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

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

CHAPTER XVI
ON HEBREW INSTRUCTION AS PART OF A GENERAL EDUCATION1

FAITHFUL to its programme, our institution devotes the same close attention to the subjects of a general education as to those of what is usually regarded as a special Jewish education. It was from the first fully aware that in doing so it was combining two elements which, to the superficial view and to those who have not studied the subject, seem to be mutually exclusive because each of them claims from the pupil time and energy which is needed for the other. But it was also convinced that these two elements, which are usually regarded as opposed to one another and by some as quite incompatible, were in truth nothing else than the two complementary and closely related parts of a complete and homogeneous education. And just as in real life a Jew, to perform his duty as a man and a citizen, should combine Jewish with general culture, so in the nursery of life, in the school, provision should be made for fostering both sides in unison and harmony.

Jewish culture from its very nature must make greater demands on the time and energy of the pupil than religious instruction in non-Jewish schools. While Christianity, for instance, sees in itself only a religious doctrine which finds its complete outward embodiment in the Church, Judaism aims at forming a people. The Jewish people with the whole of Jewish history is its product, and its literature represents the labour of a whole people through many centuries. In the Jewish world Hebrew literature does not belong to theology. It is the Jewish national literature, just as Greek literature is that of the Hellenes and German literature of the Germans.

Now, it might well be possible in the abstract to construct a system of belief out of some essential principles and in a few

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1
This and the following article, appeared invitations to the public examination in the years 1866 and 1867 in education institutions of the "Israelitische Religionsgesellschaft" founded and conducted by S. R. Hirsch.

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