Welcome to the Beis Midrash, where TIDE is alive and well! I recommend you start with the blog's Inaugural Post by scrolling to the bottom.

Please differentiate between the great classic Torah Im Derech Eretz (TIDE) writings, and the blog's own writings, which are those of a novice student of TIDE.

Please consult your rabbi about anything you read here that you find controversial.

“There is a popular notion that, unlike Hasidism and Musar, which attempted to deepen the religious experience of the Jew, the Hirschian system aimed at merely preserving Judaism against the onslaught of Western culture. It is our conviction that this notion is erroneous. Study of R. Hirsch's writings and commentaries has been for many a most effective source of Musar, deepening our spiritual grasp of Judaism.”---Rabbi Shelomoh Danziger, last paragraph of http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Clarification%20of%20RSRH_danziger.pdf

Friday, August 12, 2011

The First Known Teacher of TIDE: Rabbon Shel Yisroel, NASI HADOR! (It's not what you think, read on.)

Professor Mordechai Breuer, “Shitas Torah Im Derech Eretz BiMishnaso Shel R' S. R. Hirsch 1”; HaMaayan, Volume 9, Number 1, 1969, end of article page 1, and on to page 2.

If you have the background and the time, please check for this on the list of free downloads to your right, grab a copy, and follow in the original.

In my own words:

Prof. Breuer points out that Rav Hirsch's primary source for the idea of TIDE comes from Maseches Avos, 2, 2, which quotes the nasi (president), Rabbon Gamliel son of Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi: “Beautiful is the study of Torah with 'derech eretz', because the effort of both causes one to forget about thoughts of evil activity....”.

Rav Hirsch was well aware that there has been no uniformity among major commentaries regarding what the term "derech eretz" means.

Even in Rav Hirsch's writings, it appears that there is not absolute uniformity in what this term means:

Various short comments on Maseches Avos---“actions based on the fact that one lives in society, in earning a living and in associating with others”, “societal life”, “life of partnering with others in society”, “aspects regarding society”;

Commentary on Rabbon Gamliels's statement, Maseches Avos 2, 2, summarized: “derech eretz” is all that arises from the fact that a person lives among others, and must use his resources to accomplish his purpose, in this world: earning a living, ordered society, courtesy, politeness, training in observance of proprieties, and general education;

Commentary on Chumash Breishis, 3, 24: “derech eretz is culture, the way of wisdom in dealing with society, that educates a person to discipline himself, and to order his life that is among others on earth.”

Collected Writings: “Fundamental principle of education and general knowledge”; “General knowledge pertaining to Judaism and to general society.”

(To be continued.)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Why No Extensive Explanation of TIDE By R' Hirsch?

Professor Mordechai Breuer, first page of “Shitas Torah Im Derech Eretz BiMishnaso Shel Rabbi Shamshon Rephael Hirsch 1” in HaMaayan, Volume 9, Number 1, 1969, article page 1.

If you have the background and the time, please check for this on the list of free downloads to your right, grab a copy, and follow in the original.

Summary (italics are my own comments):

Professor Breuer shows that it is difficult to define precisely what Rav Hirsch meant by the term “Torah Im Derech Eretz”. Rav Hirsch left behind many ideas throughout his vast writings, but never summed up TIDE in an opinion essay which would define his outlook.

This is probably because Rav Hirsch never saw himself as an innovator of a new ideology. He drew on the ancient and enduring sources: TaNaCH and ChaZaL (the Bible and the Sages of the Talmud), and these are what he taught. The extent of his "ideological position" was that he was a teacher who is faithful to TaNach and ChaZaL, no different in essence than the thousands of other such teachers. His only use of modernity was in his style of expression, which was necessary given his audience.

He also did not see himself as a debater with opposing theologians (Jewish and non-Jewish), or as a philosopher of comparative religion. He saw no need to write an essay that would sharply differentiate his own worldview from these others (though he did write essays sharply differentiating the Torah itself from pagan, Christian, and Reform worldviews).

A footnote references "Moriah", the planned prequel to Rav Hirsch's second book, "Choreiv (Horeb)". Moriah was meant to explain the worldview of the Torah. I don't know if this is what Prof. Breuer had in mind, but Dayan Grunfeld, in his introduction to Choreiv (page xl; second on the list of free downloads), suggests that Rav Hirsch never wrote Moriah because he was afraid that the reformers would use it to show that one could get at "the essence" of the Jewish worldview without having to bother with mitsvos. Maybe this as well is why he never wrote an extensive essay explaining the worldview of TIDE.