Thursday, December 24, 2015

Are All German Jews Practitioners of Torah Im Derech Eretz

No, they are not. For example, R' Binyamin Hamburger shlita of bnei brak, the renowned expert in German minhagim is not a TIDE person even though he like everybody else has enormous respect for R' Hirsch and respects the TIDE derech.  R' Seligman Baer Bamberger, the great German posek with whom R' Hirsch tangled on the matter of Austritt, or separation of the Orthodox from the non-Orthodox community in Frankfurt, was not a TIDE person. I know of numerous WH people who "went Eastern European." I don't think that R' Naftoli Friedler the one time head of the Breuer's Kollel and Rav of KAJ in Monsey was a TIDE person, nor does it seem that the current Rav of KAJ is a TIDE person, even though I know that he respects it. 

I would guess that there are as many non-yekkes who practice elements of TIDE as there are yekkes because the yekke population hasn't been all that large in centuries and the Holocaust knocked it down even further. Most yeshivish schools have a meaningful secular curriculum even in Israel at the younger grades. But is that Torah Im Derech Eretz? I argue that it is not because even much of Eastern European world engaged in some limudei chol. In my mind TIDE has other components including a sense of involvement with host societies - tikun olam and a pursuit of decorum and order. You will find some of that in the "engaged yeshivish" as Professor Alan Brill  terms it but nowhere on the scale of Frankfurt TIDE.

So are there any German Jewish practitioners of TIDE? Yes. Rabbi Dr. Leo Levi, author of Shaarei Talmud Torah (translated under the title Torah Study and published by Feldheim) is a notable example. I know of several other individuals from the Heights and many others around the world.

The role switch between WH people who went Eastern European and Eastern Europeans like me who went German Orthodox is interesting. Of course, I'm not culturally Eastern European. I'm American and as I argue America is a Germanic country. That's why German Orthodoxy works so well for me and perhaps it's the same for you. 


  1. With all due respect, how do you know what people privately feel about TIDE, to make such statements? Just because someone seems to be 'Torah only' in their personal life (of which you and other outsiders have only partial knowledge), and doesn't shout from the proverbial rooftops or preach about TIDE constantly, doesn't mean that they don't practice it in some form or measure that is less obvious, and/or don't private support it.

    Not everything in life is totally black and white or cut and dry.

  2. Hmmm. Interesting point. Many of those people told me that they are not TIDE, but maybe I could alter my words to leave it more open. Thanks for the comment.

  3. This is a very important topic, but needs a whole book.
    The shades of TIDE are many. And some people that are famously TIDE, in my opinion are "Parnosoh TIDE". Some versions of TIDE are culture-heavy and hashkafa lite. Some are machmir and some are meikil.
    Will the real TIDE please stand up.

  4. All good points.

    There's something to be said for anything that keeps people frum in this day and age. I wonder sometimes if we harp on ideal frumkite too much for a people who are struggling to stay afloat.