Was Rav Hirsch Modern Orthodox?

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Judaism locates authenticity in continuity with the past. Religious claims gain greater authority by connecting to precedents, the older the better. This turns the study of history into an exercise far greater than an academic search for truth. It is a quest for religious justification. This politicization of Jewish history, the elevation of historical explanations to the theological level, forces us into caution when evaluating controversial claims. Radical historical theories, of which there seems to be no end, may pique interest but must be held at bay before the speculative harms the practical. The rewriting of history to fit religio-political goals is a pitfall faced across the religious spectrum.

One victim of historical revisionism is R. Samson Raphael Hirsch (Wikipedia bio). The nineteenth century Jewish leader pioneered a unique form of Orthodoxy, called neo-Orthodoxy. A prolific writer and original thinker, R. Hirsch’s image as a staunch Orthodox leader is claimed by multiple sub-communities within Orthodoxy today. Was R. Hirsch the equivalent of Charedi, Modern Orthodox or somewhere in between? In a recent essay, part of a series on Modern Rabbinic Thought, R. Yitzchak Blau argues that R. Hirsch can be anachronistically classified as Modern Orthodox (link).

It would be wrong, I believe, to focus on practice. R. Hirsch occasionally exhibited some unusual practices, such as wearing canonicals adopted by Christian and non-Orthodox clergy, enforcing limitations on head coverings (link) and removing Kol Nidrei from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I suspect that the first and last were concessions under extreme pressure and the middle was an example of his German acculuration that is best examined as a philosophy. Rather, the appropriate method to determining whether R. Hirsch can be classified is by examining his philosophy and ideology. This is precisely what R. Blau did.

In a post a few years ago (link), I listed a number of Modern Orthodox values and argued that someone who espouses many of them falls within the spectrum of Modern Orthodoxy (exactly how many varies by value and remains unclear). R. Blau lists the following two of R. Hirsch’s views that are NOT Modern Orthodox:

  1. Non- (or anti-)Zionism
  2. Separation from the non-Orthodox community

I would have added R. Hirsch’s staunch opposition to the academic study of Judaism. He wrote at length against it, declaring many of its practitioners heretics — including the great Orthodox halakhist R. David Tzvi Hoffmann!

R. Blau proceeds to list the following of R. Hirsch’s views that are consistent with Modern Orthodoxy, stopping to prove the assertions that may be controversial:

  1. Analyzing biblical characters as great but flawed human beings
  2. Considering the legends of the Talmud (aggados) to be non-binding
  3. Asserting that the science of the talmudic sages was occasionally incorrect
  4. Encouraging women’s intellectual development
  5. Embracing a Universalist belief in the spiritual value of all people regardless of race, sex, nationality or religion
  6. Believing in the inherent value in secular studies, including the liberal arts

Some of these descriptions of R. Hirsch’s views are controversial. Charedi writers have long tried to rewrite his philosophy as theirs, allowing that he accommodated certain ideas as an outreach tool, in order to keep people within the fold, but never believed they were ideal. R. Blau correctly dismisses that approach as false revisionism. More than writing history in their own image, these would-be historians attempt to negate Modern Orthodoxy’s authenticity by severing its connection to the past.

Do these proto-Modern Orthodox views overcome the non-Modern Orthodox views and add up to a Modern Orthodox identity? I’m less certain than R. Blau. Zionism and some sort of Feminism are currently among the primary platforms of Modern Orthodoxy and R. Hirsch was antagonistic to the former and very weakly aligned with the latter. His championing of woman’s Torah education is no more than what is currently standard in the Charedi community today. And his aversion to academic history mitigates his creativity in biblical commentary. I would say that R. Hirsch lies somewhere in between Charedi and Modern Orthodox Judaism, in the middle ground that is quickly disappearing as we grow more polarized.

Does Modern Orthodoxy need R. Hirsch as one of their own? Dr. David Berger, in a fabulous essay in Judaism’s Encounter with Other Cultures: Rejection or Integration?, shows a long history of medieval Modern Orthodox thinkers (using the term anachronistically, of course) and Dr. Shnayer Leiman, in the same volume, describes similar figures in the modern era. Modern Orthodoxy has ample authenticity and authority that it can afford to view R. Hirsch as an opposition figure, perhaps somewhat sympathetic, who has much to teach even if he would vehemently oppose some Modern Orthodox teachings.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. He also serves on the Editorial Boards of Jewish Action magazine, the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society and the Achieve Journal of Behavioral Health, Religion & Community, as well as the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

122 comments

  1. >Religious claims gain greater authority by connecting to precedents, the older the better.

    I disagree. For all intents and purposes you’re better off in Orthodoxy showing your connectivity with the recent past than with the Rishonim, Amoraim, etc. In fact, if you can’t show recent connectivity no one believes that you’re following in the footsteps of the earlier authorities and precedents.

    As far as R. Hirsch, re canonicals and the rest, none of them were in very unusual in the 19th century in Germany. Pressure to wear canonicals? He was born in 1808, and he dressed like a rabbi of his time and place. No pressure about it. Also, it’s a mistake to see him as too much of a pioneer. He was, again, fairly typical of a type of rabbi in his time and place. Just about every German Orthodox rabbi born around his time had a similar outlook and influences. He was of course a dynamo and original in other ways, but it is hardly as if he was so unusual in a sea of long-bearded, long-frocked, Yiddish-speaking German rabbis and he just remade the rabbinate single-handedly.

  2. The Zionism issue requires much clearer distinctions to have an intelligent conversation. R Hirsch died a decade before the 1st Zionist Congress in Basel; and a mere 5 years after the founding of Rishon le’Zion!

  3. I think that any assessment of RSRH’s writings should focus, largely, but not exclusively on RSRH’s writings, which cannot be considered as Charedi by the contemporary definition, especially given RSRH’s views on secular knowledge, education and culture. Oustritt and a German nationalist POV are but two parts of RSRH’s entire POV.

  4. i suggest you (and R Blau) read R’ Elias’s introduction to 19 letters where he states that R’ Hirsch’s presence and ideology were different than the Torah Only camp, and the other camp which believed to embrace the outside world. He also says that his existence poses problems for both. The Torah Only world in that you can live with the outside world and be religious, and the Embrace the Outside World in the fact that everything has to start from the Torah and that you can live a Torah true lifestyle in the modern world without compromising on either.

  5. 1) I doubt the canonicals or Kol Nidrei omission were due to pressure. There certainly is no evidence of it.

    2) MO, I think, is primarily defined by its embrace of enlightened “secular” wisdom and belief that a Torah life should be lived in the actual world rather than in a holy community divorced from it. On these two accounts, no one was more MO than Rav Hirsch. (On many other issues, there’s of course room for debate.)

  6. I think that R Elias’ introduction to the Nineteen Letters warrants comparison to the original version and translation, as well as the Collected Writings of RSRH.

  7. This video says it all when it comes to who is or isn’t Orthodox:

  8. While it is true that Orthodox Judaism values continuity, that doesn’t make it any less intellectually dishonest to try to place figures even from the relatively recent past into modern political contexts. Rav Hirsch, as observed, shared some views with various modern groupings but was not fully consonant with any, which is what we should expect given the very different society in which he lived. And you have to be careful–for example, his Austritt program was a response to the power that came with control of the Gemeinde. Would he have felt the need to dissociate from the nonreligious in modern circumstances? I don’t see how anyone can tell. Would he have been as enthusiastic about either modern popular culture or modern academic culture as he was about German culture of the 19th century? Again, I don’t see any honest way to tell.

  9. @Baruch- R Hirsh embrace of secular wisdom was only of that which came from the Torah. For him everything started from the Torah and everything had to be purely Torah. This is why he did austritt. Because in order to have a true torah society, it had to be without the outside society. he believed that the Torah itself mandated knowing about the world, not that the world helped know the torah. Its a slight nuance of a difference, but the reason why his community is not MO is because of that nuance. The reason why his community did not except zionism was primarily because it came from non-torah true ideas and input of secular zionism.

    As R’ Lamm points out in Torah Umaada, there was always debate as to how much we should integrate or separate from the outside world. Where R’ Hirsch would likely differ is whether Shakespeare (or milton) could/should help you understand Torah, or whether Torah should be understood without the coloring of it, and rather the outside world should be understood through the Torah.

  10. R’ SRH did not create the “modern” element of neo-Orthodoxy, if anyone did its his predecessors from the generation beforehand, Chacham Bernays and R’ Y. Ettlinger (the Aruch LaNer). What R Hirsch was, however, was its best polemicist and, in Frankfurt, a better then competent community organizer. Modern Orthodoxy owes more debt to R’ Hirsch’s colleague, the lesser known, R’ Hildesheimer.

    However, as mentioned in Gil’s post, there is one area where R’ Hirsch did do something new, first manifesting itself in Frankfurt and that is his sense of communal organization … of his advocacy of a specifically Orthodox communal structure. This is an element of his philosophy he developed after the Nineteen Letters and Horeb, when he came to the conclusion that Reform Judaism was not reconcilable with halachic Judaism. And here, modern haredi Judaism better reflects what R SR Hirsch wanted … an insular community relying on its own institutions. Even the haredi do not totally reflect R’ SRH views here though as he also believed the leadership needs to be elected.

    It is true that R SRH was no Zionist. But that is somewhat mitigated by the fact that he died in 1888, the Dreyfus Affair started in 1894 and Theodor Herzl wrote the Jewish State in 1896. Simply, modern political Zionism had not started when R Hirsch died.

  11. Because in order to have a true torah society, it had to be without the outside society. he believed that the Torah itself mandated knowing about the world, not that the world helped know the torah.

    No. He believed outside society had to be taught in a certain Torah-true fashion. But he certainly believed the world helped know the Torah.

  12. “As far as R. Hirsch, re canonicals and the rest, none of them were in very unusual in the 19th century in Germany.”

    And you can still find them in 21st century Manhattan.

  13. GIL:

    “It would be wrong, I believe, to focus on practice. R. Hirsch occasionally exhibited some unusual practices, such as wearing canonicals adopted by Christian and non-Orthodox clergy”

    so was r. bernays christian or non-orthodox? (i.e., don’t conflate eastern and western europe)

    “I suspect that the first and last were concessions under extreme pressure”

    1) was r. bernays also submitting under pressure with regards to canoncicals?
    2) rosenbloom’s biography is emphatic that rsrh adopted some of his “controversial” practices, incl. excising kol nidre, despite the opposition of his community to his unilateral moves (and certainly not because of duress from them). also note that he didn’t inlude kol nidre in Horeb (along with other “objectionable” practices)
    3) he removed kol nidre when he was still in oldenberg. iirc, according to the artscroll bio (one of their better volumes) this was a one-time occurence and he restored it the following year. can anyone verify? in any case, certainly later in moravia he did not excise it (yet he still managed to cause controversy by speaking after kol nidre rather than prior)

    “R. Blau lists the following two of R. Hirsch’s views that are NOT Modern Orthodox . . . Separation from the non-Orthodox community”

    in fact this does describe many (most?) contemporary MO communities

  14. not sure if i was clear in the previous ramble, but rosenbloom paints a picture of rsrh as someone who marched to th beat of his own drum, even when harmed his interests.

    (but its always easier to think that a/the rav did something because of pressure from balabatim)

  15. Yeshivish Harry:
    It’s great that Rabbi Elias properly notes in his volume that R’ Boruch Ber was unfamiliar with Hirsch’s lifestance and therefore placed ideas common in his own world into Hirsch’s mouth. But Elias unfortunately completely misunderstands basic elements of Hirsch’s philosophy, including how ideological his view of secular studies really was. I wrote a small essay about this in Hakirah in more formative days: http://hakirah.org/Vol%207%20Pelta.pdf

    (I’m not the Baruch from before btw)

  16. Michael Feldstein

    http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/734813/Rabbi_Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff/Rav_Hirsch,_The_Rav,_and_Their_Contrasting_Views_Of_Yeshiva_University

    See above for a shiur on a related subject…an excellent lecture by R. Rakeffet on the Rav, Rav Hirsch, and their differing opinions about YU.

  17. “in fact this does describe many (most?) contemporary MO communities”

    Good point. Many (most?) MO communities are pretty uninviting to non-observant Jews.

  18. ayeshivishharry.blogspot.com

    >For him everything started from the Torah and everything had to be purely Torah. This is why he did austritt.

    And R. Seligman Baer Bamberger and other opponents of austritt felt differently?

    Charlie Hall

    >And you can still find them in 21st century Manhattan.

    You can, but that’s anachronistic, sort of like up-hats.

  19. R. Ellman famously claims that nearly every Talmudic figure was Modern Orthodox.

    I think the Zionism and non-Orthodox issues are two sides of the same coin. Further, it’s kind of hard to say what someone’s stance on Modern Zionism would have been when he died before the movement really existed. I don’t find it hard to imagine that R’ Hirsch would have reconciled himself to the modern State of Israel (especially as it is not ideologically Reform), with more than half the world’s Jews, more easily than Charedim have (in their minds only, perhaps).

    And, speaking of minds only, saying that his version of Torah study for women aligns with Charedim of today neglects the point that Charedim may not want to admit to themselves how far they’ve come. R’ Hirsch would have.

    “he believed that the Torah itself mandated knowing about the world, not that the world helped know the torah.”

    Kind of a mean trick to do that without actually going into the world, as his community advocates today.

    “but the reason why his community is not MO is because of that nuance”

    No, it’s because they’ve become Charedi. The picture Gil uses was used on the front page of Hamevaser years back to illustrate an article about when KAJ lost its way. Copies made their way west to Breuerland (now, increasingly, YU West), and scandal ensued. Much of KAJ “hashkafa” today involves drawing artificial boundaries between R’ Hirsch and YU.

    For a much different picture, see the Horev schools in Israel. R’ Rakeffet calls them the last true heirs (lineal, that is) of R’ Hirsch. They mean it when they write “Torah im Derech Eretz” over their doors, and they gave up on the anti-Zionism around, oh, 1933.

  20. Calling Rav Hirsch anti-Zionist makes as much sense as calling the Chatam Sofer, Zionist

  21. “It is true that R SRH was no Zionist. But that is somewhat mitigated by the fact that he died in 1888, the Dreyfus Affair started in 1894 and Theodor Herzl wrote the Jewish State in 1896. Simply, modern political Zionism had not started when R Hirsch died.”

    Not true. Herzl has become the face of modern Zionism, but it definitely existed much earlier. I am no history expert, but I realized when I read Daniel Deronda (published in 1876), which is full of political Zionism, that it must have been a pretty strong movement already by the mid-nineteenth century. Additionally, a quick google search for Hirsch and Zionism comes up with excerpts of his writings in which he is clearly addressing the Zionists and telling them that they are wrong.
    I think a unique feature of “on the ground” modern orthodoxy which is being ignored is the predominance of coeducational schools, camps, and youth groups. I don’t think that Rav Hirsch would be so thrilled about those, and this seems to be another factor distancing him from modern orthodoxy.

  22. Why characterise Rav Hirsch’s position as believing that “the science of the Talmudic sages was occasionally incorrect”? Rav Hirsch believed that Chazal relied on the ‘scientists’ of their time and had no privileged access to scientific truth. Inasmuch as the ‘science’ of Sassanian Babylonia was extremely primitive when judged by contemporary standards, and pretty much every single theory that it maintained about how the world worked was wrong, I think it is fairer to say that there is no particular reason to assume that Chazal’s scientific understanding was correct at all.

  23. I disagree. For all intents and purposes you’re better off in Orthodoxy showing your connectivity with the recent past than with the Rishonim, Amoraim, etc. In fact, if you can’t show recent connectivity no one believes that you’re following in the footsteps of the earlier authorities and precedents.

    That results from a distrust in academic methods and a resulting preference of emotional over intellectual connections, rather than an inherent preference for the newer authorities.

    —————–

    On a more general level: R’ Jonathan Sacks, in one of his older books, has an in depth discussion of various frum intellectual figures from the last few hundred years. He came to the conclusion that RYBS for instance had a new and inherently “modern” worldview – using concepts like existentialism which no pre-modern thinker would have understood the need for – while R’ Hirsch simply gave a fancy presentation to the pre-modern worldview. If we are to define MO in a certain way – and I’m not sure if this is the most useful way – then this is a good indication that R’ Hirsch was NOT MO. R’ Sacks, after all, cannot be accused of spreading apologetics for the charedi community.

  24. Considering that much of the Zionism of that period was religious, then, it makes R’ Hirsch’s position even more problematic: That he wasn’t objecting to the secular nature of it so much as reflecting his intense love of Germany. (Does he ever cite the Shalosh Shevuot? Unlike Mendelssohn, I don’t think he does.) Of course, any tendency in that direction should have died in, as I said, 1933.

    I think that one of R’ Hirsch’s problems is that he’s seen not so much in favor of modernity as in favor of *his* modernity, i.e., mid-19th Century Germany. The Rambam seems sometimes to suffer from the same problem: He thinks science and philosophy is great, so long as it’s medieval Greco-Judeo-Arabic. That’s just as dated as Jewish German patriotism. In their defense, of course, they didn’t really know of anything else.

  25. Oh, one more thing: Perhaps we’re lucky that late 20th Century culture has produced very little of value. That allows American-style (and perhaps kal v’chomer Israeli-style) Modern Orthodoxy to develop without being burdened with supporting what’s around them, instead being free to cite, say, Artistotle and Shakespeare and Mozart and the 1940’s Yankees and the 1950’s Hardy Boys and the occasional 1980’s or 1990’s gem without being hopelessly dated come, say, the year 2100.

  26. Also, I think R. Gil’s typology of MO and therefore understanding R. Hirsch’s relationship to it is missing some key elements. The point of TUM for MO, and TIDE for Rav Hirsch, is the Jews are partners in humanity’s endeavour of ‘yishuv ha’olam’ in all of its manifestations, and not merely because the individual finds meaning in it. Also, I think MO and Rav Hirsch’s view of what man ‘is’ is different from the general Charedi view. One doesn’t see much in Rav Hirsch’s thought about man merely being a soul who has descended into this world to collect brownie points. Lastly, the Charedi view of the ‘natural order’ merely being a veil for Hashem, which has little inherent value, is very far from MO and Hirschian thought (this is also related to various conceptions of hashgacha pratis)

  27. Binyomin Eckstein

    Rav Hirsch was most certainly not Charedi in the sense of separatism from the world at large, and current Charedi trends are moving further away from his mold. But someone like Rav Moshe Sherer would fit the Hirschian mold as well as, or better than, any MO figure.

  28. Nachum: “I think that one of R’ Hirsch’s problems is that he’s seen not so much in favor of modernity as in favor of *his* modernity”

    If I recall correctly, this is Rabbi Lamm’s concluding criticism of Rav Hirsch in Torah u’Madda, even while he lists TIDE as one of the possible models for TuM.

  29. People do not understand what Austritt was. Austritt did NOT mean distancing oneself from the non-Orthodox. It meant distancing oneself from non-Orthodox INSTITUTIONS.

    The communal bylaws of Rabbi Hirsch’s congregation state clearly that only officers are required to be observant, and congregants are required merely to circumcise their children.

    Therefore, Austritt was institutional, not personal.

    Furthermore, one must look at the LOGIC and PURPOSE of Austritt. Rabbi Hirsch said that if one associates with a non-Orthodox INSTITUTION, it will appear that one is lending them legitimacy. At the time, when the battle between Reform and Orthodox was still being actively waged, this made sense. If an Orthodox rabbi spoke at the Reform seminary, for example, one might seriously believe that the Orthodox rabbi was lending them legitimacy. But imagine if today, HUC invited a rabbi from YU to give a talk about the Talmud. Would anyone think that this YU rabbi was endorsing Reform Judaism? Of course not. Today, the lines are clearly drawn, and everyone knows who is who, and we can easily associate with each other without appearing to legitimize each other. This was not true in Rabbi Hirsch’s time. So according to Rabbi Hirsch’s own logic and justification for Austritt, it seems to me to be unlikely that he was insist on it today, or at least, he would mitigate and reduce it to some degree or another. Indeed, as far as I know, Rabbi Hirsch did not forbid Orthodox Jews from associating with non-Jewish institutions, because it would be patently obvious that if an Orthodox rabbi gives a talk to a room full of Christian ministers about what the Talmud is, that he is not endorsing Christianity; Austritt is not necessary between Jews and gentiles because it is patently obvious that there is an enormous gulf between the two. In Rabbi Hirsch’s time, however, the line between Reform and Orthodox was not yet as clear, and the battle was still being fought. Compare how today, a Protestant and a Catholic can be friendly, and they do not treat each other as they would if they lived in the time of Martin Luther.

  30. Marc Shapiro’s piece on RSRH and Friedrich von Schiller is certainly worth reading in the context of this debate:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/32655460/Untitled

    RSRH, like all great men, was a complex personality who surely cannot be neatly packaged into one religious camp or another. Having said that, one does wonder how many Roshei Yeshiva who would claim RSRH as one of their own, would even know who Friedrich von Schiller was, or who his modern day equivalent is, let alone have any interest in what he had, or his modern day equivalent has to say on any matter of import. Similarly, one wonders whether those very same Roshei Yeshivah would have any perspective on Aristotelian philosophy, or anything approaching the Rambam’s appreciation for it.

  31. Lawrence Kaplan

    Rav Hirsch, IIRC, does cite the Shalosh Shevuot in his letter to Rav Zvi Hirsch Kalischer refusing to cooperate with him in RZHK colonization attempt. Also motivating his refusal was the fact that many non-Orthodox individuals had prominent places in these attempts. For Rav Hirsch, the way to bring redemption by observing the mitzvot in the diaspora under the new conditons of emancipation. Love for Germany has nothing to do with it.

    Nachum: Get ahold of Shemesh Marpeh, read the letters. and then comment. I do not have the book available just now.

  32. Shachar Ha'amim

    RSRH was obviously against political zionism, as well as being neutral (or even anti-) to the idea of settlement in E”Y and a return to Zion. In that respect, American Haredim and even many MO of today are his followers – in practice, if not also in perspective.

    I don’t understand why R. Y. Blau aligns modern orthodoxy with Zionism. There are clearly mondern orthodox non – and even anti-zionsists – and their numbers are growing. Frankly much of their outlook is indeed a throwback to early 20th century central european orthodoxy.
    also, the aguda was founded as a response to Zionism by yekkim from the Austritt community – they certainly didn’t see their anti-zionism as counter to RSRH’s teachings.

  33. If you want to see how RSRH’s ideas might have developed in an age of anti-Semitism and secular Zionism, look at his grandson, R. Yitzchak Breuer. The first principle is always “Torah as the constitution of the Jewish people”, which means that no secular Jewish institution can be recognised as legitimate — whether it’s the Frankfurt Gemeinde or the Zionist movement. “Austritt” or “separation” is potentially misleading. It’s only separation from the viewpoint of the German state! For RSRH and RIB, it’s the preservation or restoration of the community, and those who do not acknowledge the supremacy of Torah are the ones who left. But this has to do with inner-Jewish politics, not with general culture or derekh eretz. The political task is to demonstrate the supremacy of Torah, but this is not a withdrawal from the community. Indeed, the cultural task — Torah im derekh eretz — is intimately connected: to demonstrate the supremacy of Torah. In both cases, it is necessary NOT to withdraw, but to engage, while at the same time avoiding any compromise of principle.

  34. “There are clearly mondern orthodox non – and even anti-zionsists – and their numbers are growing.”

    Really? I’m surprised. How do you know this? Where are these MO to be found? I’m curious because my impression is that this is not the case.

  35. Even if there are (very) small pockets of MO non/anti-Zionism, it comes from a very different place than its Charedi counterpart.

  36. Thinking about it, the very idea of trying to see if someone from the 19th century, with his facts on his ground, would support us with our facts on our ground is a little absurd. What are we positing, would he be MO in every aspect if he could be reanimated today, or if he was born in the United States in 1940? He would not be the same person if the latter, and we can’t simply plop him down into the present and expect him or anyone to adjust, if the former. We also have to assume that all interpretations of Judaism evolve. If so, what we’re really asking is if American Modern Orthodoxy 130 years later has reasonably evolved from Hirschian TIDE.

    I recently posted about how in 1865 Uri Kovner wrote an essay saying that the earth is millions of years old, and humans are far older than 6000 years, and this was considered beyond the pale by the establishment Maskilim of the time, including the very same Maskil who wrote that the Chanukah nes of the oil never happened (link).

    It hardly needs to be said that today the idea that the universe is billions of years old and even that humans and apes have common ancestors is widely accepted by many Orthodox Jews, who do not consider themselves nihilstic Maskilim? (And Kovner did not even go so far as to endorse Darwin! – Darwinism was also opposed by Reform rabbis.)

  37. Lawrence Kaplan

    Both Isaac Breuer and the Agudah abandoned the policy of political separatism in the land of Israel and joined the general community. This is neatly summarized by the title of one of Bbenny Brown’s articles, “The Hazon Ish: From Political Separatism to Religious-Cultural Entrenchment.”

  38. “Both Isaac Breuer and the Agudah abandoned the policy of political separatism in the land of Israel and joined the general community.”

    And Poalei Agudas Yisroel, with which Breuer was closely tied, merged to a large extent with the Mizrachi community.

  39. “Even if there are (very) small pockets of MO non/anti-Zionism, it comes from a very different place than its Charedi counterpart.”

    Yes, it comes from the wrong place. I see it as a trend towards general liberalism in all areas, in other words, a move to the left. Since anti-zionism is axiomatic to much of the left, that move of MO to non or anti-zionism is not surprising.

  40. Poalei Agudas Yisrael was assassinated by a certain well-known Bnei Brak rabbi. What would have otherwise become of it is anyone’s guess.

  41. My question is – who the hell cares? We face many difficult challenges which RSRH (and many predecessors) could have never dreamed of. We have to stop riding on the coat-tails of predecesors and stand up for ourselves. This living in someone else’s shadow and constantly checking for their possible approval does us no favors.

    We may be midgets standing on the shoulders of giants, but we still see farther.

  42. Lawrence Kaplan

    aiwac: First you have to cllmb up onto his shoulders. You might just learn something.

  43. “There are clearly mondern orthodox non – and even anti-zionsists – and their numbers are growing.”

    balloney.
    anti-zionists probably tiny, tiny amount
    practically speaking most MO is indeed non-zionist, but this is a factor of apathy, not ideology

  44. LAWRENCE KAPLAN:

    “aiwac: First you have to cllmb up onto his shoulders. You might just learn something.”

    iirc that was r. lamm’s language, not aiwac’s

  45. The discussion so far has disregarded what I consider a distinctly non-haredi aspect of RSRH’s ideology and his communal activity — his focus on ba`al ha-batim. RSRH defined his ideal personality as the Mensch-Yissroel, and this was a typology for the average Jew. Moreover, RSRH established a grade school, which was meant to produce frum ba`al ha-batim. (Contrast to R. Hildesheimer who established a rabbinical seminary.) To my mind this is very different from (a) contemporary haredi ideology which devalues the simple frum Jew who works for a living — even if he learns at night, and (b) contemporary haredi institutions which are oriented toward producing gedolim.

  46. Eli,

    Unfortunately, MO (and to a lesser extent some parts of RZ) is no less guilty of this intellectual elitism. We’re so obsessed with intellectual issues (that concern maybe 15% of the MO sector) that the investment in the poshiter yidden has fallen behind. Indeed, the phenomenon of MO Jews feeling “second best” because they aren’t mega-wealthy or the next Brisker is quite common – and destructive.

  47. Prof. Kaplan,

    No doubt, but your statement does not invalidate mine.

  48. Let’s cut to the chase. The classification question — was RSRH modern orthodox? — is ill-formed and uninteresting. What’s important is whether one agrees with his various positions, and whether or how they should be adapted in light of different circumstances.

    1. Should orthodox Jews participate in non-orthodox institutions? Should orthodox schools, e.g., take money from Federations? Should orthodox Jews participate in the general Zionist movement, or the State of Israel?

    RSRH would, in the context of his own day, have given a resounding “No”.

    2. Should orthodox Jews treat the culture of the world at large as (a) an alien intrusion to be resisted at all costs, (b) a practical challenge to be negotiated in a pragmatic way, (c) a practical and theoretical challenge, to be engaged from an ahistorical, Torah perspective, in order to demonstrate the supremacy of Torah and the progress of humanity towards the acknowledgment of that supremacy; or (d) a dynamic interaction from which both derekh eretz and Torah emerge as changed?

    RSRH would have favoured (c). But this is connected, as noted above, to his preferred version of derekh eretz: namely, the anti-historicist idealism associated with Schiller and, in a more sophisticated version, with Hegel. So what happens when the culture develops in a historicist way, or when it moves beyond historicism to a kind of nihilism, as happened in Germany between RSRH’s day and the rise of Nazism? And what approach should we take today?

    To my mind, this is far more worthwhile to discuss than the question of how to classify RSRH in terms of contemporary, amateur Jewish sociology.

  49. Rav Hirsch is Rav Hirsch. Forget the labels.

    He agreed with some features of what is today called MO and disagreed with others. Great Jewish thinkers need to be understood on their own terms. Why the obsession with labels? Open oneself to the words of tzadikim without being driven by semantics, politics, marketing, slogans, agendas etc.

  50. ben dov…but internet debates thrive on these things…

  51. BTW, did RSRH really declare R. Dovid Tzvi Hoffman a heretic?! My impression was that he was a great defender of the faith. I mean, he’s most well-known for his takedown of Wellhausen?! How could RSRH blast him, of all people?

  52. One more thing – was RSRH really the pioneer of Austritt? According to Jacob Katz, they’d accomplished this kind of separation (on a much larger scale) in Hungary years before…

  53. >BTW, did RSRH really declare R. Dovid Tzvi Hoffman a heretic?! My impression was that he was a great defender of the faith. I mean, he’s most well-known for his takedown of Wellhausen?! How could RSRH blast him, of all people?

    First of all, this just goes to show you a little something about heresy hunting, or at least seeing heresy in too many places.

    Secondly, it’s a little more measured that that. R. Hirsch didn’t volunteer his opinion, but when he was asked – by Rabbi Hoffmann himself, after his book was attacked, R. Hirsch said that the doctoral thesis “Mar Samuel” was heretical. Mar Samuel, of course, was a completely unremarkable, typical type of Wissenschaft work which any Hildesheimer rabbi would have written. Basically anyone who doesn’t feel his neck getting hot when reading, say, the Jewish Quarterly Review, stands with R. Hoffmann.

  54. “Since anti-zionism is axiomatic to much of the left, that move of MO to non or anti-zionism is not surprising.”

    Before we get to “surprising” we should determine whether it’s true. My perception is that it’s not true, but I’m open to other positions if supported by some facts. So far all we’ve had are assertions w/o substance.

  55. S.,

    What exactly did R. Hoffman say in Mar Samuel?

  56. 2. Should orthodox Jews treat the culture of the world at large as (a) an alien intrusion to be resisted at all costs, (b) a practical challenge to be negotiated in a pragmatic way, (c) a practical and theoretical challenge, to be engaged from an ahistorical, Torah perspective, in order to demonstrate the supremacy of Torah and the progress of humanity towards the acknowledgment of that supremacy; or (d) a dynamic interaction from which both derekh eretz and Torah emerge as changed?

    RSRH would have favoured (c). But this is connected, as noted above, to his preferred version of derekh eretz: namely, the anti-historicist idealism associated with Schiller and, in a more sophisticated version, with Hegel. So what happens when the culture develops in a historicist way, or when it moves beyond historicism to a kind of nihilism, as happened in Germany between RSRH’s day and the rise of Nazism? And what approach should we take today?

    (c)? I do not agree. I don’t know what you mean in (d) about changing Torah, but he believed that exposure to derech eretz led to a higher level of Torah. He originally (when he wrote the 19 Letters, before austritt) believed that the concerns of the Reform would be integrated into Torah Judaism (and that through thesis and anti-thesis, you’d have higher level Torah Jews). So maybe the Torah would not change in his view yet the practice of and approach of the people to it would. And while he abandoned the idea of Reform integration later on, I have never seen any indication he abandoned the idea that secular knowledge improves the Torah Jew. He did not merely believe that Torah’s supremacy would be shown through engaging in secular studies, he believed that Torah Jews would be changed by the secular studies.

  57. HAGTBG,

    So why was he such an enemy of Wissenschaft?

  58. Binyomin Eckstein

    היו מי שטענו נגד הרב הירש, שהוא כאילו הרגיש אהדה מיוחדת לתרבות האשכנזית וכאילו הודה בזכות ריומה של הפילוסופיה המודרנית בתור השלמה לתרבות היהודית לשם הפראתה המחשבתית. אני לא מצאתי סמך לדעה זו בכתבי-הירש. אדרבה, הוא נלחם נגד הנסיון למדוד את היהדות בקני מידה פילוסופיים ודרש, להיפך, למדוד את הפילוסופיה העולמית בקנה מידה של תורת ישראל
    (הרב יחיאל יעקב ויינברג, תורת חיים – משנתו של רש”ר הירש)

  59. AIWAC:

    “What exactly did R. Hoffman say in Mar Samuel?”

    i don’t know what he said spcifically, but fwiu he understood mishnaic texts historically and sociologically akin to fraenkel (and apparently r. hoffman’s First Mishnah was pretty similar to fraenkel’s Darchei ha-Mishna)

    also rsrh’s criticism was only against r. hoffman, but against rabbinarseminar wissenschaft in general. he also attacked jacob barth’s teaching on yeshaya

    see ellenson’s biograsphy of r. hildesheimer. all this discusses there.

  60. “was only against r. hoffman” = wasn’t only against r. hoffman

  61. where does r. reines fit in?

  62. Well, I guess that ties in to the perennial debate as to whether there’s any point in combining Weissenchaft and Talmud Torah. My general impression so far is that most attempts at synthesis won’t work for Orthodoxy. At most, they are parallel worlds that can occasionally, and selectively, learn from each other. That, in any event, seems to be the sentiment over at R. Alan Brill’s blog when this subject was discussed:

    http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/yct-graduation-speech-where-is-the-promised-land/

  63. R. Reinis is an interesting case. He was a pragmatic Zionist (not a Messianic one) who insisted on religious educational autonomy when the Zionist movement decided to become involved in education. HE also established a yeshiva which taught secular studies. Yet, he refused to combine the two – the “open” yeshiva was separate from his Zionist activities. Like I said, interesting case.

  64. I wonder how many commenters here actually read Rav Hirsch. Please read Nineteen Letters (without Rabbi Elias’s horrific commentary), Horeb and a selection of his many essays, and then please come back and comment.

    How anyone can characterize Rav Hirsch’s attitude toward the world, toward knowledge, toward non-Jews, and toward the mission of a Jew in this world as charedi is beyond me. He is simply worlds away from charedi thought (which, therefore means, he lands somewhere in the “wide MO tent” — as Richard Joel puts it).

  65. So why was he such an enemy of Wissenschaft?

    From what I recall he was against treating Torah like a dead document, which is how he viewed the Wissenschaft.

  66. Was Wissenschaft truly guilty as charged, or was it merely some practitioners who did so? Or to put it differently, was Scholem right when he charged that the practitioners were out to give the old-time religious Judaism a “proper burial”?

  67. >What exactly did R. Hoffman say in Mar Samuel?

    That Shmuel was a human being and that you can do to him what everyone does to Rav Hirsch himself, namely study the facts of his life and circumstances and teachings and form a picture of the man. Also, R. Hoffmann could quote Zunz and Raschi on the same page. See pg. 69. These are things which Rav Hirsch felt was treif-possul.

  68. >Was Wissenschaft truly guilty as charged, or was it merely some practitioners who did so? Or to put it differently, was Scholem right when he charged that the practitioners were out to give the old-time religious Judaism a “proper burial”?

    Like most stereotypes, it comes from somewhere, not manufactured out of thing air. But also like most stereotypes, it’s simply wrong to paint with a broad brush. Besides, many of the excesses of Wissenschaft came about as a corrective to the old methods, and when all is said and done, Wissenschaft made many contributions to traditional learning via the old “kabel et haemet” thing (acknowledged or unacknowledged).

  69. Another thing which I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite pointed out out is that R. Hirsch had a personal issue with Wissenschaft. By Wissenschaft standards his philological method was little better than gematria, and the rest of his teachings were little better than the drashos of a maggid. Not surprisingly he did not agree. In fact, if memory serves, he argued that his work was as much Wissenschaft (i.e., scientific) as Juedische Wissenschaft, because that only mean systematic.

    Secondly, perhaps he saw the casualties of Oriental and Philosophical studies at German universities. If you read, e.g., Kaufmann Kohler’s autobiography of his early life he recounts how he, a student of Rav Hirsch, went off the a course of Oriental studies at university. In short order his faith was completely shattered. After a few despondent weeks he traveled to Frankfurt to get some chisuk from Rav Hirsch who told him “My dear Kohler, he who wants to journey around the world must also pass the torrid zone; proceed and you will come back safely.” As Kohler says, he proceeded, but he did not come back to where he started.

    A second thing he says is that people used to say that it was Satan who had made R. Jacob Ettlinger (Kohler’s own rebbe before R. Hirsch) go to the university and come out unscathed, because his example lures all the rest of the modern rabbis to pursue university education.

    Kohler also says that earlier when he had told his friends of his intention to go to university they told him כָּל-בָּאֶיהָ, לֹא יְשׁוּבוּן (Prov. 2:19).

    At least in part Jewish Wissenschaft was modeled on modern historical methods from the German university applied to Jewish texts.

  70. Look at it this way-One has to distinguish between RSRH’s optimistic views on emancipation and German nationalism, his positive views on secular culture and education as set forth in the Selected Writings and his abhorrence of Haskalah or Wissenschaft-which he viewed as viewing Torah from the POV of an archaelogist. Other Talmidei Chachamim such as the SE and R D T Hoffman Zicronam Livracha, attempted to use academic methods in defense of Torah. While RSRH viewed Ostrit as the means of saving Orthodoxy from the onslaught of RJ, other Talmidei Chachamim did not. FWIW, it is known that R Yisrael Salanter ZL met with RSRH and was so moved by RSRH’s writings that he advocated that the same be translated into the lingua franca of Eastern European Jewry. Unfortunately, TIDE in the US evolved into a Charedi community with German Minhagim.

    RSRH’s views on Zionism should be considered in the context of the relevant time period-before the Dreyfus Trial, when anti Semitism and pogroms affected Eastern European Jewry. At that point in time, anyone with a rational POV in Western Europe would have seen Zionism, especially of the political nature, as simply concocted in outer space.

  71. I still think R. Hirsch’s treatment of R. Hoffman and others is uncalled for. Some great minds came from the Seminary and some great defenders and expounders of faith, at a time when too many gedolim hid in “yeshiva bunkers”.

    That said, I can certainly understand his concerns. 150 years later, they’re pretty much the same – one can easily replace the parable about the journey through the torrid zone with David Hartman’s plane crash.

  72. Darwinism was also opposed by Reform rabbis.)

    Many Christians opposed scientific Darwinism only because they thought it would lead people to social Darwinism, which they (rightly) opposed. I assume the same was true of Reform.

  73. >I still think R. Hirsch’s treatment of R. Hoffman and others is uncalled for.

    No kidding. If I remember correctly Gil actually argued once that R. Hirsch was guilty of kol haposel, and the reason why he was “kicked out of the Beis Midrash” in one of the many absurd moments of the Slifkin controversy was a reflection of that.

    It should however be pointed out in all fairness that unlike with Frankel, R. Hirsch did not seek to criticize Hoffmann, but his opinion was solicited from Hoffmann himself. Furthermore, he did not publicize it.

  74. Aiwac wrote:

    “I still think R. Hirsch’s treatment of R. Hoffman and others is uncalled for. Some great minds came from the Seminary and some great defenders and expounders of faith, at a time when too many gedolim hid in “yeshiva bunkers”.

    That said, I can certainly understand his concerns. 150 years later, they’re pretty much the same – one can easily replace the parable about the journey through the torrid zone with David Hartman’s plane crash”

    Look at it this way-I think in some ways RSRH viewed himself as continuing the intellectual legacy of both the Aruch LaNer and the CS. IOW, RSRH advocated maintaining an open door to anyone who was attracted to TIDE, but resolutely against any innovation in how to learn Torah, and participating with heterodox Jewish groups on any level.

  75. Y’know, I have to wonder how RSRH would have reacted to Dr. Isaac Breuer’s New Kuzari. I hear Dr. Breur had some interesting things to say in it, even regarding CBC…

  76. Let’s remember one other factor-at least in the US,many Charedim of both genders attend university and beyond, as a means of providing for their families.(Charedi Nachal and similar programs in Israel are still in their infancy as to their growth). The fact that there are such programs, especially in the American Charedi world, and no matter how the programs are called a college ( “Touro”) or ( “Machon LParnassah”), is a product of RSRH’s influence. The fact that men and women can feel comfortable gaining such degrees without having their hashkafic values being challenged is in large credit a function of TIDE.

  77. >Look at it this way-I think in some ways RSRH viewed himself as continuing the intellectual legacy of both the Aruch LaNer and the CS.

    Did RSRH even mention the CS even once in his entire corpus of writings? On the contrary, being born in 1808 he had other influences. Furthermore, although I don’t think we really know of his method of learning Talmud, we do know his method of parshanut, which was not traditional by any means. To give on example, he says that Melchizedek was a polytheist and El Elyon refers to God, but at the head of a pantheon. This is (probably) the peshat, but this is certainly not the rabbinic tradition that he was in fact Shem ben Noach. What do you think the Chasam Sofer would say about that? To give a point of contrast, in David Nieto’s Matteh Dan he apologizes for explaining certain things according to peshat even though he knows that Chazal interpreted those verses differently.

  78. You know, much like how RSRH is often (wrongly) credited as being the only major figure involved in beginning Austritt, I have to question the combination of Modernity and O Judaism being solely associated with him or even just the German O community.

    There was quite a bit of educational experimentation in Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Mizrachi, for instance, played a very big part in granting O Jews the world over a mixed religious/secular curriculum between the two World Wars. Eastern Europe was full of “refined chadarim” that gave a mixed curriculum. I have difficulty believing that RSRH was the ONLY or even the primary inspiration for these efforts.

    There were also plenty of Rabbis who were well versed in secular studies to one degree or another, and “seminaries” existed in countries other than Germany. Really, the only difference I see between German O Jewry’s efforts and O Jews in other countries is that the Germans have much better PR.

    If I’m wrong, so be it, but that’s my impression.

  79. You’re not wrong. It’s also the case for the rest of Europe, West, Central and South. Modern Orthodoxy was not localized in Germany and it was not spearheaded by RSRH. It’s not better PR, so much as that Germany led Europe in culture, amnesia about the past, and the need for people to keep it simple.

  80. Yes, but by keeping it simple we create the impression that MO or just Torah and secular studies rises and falls with “what did Rav Hirsch/Rav Hoffman/Rav Hildesheimer think about this”? Kind of like the constant obsession with what would Rav Soloveitchik think about X?

    This does a great disservice to the many other thinkers, teachers and chachamim who were shunted out of the limelight or neglected for one reason or another.

  81. S-It really does not matter if RSRH mentioned the CS or not. In the areas that I outlined, regardless of RSRH’s views on Parshanut, I think that TIDE incorporated both the elements of the views of the CS and the Aruch LaNer. You are correct with respect to such schools as Yavneh, but RSRH was dealing with German Jews and developing a religious response to RJ.

  82. Isaac Asimov once said, “When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

    People who think that Hirsch would completely subscribe to all aspects of today’s Modern Orthodoxy are wrong. But if you think that thinking Hirsch completely subscribing to all aspects of Modern Orthodoxy is just as wrong as thinking that Hirsch’s hashkafa was essentially haredi, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.

  83. (of course, it’s impossible to know if Hirsch would change his mind about anything; I’m saying if he didn’t change his welltanschaaung and his hashkafas remained essentially the same)

  84. MiMedinat HaYam

    didnt you post something similar a few years ago (after the “infamous” seudat shlishit) and the conclusion was that he was “modern Orthodox” as opposed to “Modern Orthodox”

    2. of course, we also concluded here that TIDE does not exist anymore in washington heights.

    3. different Orthodox rabbonim in 19th (and early 20th) century germany did what we would call controversial things like wearing or not wearing various “vestments”, adding or dropping various tfillot, minhagim, etc.

  85. The community is Washington Heights is still basically TIDE. The younger generation of yekkes is not, but then again, the younger generation doesn’t live in Washington Heights.

    Regarding Jewish studies: Rav Hirsch was generally against it, but he does write in one of his essays that it’s important to know ancient history so that one can know the context in which the Torah was given.

  86. “R. Blau lists the following two of R. Hirsch’s views that are NOT Modern Orthodox:

    Non- (or anti-)Zionism”

    I don’t see how anti-Zionism is an attribute of MKodern Orthodox. If anything it confuses the issue-there may be chareidi RY-eg Chardal-who are extreme in their belief in the medinah that does not make their attitudes MO. The reverse there is no requirement for an MO ideologue to not have the beleif that homiletically Zionism is one of the biggest AZs in Yahadus history.
    The reason for the correlation IMHO is that many MOLite find it easy to associate with Israel via parade attendance etc-not serious sacrifice-but of course if one takes the viewpoint that currently when the ability to make aliyah is available to all-those who live/study/ even teach in the diaspora are NOT Zionists.

  87. Dear Gil,

    Thank you as always for bringing thought provoking issues to the attention of your readership and facilitating exposure to a wealth of stimulating materials. What struck me, however, in this case was that the underlying premise of a discussion as to whether Rabbi S.R. Hirsch can be declared formally a Modern Orthodox Jew is itself discordant with this religious trend.

    Of course he was a maverick who openly and self-consciously deviated from certain traditional norms including celebrating aspects of secular culture. Moreover, there is no question that his synthetic example provided inspiration for certain trends that subsequently emerged including American Modern Orthodoxy and the religious kibbutz movement – even as he himself was opposed to Jewish nationalism and active settlement (see http://www.amazon.com/Judaism-Modernization-Religious-Kibbutz-Fishman/dp/052140388X). Yet what is achieved beyond oversimplification by pigeon-holing such a complex and profound individual into specific frameworks that arose in an American context? Ironically, this need for unequivocal association of a religious leadership figure with one’s own approach as a basis for its legitimacy or alternatively as a pre-requisite for drawing from them on halakhic or ideological matters, exemplifies attitudes generally associated with “das Torah” or Hasidic circles. It occurred to me, then, that the very discussion is indicative of the seeping in of such a perception into the discourse of “Modern Orthodoxy.”

  88. Adam: Interesting point about Da’as Torah but I’m not sure I agree. Isn’t it standard fare in rabbinic writing to support one’s position with Talmudic and Medieval citations? And even in philosophy, didn’t Rambam and others claim that that Talmudic sages were also philosophers? Certainly more recently, Dr. Berger’s study (cited in this post) attempts to (and IMHO succeeds at) demonstrating proto-Modern Orthodox trends throughout the period of the Rishonim. I don’t see this as a Da’as Torah phenomenon but merely the continued form of discussion with the Masoretic community.

  89. Gil, sure everyone looks for precedents, precursors or “forerunners,” but that is not the same as defining figures from early authorities according to categories that did not exist. About thirty years ago a book was published entitled Mi-Hatam Sofer ad Herzl. The author, a committed religious-Zionist, set out to demonstrate that the roots of RZ could be identified in the numerous discussions of the Land of Israel and settlement found in the Hatam Sofer’s writings. The fact that he and Herzl were both Hungarian was the clincher. Had he sought argued that the Hatam Sofer’s deep interest in Eretz Yisrael may have been inspired by the rising zeitgeist of modern nationalism around him, that would have been interesting. In turn, such discourse might have raised overall consciousness about EY such that there was an audience of Herzl’s novel message. Once the book oversimplified and transformed the Hatam Sofer into a direct founder took a great extent he undermined the value of the endeavor.

  90. On a less heavy note…

    The sure way to tell if a Rabbi is Charedi is to check behind his ears. From pictures of Rav Hirsch, it looks to me like he had payess. If that was really the case, then that ends the discussion.

  91. shachar ha'amim

    ““Both Isaac Breuer and the Agudah abandoned the policy of political separatism in the land of Israel and joined the general community.”

    And Poalei Agudas Yisroel, with which Breuer was closely tied, merged to a large extent with the Mizrachi community”

    PAI definitely did not merge with Mizrachi. Whenever they ran they either ran alone or with Aguda – except for the mid-’80s when they were basically almost finished as a movement and the remnants of PAI ran with a splinter from the National Religious Party list. But they always aligned themselves with the Aguda rabbanim.
    Makor Rishon just had a lare write-up of Binyamin Mintz (in adavance of a book about him that is being put out). He always aligned PAI with Aguda and considered himself a follower of Polish admorim. PAI was originally founded in Poland in order to provide a worker’s movement for charedim who worked (yes – they actually worked!) in charedi owned factories and business and were forced to work on shabbos when the business was “sold” to a gentile for shabbat (yes – charedim used to do such things before kashrut organizations said that such things were “treif”, and yes charedim made their charedi workers work on shabbos). After the State was founded PAI initially ran on the fuill united religious list with Aguda, Mizrachi and Mizrachi Worker’s and then afterwards ran with Aguda, and left the government with Aguda over induction of women into the IDF. In 1960, Mintz accepted the position of Postal Minister from Ben-Gurion and went into the government independently of Aguda. He was driven to an early grave by cherems, verbal attacks and other usual charedi political shenanigans. PAI then left the government and was never really the same after Mintz died.

  92. MiMedinat HaYam

    PAI was, as the name indicates (somewhat) socialistic. thus shachar haamim’s claim of (not exactly) agudists doing work! (note too, that in those times — early ‘medinah’ political parties were much much more powerful than today, and to get a job or anything else, one needed to be affiliated with the right party. (think of the tammany hall machine. even in nyc, if you got a parking ticket, you went to the local democratic club, and they fixed it.)

    2. one must distinguish between different types of zionism, in determing a rav’s political stance. one can oppose “political” zionism, but be completely zionistic.

    one can support “shivat zion” (the concept, not necessarily the group) and be a satmar. (thus the vilna gaon, the netziv, others; not necesasarily satmar.)

    or one can advocate a jewish govt (of some form) in israel, and be another position.

    and nuances in between.

    thus, dont just say RSRH opposed zionism, define it.

  93. In fairness to RSRH, many religious and secular thinkers who were initially opposed to the idea of Zionism eventually changed their minds. SO I think this entire question is moot unless RSRH had lived to see the establishment of the state (or at least the Balfour Declaration).

  94. One item left out of the discussion to date is the reflexive, though still curious, adoption of RSRH by modern day charedim as an ideological forebear– especially the yeshiva world for which RSRH in his day apparently had little use. (of course he did have respect for their torah learning – But see his startingly misinformed letter in response to a fund raising plea from the Kovneh Kollel). I have speculated elsewhere that his high standing in the charedi world is a legacy of the formation of the Agudah in the beginning of the twentieth century and the very large role played in that effort by the german charedim and in particular by his former baal haboss Jacob Rosenheim.

    Mike S. on June 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm … And you have to be careful–for example, his Austritt program was a response to the power that came with control of the Gemeinde.

    Well, no. Not sufficiently emphasized is the organic relationship in RSRH’s mind between Austritt and TIDE, to the extent that he believed the latter depended on the former. Note the seeming misplaced references to TIDE in his polemical responses to R. Bamberger, when the whole argument was over austritt. But suddenly and seemingly a non-sequitor, RSRH starts declaiming about TIDE.

    S. on June 29, 2011 at 12:05 am
    >For him everything started from the Torah and everything had to be purely Torah. This is why he did austritt.
    And R. Seligman Baer Bamberger and other opponents of austritt felt differently?
    Charlie Hall

    R. Bamberger was no opponent of Austritt as an appropriate tactic for a given circumstance. Indeed, the Frankfurt austritters first turned to R. Bamberger – the acknowledged german “godol haddor” whose torah world status publicly far outranked that of RSRH- precisely because he was deemed a supporter of Austritt, as he had demonstrated in his support for a separatist movement in an earlier incident in Vienna. What he disputed with RSRH was whether in the particular circumstances of Frankfurt, when the Gemeinde had made, in R. Bamberger’s opinion, all necessary concessions, it was still appropriate to separate. Let alone RSRH’s halochic chiddush that members of his community (who mostly ignored him in this matter) must resign from the gemeinde as a matter of a halochic p’saq din.

    Steve Brizel on June 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm Let’s remember one other factor-at least in the US,many Charedim of both genders attend university and beyond, as a means of providing for their families…and no matter how the programs are called a college ( “Touro”) or ( “Machon LParnassah”), is a product of RSRH’s influence.

    RSRH was very far from a Touro Torah Ufarnosoh type of guy. He was a believer. Of course he also managed to construe what we would call the secular culture and learning as also being somehow jewish learning.

    >Look at it this way-I think in some ways RSRH viewed himself as continuing the intellectual legacy of both the Aruch LaNer and the CS.
    I’ll take this as an example of the curious reflex to claim RSRH as an honored intellectual progenitor of charedi culture. Were there similarities between CS and RSRH? Well, I’m confident both men put on t’filin every day and such like, but to group the man whose alleged bon mot is chodosh osur min hattorah with the guy for whom they put the Neo into neoorthodox? I don’t think so.

    Baruch on June 29, 2011 at 7:03 pm The community is Washington Heights is still basically TIDE. The younger generation of yekkes is not, but then again, the younger generation doesn’t live in Washington Heights.

    Not sure about that. Sure there were some swell entertainment relatively recently over the matter including the resignation – at least temporarily- of the President of the kehillah (an old time yekke and professor of physics at CUNY), but look who these supposed “basically TIDE” people brought in as spiritual leaders. From a TIDE perspective the incumbent rabbi of KAJ as well as his predecessor, have been disasters. Although of course fine gentlemen and presumably talmidei chakhomim.

    Hirhurim: It would be wrong, I believe, to focus on practice. R. Hirsch occasionally exhibited some unusual practices, such as wearing canonicals adopted by Christian and non-Orthodox clergy, enforcing limitations on head coverings (link) and removing Kol Nidrei from the Yom Kippur liturgy. I suspect that the first and last were concessions under extreme pressure and the middle was an example of his German acculuration that is best examined as a philosophy.

    Nonsense. RSRH flat out didn’t like Kol Nidre. Actually Heinrich Graetz, a house guest who never left and a devoted disciple of RSRH during this period, takes the credit for finally convincing RSRH to go ahead with the cancellation.

  95. Mechi Frankel-I agree that the “Kehillah” hasn’t had a true disciple of TIDE as its rav since R Yosef Breuer ZL. As far as the CS and RSRH, are you claiming that the CS would have opposed Austrit? I agree that the Charedi world has basically adopted Austritt, but has relegated the remainder of RSRH’s teachings to the garbage can.

    As far as RSRH’s impact, I think that the facts on the ground illustrate that especially in North America, whatever the motivation, many Charedim, whether of a yeshivishe or Chasidishe orientation,who would never consider attending YC or SCW for a variety of reasons, have graduated from Touro or other colleges and beyond. Like it or not, for many Charedi Bnei and Bnos Torah, Touro is an option to attend college al Taharas HaKodesh with none of the hashkafic issues that YC and SCW students have been facing for decades.

  96. MiMedinat HaYam

    steve b — “are you claiming that the CS would have opposed Austrit?”

    the ktav sofer opposed breaking off from the status quo in hungary; it was the group called “the talmidim of the chatam sofer” who advocated it.

    so you are substantially correct.

    however, the vast majority of those charedim who attend touro or other schools do so not because of TIDE (they done even know what it means; actually, most probably never heard of TIDE) but simply as a practical compromise of secular stdies.

    (and what hashkafic issues have YC and SCW students been facing for decades?)

  97. MiMedinat HaYam-One can read the back issues of the TuM Journal and the Commentator/Observer and see endless discussions about the meaning of TuM, which secular courses , etc constitute Mada, the roles of the Yeshiva and the University, the location of the Purim Chagigah as well as the deeper meanings of “synthesis”, TuM and “enabling and enobling”. One also can see lots of discussions re the presence or absence of certain speakers on campus, the lack of attendance at minyan, the balancing of wanting to maintain night seder while attending college, and adherence to a dress code.These are the “water cooler” or “inside baseball” issues that have always been part and parcel of any YU’s student’s experience and reactions to the uniquely YU milieu.These are almost perennial issues, which you won’t find at Touro. What I almost never see is a discussion as to YU and MO’s ability to project its message that one can be a highly educated person and a committed Ben or Bas Torah beyond the Daled Amos of the MO communities that provide many of its students.

  98. R Gil-One of the problems IMO, with this thread is considering RSRH’s leggacy in the light of MO and the historical developments of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. Both RYBS and REED viewed TIDE as producing observant Baalei Batim, but not Talmidei Chachamim. OTOH, one can argue that other than Austrit, the Charedi world has esentially discarded RSRH’s views re secular education and culture, while tacitly conceding, at least in the US, of the need for the need for a secular education in certain safe occupations that do not pose hashkafic issues. One can also easily posit that RSRH would not be enamored with any aspect of Judaic studies that was based in Wissenschaf. Whether RSRH would feel more comfortable within the MO or TIDE community today is not the issue-the question is which would RSRH as less in consonance with his Hashkafa, simply because neither represents RSRH’s views.

  99. “however, the vast majority of those charedim who attend touro or other schools do so not because of TIDE (they done even know what it means; actually, most probably never heard of TIDE) but simply as a practical compromise of secular stdies.”

    Probably the vast majority of those teaching in RIETS do not believe in TIDE-they accept YU as a machon leparnassah. How many YU students believe secular education is anything but for parnassah?
    So what is the difference between chareidim and YU?

  100. i find it interesting that heroes of the past are claimed by different segments of orthodoxy as their own when their segments may not have even existed at the time. so too in this post of rsrh is position exactly where the author of the post stands in the religious spectrum.

  101. Mycroft wrote:

    “Probably the vast majority of those teaching in RIETS do not believe in TIDE-they accept YU as a machon leparnassah. How many YU students believe secular education is anything but for parnassah”

    The above is a classical case in point of one of oldest and still extant “inside baseball issues” within YU. See R Rakkafet’s The World of the Rav, Vol #2, at Pages 224-231, where RYBS states and rejects “synthesis”, as watering down both Torah and the secular endeavor, which was the predecessor in interest to TuM and “enabling and ennobling” .RYBS stated emphatically that “our goal is to educate a generation of Torah scholars with secular knowledge” , in contrast to TIDE.

  102. Steve Brizel on July 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “Probably the vast majority of those teaching in RIETS do not believe in TIDE-they accept YU as a machon leparnassah. How many YU students believe secular education is anything but for parnassah”

    The above is a classical case in point of one of oldest and still extant “inside baseball issues” within YU.”

    Inside baseball-what the teachers of supposed mechanchim and Rabbanim were taught is not relevant? YU essentially is where MO Rabbanim came from but it is a good question is that still true since the the Rav stopped having influence at YU more than a quarter a century ago see eg from Prof Waxman

    “It may well be that Modern Orthodox rabbis,
    including those ordained at RIETS in the latter part of the twentieth century, were considerably more to the right
    than were their predecessors. In other words, the move to the right may have been within the RIETS semikhah (ordination)
    program, under the influence of a revisionist approach to the thinking of its revered head, the late Rabbi Joseph
    B. Soloveitchik (“the Rav”), rather than within Orthodoxy as a whole, but is so glaring because rabbis are much more
    visible than the laity. On revisionism with respect to the Rav, see Lawrence Kaplan, “Revisionism and the Rav: The
    Struggle for the Soul of Modern Orthodoxy,” Judaism 48,3 (Summer 1999): 290-311.”

    “See R Rakkafet’s The World of the Rav, Vol #2, at Pages 224-231, where RYBS states and rejects “synthesis”, as watering down both Torah and the secular endeavor, which was the predecessor in interest to TuM and “enabling and ennobling” .RYBS stated emphatically that “our goal is to educate a generation of Torah scholars with secular knowledge””

    One can’t ignore that there are at least a few Rabbonim who got Phds at the insistence of the Rav-R H Reichman is an example of a current RY who has stated that he only went for a PHd at the Ravs insistence.
    Are there any current RY who would insist that at least certain talmidim study for a Phd. The difference in hashkafa between the Rav and many current apparent leading RY is there-not inside baseball talk.

    See R Rakkafet’s The World of the Rav, Vol #2, at Pages 224-231, where RYBS states and rejects “synthesis”, as watering down both Torah and the secular endeavor, which was the predecessor in interest to TuM and “enabling and ennobling” .RYBS stated emphatically that “our goal is to educate a generation of Torah scholars with secular knowledge”

  103. Mycroft-WADR, your last comment avoided dealing with the sum and substance of my last comment-which clearly stated that RYBS was not enamored with “synthesis”, which preceded TuM and enabling and enobling as YU’s mantras. Dr Waxman’s comments ignore the fact that none less than RYBS viewed “synthesis” as flawed, to put it mildly. FWIW, RHS mentioned in the Mishpacha interview that RYBS suggested that talmidim go for a PhD solely because he did not view Kollelim as having much of a chance of suceeding in the US.

  104. ” Steve Brizel on July 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm
    Mycroft-WADR, your last comment avoided dealing with the sum and substance of my last comment-which clearly stated that RYBS was not enamored with “synthesis”, which preceded TuM and enabling and enobling as YU’s mantras.”

    The Rav was opposed to slogans and obviously would not agree with PR terms such as “synthesis” and “TUM”-but it is clear the Rav encouraged secular education even among those who had to be coaxed see eg the Rav’s nephew RMM who the Rav agreed to teach together with RIT in exchange for his going for secular education. Note RMM has a Phd. There are just too many examples of where Talmidim of the Rav were encouraged to go for a Phd by him.

    ” Dr Waxman’s comments ignore the fact that none less than RYBS viewed “synthesis” as flawed, to put it mildly.”
    Although Dr Waxman like Dr Kaplan does not use the title Rabbi-they are both knowledgeable Rabbis. Dr Waxman usually writes about sociological/demographic Orthodox issues see eg his article in the Van Leer volume about the Rav-but note as Prof Kaplan another participant in the conference will probably remember that in the closing session Prof Waxman raised a question in the discussion between T Lichtenstein and Y Greenberg which was not sociological but hashkafic.

    “FWIW, RHS mentioned in the Mishpacha interview that RYBS suggested that talmidim go for a PhD solely because he did not view Kollelim as having much of a chance of suceeding in the US.”

    IMHO There are other viewpoints about the Rav and secular education. Prof Kaplan is your recollection of the Rav similar to what Steve cited in the name of RHS.

  105. Mycroft wrote:

    “The Rav was opposed to slogans and obviously would not agree with PR terms such as “synthesis” and “TUM”-but it is clear the Rav encouraged secular education even among those who had to be coaxed see eg the Rav’s nephew RMM who the Rav agreed to teach together with RIT in exchange for his going for secular education. Note RMM has a Phd. There are just too many examples of where Talmidim of the Rav were encouraged to go for a Phd by him”

    I think that the above is a classical example of essentially discopunting RYBS’s own words-yet another example of inside baseball- in which he stated that synthesis watered down and ignored the conflicts, some of which were irreconcilable between Torah and secular knowledge.

    The issue is not the acquisition of secular knowledge, but rather how RYBS viewed synthesis, and whether MO is indeed stuck in an ongoing inside baseball and water cooler discussion of its own making. Perhaps, it behooves us to take a look at RYBS’s speech in protest of the splitting off of RIETS as an affiliate to see that RYBS’s views did not change that much on the issue from 1956 to the early 1970s.

    Let me be as blunt as possible-summer programs in bastions of MO have nowhere as much effect in reaching the unlettered masses of American Jews as a SEED program run by Torah UMesorah with talmidim of any of the major Charedi yeshivos in the US. WHy YU and RIETS haven’t engaged in SEED programs of their own and projected their message is IMO a communal tragedy for RIETS and YU. Instead, MO fiddles and engages in inside baseball while Rome is burning.

  106. Mycroft wrote:

    ” Dr Waxman usually writes about sociological/demographic Orthodox issues see eg his article in the Van Leer volume about the Rav-but note as Prof Kaplan another participant in the conference will probably remember that in the closing session Prof Waxman raised a question in the discussion between T Lichtenstein and Y Greenberg which was not sociological but hashkafic”

    Unfortunately, still more inside baseball.

  107. Mycroft-ask yourself a simple question-which would constitute a greater exercise in Harbatzas Torah for the American Jewish masses-shiurim in RYBS’s Torah and hashkafa or academic gatherings dedicated to exploring the legacy of RYBS’s legacy?

  108. Mycroft wrote:

    “The Rav was opposed to slogans and obviously would not agree with PR terms such as “synthesis” and “TUM”-but it is clear the Rav encouraged secular education even among those who had to be coaxed see eg the Rav’s nephew RMM who the Rav agreed to teach together with RIT in exchange for his going for secular education. Note RMM has a Phd. There are just too many examples of where Talmidim of the Rav were encouraged to go for a Phd by him”

    How many Talmidim did RYBS encourage to get a PhD? Certainly-not all .

  109. “Steve Brizel on July 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm
    Mycroft-ask yourself a simple question-which would constitute a greater exercise in Harbatzas Torah for the American Jewish masses-shiurim in RYBS’s Torah and hashkafa”
    I am not sure who currently in America follows RYBS’s hashkafa?

    ” or academic gatherings dedicated to exploring the legacy of RYBS’s legacy?”

    If I wanted the truth about RYBS’s attitudes, impact etc one could probably get a good cross section from the Van Leer conference.
    Obviously an academic conferences goal is not harbatzat Torah.

  110. “How many Talmidim did RYBS encourage to get a PhD? Certainly-not all”

    Of course, but he suggested many do.

    “Unfortunately, still more inside baseball”
    Who cares-if I am accurate in my facts the reader will either be interested or not-their call.

  111. “it behooves us to take a look at RYBS’s speech in protest of the splitting off of RIETS as an affiliate to see that RYBS’s views did not change that much on the issue from 1956 to the early 1970s”

    If referring to the speech in Furst 501 with Dr Belkin in attendance-it was a polemical speech dealing with an issue that today no one is concerned with. It was a time of student demonstrations with joint ones with SCW.
    To use your expression-inside baseball.

  112. “summer programs in bastions of MO have nowhere as much effect in reaching the unlettered masses of American Jews as a SEED program run by Torah UMesorah with talmidim of any of the major Charedi yeshivos in the US”
    data please

  113. Mycroft wrote:

    “If I wanted the truth about RYBS’s attitudes, impact etc one could probably get a good cross section from the Van Leer conference.
    Obviously an academic conferences goal is not harbatzat Torah”

    I asked a simple yes or no, up or down question, and WADR, you asnwwered in typical inside baseball/water cooler fashion- confining RYBS’s Torah and Hashkafa to academic conferences is no substitute for and should never be confused with Harbatzas Torah.

  114. Mycroft wrote:

    “If referring to the speech in Furst 501 with Dr Belkin in attendance-it was a polemical speech dealing with an issue that today no one is concerned with”

    That IMO is revisionism at work-the issue was splitting RIETS off from YC so YU could qualify for NYS aid, which RYBS clearly disagreed with R D Belkin ZL over its long term effects. The issue was part of a debate over the marginalization of the influence of RIETS within YU. I would suggest that if you have read the past issues of the Commentator and Observer with any regularity, the issues of who wags the tail at YU-the Yeshiva or the University has been on an ongoing debate for decades.

    As for SEED programs and community kollelim, take a look at this link.http://www.biu.ac.il/JS/rappaport/Research/PDF/Hoveret%2013_01-64.pdf. The facts on the ground are that many people who never have kept Shabbos,kept Kosher, put on Tefilin, discussed Chesed, Tznius, or opened a sefer in their lives, do so during the course of such programs and are inspired to become either observant or far more active in their Jewish communities.

    The question remains why YU and RIETS never have invested in any such programs except summer progams in the bastions of MO, which are designed by their content to appeal to the segments of MO that are worrried about the gruesome twosome of the OTD and flipping out syndromes. At least, the current administration of YU is recognizing that ala Lakewood, having RY and professors give shiurim and lectures in various communities over Shabbos gives a higher profile to the message of RIETS and YU, attracts future students, and possible donors.

    I think that the question re data needs to be amended, if not rejected-SEED programs, NJOP programs and/or NCSY events are designed to wake up the Yiddishe Neshama that none less than the Rambam mentioned in Hilcos Gerushin is dormant in every Jew. That is a long process, but the demographers have shown no interest in investigating or discussing the same,exept for a book by a DR Danziger that compared students in YU’s JSS and Chabad and a book by a Dr Janet Aviad that discussed the largely Charedi BT yeshivos and seminaries in Isarel. Results and data can only be ascertained when and if demographers profile communities such as Passaic, KGH and Baltimore which have many BTs and Gerei Tzedek. Given the way that demographic studies are conducted today, I have no optimism that the modus operandi of demography will change in the near future.

    IMO, the fact that young men and women are willing to sacrifice their spare time and go to such communities and engage in such work raises the issue-if the Charedi world and many YC,SCW and RIETS students are engaged in such work and similar programs such as NJOP and NCSY, why isn’t MO committed to such work as a movement, as opposed to spending precious time, money and resources on programs in its own backyard and in self congratulatory conferences ( which the Charedi world does as well)?

  115. For more on RIETS’s belated move into the community kollel concept, see this link. http://download.yutorah.org/2008/1053/729918.pdf

  116. The last link was mine. Those interested can also check out this link as well. http://www.nerleelef.com/Nitzotzot/janmar4.pdf

  117. Mycroft-Given the recent articles re texting on Shabbos, I think that the truly “inside baseball” issues of whether or not RSRH was MO or RYBS’s views on secular education are IMO grossly irrelevant to exploring the phenomena of texting.

  118. Mycroft wrote:

    “If I wanted the truth about RYBS’s attitudes, impact etc one could probably get a good cross section from the Van Leer conference.”

    That depends on who was invited to share his POV. RYG would IMO, not exactly be a person who should share a podium with T Lichtenstein on the issue.

  119. For more on RAL’s rejection of RYG’s views, and the depth of the same and the reasons therefore, especially vis a vis RYBS and MO, see the relevant chapters of the YU Judaica book.

  120. Mycroft-were you referring to the following link? http://www.vanleer.org.il/eng/videoShow.asp?id=105
    The topics therein are also largely of an inside baseball nature, and as you pointed out are academic in nature, as opposed to being what any reasonable person would define as Harbatzas Torah. B”H, RAL and T Lichenstein attended and spoke so that the same wasn’t totally devoid of any contributions by a Talmid Muvhak and RYBS’s daughter, and hijacked by people with their own agendas and interests at work.

  121. MiMedinat HaYam

    “At least, the current administration of YU is recognizing that ala Lakewood, having RY and professors give shiurim and lectures in various communities over Shabbos gives a higher profile to the message of RIETS and YU, attracts future students, and possible donors. ”

    and gives the RY an extra income. part of RJ’s courting of the RY to support him (remember the (supposed) demonstrations).

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