Proud to be a Hirschian

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“I don’t care what group you identify with, as long as you are ashamed of it.” There is much wisdom in the throw-away line with which Dennis Prager frequently challenges audiences to admit to the flaws of the groups with which they identify.

Of the many labels that doggedly pursue me, there is only one that I am not ashamed of at all. I am a Hirschian, and proud of it without reservation. I believe that his vision for living a Torah life is at least as viable today as when he described it, if not more so.

It took me decades to realize it, and years more to openly embrace it in a community sometimes hostile to its implications. Today, I can think of no more honorable distinction than to be considered a follower of Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (RSRH) zt”l.

The bicentennial of the birth of RSRH, brought many tributes, although with much hedging. According to one report, a rav at Khal Adath Jeshurun argued that in the absence of RSRH himself, his teaching could not be followed, and Torah Jews should turn to contemporary gedolim for guidance (presumably different) on those issues. A cover story in Mishpacha implied that RSRH served as a role model primarily for scientists and doctors, and placed far more stress on his impact on organizations like Agudah, Bais Yaakov and the Eidah HaCharedis. Even the forever-insightful Rav Moshe Grylak saw the need to move on. “Although Rav Hirsch’s Torah and his worldview are still relevant to portions of our community even today, they have lost their relevance for some. A new generation…requires a new language to kindle in its heart the flame of Torah that is barely flickering.”

I do not understand the hesitation. “Still relevant” is a wussy understatement. To many of us, RSRH has no peer in giving voice to the way we understand our role as Torah Jews, and how Torah works to better ourselves and the world. Lost its relevance? All those I know who have studied RSRH seriously are struck by how much more relevant his thought is today than when he committed it to paper a century and a half ago. If his thought hasn’t kindled the hearts of some of the at-risk adults about whom Rav Grylak speaks, it is only because they have not been exposed to it.

I am a Hirschian (at least in my own non-authoritative and perhaps highly personal way of understand the term) because:

In three decades of trying to explain Torah Judaism to brighter frum students, to non-frum skeptics, and to non-Jews, the works of no other thinker has been as valuable as those of RSRH in explaining the overall telos of Torah life. Without Ramchal and Maharal, I could not explain the Torah universe; without RSRH, I cannot convey the individual.

Only in the works of RSRH are major themes of modernity – free will vs. scientific materialism; nationalism; universalism; sensuality; the esthetic; totalitarianism – not only discussed, but shown to be focal points of the Torah’s instruction.

Major sections of Torah literature simply have no consistent, systematized approach outside the writings of RSRH. I have hundreds and hundreds of beautiful vertlach and longer insights on Chumash Vayikra, but no one besides RSRH takes all the details of the Mishkan, all details of every korban, and combines them in a unified whole. For people like myself who are challenged by others, sometimes smirky and sometimes sincere, to make sense out of individual sections of the Torah, no one comes close to RSRH. Whether to believer or agnostic, RSRH’s approach to symbolism in particular almost never fails to elicit interest and spark thought in the listener.

Most importantly, many of us somehow sense within our souls that the world as a whole is a beautiful place. We believe that many people we meet outside our community live lives of value and integrity, and desperately attempt to connect with G-d. We believe that the trajectory of human civilization has been, on the whole , in a forward direction, rather than the reverse, despite many setbacks and disappointments. We believe that there are truths to be discovered (the yesh chochmah bagoyim of the Gemara) by exposure to general culture. We have discerned in our own lives that the Torah has much to offer all of humanity, not just with the advent of Moshiach, but even today.

We also fully believe that Torah can and must illuminate every (permissible) nook and cranny of the planet, that there is a way to be a Torah attorney, a Torah carpenter, a Torah journalist, a Torah politician. These are not bedieveds, but for the right people, lechatchilas. We find no one who writes as much and as convincingly about the mandate for Torah Jews to bring Torah everywhere than RSRH.

Lastly, in a Torah world that increasingly opts for limitation, restriction and a narrowing of creativity, individuality and world view as the best way to avoid problems, many of us sense that outside of Israel, this is not the best way to go. We are buoyed by the great vision of RSRH, and reminded of the way Rav Shimon Schwab zt”l once said that Torah Im Derech Eretz: “means the Torah’s conquest of life and not the Torah’s flight from life. It means the Torah’s casting a light into the darkness rather than hiding from the darkness. It means applying Torah to the earth and not divorcing it from the earth.”

Now, as never before, I am proud to be a Hirschian.

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35 Responses

  1. Raymond says:

    Talking about music being heavenly is goyish? Wow, what a statement. Sounds like Judaism is being equated with atheism. There IS a Heaven and Hell in Judaism, it is just not quite the same Heaven and Hell described by other religions.

  2. DF says:

    This is a pretty good piece, all hedging (“the right people”, “outside of Israel”) nonwithstanding. I think your baseball analogy was probably the real reason for such cautionary words, and I begrudgingly understand the concept of prudence.

    You say you are a Hirschian. Does that apply only to the concept of applying the Torah to Earth and not divorcing it, or does it apply also to the political ideas of austritt, self-governacne, etc?

  3. Jewish Observer says:

    “that music, particularly that of Bach, followed by Mozart and Handel, is so sublime, so heavenly, so gorgeous in both a harmonious and transcendent sort of way, that I have a hard time convincing myself that this is NOT the music that G-d plays in Heaven.”

    – sounds goyish to me

  4. Raymond says:

    Speaking of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the greatest gentile music ever written was by composers such as Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. All of these composers were 18th century German/Austrian composers. That seems to be a very narrow time and place for all those composers to have in common.

    Putting my Rav Hirsch thinking cap on, is there a Torah perspective on why this is? Some of that music, particularly that of Bach, followed by Mozart and Handel, is so sublime, so heavenly, so gorgeous in both a harmonious and transcendent sort of way, that I have a hard time convincing myself that this is NOT the music that G-d plays in Heaven.

  5. Raymond says:

    While Rav Hirsch may have been an anti-zionist, as was allegedly the Satmer Rav, their opposition to that movement is clearly of an entirely different nature than, say, the Naom Chomsky crowd. As a passionate zionist myself, I completely de-value anything the secular, political left has to say about Israel, while I am willing to maintain an open mind and learn from supposed anti-zionists like Rav Hirsch and the Satmer Rav. These and these are the words of the living G-d.

  6. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    It is interesting that Rabbi Adlerstein describes himself as a Hirschian, rather than an adherant of TIDE and an admirer of RSRH’s writings. Being a full Hirschian would also involve adopting RSRH’s fierce opposition to Zionism and enjoying the poetry of Schiller…

    As one of my congregants astutely observed (following my speech about RSRH last Shabbos), there are no full Hirschians, just lots of partial ones.

    RYA is actually proud to be a partial Hirschian.

    My dear friend Rabbi Belovski is only partially right.

    RSRH was a fierce opponent of the Zionism of his day. He would brook no compromise in dealing with secular Zionists who had no room for Torah, much as he rejected any cooperation that implied recognition of Reform. We do not know what he would have said or done once a Jewish State became a reality, and home to the largest community of Jews on the planet. We must differentiate between the implementation of his vision in specific manners (e.g. I am not so sure that he would prescribe the exact curriculum for schools in Flatbush as he did in Frankurt), and his essential message. I am not aware of parts of his essential message that would make impossible some sort of modus vivendi (such as Agudah uses) in dealing with a government he could hardly imagine.

    I can’t prove this, but I doubt of Rabbi Belovski can prove his contention.

    So I will give him partial credit.

    My knowledge of Schiller, alas, is limited to “Ode to Joy” as the lyrical framework for the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth, which I will admit to enjoying.

  7. Shmuel says:

    Yasher Koach!, Rav Adlerstein, for putting the sentiments of so many of us into words. I am not as certain that Rav Hirsch has won the war.
    I suspect that depends on how one defines the parameters of the battelfield. That which Samson Bechhoffer is quoted as saying in the Jewish Press article captures the frustrations of many of us, even those outside the German Orthodox community.

    But Rav Hirch’s message and voice have sustained the inner spiritual life of at least this Jew many a time. They have also allowed me to share this message with hundreds of others, as well, over a period of many years.

  8. JosephW says:

    Raymond,
    Check out the newly translated Hirsch Chumash, published by Feldheim

  9. Daniel B. says:

    I wrote the following before becoming aware of Rabbi Adlerstein’s posting:

    Although I am not a member of the German Jewish community, I am disturbed by Rabbi Mantel’s recent remarks regarding the contemporary relevance of “Torah im Derech Eretz.” See http://www.jewishpress.com/displaycontent_new.cfm?contentid=33512&mode=a&contentname=Agreement%20with%20last%20message.

    Obviously, Rav Hirsch’s philosophy needs to be properly applied to every generation and locale (the same is true about Rav Aharon Kotler’s philosophy, or any other). But it is an entirely different matter to dismiss “Torah im Derech Eretz” as irrelevant in our time.

    For one thing, in a generation where tuition is so expensive and, therefore, the need for “Derech Eretz” cannot be minimized, it is essential that the Derech Eretz be balanced with Torah learning and practice. One could, in fact, argue that “Torah im Derech Eretz” has never been more relevant.

    Furthermore, with Rav Hirsch gone almost 120 years, why is it first being said now that “Torah im Derech Eretz” could only be properly implemented in his lifetime?

    It would have been more politically savvy (and, I believe, more accurate) to say that “Torah im Derech Eretz” is alive and well today, although it is essential that the philosophy be properly applied to every generation and locale.

    The downside to such candor would have been the need to acknowledge (at least implicitly) that, by no stretch of the imagination, could learning in Kollel indefinitely be deemed consistent with “Torah im Derech Eretz.”

  10. Raymond says:

    Oh no, it looks like this is another Rabbi Adlerstein article that encourages far too many people to make comments here! Of course I know that is a sign of success, but it also makes it more cumbersome to try to read every comment being said here. Oh well. Meanwhile, I will add my two cents here, before reading anybody else’s comments, so that my views are as much my own as possible.

    I have attended so many Torah classes over the decades from so many Torah teachers that I have long lost count of just how many. I have found over the years that the two Torah commentators that most appeal to me over and over again are Nachmanidies and Rav Samson R Hirsh. I have said in here that I would probably be Modern Orthodox if I were religious, but I had forgotten that Rav Hirsch solves the Chareidi vs Modern Orthodox dichotomy quite masterfully.

    Let me by way of analogy remind readers of the Jewish concept of Evil. In Judaism, Evil, as represented by Satan, is NOT G-d’s opponent or enemy, but is a servant of G-d. G-d sends us Satan to tempt us, so that if and when we overcome such guile, our heavenly reward and strength of character is all that much greater.

    I think that this was the view of Rav Hirsch toward the secular world as a whole. Rather than avoid it as much as possible as the Chareidim do, and rather than have it be part of the dual existence that Modern Orthodox Judaism calls for, we should instead embrace the secular world, but always in a way that it is a servant to G-d and His Torah, just as Yefet serves Shem. In other words, just to use about as mundane as an example as possible, if we are going to be baseball fans, we should somehow try to see Torah lessons within the baseball we are following.

    One of my dreams has been to master Rav Hirsch’s Torah commentary. The problem is, though, his writing style. Naturally influenced by his outer environment, Rav Hirsch wrote in long and complicated sentences just as 19th century Germans tended to do. To a modern American like me, with the attention span of a knat and the sophistication of a hillbilly, I need short, concrete sentences and paragraphs, to sustain my attention. I want the writing to sound more like a conversation than a formal, dry lecture. Every time I try to read Rav Hirsch, by the time I get to the end of one of his admittedly elegant and erudite sentences, I have already forgotten what he said in the first part of that same sentence.

  11. mnuez says:

    As a Hirschian I assume you’ve read enough of his writings to have come across the fact that he was a Mendelsohnian. I don’t, of course, mean that he viewed Moses Mendelsohn as you view him. Not at all. But he did regard Moses Mendelsohn in quite high esteem (even writing a whole piece on “Mendelsohn and Maimonides” where he claimed that they were both horribly misunderstood and misquoted by the nascent Reform movement) and seems to have viewed him as something of a fellow travellor.

    I say none of this as a detriment to yourself or to Rav Hirsch. I simply believe that someone ought to be melamed zchus for Moses Mendelsohn. It may be shocking to the ears to hear but he was actually (potentially and in many ways) a RSRH just a few decades too early and he in no way deserves the opprobrium that he’s been subject to these many years. Looked at holistically, he was a great man and a Jew we can all be proud of… and mourn for the bad luck that his legacy has gained.

    mnuez

  12. Meyer Wolf Baum says:

    The best article ever written on Hirsch’s everlasing impact is by Rabbi Y. Frankfurter which was recently published by Mishpacha Magazine. I enjoyed it immensely. Click here: http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/mishpacha_rsrh.pdf

  13. ja says:

    “More seriously, I can’t speak for the needs of Israeli Torah society, since I live here and don’t know those needs from the inside. Israeli haredi society in particular is more monolithic and has an authority system that seemingly is subscribed to by all those who chose to remain within it. Gedolei roshei yeshiva in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim have the right to call the shots about Torah life within their communities; they seem to have very, very little need for the vision of RSRH. I am aware of how difficult the constriction is for a substantial minority within their ranks, but it is not my place to suggest that the Torah accomplishment that has been achieved for the majority should be sacrificed. So I will stick to safer ground, and speak about a community about which I know a little more.”

    A policy of let americans decide for america and let israelis decide for E”y is probably necessary. After all, if one wishes to argue that we need local leaders to weigh in on the situation here, we can’t dictate to Israelis, and we aren’t in a position to anyway. Still, I think TIDE probably has more relevance to EY than golah. It is more likely that religious Jews can influence life in israel, and also more important that they impact their fellow Jews.

  14. ClooJew says:

    While the incident is, lulei demistafina, another setback for the already fragile and fraying Washington Heights/KAJ community, Rav Mantel’s comment is nothing that any Torah authority – including Rav Hirsch in his own writings – would argue with: We must be directed by the leaders of our time. “Dor dor vedorshov.”

    The German-Jewish absorption into the melting pot of Orthodox Jewish America appears now to be nearing completion. Much of the Washington Heights community blended into Monsey(which has its own KAJ) and other communities. For the most part, all the yekkes I grew up with are, today, indistinguishable from all the other yeshiva guys I went to school with.

    Yekkes are barely any longer a distinct “community,” not because they haven’t tried, but because the culture of the United States, in all its democratic glory and fiscally upward mobility, does not lend itself to those sorts of enclaves.

    Fortunately, none of that matters. What the Yekkeshe community can take pride in – and this is, lulei demistafina, the ultimate trophy – is that Torah Im Derech Eretz is the de facto standard of American Orthodoxy.

    Most of us go to work, speak unaccented English, and are friendly and honest with the “outside” world. Again, that’s most of us. Even in Lakewood, the vast majority of heads of households are not sitting in Kollel but hold jobs that require them to deal with the outside world. Lakewood is not the ghetto that it is perceived – nor that it perceives itself – to be.

    Two centuries later, Rav Hirsch has won not only the battle, but also the war.

  15. Harvey Belovski says:

    Now, as never before, I am proud to be a Hirschian.
    —————————————————

    It is nteresting that Rabbi Adlerstein describes himself as a Hirschian, rather than an adherant of TIDE and an admirer of RSRH’s writings. Being a full Hirschian would also involve adopting RSRH’s fierce opposition to Zionism and enjoying the poetry of Schiller…

    As one of my congregants astutely observed (following my speech about RSRH last Shabbos), there are no full Hirschians, just lots of partial ones.

    RYA is actually proud to be a partial Hirschian.

  16. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    As one who lives in Eretz Yisrael within but not always of the dati-leumi community, I am keenly aware of the need for RSRH’s thought here. The DL society varies from blind worship of Rav Kook, who is very difficult to understand. His thought is like an iceberg because it so depends on nistar. He was a talmid in kabbala of the Leshem, the grandfather of Rav Elyashiv. He was radical in his perspective, but he was decidedly not “Modern Orthodox” with a shtreimel. In recent years especially because of Rav Lichtenstein the thought of RYBS has started to penetrate here, but he is not so obvious either. RYBS was a man who was both in Brisk and Berlin, neither of which exist any longer, and he spent his life in America trying to explain a vision which probably very few people really got. The vulgar DL perspective is that secular knowledge is fair game, period. Any further voice to moderate that attitude is always welcome. There was once an attempt to extend the thought of Rav Hirsch to the concept of the national renaissance in EY, called Torah im derech Eretz Yisrael, but that seems to have been forgotten. Since Gush Katif there is room for much rethinking, which includes the critical study of the modern media which are brainwashing us. The future religious scholars of media will no doubt study the Lubavitcher Rebbe as well as the above along with secular writers such as Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman. In this dynamic age you have to know how to get onto a moving merry-go-round and how and when to get off. Welcome to Dizzyland.

  17. cvmay says:

    “BE PROUD, do not be ashamed”
    Focusing on this mantra, rather than the teachings of Rav SRH (or any other non-mainstream 21st century limud), takes courage, determination, confidence and strength of character. Our Torah society functions best on “follow the leader”, with a dumbing down enviornment and lack of acceptence of Torah-true creative leaders and thinkers. Teaching our students and children “to be proud and not ashamed” is a difficult process in present day chinuch which allows for no divergence from ‘our way or the highway’. This atmosphere of developing respect for other darchei hatorah is where our efforts should be placed.

  18. Aryeh says:

    Many commenters have lamented the increasing insularity and so on. Others have valiantly proclaimed the relevance of Torah im Derech Eretz in our time. And then there’s a comment of R’ Mantel that we’d need a R’ Hirsch in our time to know how to apply TIDE.
    It seems to me, that R’ Mantel is right. Torah im Derech Eretz has two parts to it. The Torah and the Derech Eretz. Torah doesn’t change. Derech Eretz (as R’ Hirsch meant it) does. And the problem is that contemporary American Derech Eretz is vastly, vastly different then the one that existed in 19th century Germany/Europe. In fact, I would suggest that there is no such thing as Derech Eretz in America in the sense that it existed in Germany. American society is too democratic and too frewheeling to arrive at any sort of common Derech Eretz, save for the lowerst common denominator of mass pseudo-culture. Which brings me to the second point. Living in society that can only be described as filled with moral sewage, the approach of separation from it seems a whole lot better then trying to integrate the tidbits of good found here and there (and as the contemporary culture increases its moral distance from that of our parents’ time, we will continue to insulate ourselves more and more from it). To use a mashal, TIDE on a cultural level is like looking for a pearl in a sewer. Sure, you might find the pearl, but you’ll come out smelling really badly.
    So you’d need a new R’ Hirsch to show how TIDE would work in America. Harking back to what was 150 years ago in a culture alien to contemporary American won’t do. Now R’ Mantel doesn’t think himself qualified to do what R’ Hirsch did back then. Who does?

    P.S.
    On the practical level (i.e. man’s got to work and he shouldn’t feel like a failure for it) TIDE still has its place. But that’s not what R’ Hirsch meant by TIDE.

  19. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “More seriously, I can’t speak for the needs of Israeli Torah society, since I live here and don’t know those needs from the inside…I am aware of how difficult the constriction is for a substantial minority within their ranks, but it is not my place to suggest that the Torah accomplishment that has been achieved for the majority should be sacrificed”

    RSRH himself(R. Klugman’s biography), and R. Schwab(Tradition article) made the first point, and Rav Dessler discussed the second.

    “All those I know who have studied RSRH seriously are struck by how much more relevant his thought is today than when he committed it to paper a century and a half ago”

    A seminal figure in America who made use of RSRH’s writings was Rav SF Mendelowitz; perhaps aspects of R. Shraga Feivel’s approach himself are also just as relevant today(eg, an appropriate broadness in education).

  20. joel rich says:

    What does “for the right people” mean? Does that mean if, nebach, you do not have the wherewithal for klei kodesh?

    Comment by RJK
    ======================================
    I can’t apeak for anyone else, but one might consider the author’s introduction to the chochmat adam where R’ Danzig (the author and also a businessman) describes his mesora to do both and describes a lifestyle that Torah never leaves -see the famous tosfot on why we only say birchat hatora once a day and R’YBS’s famous analogy to a mother who maintains latent awareness of her baby whether near or far.

    KT

  21. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Several commenters asked why I limited my endorsement of RSRH to chutz l’Aretz. (We try not to publish more than one comment that makes the same point.) The answer is baseball, where three strikes, and you are out. I’m already on the “outs” in Israel over both rejection of the Bible Codes and standing behind Rabbi Natan Slifkin’s books. One more, and I have to turn in my jersey.

    More seriously, I can’t speak for the needs of Israeli Torah society, since I live here and don’t know those needs from the inside. Israeli haredi society in particular is more monolithic and has an authority system that seemingly is subscribed to by all those who chose to remain within it. Gedolei roshei yeshiva in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim have the right to call the shots about Torah life within their communities; they seem to have very, very little need for the vision of RSRH. I am aware of how difficult the constriction is for a substantial minority within their ranks, but it is not my place to suggest that the Torah accomplishment that has been achieved for the majority should be sacrificed. So I will stick to safer ground, and speak about a community about which I know a little more.

  22. Baruch Pelta says:

    “Rabbi Mantel made a point that even those of us who are profoundly attracted to Rav Hirsch should keep ever in mind: The Hirschian ideal is not easy…”

    According to the Jewish Press, that’s not what he said at all. According to the Press, he said you can’t be Hirschian today because Daas Torah said so.

  23. RJK says:

    R. Adlerstein, you write:
    “We also fully believe that Torah can and must illuminate every (permissible) nook and cranny of the planet, that there is a way to be a Torah attorney, a Torah carpenter, a Torah journalist, a Torah politician. These are not bedieveds, but for the right people, lechatchilas.”

    What does “for the right people” mean? Does that mean if, nebach, you do not have the wherewithal for klei kodesh?

  24. michoel halberstam says:

    This conversation is simply another in a long series of unfortunate utterances by people to whom the truth has been revealed We wouldn’t be trying to explain these comments if it weren’t felt by certain people that there is only one way to be right. This makes it impossible to fathom another’s yiras shomayim. and inspires comment.

  25. Gershon Seif says:

    That was so well put! I have been learning and teaching RSRH’s peirush on Chumash for almost ten years. Every page of what I’ve read burns with Yiras Shomayim and Emunah, as well as belief in the goodness of Mankind – and a clear message of Klal Yisroel’s role in bringing that about.

    Hirsch’s understanding of the early phases of history, every specific bris with Avos, every episode of the lives of the Avos, etc. becomes a whole picture. RSRH didn’t write vertach! The Torah was one seamless theme.

    I only wish that more and more people come to discover the beauty of the Torah’s message through RSRH’s understanding.

  26. joel rich says:

    So who will you follow R’YA?

    Elementary, my dear Joel.

    The same gedolim. Just a smaller subset of them
    ==================
    Good with me, my impression from the news report was that the point being made was that there were no such gedolim now.

    KT

  27. joel rich says:

    The Hirschian ideal is not easy and cannot succeed absent the same type of intense yiras Shomayim that every word of Rav Hirsch’s writing and every aspect of his conduct proclaimed.

    Comment by Jonathan Rosenblum
    ================================================

    In contrast to which ideal which does not require intense yirat shamayim?
    KT

  28. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    So who will you follow R’YA?

    Elementary, my dear Joel.

    The same gedolim. Just a smaller subset of them :-)

    (I have no intention of jettisoning the concepts of emunas chachamim and daas Torah.)

  29. Rabbi Mantel made a point that even those of us who are profoundly attracted to Rav Hirsch should keep ever in mind: The Hirschian ideal is not easy and cannot succeed absent the same type of intense yiras Shomayim that every word of Rav Hirsch’s writing and every aspect of his conduct proclaimed. It was a point I had meant to make in the speech preceding his, and his comment was a valuable corrective, or Hegelian antithesis, if you will.

  30. tzippi says:

    Wow! Where do I begin…
    It is clear that so many of us have been profoundly influenced by RSRH. The original commentary on the Torah is lyrical and amazing, and as a Bais Yaakov graduate, I know how much my education has been informed by RSRH, starting with Sara Schenirer who was wowed by sermons based on RSRH, and drew on western and German educators to build her movement.

    That being said, there is the fundamental question: what is TIDE (Torah IM derech eretz) and who, if anyone, can transmit it to the next generation. Rabbi Joseph Elias, who authored a (presumably ;-) more accesible edition of the Nineteen Letters stressed to his student in Rika Breuer’s seminary the profound important of the preposition IM, with, in the TIDE slogan, stressing that knowledge is a handmaiden (or the more contemporary auxiliary) to Torah, but that RSRH did not mean to countenance any form of synthesis between the two.

    I haven’t seen the Mishpacha article but I can believe it. When I was describing a young man to a friend for shidduch purposes, along the lines that he learns seriously and sweetly, and would like to do so as long as possible, but that he will know when the time to support his family would come and that he has experience and good contacts in various fields that he could easily be trained in my friend said, Oh, he’s the Torah Im Derech Eretz type. Talk about lack of understanding!

    Rabbi Mayer Schiller, at the end of The Road Back, tends to delineate legitimate Orthodox communities by the degree of interfacing with the world. It is a sad commentary but a necessary reality that all of us have more boundaries in our lives than we may have grown up with. You don’t have to be black hat to either not have TV or dramatically limit it. This is true in so many Torah communities, yeshivish and beyond. The problem is, how much insulation is necessary, possible, and healthy. This is what parents and communities are grappling with everywhere. Rabbi Aisenstark of Montreal wrote a compelling article in Mishpacha on the rigid boundaries our schools are setting, and why. And while the thrust of his article may seem tangential to this discussion, it does concern the limits we’re setting, and mourns simpler times.

    As parents who grapple with these issues, we can’t lose sight of the simple reality: chanoch l’naar lfi darko. What is the healthiest way to bring up our children in general, and what are our individual children’s needs.

  31. Shlomo says:

    You wrote

    “Lastly, in a Torah world that increasingly opts for limitation, restriction and a narrowing of creativity, individuality and world view as the best way to avoid problems, many of us sense that outside of Israel, this is not the best way to go”

    Rabbi Adlerstein, many of us sense that INSIDE ISRAEL, this is not the best way to go. In fact, the rejection of Hirsch’s approach in Israel is, in our opinion, an utter disaster. There are thousands and thousands of people who learn all day and are forced to survive on government handouts. This is in direct contradiction to Hirsch’s stress on the dignity of human labor.

  32. Yonason Goldson says:

    The increasing polarization in the world — between traditionalists and secularists, between personal autonomy and collective responsibility, between recognition of absolute morality and moral anarchy — reflects a parallel schism in the Torah world between those who seek to negate the value of all that is secular and those who believe that perfunctory observance of Torah and mitzvos automatically elevates materialism to a level of sanctity.

    It’s little wonder that the quest for balance between the spiritual and the physical so passionately and elegantly advocated by Rav Hirsch remains controversial. It should, however, make us wonder whether there is any other solution to the problems of our generation.

  33. shloi says:

    “Although Rav Hirsch’s Torah and his worldview are still relevant to portions of our community even today, they have lost their relevance for some. A new generation…requires a new language to kindle in its heart the flame of Torah that is barely flickering.”

    I wonder if R. Grylak would dare write in an aricle the same sentence with other names than R.Hirsch. For instance: the Brisker Rov,Rav Schach.

  34. Ephraim says:

    I am not familiar with R’Hirsch’s seforim so I can’t judge whether he speaks to all people or only a specific few. And I can understand the idea that people should look to contemporary leaders to help solve contemporary issues. I have to ask, though, what R’Grylak means when he says “A new generation…requires a new language to kindle in its heart the flame of Torah that is barely flickering.”
    To whom is he referring? I am not charedi, but I am not against charedim at all, but it seems to me that theirs is not really the message to reach those for whom the “flame of Torah..is barely flickering”. Of the people I know who are that far away, the Eidah Chareidis is not what will bring them back.

  35. joel rich says:

    From the news report “Rav Mantel’s declaration, which angered many in the community, came at a sit-down kiddush at Dr. Raphael Moller Hall in Washington Heights after Shabbos morning services. He said that only Rav Hirsch, a great man who knew the fine boundaries between what is religiously permissible and what is prohibited, could make Torah Im Derech Eretz workable.

    Our generation, he said, must follow today’s gedolei HaTorah (great Torah leaders).

    So who will you follow R’YA?
    KT