Sunday, December 28, 2014

Melave Malka, Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, 2015

This Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, KAJ is hosting a Melave Malka. This notice is a bit late as they had wanted reservations by the 10th, but I thought perhaps the TIDE Society might have a mini get-together within the Melave Malka. I don't know about you, but I feel like a sole practitioner of TIDE much of the time and would benefit from an actual face to face with some other believers in this derech. So if you'd like to attend, let me know and I'll see if they have any more room. They likely do. I can be reached at

Note, KAJ events are done in good German form, with actual place settings and people that don't double dip. They are dignified yet down to earth affairs. I really enjoy them. The older generation of WH comes out and they are a joy to spend time with.

 Melave Malka, Motzoei Shabbos Parshas Vayechi, January 3, 2015  – Guest Speaker, Eytan Kobre, Esq. – 7:30 PM – 90 Bennett Avenue

Friday, December 26, 2014

From the YSRH Yeshiva Newsletter: Rav Hirsch on עולה and שלמים

"Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch זצ"ל says that יעקב was the first of the אבות to bring a שלמים, rather than an עולה. He explains that an עולה is completely burnt to ה'. A שלמים, however, is eaten by the owner and his family. By doing so, the owner makes his house holy and signifies that ה' is amongst his family.

"The concept of an עולה, to totally give oneself to ה', is also found among Non-Jews. This concept of making one’s everyday activities—such as eating—holy is only found by Jews. Therefore, יעקב was able to bring a שלמים, now that he has become שלם with his whole family."

continue reading
(posted with permission)


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Before and After

The Western World before the 1960s:

"That is why the Jew rejoices whenever and wherever culture elevates people to a perception of true values and to nurture goodness."  Hirsch on Genesis 3:24

The Western World after the 1960s:

"But of course where culture and civilisation are used in the service of sensuality the degeneration only gets all the greater."  Hirsch on Genesis 3:24

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Curriculum at Volozhin

"…[T]he students of Volozhin were quite knowledgeable in secular studies: they took an interest in science, history and geography and knew many languages. In fact, those students who desired to pursue these disciplines succeeded in learning twice as much as any student at a state institution. In Volohzin, Torah and derech eretz walked hand in hand, neither one held captive by the other. It was the special achievement of the Volozhin student that when he left the yeshiva, he was able to converse with any man in any social setting on the highest intellectual plane. The Volohzin student was able to conquer both worlds — the world of Torah and the world at large. A well-known adage among parents who were trying to best educate their children was, “Do you want your child to develop into a complete Jew, dedicated to Torah and derech eretz? Do you want him to be able to mingle with people and get along in the world? Send him to Volozhin!"  Torah Temimah, (MUtN, pg 204) in The Curriculum at Volozhin

Monday, December 22, 2014

Widsom from the Gentiles: the founder of Kindergarten

German-born Friedrich Frobel, the founder of the first kindergarten, wrote, “Education consists in leading man, as a thinking intelligent being, growing into self-consciousness, to a pure and unsullied, conscious and free representation of the inner law of Divine unity and in teaching him ways and means thereto.”

(The History of Kindergarten from Germany to the United States,” Christina More Muelle, Florida International University)

You see here the wholesome religious sensibility that was demonstrated by many 19th century German gentiles and can better understand the environment in which Hirsch's Torah Im Derech Eretz was forged.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Misportraying R' Hirsch

I saw this written about R' Hirsch: "As is well known, Rav Hirsch did more for the preservation and revival of Torah learning and Torah living in Germany than one could reasonably have expected of one man in one lifetime. The Frankfurt Kehilla which he established under the principles of austritt and strict adherence to Halacha, became a model Kehilla."

Yes, he did these things but note the emphasis on austritt and strictness. There's a lot of din in this quote. Austritt is singled out as the primary tool, when Austritt was just part of the package along with Torah Im Derech Eretz, which is not mentioned at all, and consists largely of engagement with the world. I think when the writer says Austritt he's thinking not just about distancing from non-religious groups but from everything secular. Austritt here is a code word for ghettoization.

And strangely Torah learning precedes Torah living, which we can presume to mean mitzvos. Yet, the primary task at hand was mitzvos. If a person kept Shabbos but didn't study Torah, you'd still call him observant. Not so the reverse.

This is what we call rewriting history and putting a spin on events.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Flash Mob - Ode an die Freude ( Ode to Joy )

I'm not keen on the term flashmob as it sounds 
a bit wild to this stuffy old mind. However, the
events themselves can be refreshing and mind
opening in our overly controlled and corporate

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Contribute to the stability of civilised society


R. Shesheth said: Such cases do not come under the category of Asmakta;  but the reason is that they [sc. dice players] are not concerned with the general welfare. 

I.e., they do not contribute to the stability of civilised society.

(Source provided by TIDESociety reader Yehuda)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dilution of TIDE?

Professor Max Landau of the Berlin Seminary on the dilution of TIDE:

"What is the reason for this change of opinion on the part of German Orthodoxy with regard to Samson Raphael Hirsch? To begin with, this new attitude did not come about suddenly; much rather, it is the result of a long process of spiritual development. It received its final impetus from a deep-seated sense of insecurity which beset German Orthodoxy ever since the end of the last war. The encounter with the world of “Eastern European” Judaism and an intensive preoccupation with Jewish spiritual problems have severely shaken the former self-confidence of German Orthodoxy and its firm conviction that it had the right approach to the problem of realizing the ideal Jewish way of life in our times. As a result, German Orthodoxy is beginning to see how far removed it still is from such ideal “Jewishness”. A feeling of discontent and a yearning for self-fulfillment have taken hold of its members. Suddenly, many of the fundamental precepts which had heretofore been considered valid and unquestionable by German Orthodoxy were subjected to close analysis and found wanting in many respects. The German-Jewish concept of Jewishness was found inadequate compared to the completeness and intensity of “Eastern Judaism”."  Full article (thanks efrex for the text version)

from Pelta, R. S. R. Hirsch’s View of Secular Studies in the Thought of R. Joseph Elias

Monday, December 8, 2014


The surface of Mars. Credit NASA

Torah applies here too as does Torah Im Derech Eretz.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Unfair criticism

Along with the universal praises of Hirsch and the Frankfurt kehilla, one sometimes hears the criticism that the kehilla produced far less scholars than did Eastern Europe. The charge is a reflection of ignorance. The IRG at the time of Hirsch's passing numbered 400 families or around 2,000 people. That's the size of a single out of town congregation in the USA. And when R' Hirsch arrived there were just a handful. How many people were in Eastern Europe? There were at least 6 million. R' Hirsch's school started in 1853 with 84 students. In 1881 there were 600.  How can one draw any comparisons to or conclusions about Torah Im Derech Eretz with numbers as disparate as that?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Noble Soul

I recently reread R' Schwab's "Letter Regarding the Frankfurt Approach." It is so beautifully written, so wise and humble. Then today I came across this quote from Goethe and it made me think of R' Schwab.

"If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Generous Words for the Washington Heights Kehilla

This is an excerpt from a fundraising letter that I recently received.

"As a young, newly-frum and newly-married couple, we lived in Washington Heights, NY (otherwise known as the "Kehilla Kedosha".) We were extremely fortunate to be in the presence of Rav Shimon Schwab, z'l and Rav Eliyahu Glucksman, z'l. Being a part of that community taught us so much of what is a true 'kehilla kedosha'."
The letter goes on to make a pitch for an organization in a different town that is trying to replicate what the authors experienced in the Heights.

I believe this is a widespread sentiment about KAJ. I heard one man who moved elsewhere reflect how "There's nothing else like it."


Monday, November 24, 2014

Online Class for the TIDE Society

I'm thinking that it might be nice if we all met via an online live class. The goal here isn't just to have a blog but a virtual community. I'm trying to gauge interest. We could use Google meetings or whatever they call it. So if you'd be interested in such a class (free of charge) please either indicate in the comments here or email and give me a sense of what times might work for you over the next month. Let me know also if you'd like to give that class. Figure 1/2 hour and then we can take a 1/2 hour to chat about our experiences and challenges as TIDE people.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Person's Worth

“To recognize a person is not just to identify him physically. It is more than that: it is an act of identifying him existentially…To recognize a person means to affirm that he is irreplaceable. To hurt a person means to tell him that he is expendable, that there is no need for him.”

Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik in Angel for Shabbat

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Quotes from Goethe

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”
“There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”  

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”  

“A man sees in the world what he carries in his heart.”  

“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.”  

“Know thyself? If I knew myself, I'd run away.”  

"None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

“Nothing shows a man's character more than what he laughs at.”

“By seeking and blundering we learn.”

“A person hears only what they understand.”

“Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes”  

“There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity.”  

“Nine requisites for contented living:
Health enough to make work a pleasure.
Wealth enough to support your needs.
Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them.
Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them.
Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished.
Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor.
Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others.
Faith enough to make real the things of God.
Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future.”  

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”  

“The human race is a monotonous affair. Most people spend the greatest part of their time working in order to live, and what little freedom remains so fills them with fear that they seek out any and every means to be rid of it.”  

“If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.”  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Another Good Definition

"In modern yeshiva language I would define TIDE as a derech in which having a professional career is actually part of ones derech in Avodas HaShem not something outside of it."

Anonymous comment on bmoftide blog

I certainly look at my career that way. It's not just parnassah, which is the way some people look at work. I see myself as contributing to my host society. I am edified by the chochmah of it. I see God's hand in feeding everyone with whom I work.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tiferes Tzvi Newsletter

Yeshiva Samson Raphael Hirsch publishes a weekly Torah newsletter. You can find the latest one here. (Published here with permission).

To subscribe, write to

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Battle for Ashkenaz

I once heard the advice that if a person finds out what he wants to do with his life he needs to keep it to himself because if you tell other people "they'll try to kill it".

This month I had two unpleasant encounters with people on the matter of Rav Hirsch and whether or not his teachings were emergency measures ('horah sha'ah.') I could probably explain it, but not precisely, the phenomena of some people who try to stamp R' Hirsch in such a way. It's bizarre how automatic is this impulse of people who don't even know each other to go on this diatribe almost in unison. They have nothing evident to gain and little knowledge about the topic. They go about it as if it were a religious duty. But they don't have much to go by other than counterfeit coins of misunderstanding, to paraphrase R' Hirsch.

My view on the different derachim is that Hashem formed different tribes and different paths for which one purpose is an exercise in tolerance, respect for gadolim whose thoughts don't match one's own, and the humility required for all of this. But there might even be a bigger reason for it, which is that Hashem is big and broad and so is the universe He created and so is the Torah, which has to be at least as complex as physics and chemistry. When I hear of other derachim my first impulse is not to stamp them out but to say how wondrous are our people and our Torah.

While many in the Charedi world have a certain bemused respect for Sephardim and Yemenites, they might be generally pretty intolerant of anything closer to home. Perhaps we can call this the battle for Ashkenaz. Who defines it?

Must there be one definition? Ashkenaz is more than 1,000 years old. Different legitimate paths will emerge.

I wonder if today our faith is so weak that we substitute ideology for faith and polemics for deveiykus.

I wrote in my article "Long, Lonely Journey to the Rav" (Tradition) how in my early days in the frum world I encountered numerous people who tried to steer me from studying Rav Soloveitchik and from seeing Rav Hirsch as anything other than a commentator on Chumash and fighter of reform. 25 years have passed and I have learned to keep my visions to myself but on the occasions when I slip I have the pleasure of reliving the past and seeing what a challenge it was in those early days to nurture my instincts and thoughts and pursue a path other than the prevailing one.

I post right at the top of this website R' Breuer's assertion that Torah Im Derech Eretz was not an emergency measure. I put it there to remind myself and everyone else because the revisionists are as relentless as they are ignorant.

As R' Schwab tells us, whether it's an emergency measure or not, it's needed today as our era is much like Rav Hirsch's. The problem is that the labeling of TIDE as an emergency measure pushes people away from it. If you are going to change your life, why go halfway? Only after a person has collapsed for the 1,000th time is he willing to just do what he needs to survive even with a path that could be less than ideal. Of course, R' Schwab reminds us that Torah Im Derech Eretz is a chumrah not a kulah. It is ideal. In many ways it is the harder path. This is a whole complicated subject in itself but not the point here.

The point is that people need to put a muzzle on their mouths. As a man once told me, don't sleep with your head under big rocks. If R' Schach and the Lubavitcher Rebbe want to fight it out, that's their business. You just go about yours and stay out of it.

Today, we all boast of our alleged respect for gadolim. Such is in vogue. If you want to find out who really means it, watch what they do when they hear that a Jew is a following a course different from theirs, a course crafted by a great man or men or an entire class of good Jews. Will they inquire about it in genuine curiosity or will they attack, imposing on it their will via yellow belt karate with just enough knowledge to do harm to themselves and everyone else.

Robert Frost reads The Road Not Taken

Robert Frost reads The Road Not Taken

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hermann Schwab: The Writing of the Commentary on the Pentateuch

"Many a time our father also told us about the  origin of the Rabbi's translation of the Pentateuch  which was as yet a secret to us. The commentary  of the book of Genesis was composed from lectures,  given before an audience of deeply attentive people.  Among those present were three shorthand writers,  Mendel Hirsch, the Rabbi's eldest son, Heinrich  Heinemann and my father, and the commentary on  Genesis was written from their notes. In the first  edition Hirsch has proffered his thanks to his  helpers. The lecture over, my father, who was also  the Rabbi's neighbour, used to see him, at his desk  near the window of his study, working without a  break. The smoke of a pipe rose from the paper  which his indefatigable hand filled with small  letters."

from Memories of Frankfurt

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tradition Archives

The journal Tradition just opened up its archives to the public online. There's a wealth of writing on R' Hirsch. Click here to view the results: Hirsch Search. Here's a portion of it:

RABBI SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH MYTH AND FACT 0 ur age is one of great opportunities for the Jewish people, afact which presents us with both a ...
AMERICAN ORTHODOXY'S LUKEWARM EMBRACE OF THE HIRSCHIAN LEGACY, 1850-1939 S amson Raphael Hirsch died in Frankfurt on December 31 , ...
R. Hirsch's approach is both modern and sur- prisingly operational: Tum'a indicates a feeling of doubt about one's own free will. The purifi cation procedures ...
BOOK REVIEWS Tradition In An Age of Reform — The Religious Philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsch, by NOAH H. ROSENBLOOM (Philadel- phia: The ...
Declaring the term derekh eretz to be as ambiguous as the definition he chooses, he cites Hirsch's Commentary to Genesis 3:24, and, quoting Hirsch, defines ...

Service To Mankind

"It is important to recognize that in Hirsch's scheme, the Mitzvot are merely regarded as a means to the fulfillment of Israel's mission But the goal of this mission is completely this-worldly and humanistic."

"In line with this approach, Hirsch reverses the traditional view of the highest goal of religious life: holiness. We are accustomed to viewing holiness, the experience of the numinous,as the very acme of religion. For Hirsch, however, holiness is but a means of preparing us for the end purpose which is the life of service to mankind."

The-Kuzari-as-Contrasted-With-Rabbi-S-R-Hirsch-s-Conception-of-Tiqun-Olam-The-Place-of-Universalism-and-Morality-in-Judaism Michael-Makovi

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

R Miller on Secular Education

R Miller on Secular Education


"It’s a question of limudei chol (secular education).

"In Frankurt-am-Main they taught limudei chol in the school of the frum Jews. A man who went there told me once that he learned more Yiras Shamayim (fear of Heaven) from his science teacher there than he learned from his rebbe, because the science teacher utilized all the lessons to talk about Yiras Shamayim. It’s possible for a teacher to inject now and then certain thoughts in the minds of students that will give them more benefit than what they heard in the mesivta where the rebbe was teaching Gemara and Halacha (Jewish law).

"If you’re learned already—you know Mussar, you learn Halacha —and you want an encyclopedia in order to use it to help other people become frum using the information that you might pick up, go ahead and do it. Otherwise forget about it, because you’re not capable of dealing with the Apikorsus (heresy) in these books.

"I personally think limudei chol are a good thing if they’re done in a kosher way, because limudei chol leads you to Yiras Hashem if it’s done right. If you’re capable of distinguishing, then it’s alright, but most people shouldn’t bother bringing any other books in their houses, because they’re not capable. Children will read them and they’ll make a wrong impression.

"A man once brought me some books. I put them in my bathroom and I keep them there. I get benefit out of them, but he wouldn’t get any benefit from them. (#E-083, Learning to Live Successfully)"

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10,000 singing Beethoven - Ode an die Freude _ Ode to Joy

Click to watch

Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.
You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.
Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.

Friedrich Schiller

Friedrich schiller.jpg

(Note, while the singers are nearly all modestly dressed, there are some moments of some quasi-immodest dress. You can jump to 6:50-7:40, the key part of the chorus.)

Sunday, November 2, 2014


If your derech is Torah In Derech Eretz you are likely looking for the same in your prospective partner. Maybe this website can help. There's a few ways to go about this. The first is for you to send over a dating resume to or contact me there and we can speak via phone or meet. I'll try to match people up, bli neder. The second is for you to post your dating resume here or to just post some essential details with or without a name and contact details. To do that, email it to me and I'll post it for you. If you are going for the post, mention if shadchanim or singles may contact you directly.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Neither Mysticism Nor Rationalism

"Strangely enough the same line of reasoning [of Rabbi Hirsch's, in his criticism of Rambam and his rationalism] resulted in condemnation of both mysticism and rationalism for their non-humanistic ideals. For the rationalist the knowledge of God, and not the practical consequences of the Mitzvot, constitutes the highest desideratum of religious living. … For Hirsch, the Mitzvot must serve the eternal purpose and task of Israel, the mission to humanity. The higher purpose that Maimonides finds in religion is unacceptable to his zeal for the humanistic conception of Mitzvot."

Rabbi Howard I. Levine's "Enduring and Transitory Elements in the Philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsch" (
Tradition 5:2, Spring 1963)  in The-Kuzari-as-Contrasted-With-Rabbi-S-R-Hirsch-s-Conception-of-Tiqun-Olam-The-Place-of-Universalism-and-Morality-in-Judaism-Michael-Makovi

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Linked Article: S. R. Hirsch's Conception of Tiqun Olam - The Place of Universalism and Morality in Judaism - Michael Makovi

S. R. Hirsch's Conception of Tiqun Olam - The Place of Universalism and Morality in Judaism - Michael Makovi

Published by Michael Makovi

How Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's humanistic this-worldly philosophy of the mitzvot contrasts with that of both the mystical school (Kuzari, Mesilat Yesharim) and the rationalist school (Rambam). Also touching upon Tiqun Olam in Rabbi Hirsch's view, and Professor Harry Wolfson's contrast of the Hellenic and Hebraic casts of mind.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Linked Post: Messorah and Royalty, A Yom Kippur Experience at K’hal Adath Jeshurun by Daniel Adler

Messorah and Royalty

A Yom Kippur Experience at K’hal Adath Jeshurun

by Daniel Adler

"I had the good fortune to daven at K’hal Adath Jeshurun (KAJ – ‘Breuer’s’) this past
Yom Kippur (2013); since that time I have debated if I should put my experience in
writing. An article in a local publication convinced me that sharing this experience may
be worthwhile. Although when it comes to minhagim I personally follow Rav Binyomin
Shlomo Hamburger of Machon Moreshes Ashkenaz (MMA-,
the differences between KAJ and MMA are minimal and generally nothing to be uptight

"Being of German-Jewish descent and involved with MMA, I have wanted to attend KAJ
for Yom Kippur for many years and when the opportunity arose I was about as excited
for Yom Kippur as one can be."


Sunday, October 19, 2014


GERTRUDE HIRSCHLER, 1929 – 1994 by Susan J. Lief Rotenberg,
"Not prepared to compromise her ideals by accepting work that did not meet her ideological approval, Gertrude Hirschler rejected the offer of a well-recognized publisher, who submitted a book by an Israeli leftist writer to her for translation. True to her principles, she removed her name from The Hirsch Siddur that she had translated, due to changes to the finished product that did not meet her standards. A brilliant perfectionist, Hirschler’s literary contributions as a translator, editor, and writer are highly regarded in the areas of Jewish history, accounts of the Holocaust, religious literature, and Zionism."

Continue reading

and a photo of her matzaiva

which I believe is in Baltimore:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Be a Real Good Yekke

"On my arrival in Reb Elchonon Wasserman's Yeshivah Ohel Torah in Baranowitz, I met Moshe Schwab, the Yekke, brother of R' Shimon Schwab, zt"l. "Moshe the Yekke," followed the mashgiach, R' Yisrael Yaakov Lubchanski, like a shadow, and became a true ba'al mussar (student of self-improvement). Later, when I came to Kamenitz, I met his older brother, R' Mordechai Schwab. R' Mordechai was a genuine "nichba el hakeilim" (one who hides among the vessels, as the humble Saul did when the Prophet Shmuel came looking for him to anoint him king): a humble, quiet tzaddik; a Yekke lamed-vovnick (one of the legendary 36 hidden saints). He was always precisely on time, whether for davening, shiurim, or a mussar discussion. In other words, a typical Yekke!

In our day, the Reform Yekkes have either died out or assimilated; they do not exist any longer. The term "Yekke" has become a true title of distinction, respect and admiration. As a Kohen, I am often invited to officiate at a pidyon haben (redemption of the firstborn son on the 30th day of life). After reciting the blessing, I lean over and whisper in the child's ear, "Grow up to be a real good Yekke!"

Chaim Shapiro, Once Upon a Shtetl

Sunday, October 12, 2014

[O]ur Sages were enemies of ignorance

"[O]ur Sages were enemies of ignorance. They regarded education, intellectual enlightenment, and the acquisition of knowledge as the first of all moral commandments. They viewed the dissemination of intellectual enlightenment among all classes of the population as the prime concern of the nation, and the training of a child's mind as the first and most sacred duty of fatherhood. They considered it a matter of conscience for every Jewish father to see that his child should not remain a boor and am ha'arets; no Jewish child must be allowed to grow up as an ignorant, uneducated person."

R Hirsch, "The Joy of Learning" in A Peculiar Point in Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's Essays on Education, Elliot Resnick

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gesammelte Schriften in the Original German

This page is from the article "The Jewish Woman" which was first translated in Judaism Eternal Vol. II.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Don't Raise Children on Materialism

"[W]e forget that by hurrying to impose the yoke of the materialistic, or, as we like to put it euphemistically, the practical aims of life upon the dawn and springtime of childhood and early youth, we only deprive our children prematurely of the bloom of flowering youth and nip our children's spiritual yearnings in the bud. Instead of encouraging our children to get wisdom for its own sake, we raise them to become only clever and shrewd, judging everything in the light of self-interest and respecting only those intellectual and spiritual pursuits that are likely to yield the highest dividends in terms of material gain. A generation raised on such a philosophy of life will never be able to experience that true joy of learning, which regards knowledge itself as the supreme reward."

 "The Joy of Learning," Rav Hirsch in A Peculiar Point in Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's Essays on Education, Elliot Resnick

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Judaism Affirming Life: Why The Performance of Many Mitzvos Is Limited to the Day Time

"So-called religions which stem from man's feelings of dependence direct man towards the night. Man is called upon to find God at the point where he loses himself. "Religions" equate the end of day, night, with the end of life, death, and seek to liberate man from the fears of night-death. In this perspective, man is seen as helplessly bound to his physical fate unless redeemed by the saving grace of religion. Typically, they erect their temples over the graves of the dead. They celebrate their most sacred mysteries at night, and their most fervent prayers are cries pleading for deliverance from the power of the "evil one" in the world. Such is the passivity, the dark aspect of human existence, which these "religions" employ to "bind" man to the Divine.

"Judaism is not a "religion." Judaism summons man into the full, bright light of day and shows him that he is master over the world outside himself as well as over the world within him. It makes him aware of his free-willed, godly power with which he can subdue both the world around him and the world within his own heart. It shows him the One, unique, true, free, almighty God Who, in His free omnipotence, has created the world around and within man. He has created man himself to serve Him, and He guides man and the world for His wise purposes. Both night and day serve Him; death serves Him, and so does life. It is He Who has created the passions in the breast of man so that man control them out of his own free will and employ them for the good in the service of God. Judaism reveals to man the clear, free spirit that dwells within his own heart, and it shows the One, unique, true God from Whom he has derived that clear, free spirit. It shows him the One Who has imparted to him this light and this freedom as a spark from His own free, almighty Essence. With this spark God has raised man above all else that lies bound by blind necessity and that must operate and behave according to mindless coercion, and has placed man into His immediate proximity. Freely, with every clear impulse, with every lucid thought, with every human act of his, man should pay homage to Him, the One God, and serve Him. By this homage and service, given with his life on earth, man is to elevate all of earthly life, in both its aspects-darkness and light-to the lofty goal of perfection.

"Judaism asks man to find God at the point where man finds himself. To Judaism, pleasure and life, strength, freedom and rejoicing are heralds that lead men to God. Judaism builds its sanctuaries upon the shining heights of life. Death and decay are kept far from the halls of its Temple. Grief and mourning must be put aside at its thresholds." R' Hirsch, Collected Writings, Vol. III, p. 88-9, Milah.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Wisdom from the Gentiles: Excellence in a Relaxed State

"I try to relax as much as I can. Playing this game, I'm not afraid to fail. I don't like it, and after I do it I don't want to talk about it, but I'm not afraid of it, so every time I'm in a situation I try to think about times I've been successful and I try to relax." Baseball player Derek Jeter

I don't know that this is the approach to use with mitzvos, but it might be with many of the secular parts of our lives like parnassah. Also, it's not the ideal mindset for a person who is overly lackadaisical. But many Yidden are so intense about their religious lives that they come on too strong in the other parts of their lives. For intense people, the approach can be helpful.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Linked Post: A Peculiar Point in Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's Essays on Education

Linked Post: A Peculiar Point in Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch's Essays on Education, Elliot Resnick from

"Despite the rhetoric emanating from certain camps of Orthodox Judaism, studying secular knowledge lishmah-knowledge for knowledge's sake-is a widely accepted notion among Jewish thinkers. In fact, virtually none of the great Jewish personalities who discuss the value of secular knowledge-from Rav Saadiah Gaon and Rambam to Rav Kook and Rav Soloveitchik-speak of its utilitarian value. Rambam does not praise Aristotle's philosophy for its salary-increasing powers, nor does Rav Kook laud university studies because of their utility in getting into a good law school.

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch is a classic example of this knowledge-lishmah school of thought. Not only does he extol the spiritual value of secular studies, he explicitly derides those who see knowledge as a tool in advancing one's career. Two quotations (many more can be adduced) from his essays should suffice to establish this point. In "The Relevance of Secular Studies," Rav Hirsch writes:

[A]ny supporter of education and culture should deplore the fact that when these secular studies are evaluated in terms of their usefulness to the young, too much stress is often placed on so-called practical utility and necessity. Under such circumstances, the young are in danger of losing the pure joy of acquiring knowledge for its own sake, so that they will no longer take pleasure in the moral and spiritual benefits to be obtained by study."

Continue reading

Monday, September 22, 2014

On Zionism

When Israel was still united in a common land they did not call themselves Am, one people, for the reason that one common soil bore them all. For, alone among all the peoples of the earth, the possession of the land and the ensuing organization of the State was for Israel not an end but a means to the better fulfilment of their Jewish duties. The Torah did not exist for the State, but the State for the Torah. And only the Torah, the idea of being joint bearers of a spiritual calling, fused the individuals into an association of human beings whose inner cohesiveness is reflected in the term (literally, society) and whose character in the wider sense as a nation is designated by the term גוי that is to say, a corporate body or a people.

And even later on, far away from her land, when Israel sees her visible bonds of nationhood broken, the dispersed Jews call themselves Am, one nation, not in remembrance of a land once jointly possessed, not looking towards the future when God, as His words through the prophets teach us, will once more have united them, but in the consciousness of being, in the present as in the past, bearers of an eternal idea, an eternal mission, and of a God-given destiny which, in Israel, overshadowed, and still overshadows, the existence of the State, and which therefore has survived the State's downfall. We mourn over the sin which brought about that downfall, we take to heart the harshness which we have encountered in our years of wandering as the chastisement of a father imposed on us for our improvement, and we mourn the lack of observance of the Torah which that ruin has brought about. Not in order to shine as a nation among nations do we raise our prayers and hopes for a reunion in our land, but in order to find a soil for the better fulfilment of our spiritual vocation in that reunion and in the land which was promised, and given, and again promised for our observance of the Torah. But this very vocation obliges us, until God shall call us back to the Holy Land, to live and to work as patriots wherever He has placed us, to collect all the physical, material and spiritual forces and all that is noble in Israel to further the weal of the nations which have given us shelter. It obliges us, further, to allow our longing for the far-offland to express itself only in mourning, in wishing and hoping; and only through the honest fulfilment of all Jewish duties to await the realization of this hope. But it forbids us to strive for the reunion or the possession of the land by any but spiritual means.' Our Sages say God imposed three vows when He sent Israel into the wilderness: (I) that the children ofIsrael shall never seek to re-establish their nation by themselves; (2) that they shall never be disloyal to the, nations which have given them shelter; (3) that these nations shall not oppress them excessively (Kethuboth, III, I). The fulfilment of the first two vows is confirmed in the pages of history; about the third, the nations concerned must judge themselves.

R' SR Hirsch, Horeb 608


“When, during the reign of Hadrian, the uprising led by Bar Kochba proved a disastrous error, it became essential that the Jewish people be reminded for all times of another important fact; namely, that Israel must never again attempt to restore its national independence by its own power; it was to entrust its future as a nation solely to Divine Providence. Therefore when the nation, crushed by this new blow, had recovered its breath and hailed even the permission to give a decent burial to the hundreds of thousands who had fallen about Betar as the dawn of a better day, the sages who met at Yavneh added yet another blessing to the prayer for the restoration of Jerusalem. This fourth blessing is an acknowledgement that it has always been G-d and G-d alone Who has given us, and still gives us to this very day, that good in which we have had cause to rejoice; and that for future good, too, we may look to none other but G-d, and none besides Him." 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary to the Prayer Book, p. 703


There was a need to impress upon the mind of the Israelite who possessed freedom and land the value of the Torah. There was a need to proclaim to the State as a whole and to each individual in it: "The land which you own, the fields which bloom for you and the fruits which ripen for you--these are not your gods and your goods, these do not constitute you a nation nor are they the objects of your strivings as people and individuals. All these have been given to you for the sake of the Torah; for the sake of the Torah you possess them, and without the Torah you would lose them. All this land with its abundance of milk and honey, and all the rich and free national life which flourishes on it, are only a means and have only one object, namely, with this freedom and abundance to develop a communal, collective and individual life such as your God and Master has prescribed for you in the Torah." To impress on our minds and hearts this unconditional value of the Torah and the conditional value of all other possessions--this was the purpose of the ספירה of the days and weeks which  ואחד ב"ד וכל אחד , both the heads of the community and every individual in Israel מהחל חרמש בקמה had to count from the first setting of the sickle to the corn up to מתן תורה to the festival of the giving of the Law. 

In course of time Israel forgot this counting. It ceased to count up to its Torah and to see in the Torah the principal element in its national existence. It began to look for freedom and independence to its land and soil, to which it had the same right of possession as any other people to its own land. It imagined that it was entitled to count by its land, that it could dispense with the Torah and retain bread and soil, freedom and independence without the Torah, and "Judah's gods became as numerous as his cities". Then it lost land and soil, freedom and independence, saving nothing but the Torah up to which it counted no more in the land itself, and it wandered in strange lands for two thousand years. The seasons go round, the sun shines and the dew falls, but for the Jew no seeds sprout, no fields bloom, he no more puts the sickle to his own corn. And why? Because he wanted his activities to end with this sickle, and he was not willing to begin from this sickle to count to his Torah. From the time that he deified the sickle he lost the sickle! 

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, "Iyar," Judaism Eternal, Vol. I, p. 80-1.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Order in the Synogogue

“Physically, the Kehilla’s German-Jewish character is immediately visible in the Synagogue. Extensive chapters in the Shulchan Aruch stress the vital importance of cleanliness, order, and dignity in the Synagogue. Thus, these aspects in themselves have little to do with a specific “German Jewishness.”

"Our Way," R' Joseph Breuer

Sounds contradictory I know. I think what he's saying here is, yes German Jewry is known for order and cleanliness and you see that in the synagogue. Nevertheless, these ideals are from halahka. Thus, we can say that the order in the synagogue isn't just German, it's halahkic and German Jews excel in it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Defender of Mitzvot

"Strangely enough the same line of reasoning [of Rabbi Hirsch's, in his criticism of Rambam and his rationalism] resulted in condemnation of both mysticism and rationalism for their non-humanistic ideals. For the rationalist the knowledge of God, and not the practical consequences of the Mitzvot, constitutes the highest desideratum of religious living. … For Hirsch, the Mitzvot must serve the eternal purpose and task of Israel, the mission to humanity. The higher purpose that Maimonides finds in religion is unacceptable to his zeal for the humanistic conception of Mitzvot."

Rabbi Howard I. Levine "Enduring and Transitory Elements in the Philosophy of Samson Raphael Hirsch" (Tradition 5:2, Spring 1963)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe on Hirsch, Breuer, and Breuer

"The definition of a gadol be'Yisrael is one who is great in Torah and great in piety, one whose personal views and conduct are based exclusively on those twin pillars. Such a person is acknowledged as a peer by the other great men of his era. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch was revered by the Chassidic leaders of Galicia and by the rabbis of Lithuania. That his views did not accord with theirs was immaterial; his philosophy grew out of his G-d-fearing understanding of Torah, and therefore it was legitimate for him. So it was with Rabbi Salomon Breuer and so it was with Rabbi Joseph Breuer. Their greatness transcended community. They belonged to Klal Yisrael, so they were honored by Klal Yisrael, all of it."

Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe

From Jewish Observer Article

Full article

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

the Seforim blog-An Incident of "Pilegesh B'Givah" in 19th Century Germany

Linked Post:

by Eli Genauer
I recently purchased an antique Hebrew book for less than the price of a dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. This particular edition is what some would call a “common” — meaning it is the 36th edition (the fourth edition of a revised version) of this book and it was printed in the mid-19th century. Generally, the market does not assign a high price for books like these, but they can be a treasure trove of knowledge and information.
The work is Tikkun Shlomo and is primarily focused on the Shabbos liturgy.  I reproduced the title page:
Many will no doubt recognize the name of the compiler, Shlomo Zalman London (1661-1748) who wrote the book “קהלת שלמה”and that it was reprinted thirty times in the next 200 years.  "
An Incident of "Pilegesh B'Givah" in 19th Century Germany

Monday, August 18, 2014

Jewish Observer Article on R' Breuer

"He was his era's leading exponent of the Hirschian concept of Torah Im Derech Eretz. Exemplifying and expounding the teachings of Rabbi Hirsch, he gave the broadest possible definition to the term derech eretz. It embraced every facet of a Jew's human existence on earth: his means of livelihood, general decorum, civility, propriety of dress, interaction with his fellow, level of integrity in business and personal relationships, fulfillment of the law of the land, relationship to non-observant Jews, attitude toward purveyors of non-halachic "streams" of Judaism. The definition of derech eretz is as broad and varied as human experience, and wherever it applies, derech eretz must be subservient to Torah."

by Dr. Ernst J. Bodenheimer with Rabbi Nosson Scherman

Read more

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Collage of German Orthodox Rabbanim

I put together a collage of German Orthodox rabbanim. If anyone would like a laminated copy for a Succah decoration or a framed copy for their home, they should please write to

Laminated: $15

Outside US
Framed: $30

All fees cover costs.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Do not put a stumbling-block

"Parents, teachers, brothers and sisters, friends and all of you who exert influence by deed and by the written or spoken word, on young souls – they are blind of mind and their minds are illumined by the light of your mind; what you, by your word and example, tell them to be true and good will be regarded by them as true and good for a long time, and they will base their life on it until they are able to judge for themselves. Do not put a stumbling-block into their path. Woe to them if you are not honest with them, if you present to them false doctrine as the truth, evil as good, falsehood as truth, if you turn night into day and the daylight of truth into darkness. One day they will awake and curse you, and God will hear that curse! Fear Him, if you do not fear human beings – He sees into your hearts....Woe to you, woe if even one single human soul accuses you before the Supreme Judge’s Throne of having stolen, not his honour, peace, or pleasure, but God and morality and thus crushed the life out of his life!" R' Hirsch, Horeb.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rav Hirsch Challenges the Rambam

"This great man [viz. Rambam], to whom and to whom alone we owe the preservation of  practical Judaism to our time, is responsible-because he sought to reconcile Judaism with the difficulties which confronted it from without, instead of developing it creatively from within -for all the good and the evil which bless and afflict the heritage of the fathers. His peculiar mental tendency was Arabic-Greek, and his conception of the purpose of life the same. He entered into Judaism from without, bringing with him opinions of whose truth he had convinced himself from extraneous sources and - he reconciled. For him, too, self-perfection through the knowledge of truth was the highest aim; the practical he deemed subordinate. For him knowledge of God was the end, not the means; hence he devoted his intellectual powers to speculations upon the essence of Deity, and sought to bind Judaism to the results of his speculative investigations as to postulates of science or faith. The mitzvot became for him merely ladders, necessary only to conduct to knowledge or to protect against error, the latter often only the temporary and limited error of polytheism. Mishpatim became only rules of  prudence, mitzvot as well; Chukkim rules of health, teaching right feeling, defending against the transitory errors of the time;  Edot ordinances, designed to promote philosophical or other concepts; all this having no foundation in the eternal essence of things, not resulting from their eternal demand on me, or from my eternal purpose and task, no eternal symbolizing of an unchangeable idea, and not inclusive enough to form a basis for the totality of the commandments."

19 Letters, letter 18

Friday, August 1, 2014

The only weapon against these pitfalls is knowledge

“…it is equally true that the requirements of the child’s future occupation, and the specialized and general skills that will prepare him for it, must not in any manner be neglected. We say this not merely out of deference to his future secular career, but because our calling as Jews, the preservation of Torah-true Judaism in our era, urgently demands that its adherents must not in any way lag behind when it comes to modern, secular education. Again, this is necessary not merely so that they may be able to represent their sacred heritage in a manner that will command respect from wider social circles but, above all, in order that they may be able to view the intellectual, ethical and social developments of their time in true perspective, neither overrating not underrating their significance but seeing them from the vantage point of Judaism in their rightful place within the Kingdom of God. Knowledge will protect our children from preconceived notions and from the errors in either direction to which the ignorant inevitably fall prey. Only the ignorant can be dazzled by spurious glitter or intimidated by empty pretense. Conversely, only the ignorant can be moved to throw away what is good and true in modern developments along with what is empty and evil. The only weapon against these pitfalls is knowledge.”

Written in 1860 by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
(Collected Writings, Volume vii, Page 168-169)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

KAJ burial area in Clifton, NJ

KAJ burial area in Clifton, NJ

R' Breuer's Tombstone

R' Schwab's Tombstone

Innocent Blood

"The land of the Law of God exists for the sake of human beings. Its most precious product, the purpose and goal of all the blessings bestowed upon it by God is every human soul that it nurtures and thus consecrates for the realization of God's law. The land is given to all the people only under the condition that they will regard every human life, which is sacred to the Law, as sacred and inviolable. Even one drop of innocent blood spilled unnoticed will drop a stitch form the bond that binds the land to the nation and both the land and the nation to God."

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch, Bamidbar 35:10, parshas Masse

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Washing One’s Hands Before Or After Kiddush by Raphael Grunfeld son of Dayan Grunfeld

Linked post from the Jewish Press:

"If you eat mayonnaise with everything, or you attended Breuers, or you wash your hands before Kiddush, you are probably of German Jewish descent. The first two inferences are understandable. Where does the third one come from?

The Talmud quotes the following passage of Rav Bruna in the name of Rav: “One who washes his hands for bread before reciting Kiddush on Friday night should not recite Kiddush himself, but should rather fulfill his Kiddush obligation by having someone else recite Kiddush for him.” The reason for Rav Bruna’s ruling, as explained by the Rashbam, is that there should be no interruption between washing one’s hands – netilat yadayim – and eating bread."


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Letter from R Hildesheimer in English from On the Main Line blog

This is a find from the On the Main Line history blog. I don't know how to describe why but there's something really neat about this. Perhaps, it's because I'm so used to reading Rav Hirsch in translation, to read something from one of his peers written originally in English feels very immediate.

"This is an interesting piece that I found on the Isaac Leeser digital archive (link), a handwritten letter from Rabbi Esriel Hildesheimer to the Occident, dated 26 Adar 5625. The letter asks Leeser to print an English version of an account on behalf of the "Central Committee for Building Dwellings for the Poor and Pilgrims in Jerusalem," of which Rabbi Hildesheimer was a member, along with Rabbis Jacob Ettlinger of Altona and Joseph Hirsch of Halberstadt."  continue

"Eisenstadt 26 Adar 5625.
Since the great interest which you have always shown for the
wellfare (sic) of our brethren in all countries and particularly the unfor-
tunate Jews of the Holy Land is known to me I have the liberty to
send you the enclosed statutes etc of the dwellings which we are arecting (sic) on the holy ground and pray you to give insertion to it in your esteemed
journal in at possible great parties.
I have the honour to sign

your humble
Dr. Hildesheimer