Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Neo-Orthodoxy
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)
Torah im Derekh EretzIntegration of traditional Judaism with secular education (equated with German literature and culture).
- Believed that "style" and externals could be changed, but did not allow major changes in Jewish religious law or traditional beliefs.
- Ideal of "Israel-Mensch": Enlightened religious personality.
- Established schools on modern lines.
Divine Origins of Torah
Emphasis on total Divinity of Torah, even where we cannot completely understand it.
- Jewish religious law is not subject to historical development or change.
- Opposed historical model of religious development as propounded by H. Graetz, etc.
- Humanity requires history in order to evolve towards a recognition of "Truth." However Israel was given the truth from the start.
- "Speculative etymology" as means to explain the reasons for the Biblical precepts.
- The commandments contain symbolic teachings.
- Generally ambivalent attitude towards Jewish nationalism, Zionism: While acknowledging the religious messianic strivings, he remained completely loyal to the German state.
- Regarded Torah as the ultimate purpose of Jewish peoplehood.
- Encouraged retention of Hebrew in order to insure continuity and uniformity of Jews in different lands.
- The ideal of voluntary membership in Jewish communities brought about changes in the role of the Rabbi and the process of legal decisions: The Rabbi only had to speak for those who had chosen to accept his authority, therefore law could be interpreted and applied in a much more demanding and stringent manner.
Click here to read Hirsch's essay "Religion Allied to Progress"
Rabbi Azriel Hildesheimer (1820-1899)
Founded the Orthodox Rabbinical seminary in Berlin.
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