22 January 2012

Another note on Rav Hirsch

Today, 27 Teves, is Rav Hirsch's yahrtzeit. So I will say a bit more.

A rav here once observed that Rav Hirsch is directly or indirectly responsible for the five defining characteristics of Torah life in America:

1. Formal education for girls
2. The publication of Torah materials in the vernacular
3. The independent kehillah model of community structure (austritt)
4. Outreach to Jews
5. Formal "secular" education (needs a better name -- no part of a Jew's life is really "secular")

On a personal note -- I discovered Rav Hirsch when I was twelve, in the footnotes of the Artscroll Chumash. I had been going through the parsha writing down all my questions ("why did he do that? That's not very nice, that's not consistent with human dignity, that's not remotely PC"), and Rav Hirsch caught my attention because he was always the commentator who addressed them -- and gave the most wonderful answers.
I am no longer twelve, I have lived in a few Jewish communities, and still Rav Hirsch is the one who addresses my questions, and gives the most wonderful answers.
And, better yet, gives them in the poetic style of nineteenth-century German literature -- if you are lucky enough to find the older translation.

Rav Hirsch is still available through the Multnomah County Library system... The Nineteen Letters Yikes! I thought they had the whole Chumash. Well, start there.

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