Judaism Eternal: Selected Essays from the Writings of Samson Raphael Hirsch - Vol. 1

By I. Grunfeld; Samson Raphael Hirsch | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION

"WE have no religion to-day--teacher has a headache!" With these words a group of Jewish boys once came jubilantly rushing out of the house of a Hebrew teacher as I was passing. "We have no religion to-day," the boys called out to each other, and they made off in jubilation.

"We have no religion to-day."--"Poor little boys," I mused, pensively echoing their words, "and supposing you would have 'had religion' to-day, would you really have had any religion? And if you had had religion to-day, would that mean that you would still have it to-morrow, the day after that, and throughout all the many great and serious days and nights which await you and for which the morningtide of your lives should arm and equip you?

"We have no religion to-day!" "But did you really have religion yesterday, will you have religion to-morrow? Is it really religion, is it Jewish religion, that great and noble religion for which your forefathers once lived and died? Is it religion that you take down for dictation in your copy-books, out of which you afterwards make paper trumpets in the playground? Is the religion of your copy-books one which you will hold aloft in your adult lives, following its call even into the thick of the battle, till each of you becomes for its sake a 'warrior of the Lord'?"

These questions which wistfully occurred to me on that occasion are still topical to-day. No parent, no one of us can omit to ponder these questions, if we really think the religious instruction of our children important, and so soon as we do not include this subject in the school curriculum merely for the sake of fashion and have something more serious in view than appearances or child's play.

There was a time when what is to-day called "religious instruction" or "systematic religious instruction"--and which in many cases comprises the whole wisdom of the

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