Sunday, March 29, 2015

All that Sarah tells you

An extraordinary anecdote from the book Rav Breuer, His Life and Legacy by Kranzler and Landesman. Page 185, footnote 12
"R. Schwab was responsible for eliciting the first clear responses from the roshei yeshiva of Eastern Europe vis-a-vis their attitude toward Torah im Derech Eretz....Most interesting is the response of R. Avrohom Mordechai Alter, the Gerrer Rebbe. The Rebbe did not reply at first to R. Schwab's question, but R. Schwab had the opportunity to meet him personally and asked him the question directly. The Rebbe then responded by saying: כל אשר תאמר אליך שרה שמע בקולה . R. Schwab was understandably perplexed by the Rebbe's response until the gabbai clarified matters for him by pointing out that שרה is an acronym for Shamshon Raphael Hirsch."

(Translation: "All that Sarah tells you, listen to her voice.")

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Great Wikipedia page on the Realschule. It's in German but you can translate via

1887: Eine 1. Klasse der Realschule der Israelitischen Religionsgesellschaft mit ihrem Lehrer

1887 A 1st year class of junior high school of the Jewish religious community with their teacher

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Wisdom from the Gentiles: Staying True to Yourself

"I know - I know all about you. Look, kid, don't ever - ya' understand me? - don't ever let anyone monkey with your swing."

Baseball player hitting legend Ted Williams to a young Carl Yastrzemski

How many German Jews have shed their heritage and tried another, only to find it ill-fitting?

And how many Western Jews, raised in the Germanic societies of England, South Africa, Australia, Switzerland, and the USA have not pursued Torah Im Derech Eretz even though it may better suit their sensibilities?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Now that's a beautiful synogogue - KAJ Washington Heights

What I see here is a simple beauty. It's not ornate or byzantine but it has classic forms and color. For me, this simplicity is perfect for a shul as the complicated designs in some places can be distracting. You can't see it here but the ceiling is blue like that of Grand Central Station. The chairs and the Aron Kodesh bring in a rich brown. The woman's balcony brings in Esher like dimension. The benches of seats also keep the place very neat looking as does the order in which they run the place. There are no used cups sitting on the windows as you might see in some shuls. For me, this is sheer beauty that works in accordance with principles of spirituality. I have heard that German design in general tends towards this elegant simplicity. While a student of Hirsch knows that not every Agadata or Midrash need be taken literally, I hope the one about the shuls being moved to Eretz Israel after the geulah are literal so that I can daven in this building in the Holy Land.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Israeli School With Instruction in English

Yesterday, I was at the Aliyah fair in Manhattan and learned about a Yeshiva/Seminary in Israel that caters to olim and gives instructions in English. I had heard about this from a friend and needed to see it to believe it. The school's name is Yerushalayim Torah Academy. It's a high school, which makes sense because it's the older kids for whom Aliyah poses the most difficulty due to the challenges of learning the language.

How does this connect to Torah Im Derech Eretz, particularly Hirschian Torah Im Derech Eretz, which really is the main type anyone ever thinks of and the type to which this blog is dedicated. And the answer is that arguably TIDE is best practiced fully in Israel as TIDE is largely about taking the Torah to life. That's much easier to do in a country run by Jews in a land where we are intended to live forever. The sense I get whenever I'm in Israel is that every act is a mitzvah. True, every act for any pious Jews anywhere is some kind of a mitzvah. But I can't help feel that in Israel this is even more the case.

But people with older children rightly fear Aliyah. This wonderful school (and the staff I met were impressive) is doing such a mitzvah giving Jews with children of any age a way to make Aliyah. Hashem is finding ways for all of us to get over there. This is unusual talk for one who professes to follow in the path of Hirsch and Breuer. But we live in such unusual times with our host society crumbling before our eyes - and my suspicion is that it's going to get much worse in the not so distant future.

May the Lord bless this school and the important work they do.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Some Topics for the TIDE Conference

1) How do we educate today's youth in Torah Im Derech Eretz? What are the risks as compared to 100 years ago or 25 years ago?

2) How do we attract people who would be attracted to Torah Im Derech Eretz but just don't know about it?

3) How do we reconcile Hirsch's apparent view towards Zionism with the reality of the State of Israel and the fact that half of Jewry lives there today?

4) Does Austritt still apply in the practice of TIDE?

5) What is your definition of Torah Im Derech Eretz? Does it extend beyond secular studies and parnassah?

6) How do we maintain a virtual community?

7) How might we establish and fund real, geographic communities?

We could each take one of these or each discuss one more more in our respective segments. What are you thoughts?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Guest Post: Frankfurt Purim by Mendy Meyer.

Today marks a day once celebrated in Frankfurt as "Purim Vitz" or "Frankfurt Purim". There is much discussed online about the various "local" Purims- for regional nissim throughout our exile, as well as the Halachos surrounding the institution of a local or private Purim. There is also much historical background discussing the uprising and squashing of Vincent Fettmilch's rebellion and the Pogrom and expulsion he orchestrated upon Frankfurt's Jewish population. Below follows a loose translation of the Sefer Yosef Ometz in it's description of the ironic turn of events and salvation of the Jewish community. Remember that Rav Hirsch ZT'L identifies irony as the source of all humor, and, I would add, that this is behind the added merriment of the Purim festivities. 

"And for the miracles that happened on this day, namely that we were returned to our streets by the Commander and General....with much grandeur, among many nationalities who came out in numbers, in military regalia, flags, horns, and drums. And at that very moment we saw the expulsion of our great enemy Vincent and his followers. And they beheld the great honor bestowed upon us and they were humiliated as they were escorted to prison,some of them, and some were sent from the city to be hung and punished before us. Literally, as we were escorted through the very gate that they were driven from. And we literally passed the stage and (guillotine?) built upon the Rose Mark. And not one of the onlookers accosted us. To the contrary, they helped us clear the refuse that had been piled, blocking the entrance to our quarter. So that the two wagons in our entourage could pass: One wagon carried three distinguished shields with the seal of the Kaiser to be placed at three prominent gates and they were immediately affixed there by soldiers....and the second wagon carrying my father-in-law...who could not walk....May it be Hashem's will that we witness the prophecy fulfilled:"Greater shall be the Temple, the latter than the former. Amen."


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Torah Im Derech Eretz Conference

Plans are in the works for an online conference on Torah Im Derech Eretz. The goal is to have a discussion on how to practice and sustain Torah Im Derech Eretz in our era. Each participant will be given an opportunity of 5 -15 minutes to present with others providing feedback. This will be followed by a round table give and take on several TIDE topics. The entire presentation will be recorded and uploaded to youtube where we hope to attract a wider audience.

We are targeting this for a Sunday afternoon after Pesach.

If you are interested, please comment below or send me an email at

Explanation of "Has not made me a woman"

"This is not a prayer of thanks that God did not make us heathens, slaves or women. Rather, it calls upon us to contemplate the task which God has imposed upon us by making us free Jewish men, and to pledge ourselves to do justice to this mission. These three aspects of our own status impose upon us duties much more comprehensive than those required of the rest of mankind. And if our women have a smaller number of mitzvot to fulfill than men, they know that the tasks which they must discharge as free Jewish women are no less in accordance with the will and desire of God than are those of their brothers." (Hirsch Siddur, p. 13)

See my recent Hakirah article "Rereading Rav Hirsch on Mitzvos and Gender" for a discussion of how R' Hirsch portrayed men and women as being spiritually equal. Many use him for apologetics, but they do so erroneously in my view.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Hirsch and Modern Orthodoxy

From the Wikipedia entry on R Hildesheimer

"Comparison with Samson Raphael Hirsch

"There are those who would claim both Hirsch and Hildesheimer as indirect philosophical founders of Modern Orthodox Judaism; in fact, of the two, Hildesheimer is more likely classifiable as such.
"It is true that Hirsch's Torah im Derech Eretz - a philosophy of Orthodox Judaism which formalises a relationship between traditionally observant Judaism and the modern world -bears a superficial resemblance to today's Modern Orthodox Judaism. However, a deeper investigation shows Hirsch's philosophy (Judaism as the sole source of truth by which to judge modernity), at odds with the Modern Orthodox philosophy (two co-existing ideas - Judaism and modernity). Hirsch also separated himself and his community from the Conservative andReform Jewish community and was, at best, unsympathetic to Zionist efforts. By contrast, Hildesheimer set the pattern for Modern Orthodox activism and institutions, and was noted for not being a sectarian, as was Hirsch.
"Although Hildesheimer was noted as having these similarities to Modern Orthodox Judaism, it is noteworthy that his philosophy concerning education was even less similar than was Hirsch's. Hildesheimer advocated secular studies only as an aside to, but clearly not synthesized with, Torah, and to some extent as a concession to the needs of the day."

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Film footage of Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung

Film footage of Rabbi Dr. Leo Jung at 3:35

"He was the son of Rabbi Dr. Meir Zvi Jung, the rav of Mannheim and Ungarisch Brod, and later of London. He founded TIDE schools in Ungarisch Brod, Krakow, and London." from blog comment of Baruch Miller.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Minhag Ashkenaz (Yekkish) minyan Passaic-Clifton Purim night

The Passaic-Clifton Ashkenaz Committee is happy to announce that the Minhag Ashkenaz (Yekkish) minyan will meet on Purim night for Maariv and Megilloh laining. The tefilloh information is as follows:

When: Purim night (Wednesday, March 4, 2015) ,

Location:  Tifereth Israel of Passaic (“The Tif”) in the downstairs Bais HaMedrash.

Address: 180 Passaic Avenue (corner of Boulevard)

Time: Maariv at 6:15 PM, Megilloh laining not before 6:32 PM

The minyan is sponsored by David and Emunah Toback, l’eilui nishmas Refoel Avrohom Gershom Zvi Ben Harav Dovid Yehonoson.

Please note, as only one person will say kaddish at a time (as per minhag Frankfurt), if you have a chiyuv to say kaddish, please contact the organizers at

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

An Answer to Rav Hirsch's Question

Vayikra 11:23 says, "But every winged creeping thing that hath four feet shall be an abomination unto you."

R' Hirsch asks, " We have already remarked on v. 20 on the difficulty of the fact that, as far as we know, no winged insect has less than six feet. The difficulty is greater inasmuch as in רבי in  ת"כ   , in explaining this verse says: אמ יש לו חמש הרי זה טהור. An explanation in accordance with the actual facts is very much to be desired."

The reader takes pause over the writer's humility in putting forth his question without even the window dressing of an attempted answer. He sounds almost as if he asking his readership for some assistance. Every day R' Hirsch answers our questions. We hope that the master will be pleased the following proposal from הרב אברהם קורמן

יש לארבה ארבע רגלים רגילות. אבל הנקראים "כרעים" הם נוספות ותלויים בגובה הגוף, למעלה מתליית שאר ארבע הרגלים.

בספרו "יציאת מצרים" עמ' 260

Presented to this blog by
משה צוריאל
בני ברק

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Azkoroh Commemorating the 20th Yartzheit of Rav Shimon Schwab

Azkoroh Commemorating the 20th Yartzheit of Rav Shimon Schwab
Today, Sunday March 1, 2015
at KAJ in Washington Heights, 85 Bennett Ave.
5:30 PM