ORTHODOX ANSWER TO REFORMED JUDAISM #2


IN  1853,  HIRSCH  OPENED  A  JEWISH  DAY  SCHOOL  IN  FRANKFURT,  GERMANY,  THAT  COMBINED  JEWISH  STUDIES  AND  SECULAR  STUDIES.  HE  WAS  COMPETING  WITH  ANOTHER  SCHOOL  THAT  HAD  BEEN  OPENED  UP  EARLIER  BY  THE  REFORM  MOVEMENT,  THAT  ALSO  COMBINED  JEWISH  STUDIES  WITH  SECULAR  STUDIES,  BUT  IT  WAS  MUCH  MORE  ABOUT  SECULAR  STUDIES  THAN  ABOUT  JEWISH  STUDIES.


REALLY  THE  SCHOOL  THAT  HIRSCH  OPENED  UP  IN  1853,  IS  THE  CONTEMPORARY  MODEL  FOR  MODERN  ORTHODOXY  DAY  SCHOOL,  WHERE  HALF  THE  DAY  IS  JEWISH  STUDIES  OFTEN  TAUGHT  IN  HEBREW,  AND  HALF  OF  THE  DAY [THESE  ARE  BY  THE  WAY,  LONGER  DAYS  THAT  WE  HAVE  IN  THE  AMERICAN  PUBLIC  SCHOOL  SYSTEM].  AND  THE  SECOND  HALF  OF  THE  DAY  IS  DEVOTED  TO:  LANGUAGE  OF  THE  STATE,  LITERATURE,  MATH,  HISTORY,  SCIENCES,  A  REGULAR  GENERAL  STUDIES  CURRICULUM.  AND  TO  THIS  DAY  CHARACTERIZES  THE  MODERN  ORTHODOX  SCHOOL  SYSTEMS.


NOW,  ONE  OF  THE  FOUNDERS  OF  REFORMED  JUDAISM,  ABRAHAM  GIEGER,  WE  MENTIONED  IN  THE  LAST  LECTURE,  WAS  AN  ACQUAINTANCE   OF  SAMUEL  HIRSCH.  THEY  HAD  MET  AS  COLLEGE  STUDENTS;  GIEGER  FINISHED  COLLEGE, WHILE  HIRSCH  DID  NOT  COMPLETE  THE   CURRICULUM.  BUT  THEY  WERE  TOGETHER  IN  FRANKFURT,  GERMANY,  EACH  HAVING  A  SEPARATE  PULPIT.  SO  THERE  IS  A  KIND  OF  RIVALRY  BETWEEN  THE  TWO. 


HIRSCH  IS  TRYING  TRYING  TO  GET  NEW  STUDENTS  TO  COME  TO  HIS  SCHOOL,  AND  HE  IS  VERY  MUCH  INTERESTED  IN,  DEFENDING  ORTHODOXY  FROM  REFORM.


BACK  TO  ONE  OF  HIRSCH'S  LETTERS,  HE  WRITES:

"THE  ONLY  OBJECT  OF  SUCH  REFORM" (AND  HE  USES  THE  WORD  'REFORM')  HOWEVER,  MUST  BE  THE  FULFILLMENT  OF  JUDAISM  BY  JEWS  IN  OUR  TIME,  THE  FULFILLMENT  OF  THE  ETERNAL  IDEA,  IN  HARMONY  WITH  THE  CONDITIONS  SET  BY  THE  TIME.  MERELY  TO  SEEK  GREATER  EASE  AND  COMFORT  IN  LIFE  TO  THE  DESTRUCTION  OF  THE  ETERNAL  CODE  SET  UP  FOR ALL  TIME  BY  THE  GOD  OF  ETERNITY,  IS  NOT,  AND  NEVER  CAN  BE,  THE  REFORM  WHICH  WE  NEED.  JUDAISM  SEEKS  TO  LIFT  US  UP  TO  ITS  OWN  PLAIN;  WE  MUST  NEVER  ATTEMPT  TO  DRAG  IT  DOWN  TO  OUR  OWN  LEVEL."


SO  WHAT  SAMUEL  HIRSCH  IS  SAYING  TO  ABRAHAM  GIEGER  AND  HIS  REFORM  COMPATRIOTS  IS,  WHAT  WE  NEED  TO  DO  IS  REFORM  JEWS,  NOT  REFORM  JUDAISM.


AND  SO  YOU  SEE  THE  RIVALRY,  IN  BOTH  LETTERS,  THAT  HIRSCH  WRITES  IN  HIS  BOOK,  AS  WELL  AS  HIRSCH'S  COMMENTARY,  WHICH  HE  STARTS  WRITING  IN  THE  1860s  AND  FINISHES  IN  THE  1870s.  HE  ACTUALLY  TRANSLATES  THE  PENTATEUCH  INTO  GERMAN,  THEN  GIVES  A  VERY  SPIRITUAL  AND  SYMBOLIC READING  OF  THE  TEST.  HE  DRAWS  ON  THE  TRADITIONAL  SOURCES  AS  WELL.  BUT  HIS  INTEREST  IS  TO  GIVE  A  SPIRITUAL  EDIFICATION,  AND  HE  DOES  THAT  THROUGH  HIS  OWN  BIBLICAL  COMMENTARY.


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TO  BE  CONTINUED