Rabbi Shimon Schwab (Z"L) wrote:" What ethical purpose is served by preserving a realistic historic picture? Nothing but the satisfaction of curiosity. We should tell ourselves and our children the good memories of the good people, their unshakable faith, their staunch defense of tradition, their life of truth, their impeccable honesty, their boundless charity and their great reverence for Torah and Torah sages. What is gained by pointing out their inadequacies and their contradictions? We want to be inspired by their example and learn from their experience. ... Rather than write the history of our forebears, every generation has to put a veil over the human failings of its elders and glorify all the rest which is great and beautiful. That means we have to do without a real history book. We can do without. We do not need realism, we need inspiration from our forefathers in order to pass it on to posterity."Selected Writings (Selected Writings, Lakewood, 1988, p. 234)The passage is quoted on p. 233 of R. Jacob J. Schacter’s well-known article about the truths of history in the 1998-99 issue of The Torah U-Madda Journal (vol. 8, pp. 200-276) available at
Comments and observations:
I accept a a statement like this:
"We can tell neither Sheker nor Lashon Horo in our history books. If history somehow requires Loshon Horo, then maybe we are better off without it."
On the other Hand, coloring or misrepresenting history IMHO is not an acceptable alternative to LH either. It seems to be both a form of G'neivas Da'as and will tend to compromise our credibility.