Hirsch, Samson Raphael

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hirsch, Samson Raphael

Samson Raphael Hirsch, 1808–88, German rabbi and chief exponent of Neo-Orthodoxy. As rabbi in Frankfurt-am-Main, he advocated the organization of autonomous Orthodox congregations outside the state-recognized Jewish communal structure because of the latter's failure to support traditional ideals and practices. He was not an isolationist, however; he sought to combine traditional Jewish studies with secular learning. He first promoted that notion in his Nineteen Letters (1836, tr. 1899). He maintained in Horeb (1837, tr. 1962) that the reason for the Jews' existence was—in keeping with biblical teachings—to exemplify the righteous life for all the world as revealed by God. He further saw Judaism as an organic institution and condemned the breaks in tradition advocated by the Reform movement.

See I. Grunfeld, Three Generations: The Influence of Samson Raphael Hirsch on Jewish Life and Thought (1958); J. L. Blau, Modern Varieties of Judaism (1966).

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