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.