Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Rav Hirsch & Rabbi Eckstein

Over at Cross-Currents, Rabbi Adlerstein put up a post summarizing R' Shimon Schwab's anonymous reply to R' Dessler's attack on secular studies. The commenters were quick to point out a bunch of nuances in R' Schwab's overall position (his opposition to Torah Umadda, his acceptance of Torah Only as a completely fine derech, etc.), as I believe they are right to do. After all, this essay of R' Schwab's was written anonymously and other writings of his on Torah im Derech Eretz would seem to indicate a more pragmatic vision of that hashkafa and a de-emphasis on its true ideological character (such as These and Those and his haskama for R' Elias's book).

But the conversation has inevitably turned from R' Schwab's positions to R' Hirsch's; Rabbi Binyomin Eckstein and I have been having a back-and-forth (starting here) about whether or not Rav Hirsch approved of "forming a weltanschauung from external sources" because Rabbi Eckstein wishes to demonstrate that "there are real, fundamental differences between TIDE and TuM." Check it out.


  1. In Elu v'elu, Rabbi Schwab technically approves of "Torah-only," but he oqimtas it such that in the end, it's utterly impractical. He says that "Torah-only" is meant for a few select elites (like what RambaM says of anyone who wishes to be like a Levite), and that everyone else must follow TIDE. Rabbi Schwab is being disingenuous; he pretends to approve of Torah-only while simultaneously pulling the rug out from under it when no one is looking.

  2. Regardless of whether or not there are significant differences between TIDE and TuM, it is clear from Rav Hirsch's writings that he saw secular education as an inherent good, and not just from a utilitarian perspective.