Thursday, 26 June 2008

Controversial Moments At Rav S. R. Hirsch Memorial Celebration

Originally published 6/26/08, 11:02 pm. Link no longer works.
Hot off the Press - The JEWISH Press at that!

Speaking at the 200th birthday celebration of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch this past Shabbos, Khal Adath Jeshurun’s Rav Yisroel Mantel declared that the philosophical credo of Rav Hirsch, Torah Im Derech Eretz, is not viable in the absence of its chief advocate. Rav Hirsch was a 19th century champion of Orthodoxy and the founder of Khal Adath Jeshurun’s parent community in Frankfurt, Germany.

Rav Mantel’s declaration, which angered many in the community, came at a sit-down kiddush at Dr. Raphael Moller Hall in Washington Heights after Shabbos morning services. He said that only Rav Hirsch, a great man who knew the fine boundaries between what is religiously permissible and what is prohibited, could make Torah Im Derech Eretz workable. Our generation, he said, must follow today’s gedolei HaTorah (great Torah leaders). After Shabbos, Dr. Eric Erlbach, KAJ president for over two decades, resigned. The Torah Im Derech Eretz philosophy calls for the active engagement between Torah and culture and society.

Link to Jewish Press Article

My own Brief Comments:
Rabbiner Hirsch was apparently aware of the danger to Torah im Derech Eretz from those on the left who coddled Reform. Yet, he apparently was not so aware that coddling the Right would make Torah im Derech Eretz moribund from within. What a shame. Imagine a movement torpedoed by its own designated Master?



micha said...

We're making a mountain out of a molehill.

R' Mantel, despite his role, doesn't represent mainstream thought in the Breuer's community.

And Dr Erlbach had other reasons to resign. The two aren't even proven to be connected.

Yes, TIDE suffered due to the "slide to the right" they speak about on the other side of the Heights. But those who still retain fealty didn't suddenly evaporate over the weekend. This wasn't some revolution.


Garnel Ironheart said...

I wrote about this on m blog too. Any movement that doesn't tend towards one extreme, left or right, constantly needs a dynamic leader to hold it in the middle. I guess TIDE has been missing that lately.

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

Rabbi Mantel is right. Not everyone is able to make the correct decisions on how to integrate Torah and Derech Eretz and only the gedolei hador of the present generation can intsruct us in this manner. However, the one problem with Rabbi Mantel's declaration is that, in the spirit of Rav Hirsch, we should be turning to the gedolei hador that have been involved in this issue and, in our generation, have attempted to deal with issue. As such, in consideration of Rav Mantel's words, the members of the Bruer's community should be reaching out to such illustrious individuals as Rav Aharon Lichtenstein to set the direction for the community. Afterall in absence of Rav Hirsch, they cannot rely upon themselves to truly set the direction for how Torah and Derech Eretz should be integrated. They have a responsibility to consult modern gedolim and I would contend they should be the gedolim who have dealt with this issue.

But you ask, does Rabbi Lichtenstein truly represent the Hirschian school in how to integrate the Torah and Derech Eretz? Would he represent the model that Rav Hirsch would want for his kehilla? But would such questions not also apply to the gedolei hador that Rav Mantel would wish to consult?

What a remarkable way to discount a respected opinion from the past by limiting this voice by declaring that the one who voiced this opinion was so much greater than us that his advice only applies to himself. Do we not say Shmuel b'doro k'Moshe b'doro?

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Yisrael said...

Evidently, R' Shlomo Breuer, R' Yosef Breuer and R' Schwab disagreed because all advocated TIDE long after R' Hirsch's passing.