Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Rav S. R.Hirsch - we can't emulate great men who are portrayed as flawless

Rav S. R. Hirsch(Bereishis 12: 10 – 13):.  The Torah does not seek to portray our great men  as perfectly ideal figures; it deifies no man. It says of no one: “Here you  have the ideal; in this man the Divine assumes human form!” It does  not set before us the life of any one person as the model from which  we might learn what is good and right, what we must do and what we  must refrain from doing. When the Torah wishes to put before us a  model to emulate, it does not present a man, who is born of dust.  Rather, God presents Himself as the model, saying: “Look upon Me!  Emulate Me! Walk in My ways!” We are never to say: “This must be  good and right, because so-and-so did it.” The Torah is not an “anthology  of good deeds.” It relates events not because they are necessarily  worthy of emulation, but because they took place.    The Torah does not hide from us the faults, errors, and weaknesses  of our great men, and this is precisely what gives its stories credibility.  The knowledge given us of their faults and weaknesses does not detract  from the stature of our great men; on the contrary, it adds to their  stature and makes their life stories even more instructive. Had they  been portrayed to us as shining models of perfection, flawless and  unblemished, we would have assumed that they had been endowed  with a higher nature, not given to us to attain. Had they been portrayed  free of passions and inner conflicts, their virtues would have seemed  to us as merely the consequence of their loftier nature, not acquired  by personal merit, and certainly no model we could ever hope to  emulate.

6 comments :

  1. Nevertheless , many seem to be born with an inherent holiness even before they got a chance to do or say something.

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  2. Hey, speak for yourself, willya?

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  3. Scary to think that this RSRH were to come back to life and say this today he'd be put on the kofer list right below Rav Slifkin.

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  4. Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

    Scary to think that this RSRH were to come back to life and say this today he'd be put on the kofer list right below Rav Slifkin.
    ===============
    The issue has been raised many times. Rav Bulman was upset at the attempt to turn Hirsch into a chareidi Jew with the current English edition of the 19 letters by Rabbi Elias. There was exchange of letters in Jewish Action Magazine regarding this issue.

    The Brisker Rav's gave a famous mashol of a customer breaking the show window.
    In general Hirsch was highly regarded as a tzadik who saved German Jews - but he was felt to have made too many compromises. Read Rabbi Klugman's biography especially regarding the tension with the gadol hador of German Jews - Rav Bamberger - who apparently had little respect of Hirsch.

    You might want to look at his discussion of Agada, as well as the 18th letter where he equates Mendelsohn and the Rambam and talks about the lack of intellectual involvment in faith. See his commany to Bereoishs where he said the Avos erred in child rearing.

    Finally Rav Desslers famous piece where he contrasts the yeshiva world and that of the Hirschian world.

    Hirsh also had problems with the Zohar and other issues.

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  5. >See his commany to Bereoishs where he said the Avos erred in child rearing.<

    Well wouldn't you report someone who tries to offer up their son on an alter? :>)

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  6. How did he deal with the Gemora which said that for example Yishai didn't sin?

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