Monday, September 26, 2016

We Have An Emergency All Right

  "Man is surely aware of many needs, but the needs he is aware of are not always his own. At the very root of this failure to recognize one's truly worthwhile needs lies man's ability to misunderstand and misidentify himself, i.e., to lose himself. Quite often man loses himself by identifying himself with the wrong image. Because of this misidentification, man adopts the wrong table of needs which he feels he must gratify. Man responds quickly to the pressure of certain needs, not knowing whose needs he is out to gratify. At this juncture, sin is born. What is the cause of sin, if not the diabolical habit of man to be mistaken about his own self?" R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, "Redemption, Prayer, Talmud Torah"   

     Even though my mother's parents were Yiddish speakers from the shtetl and my father's grandparents were the same, I grew up fairly assimilated. Like any intellectually inclined middle-class American Jew my life revolved around secular education. I attended a conservative synagogue, but my goals were American goals. There was some television, much of which consisted of PBS educational programming, and some sports, but most of the day and the most important part of the day was school, ie secular studies. The future held more school in the form of college, and then school after that in the form of graduate school. The other most important thing aside from school was what we'd do with it, namely career and a career that contributed to society. This is how Jewish American kids are raised, or certainly how they were raised in the 1960s and 70s.

     I was quite astonished when I became Torah observant to learn that all of secular studies were foolishness and emptiness and a waste of time, my career was to replaced by perpetual full-time Torah study, and that the society to which I longed my whole life to contribute was our enemy. All of this I learned from people throughout my community.

     These ideas made no sense to me, but I felt obliged to conform to them as they were presented as part of the Torah and were repeated often, far more often than any calls for chesed, honesty, or even morality. The Torah was a jumble to me and I had to rely on others to tell me what the heck it wanted from me. So much of it seemed illogical - boxes on the head, waving fruit, chucking goats off mountains, waving chickens in the air (parts that seemed to get special emphasis) - that I might have believed anything. Judaism was a received tradition and this is what I was receiving.

     I wasn't just astonished. I was confused. Everything I had worked for my entire life suddenly was yanked away.  I was left with a stack of books that I could not read. Even when translated they often didn't make much sense, being written in a short-hand code and with cryptic and often exaggerated metaphor.

     But somebody had compassion on me and that somebody was God for He placed some books of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch before my eyes. Rav Hirsch did not toss all the secular books into the garbage. He said that Torah is the next step above the good secular material and that Torah should be the standard by which to judge the good from the bad and that Torah should be our main task and the secular the secondary. But the secular material had a place in our lives.

     Careers had a place too. We were to study Torah "as a businessman, a tradesman, an artist, a doctor, or a scientist." This certainly made sense particularly as I learned about the exorbitant expenses involved in running a Jewish home.

     Rav Hirsch said also that contributing to society had a place in our lives. The gentiles mattered in the scheme of things and we were to show gratitude for their hosting our communities.

     Rav Hirsch also explained the meaning of the more puzzling mitzvos to me along with the exaggerated metaphors.

     What a relief. Sanity.

     Unfortunately, many people in my community didn't have such compassion. Not just rabbis but kollel guys, baal habatim - scores of them just insisted on pointing out with glee that Rav Hirsch intended his words only for 19th century Germans who lived in a period of tremendous assimilation. His program was an emergency measure they said, one after the next. It seemed at times that they had all gathered together at a secret meeting and prepared a statement on the topic to deliver to anybody who expressed an interest in Torah Im Derech Eretz.

     My initial thought was that I was probably more assimilated than the Jews of 19th century Germany. I resisted my environment quite well but the society I was living in would be impossible to picture in the Kaiser's Germany. As Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik noted about Rav Hirsch, "He struggled with the same problem we have today in the United States: how to preserve Torah Judaism in a secular environment. Rabbi Hirsch accomplished great things in Germany. Our problems today are even more profound and complex than those that he faced. Rabbi Hirsch struggled in 1860; today it is 1956 and we have so many more technological advances." (The Rav Thinking Aloud, p. 227) For me it was another 30 plus years after that.

     I tried to explain this but chutzpadick New York yeshiva guys in the full glory of their unending chutzpah have answers for everything. (I'm talking about the chutzpadick ones. They are not all that way.) Today there are other options they said. In Rav Hirsch's day, there were not. By options they meant Torah only communities and yeshivas.

     So it turns out that this is not even true for other options existed in Germany too. In Wurzburg, which was 75 miles from Frankfurt, there was a Torah only yeshiva. (Lakewood is 68 miles from New York City.) And then of course there was Hungary and Czechoslovakia, not far away. It's 300 miles from Frankfurt to Prague. In many parts of America, such as Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Dallas - places where Jews live - there were few non-Torah Im Derech Eretz options. Seattle is thousands of miles from New York. Even Boston and DC didn't have very much, 30 years ago. New York, which is much further from Seattle than Germany is to Hungary, was unusual in this regard. So that pat answer is quite ridiculous. Are we to say that Torah Im Derech eretz would therefore apply throughout the United States but just not New York because in New York there are other options? Such a line of thought borders on the absurd. Obviously, Torah Im Derech Eretz was designed not for a situation but a mentality or a type of person.

     And then, along the years, I learned that Rav Hirsch did not see his program as being a temporary measure. He was quite clear about that.
'Torah im Derech Eretz' is the one true principle conducive to truth and peace, to healing and recovery from all ills and all religious confusion. The principle of 'Torah im Derech Eretz' can fulfill this function because it is not part of troubled, time-bound notions; it represents the ancient, traditional wisdom of our Sages that has stood the test everywhere and at all times. (Collected Writings, Vol. VI, p. 221)
     Quite clear. But as I mentioned, these chutzpadick fellows in the full glory of their chutzpah have answers for everything. Their answer at this point is that Rav Hirsch wouldn't utter those words if he saw society's decline of the latter half of the 20th century.

     Well R' Joseph Breuer (1882-1980), Rav Hirsch's grandson, who did live through latter half of the 20th century, lived through World War II, the 1950s, and the 1960s and 70s when all hell broke lose culturally speaking, offered the following words:
Anyone who has but a fleeting insight into the life and work of Rav Hirsch will realize that his Torah im Derech Eretz formula was never intended by him as a Horo'as Sho'oh....As for us let us do our best to promote and fulfill the Torah im Derech Eretz ideal in its true spirit and let us protect it from regrettable misuse and interpretation. A personal footnote: on the day before he passed away, my father told me: 'I am firmly convinced that the way shown by Rav Hirsch will be mekarev ha'geulah.' A sacred testament.
So not only is Torah Im Derech Eretz relevant in our era but it will be relevant until Moshiach arrives.

     R' Joseph Breuer built the incredible German kehilla in Washington Heights, New York. Famed mashgiach R' Shlomo Wolbe said the following about him and his incredible father:
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.
     So there we have it. What are the haters going to say now? Did R' Wolbe ever make such comments about them? You know, they always come up with something. So that something is that Rav Schwab said Torah Im Derech Eretz was a temporary measure and we have to listen to the gadolim of our times. So if Rav Schwab the leader of the German community is saying it then statements by leaders of earlier generations are no longer relevant. Well, R' Breuer lived in my era, but I don't have to resort to that for Rav Schwab also endorsed Torah Im Derech Eretz. There is some confusion as to his view on this topic. Here are some of his thoughts:
When I was twenty-five years old and a Rav in Ichenhausen, I wrote a controversial book called Heimkehr ins Judentum (Homecoming into Judaism). The year was 1934. This was the time when Hitler, yimach shemo, was in power, and we all witnessed the end of the short historical era of emancipation of Germany's Jews. We saw the return to the ghetto, the return to the Middle Ages. We saw the abdication of the German humanistic Bildungs ideal, on which we had been brought up. All that had a traumatic affect on me as well as on many others. So I decided to say goodnight to the German Kultur, and to bid farewell to my Torah im Derech Eretz heritage with which I was brought up. Instead, I opted in favor of a Torah-only return by the masses to the beis hamidrash of old, back to a very simple and frugal existence in which one seeks total happiness by immersing oneself in limud Hatorah, as our forefathers did in the Middle Ages. Thus we would find inner peace and emotional safety.
As to Rav Hirsch's ideal of Torah im Derech Eretz, I was of the opinion that this had been merely a הוראת שעה. It was a time-bound halachic compromise which was highly successful during the nineteenth century in saving the remnants of European Jewry from total oblivion in the flood of heresy which had by then inundated Western Europe. So about fifty-five years ago I wrote as follows and I quote myself: ''It came to pass in the days of Ahab, King of Israel. Our people were assembled upon Mount Carmel. The only one to stand firm in the midst of public confusion was Eliyahu Hanavi. He knows that in order to demonstrate the existence of the one true G-d, he must use the same methods which the idolaters employed. Like them, he, too, must now erect an altar, but this time it is an altar in honor of Hashem. However, the Torah forbids the offering of sacrifices outside the Beis Hamikdash. But when he sees an entire people waiting in suspense, hearts hammering in breathless anticipation for a divine sign from heaven. Eliyahu Hanavi knows what he must do: namely, to decide on a הוראת שעה a halachic emergency ruling (to which a Navi is entitled) and to build a bamah on Mount Carmel. He brings a sacrifice, which is consumed by afire from Heaven. And so he succeeds in drawing from the lips of his estranged brethren the proclamation of a national homecoming to G-d: Hashem Hu Elokim; Hashem Hu Elokim!"
I continue to quote: "Let us recall for a moment the unfortunate era that followed Moses Mendelssohn. Western European culture had caught Jewish consciousness off'balance. The hunger for modern studies, for 'good form,' for the right to play a part in the concert of Europe, intensified beyond endurance. The unscrupulous priestcraft of Reform set up Jewish souls for total assimilation. Tens of thousands openly deserted. And so the eyes of all those who were troubled by these developments scanned the Jewish horizon for one ray of hope, for someone who would rescue Western European Jewry from the spiritual affiiction that was threatening its very survival.
"And then he appeared: the gifted teacher, the inspired educator, the fighter, the victor who alone was able to make the great thrust. With indomitable courage, he reconquered position after position and stemmed the devastating tide of perfidy. He became a guide through a labyrinth of conflicting and confusing paths. Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch was the historical hero of that period because he was able to find that redeeming, militant device which could stop assimilation short. This saintly fighter, filled with the zeal of Pinchas, emulated the dauntless daring of Eliyahu, he, too, promulgated an emergency ruling in the hour of his nation's agony.
 “The device of Torah im Derech Eretz became essential to Israel's survival. However, it was not meant to be anything more than a temporary arrangement, not an ideal state of affairs. The synthesis between Torah and culture could be obtained only as long as the overwhelming impact of a seemingly impressive culture remained unbroken, keeping alive the illusion that the Torah was outmoded. It was not Rav Hirsch who wedded culture with Jewishness; he only found himself faced with a situation that had long been afait accompli. What he did was to respond to the challenge by choosing the only possible path, to make a virtue of a necessity in order to preserve the claim of the Torah.”
''Imbued with love of mankind as he was, he looked at all the accomplishments of culture in his day as the radiant harbingers of the footsteps of Mashiach. He was confident that the people of Europe, 'civilized men,' if you will, reared by Schiller and Goethe, by Leibnitz, Wolff and Schleiermacher, by Kant, Fichte and Hegel, would produce an ethical harvest that would eventually accord with the Will of Hashem and could be integrated into the solid spiritual structure of Torah ideology. I still remember a German poem that was required reading in all classes-Edel sei der Mensch, hilfreich undgut. Let man be noble, helping and good.' Surely this device could be seen as a threshold to the sanctuary of Torah, and sufficient tojustify Rav Hirsch's hora'as sha'ah. But who could have foreseen that Man, in the course of his intellectual, artistic, social and economic progress, would turn into a creature that was anything but noble, helping and good?
"Rav Hirsch could not have anticipated the disillusionment of the generation of the World War [I]. There was nothing written in the indicate that civilized mankind, reared on the classics and the works of the philosophers, would eventually march into the battlefields of the World War, to kill each other off to the tune of twelve million victims. Not even Rav Hirsch's brilliant vision could have foreseen that."Reconcile Torah and European culture? It sounds very nice, except that European culture today is dominated by intellectual and political elements whose ideology could never subordinate itself to the discipline ofthe Torah. Not in his wildest dreams could Rav Hirsch have envisioned the frightening spectacle of the Jewish people the world over, cheated of its newly-awakened hopes, standing in shock before the remnants of a collapsing culture and subsequently embracing a new chauvinism of its own as a final quest for salvation." End of quotation.
This was 1934. At the time the satanic forces unleashed by "Der Yolk der Dichter und Denker" (the nation ofthe poets and thinkers), proclaimed loudly the total bankruptcy of Western "Kultur," "Bildung," "Humanism" or what-have-you. The Nazi deviltry had only one meaning for the survivors:
 לך עמי בא בחדריך וסגר  דלתיך בעדך חבי כמעט רגע עד  יעבר  זעם
Go, my people, come into your chambers, close your doors behind you, withdraw for a while until the storm is over" (Yeshayahu 26). Our slogan, therefore, could then only be "Back to the historic ghetto! Back to the Torah-only exist-ence!" This is what I wrote and published in Hitler's Germany with all my power of conviction. The derech eretz which we had known and befriended was dead forever. However, after having been rescued by the miracles and the חסדים of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, I woke up here in America only to realize that the historic intellectual ghetto, to which I longed to return, had gone up in flames as well. How could I have visualized that my galus path through the "desert of nations" would lead me into the very stronghold of another Western civilization, this time the American style? Little did I know that the same kind of spiritual European galus would come back again, and only more so.
So about thirty years ago, I took a second view of Torah im Derech Eretz by first studying in depth the writings of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch zatzal. Soon I found out that my notion of the Hirschian philosophy as a mere hora/as sha'ah was totally wrong. He did not consider his leitmotif as time-bound. It was not a compromise, it was not a heter, it was not a kulah, it was not meant to be בדיעבד but לכתחילה.True, he did not say to the Gedolei Yisrael of Eastern Europe, '''קבלו דעתי -- Accept my opinion." He realized they would not accept his Weltanschauung. They followed מסורות אבותיחם the traditions of their teachers. But Rav Hirsch also had behind him a solid mesorah from gedolim who showed him the way. From the time of Chazal through the period of the Geonim; the Rambam; the Chachmei Sepharad through the Talmidei Hagra all the way down to his own Rebbe, the Oruch. L'ner and his disciples. Rav Hirsch had his mesorah. (R' Shimon Schwab, Selected Speeches, p. 243).
     I present this extended passage because Rav Schwab persuasively depicts the sweeping forces of our era and their tendency to confuse us. One can see how the collapse of cultured Germany into intense evil could lead one to dismiss all secular learning and culture as deceptive and empty. The destruction of one's world plays tricks on the mind. But as Rav Schwab came to realize, that is not necessarily the conclusion one should reach. The honesty here is breathtaking. Who admits error anymore? We get a glimpse here of the greatness of our European born leaders.

     Rav Hirsch explains how positive culture can be used for good or bad but how its use for bad does not negate its worth:
"Twenty six generations did דרך ארץ precede the תורה, for it says, cherubim and sword were established to keep the way to the tree of life; but the way is culture, and only then can one reach to the tree of life, to the Torah". Culture starts the work of educating the generations of mankind and the Torah completes it; for the Torah is the most finished education of Man. The fig-leaf and apron, those first gifts which Man possessed on his way to education, were the first appurtenances of culture, and culture in the service of morality is the first stage of Man's return to God. For us Jews, דרך ארץ and תורה are one. The most perfect gentleman and the most perfect Jew, to the Jewish teaching, are identical. But in the general development of mankind culture comes earlier. The "Sword and the Cherubim", the exigencies of life and the intuition of Something Higher in life lead the generation of mankind to the path of culture which ultimately opens onto the tree of life. That is why the Jew rejoices whenever and wherever culture elevates people to a perception of true values and to nurture goodness. But of course where culture and civilisation are used in the service of sensuality the degeneration only gets all the greater. But still such misuse of culture does not do away with the intrinsic value and blessing of דרך ארץ, for אם אין דרך ארץ אין תורה. Therefore Jews, too, are to attach themselves to, and love all good and true culture and by the ways and manner of their behaviour and demeanour appear as educated people, and show that being a Jew is only a higher stage of being a man. And of course, on the other side too, אם אין תורה אין  דרך ארץ, if culture and education instead of leading to תורה, take the place of it, then it is not the way that leads to the Tree of Life, but is the way that leads to degeneration. (Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch, Commentary on Pentateuch, Genesis 3:24.)
Rav Hirsch was way ahead of us.He knew that society could breakdown at any moment and warned Germans of this half a century before the Holocaust. He was not naive. His recognition of the benefits of the best of secular society came along with an admonition that these benefits be tied to Torah ideals.

     I spoke to Rav Schwab personally on the matter of Torah Im Derech Eretz as a life choice. He personally invited me to take up the derech. This was in the year 1990, long into the collapse of secular society in all the ways we think of it collapsing. Even the me-decade, the 1970s were long gone by then. The mean 80s were gone too. In same year that my adversaries were telling me that Torah Im Derech Eretz was intended only for 19th century Germany, R' Schwab was recommending it for me personally in 20th century New York where David Dinkins was mayor. Not Jimmy Walker, not LaGuardia, not Lindsay, but Dinkins, New York's first African-American mayor. It was not the 19th century.

     Rav Schwab believed that Torah Im Derech Eretz was relevant whether or not one saw it as an emergency measure for we were still in the emergency. He wrote:
One may argue that the same emergency which existed one hundred fifty years ago still exists in our days, too, perhaps even to a greater degree. The closing of all secular departments in our yeshivos and mesivtos would indeed be a גזירה שאין רוב הציבור יכולין לעמוד בו -- an untenable decree -- for it would turn away innocent Jewish children from Toras emes into the open arms of the Zionist and centrist educational establishments which would expose them to the so-called splendors of the הבלי הבלים of the contemporary cultural climate. (Selected Speeches, pp. 221-2).
     Rav Schwab, who was born just 20 years after Rav Hirsch's death, knew both worlds, the old and the new. He wrote:
The approach of R. Samson Raphael Hirsch enables us to educate and produce God-fearing and Torah loyal young men, and righteous and valiant young women. Indeed, this is the “Frankfurt” approach, also known as the “Torah and Derekh Eretz approach.” It is a tried and tested method. It is especially appropriate in this country, at this time, which has much in common with the Haskalah period in Germany during the previous century.
He wrote also:
Only Torah im derech eretz offers the timeless and Divine Judaism in a way which can be accepted by American Jews today. Only Torah im derech eretz speaks their language, and, therefore, only Torah im derech eretz can pave the messianic road of their eventual return. (Selected Essays, p. 147) 
So what are they going to say now. Oh, they'll come up with something, likely a reference to the Internet. The human imagination knows no bounds. But at a certain point, one is a fool to keep listening to what is obviously foolishness.

     Sometimes when I present Hirsch's own statement about the universality of Torah Im Derech Eretz, I'll spot little smirks that seem intended to disparage him, as if he were not a real gadol in Torah so his comments about his own teachings are suspect.

     Aside from the fact that his masterful five volume commentary on Chumash sits in shuls and yeshivos throughout the world, I turn to the observation of the Kasav Sofer, a Torah giant in his own right and son of the Chasom Sofer, one of the greatest figures of the past 500 years:
I have discussed matters of religious law with [Hirsch] on many occasions, and in whatever I discussed with him he showed that he was thoroughly at home in the Talmud and in the Codes.
We Hungarian rabbis are lucky that he thinks we are greater lamdanim than he. If he knew however, what a great lamdan he himself is, we would have no menucha from him.
This is coming from a man whose standard of excellence was his father the Chasom Sofer, perhaps the most significant rabbinic figure amongst the late acharonim along with the Vilna Gaon and a handful of others.

     And then I turn to some personalities that are the clear leaders of historic yeshiva movement and their thoughts about Rav Hirsch:
It is known among the tribes of Israel what has been achieved by that righteous man, the pious gaon Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, of blessed memory, late head of the beth din of the holy congregation of Frankfurt am Main, who dedicated his strength and energy to Israel and its Torah, in order to restore the crown of the Law to its ancient glory and to lead the hearts of tens of thousands of [the people of] Israel back to our Father in Heaven. This is the man who, until his extreme old age, devoted his whole life to [the task of] winning souls for the Torah and the Testimony, to support and uphold it, with his activities--"the labors of the righteous are life-giving" [Proverbs 10:16]--as well as with his wonderful, renowned books that are irradiated by the light of the Torah and the lamp of the commandments ....  R' Yitzchok Elchanan Spektor
The Nineteen Letters [is] a precious and marvelous work on the Jewish faith ... With this distinguished work he achieved great things; he reestablished the glory of our faith in the kehillos in Germany and taught understanding to the confused ... All his words are drawn from holy sources and sevenfold purified in the crucible of true insight and straight thinking ... .I am very pleased that this work has now been translated into our holy tongue .... and I pray to God that.. .just as this work had a great impact upon our brethren in Germany, so may its effect and splendor multiply among the Jews in our country ....I hope that many of our brethren will bring this precious book into their homes for a blessing, for the strengthening of the faith, for our sacred Torah, and the knowledge of Judaism in its holy purity.  R' Yitzchok Elchanan Spektor
Under the conditions of our time, where many stray from the way of Torah and faith, with some of them unwittingly, from lack of knowledge, drawn after wrong ideas and meaningless beliefs, these erring people should hear the words of the gaon and thinker [Rabbi S. R. Hirsch] who knew the sicknesses of the people of his time and devoted himself to curing them; he knew how to draw pure water, healing waters, to give to the sick of soul. It is therefore very important to spread these precious works in our country too ....  Rabbi Chayim Ozer Grodzensky
I want to ask the young detractors of Hirsch, did R' Yitzchak Elchanon ever write you an approbation? Did he call you a righteous man and pious gaon? What about R' Chaim Ozer? And they are not the only ones. The Gerrer Rebbe called Rav Hirsch "a living musar sefer." Regarding the support given to Rav Hirsch by these great men of Eastern Europe, Rav Schwab wrote, "Moreover, we are saddened that the American-bred disciples of the great Lithuanian lamdishe tradition seem to have forgotten the enthusiastic endorsement of the life work of R' Samson Raphael Hirsch by such men as R' Yitzchak Elchanan Spector or R' Chaim Ozer Grodzensky zatzal." (Selected Essays, p. 143)

     And then there's the gaon Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, the Sridei Aish:

Even the well-disposed of our historians who wish to strive after objective truth have not yet achieved an adequate appreciation of the historic greatness of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Even they talk of him as of a great orator and preacher, who, with the power of his tongue ignited a spark of faith in the hearts of his hearers. It was this force of the spoken word, so they claim, which compelled the simple German Jews to return to a life of traditional observance from which they and their fathers had strayed either in search of material luxury or through a lack of mental stamina. They agree that the establishment of the Adath Jeshurun in Frankfurt--the wonderful edifice which was built in the midst of wholesale abandonment of all defining characteristics of Jewish life--was the first nucleus of the spiritual revival which spread throughout the West. It was this which cleared the way for the movement of "Teshuva" amongst other communities in Germany and elsewhere; and the brilliant achievement of Hirsch served as a model for other great communities in Western Europe and America to establish well-regulated educational institutions in the true spirit of ancient Jewish tradition. 
But this description does not do full justice, and may mislead those who have not become acquainted with the great teacher through his important writings. The mere fact that he was the first after an interval of many generations to compose a complete philosophic work on the Jewish faith, to shed new light on the reasons for the Mitzvot in the Torah, the first after a long interval to write a complete commentary on the whole of Torah and Psalms, a commentary which, besides explaining the text, is full of brilliantly original thoughts; the first in modern times to attempt a synthesis between true religion and the best of modern thought and philosophy--is in itself enough to put him in the front rank of Gedolei Yisroel who have arisen in the European Diaspora.
But even this does not paint the whole picture of his spiritual image. He was the initiator of a religious revival which penetrated to the back-bone of German Jewry and spread beyond her borders even into the large population centres of Eastern Europe, and even into the Courts of the Chassidic Rabbis.  [The Great Teacher, R. Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, The Living Hirschian Legacy, pp. 112-3]
The Sridei Aish was one of the outstanding Talmudists of the century and his awe for Hirsch's greatness in scholarship is palpable.

     More recently, Rav Joseph Soloveitchik whose name is practically synonymous with genius and who was not a flatterer, said, "In the last century there was Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in Germany. He was unique in both his intellectual ability and his emotional sensibility." (R' Joseph Soloveitchik, The Rav, p. 227.)

     Here's something I saw on the Internet:
In reality the success of Chinuch in United States is the active realization of TIDE. As I heard from R' Yaakov Kamenetzky ztz"l, who responded to an inquiry as to how R'SRH should be titled ,and R' Yaakov said the R'SRH should be called Rosh B'nei Hagolah, for even though in his life time his influence was limited primarily to Germany, 'Adank R'SRH there is Yisddishkeit today. '
     To what was he referring? He was referring to the Bais Yaakov movement. Sarah Schenirer drew her inspiration from Rav Hirsch! Hirsch biographer Eliyahu Klugman tells the story:
On Shabbos Chanukah of 1915 a young Polish refugee in Vienna went to the Stumpergasse synagogue. There she heard the drashah of Rabbi Moshe David Flesh (1879-1944), a student of Rabbi Hirsch's son-in-law  and successor, Rabbi Salomon Breuer. Rabbi Flesch often quoted Rabbi Hirsch, and that Shabbos was no exception. The young refugee was electrified by Rabbi Flesh's words and through im she was introduced to the Nineteen Letters and Horeb. The young woman was Sarah Schenirer, and she often said in later years that it was these two works that inspired her to found the Bais Yaakov Movement. (Klugman, pp. 66-7)
     So chutzpadick New York guy, did you ever save klal Yisroel  from spiritual annihilation? Did R' Yaakov Kamenetsky consider calling you Rosh B'nei Hagolah?

     What did R' Aaron Kotler have to say about the Bais Yaakov movement in America, whose founder Vichna Kaplan studied in the Bais Yaakov of Krakow under Sarah Schenirer?
If not for Rav Boruch and Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan who started large scale Bais Yaakov on these shores, there would be no true appreciation for a Ben Torah; for an aspiring Talmid Chacham; for a life consecrated to Torah. There would be no willingness to forgo material comfort for the sake of Talmud Torah: "There would be no Kollelim in America!"  (Dershowitz, Yitzchak (2005). The Legacy of Maran Rav Aharon Kotler)
     As Vichna Kaplan's biographers Danielle S. Leibowitz and Devora Gliksman put it, "Frau Schenirer never actually met Rav Hirsch; he died when she was only five years old. His books, however, were very alive to her. They were the foundation upon which she built Bais Yaakov." (Rebbetzin Vichna Kaplan: The Founder of the Bais Yaakov Movement in America,p. 80) They explain further:
The Nineteen Letters similarly affected Sarah Schenirer. From the first class she taught in the seminary until the last month of her life, Frau Schenirer taught The Nineteen Letters in one form or another. Over the years, hundreds of mimeographed copies of Rav Hirsch's writings were used in the Cracow seminary. Furthermore, the entire Bais Yaakov curriculum was designed by Dr. Deutschlander, another ardent student of Rav Hirsch's writings. 
     I sometimes ask myself, what in the world compelled these people to make their comments about Hirsch and Torah Im Derech Eretz to a young man who certainty needed Hirsch and his derech? Certainly, there is ignorance. Certainly, there is an utter void of seichel. Certainly, also there is a lack of compassion. But I think also there was something else that really was driving it and that is nothing other than arrogance. And not an arrogance that is built on accomplishment but rather the worst kind of arrogance, the kind that comes from being a spoiled child. For here you have people who haven't accomplished anything of note. They didn't build yiddishkite in America. They fathers and grandfathers did that. They didn't battle the Russian draft or the Holocaust. They grew up in New York in the 1960s and 70s. As far as the golus has gone, it was something of a religious paradise - freedom, money, health care, physical safety, Torah institutions, gadolim all over the place. What did these people do besides enjoy all of that, free of charge. Even to this day, a large percentage of them are supported financially by parents and grandparents. And they question Rav Hirsch who saved klal Yisroel, which means he saved the universe! The chutzpah is monumental. One could faint just contemplating it.

     And still we have people today who honor Rav Hirsch but question his derech. It has become almost common for people to mention Hirsch - for many of us need his commentary on Chumash to get through the parsha and certainly to deliver speeches - but to distance themselves from Torah Im Derech Eretz, saying it doesn't apply anymore. Well, nobody is obligated to follow that derech but don't you dare dissuade anybody who gravitates to it. It is a derech as good as yours, maybe better. As Rav Shimon Schwab noted, “Torah Im Derech Eretz is not a kulah but a chumrah.” He said, "Rav Hirsch also had behind him a solid mesorah from gadolim who showed him the way. From the time of Chazal through the period of the Geonim; the Rambam, the Chachmei Sepharad through the Talmidei Hagra all the way down to his own Rebbe the Oruch L’ner and his disciples. Rav Hirsch had his mesorah."

     Is there an emergency? Do emergency measures need to be taken? Yes indeed. We have an epidemic of chutzpah. Bring in a team of surgeons please.

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