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Jewish Commentators — Their Lives and Works

 

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Samson Raphael Hirsch
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Hebrew Name(s): שמשון רפאל הירש
Other Names: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Period: Acharonim — 19th Century
Location: Germany
Dates: 1808–1888

Biography:
Samson Raphael Hirsch was a German rabbi whose commitment and defense of Orthodoxy let to his foundation of a school of contemporary Orthodox Judaism known as Torah im Derech Eretz (The Way of the Land.) He believed that Torah is maximised in partnership with worldly involvement. His philosophy is often called neo-orthodoxy.
 
He has left a legacy of books and writings (many of which were published in Jeshurun, a monthly journal.)
 
Hirsch was an opponent of Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism, and opposed the early Zionist activities of Zvi Hirsch Kalischer.

Works:
Torah im Derech Eretz (The Way of the Land); Neunzehn Briefe über Judenthum (Nineteen Letters on Judaism); Horeb, oder Versuche über Jissroel's Pflichten in der Zerstreuung (Horeb: A philosphy of Jewish Laws); Erste Mittheilungen aus Naphtali's Briefwechsel; Zweite Mittheilungen aus einem Briefwechsel über die Neueste Jüdische Literatur; Uebersetzung und Erklärung des Pentateuchs (The Pentateuch - with Translation and Commentary); Uebersetzung und Erklärung der Psalmen (Commentary on the Book of Psalms); Ueber die Beziehungen des Talmuds zum Judenthum; The Hirsch Siddur; Nachalath Zwi; Jewish Symbolism

Comments:
Torah im Derech Eretz is a philosophical comment of Orthodox Judaism articulated by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh who founded a contemporary school of Orthodox Judaism motivated by this principal and motto.
Neunzehn Briefe über Judenthum, (Nineteen Letters on Judaism) published in 1936 under the pseudonym "Ben Uziel" was influential for German Jews because it did something new. It presented an intellectual and uncompromising defense of Orthodox in classic German.
Horeb, oder Versuche über Jissroel's Pflichten in der Zerstreuung is a text book on Judaism for educated Jewish youth. This work was published after Nineteen Letters on Judaism although it was, in fact, written first. His publishers doubted the work would find readership at first because "reform" was in vogue among intellectual Jews at that time in Germany.
Erste Mittheilungen aus Naphtali's Briefwechsel is a work opposing reforms in Judaism proposed by Holdeim and others.
Zweite Mittheilungen aus einem Briefwechsel über die Neueste Jüdische Literatur is a work opposing reforms in Judaism in Germany.
Uebersetzung und Erklärung des Pentateuchs is a commentary on the Pentateuch published in five volumes between 1867–1878.
Uebersetzung und Erklärung der Psalmen (Commentary on the Book of Psalms, 1882) has been subsequently translated and published as The Psalms - with Translation and Commentary (Philipp Feldheim, 1960).
Ueber die Beziehungen des Talmuds zum Judenthum is a defense of Talmudic Literature against anti-semitic slanders in Russia.
The Hirsch Siddur is a translation and explanation of the Siddur published posthumously (Philipp Feldheim, 1978).
Nachalath Zwi is a collection of writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (published by Philipp Feldheim, 1996).
Jewish Symbolism is a collection of writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch published by Philipp Feldheim in 1984.

 

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