Is there any real substantial evidence that Rav Yonasan Eibshitz was a Sabbatean? On what basis did Rav Yaakov Emden hound him?

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    yes. read here for one example of such evidence. an amulet written by Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz: leimanlibrary.com/texts_of_publications/… – josh waxman May 18 '14 at 13:13
  • @joshwaxman i don't see it, could you point out what jumps out as sabbatean? – Baby Seal May 18 '14 at 13:34
  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/70987 – msh210 May 5 '16 at 21:42
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    By the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the dispute has died down and all historians agree that he was a Sabbatian, e.g. Graetz, Scholem, Liebes, R. Dr. J.J. Shachter, R. Dr. Shnayer Leiman, and R. Dr. D. Katz. – mevaqesh Aug 9 '16 at 2:49

There were many proofs put forth that Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz zt"l was a Sabbatean, published in sefarim such as Sefat Emet (anonymous, often attributed to Rav Yaakov Emden, but recently published materials suggest Nechemiah Reischer, a disenchanted R' Eibeshitz enthusiast who became an admirer of R' Emden). One such proof, as described in this article by Rabbi Dr. Leimann, is as follows:

Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz engaged in practical kabbalah, writing amulets, with the instruction that people should not open them. He wrote such an amulet to a woman, but it did not work; she died. The husband gave the amulet over to Rav Yaakov Emden who was also a master of kabbalah. He read it and saw Sabbatean messages in it, such as "Yeled Yulad Lanu, Ben Nitan Lanu" combined with Shabtai. Rav Emden published this in the sefer Sefat Emet.

Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz's response to this was that they were misreading the amulet. E.g., what Rav Emden said was a tav was really a chet, and so on.

What the article then documents is that Rav Yaakov Emden went to a French court together with two of Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz's talmidim. The French court copied over the amulet and the two talmidim signed an admission that this was the accurate text of the amulet.

Since Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz's response was shown to be false, and without that explanation, the amulets are properly understood as Sabbatean, this is evidence that he was a closet Sabbatean.

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  • If all this is true how do you explain that I think they are buried almost next to each other and R Emden was later. That the world does not consider R Yonasan to be that. This evidence came out in his lifetime so how was it concealed. – preferred May 18 '14 at 16:10
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    it doesn't really matter, because I am nobody. but likely yes, though that does not make him any less of a righteous person, or make his halachic writings any less valuable. – josh waxman May 18 '14 at 16:37
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    Josh, didn't the Pnei Yehoshua take the side of R' Emden? – Ephraim May 18 '14 at 17:36
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    @joshwaxmanm that does not make him any less of a righteous person. Many Sabbatians harboured heretical or even idolatrous beliefs such as antinomianism, and even that SZ was the sefirah of Tifferet. It is difficult to assert that idolaters are no less righteous than normative Jews according to Judaism. – mevaqesh Aug 10 '16 at 0:49
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    To clarify: holding that it's a mitzva to sin and therefore taking a false oath doesn't make one any less righteous? – Loewian Sep 6 '17 at 4:19

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