Sunday, December 21, 2014

Misportraying R' Hirsch

I saw this written about R' Hirsch: "As is well known, Rav Hirsch did more for the preservation and revival of Torah learning and Torah living in Germany than one could reasonably have expected of one man in one lifetime. The Frankfurt Kehilla which he established under the principles of austritt and strict adherence to Halacha, became a model Kehilla."

Yes, he did these things but note the emphasis on austritt and strictness. There's a lot of din in this quote. Austritt is singled out as the primary tool, when Austritt was just part of the package along with Torah Im Derech Eretz, which is not mentioned at all, and consists largely of engagement with the world. I think when the writer says Austritt he's thinking not just about distancing from non-religious groups but from everything secular. Austritt here is a code word for ghettoization.

And strangely Torah learning precedes Torah living, which we can presume to mean mitzvos. Yet, the primary task at hand was mitzvos. If a person kept Shabbos but didn't study Torah, you'd still call him observant. Not so the reverse.

This is what we call rewriting history and putting a spin on events.

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