17 January 2012

A note on Rav Hirsch

Over Shabbos I was reading Rav Hirsch.
Yay! Rav Hirsch.
I once received an e-mail from someone saying, "I was just reading Rav Hirsch, and he said something very beautiful, which I am forwarding to you in the original language because it defies paraphrase and I thought you'd like it."
Thereupon followed several paragraphs.

Ha, I said, this has got to be this man's first time reading Rav Hirsch -- because if he keeps reading, he will discover that everything Rav Hirsch writes is stunning and beautiful and impossible to paraphrase, and although he will be desperate to forward it to everyone he knows because it is so exquisite, he will abandon the effort because Rav Hirsch was - lucky us - such a good friend to his pen that there is just too much to type up and mail to everyone we know.
It would be like someone e-mailing you two pages of The Tempest and saying, "I was reading Shakespeare and I am sending this to you because it is an impressive bit of English."
And to test my hypothesis, I looked to see which passage of Rav Hirsch this man had sent me.
And sure enough: it was the very first few paragraphs of the very first essay of the very first volume of Rav Hirsch's writings.

Rav Hirsch -- Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch -- lived in the mid-1800's in Germany Prussia and wrote, among other things, the best explanation of Judaism in a nutshell I know (The Nineteen Letters) and the book on Judaism that I would take to a desert island if I had to pick one, since it was written for that purpose (Horeb), and a commentary on the Torah, and another on Psalms, and quite a lot more.

And you can please add him to the list of things I wish you'd go read instead of this blog.
The Multnomah County Library system has some copies.

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