Friday, September 5, 2008

R' S. R. Hirsch 18th Letter/Religious vs. Secular

And now today… we are left with two generations confronting each other. One of them has inherited an uncomprehended Judaism…(practiced by men from habit), a revered but lifeless mummy which it is afraid to bring back to life. The other, though in part burning with noble enthusiasm for the welfare of the Jews, regards Judaism as bereft of any life and spirit, a relic of an era long past and buried, and tries to uncover its spirit, but, not finding it, threatens through its well‑meant efforts to sever the last life—nerve of Judaism—out of sheer ignorance. So, today, when these two extremes approach each other in a thousand variations, and thereby testify to the fact that they are both in error—where do we go from here? … The spirit is lacking, the inner, unifying principle of life, and one can never make up for that by polishing the outward forms. There is but one road that leads to salvation; amends must be made precisely where the wrong was done. We must forget the views and prejudices that we inherited about Judaism and instead, turn to the sources of Judaism, the Tanach, the Talmud and the Medrash…Thus Judaism must be studied and understood out of itself and be elevated, all by itself, to a science of wise living.
19 Letters of R' S. R. Hirsch (page 272 Feldheim 1995)

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