickly disappeared, the odds are it deserved to.

(2) False accusations similar to this have happened elsewhere. In the aftermath of the Shabse Tzvi debacle, the Ramchal was accused of everything from idolatry to adultery, by Gedolim, and this is the Chasidic explanation of the GRA's staunch stance against them - misinformation combined post-Shabse Tzvi misplaced caution. So that a Godol should be accused of strange things, especially then and for that reason, is not as insane as it sounds.

(3) The fact that Hashem blinded the eyes of RYB"Z was due to the generation not being worthy - the Gedolim get their "sight" only if the generation is worthy. The same thing applies even to the prophets. The fact that G-d blinded the eyes of RYB"Z such that he "foolshly" allowed the Bais Hamikdash to be destroyed and the ensuing 2,000 years of Golus seems to me a much bigger chidush then Hashem blinding the eyes of certain Gedolim to the innocence of one of their peers. I don’t believe that time length of the blindness is as significant as the magnitude of the damage it does. And in those terms, the possibility of a Rav Yonason Eyebushitz controversy is a kal vachomer from the possibility of a churban bayis.

In Parshas Shelach the Torah talks us of the Sanhedrin Hagadol who mistakenly leads the congregation into idol worship.

The Ohr HaChaim explains that the Meraglim were Gedolim, too, but since their congregation (i.e. those who chose them) were not worthy, the eyes of these Gedolim became blind, and they became corrupt.

The hafloah on Chumash (Vayikrah) on the posuk "asher nasi yachte writes that the reason the Kohen HaMoshiach mistakenly sinned was because the generation was not worthy, and that causes the leader to be blind. He says the same thing on the posuk (im kohen hamoshiach yachte l'ashmas ha'am), quoting the Gemora in Bava Kama that as a punishment for the congregation, G-d blinds the eyes of its leaders, he states that as a punishment for the nation, G-d blinds the leaders, causing many stumbling blocks.

It is a slippery slope if you misuse the rule, as are many Torah rules. But a rule it is. It doesn’t mean that anything a Godol says that you don’t like, you can dismiss; on the contrary - we are using this rule to defend the honor of the gedolei yisroel - such as Rav Yonason Eyebuschitz and the Ramchal - rather than to reduce it. And it also is being used here to maintain the honor of Rav Yaakov Emden and his supporters as well.

In fact the Ramchal (Ramchal UBnei Doro, Machon Bialik) in a letter states that the only possible explanation he can see for some of opposition to him, when clear evidence states differently, is maishiv chachamim achur.

(4) Its not likely that Rav Yaakov Emden, given a choice to document his reasoning for opposing Rav Yonason, would document the weak reasons and leave out the strong ones. While it is true that Megilas Sefer is eye-opening, the surprises all go in the opposite direction - it never seems overly generous to his opponents.

Another thing about it -- I did read it through; I have what claims to be "No. 1221 of 2166 limited copies", printed in Jerusalem 1979 by someone named Fogelman who lives in the Old City. In my copy, on the back of the title page, it quotes Rav Yaakov of Lisa, the Nesivos, great nephew of Rav Yaakov Emden, writes about Megilas Sefer, that we see form it wonderful things about how great Rav Yaakov Emden was etc. While we would not be in the habit of envisioning a man of his stature the way he seems to be portrayed therein, if you think about it, all the "strange" items (and I know precisely what item you are referring to) merely show that he was a Tzadik, which are higher than angels. Thinking that he was an angel with no Yetzer Horah diminishes his greatness, from the level he was on, which was beating his Yezter Horah.

(5) The lack of evidence anywhere is deafening - even 200 years later. People have tried to dig up stuff, including sholem. Their best failed miserably.

You know what Rav Chaim Brisker said -- why do we need 3 signs for a shoteh/ Isn’t it enough that he does one thing crazy?

His answer was, even if someone does something crazy, he may be normal. And the crazy thing that he did? Who knows? - You have a good question.

If he does 2 crazy things - maybe he's normal. And the crazy things? SO you have 2 questions!

If he does 3 crazy things - we don’t have any more questions - now we have one answer!

The preponderance of evidence to me put together gives me only one acceptable answer. That this was another false accusation against another godol. How this can happen is a good Q - but whatever the answer, it’s definitely more reasonable than the alternative.

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