Page 106 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 21

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zens, contains a statement typical of Hirsch: “In a constitutional
state there is no such thing as quarter, half or three-quarter
emancipation. The constitutional soil does not carry slaves and
pariahs. Either expel the Jew or set him free.” He also ad-
dressed many pamphlets and manifestoes to his fellow-Jews, urg-
ing them to show restraint and modesty in their behaviour and
to hope in the God of history who would surely ordain the
triumph of justice and truth. He also admonished them to re-
main loyal to their religion once they had gained political free-
dom. He added, “What would you achieve if you became
free
Jews and you ceased to be
Jews?”
Soon, however, political reaction was on its way back to Au-
stria. The new Austrian Government was not happy about
Hirsch’s political activities. In these circumstances, it was per-
haps not surprising that in 1861 he performed what has been
described as “the most heroic deed of his life” : he resigned as
Chief Rabbi of Moravia and accepted a call to a small com-
munity in Frankfurt-on-the-Main. His activities there during the
subsequent thirty-seven years until the end of his life as educator
and religious writer and as the rabbinical leader of what finally
became one of the most important Jewish communities in the
world, belong no doubt to the great epochs of European Jew-
ish history.
In 1854 Hirsch founded his
Jeschurun—‘
a monthly for the
inculcation of the spirit of Judaism and of Jewish life in home,
community and school.” In that magazine which appeared under
his editorship for sixteen years, he published his famous essays,
some of which were later republished in the six volumes of his
collected writings (
Gesammel te Schriften,
Frankfurt, 1908). The
Jeschurun
includes discourses on problems of Jewish education,
reflections on the Jewish calendar, expositions of Jewish reli-
gious philosophy, essays on Bible and Jewish history and on the
underlying ideas of Jewish laws and observances, belles-lettres
and poems; also reports on Jewish life all over the world by
special correspondents and polemical essays against Reform. Of
special significance for American Jewish readers are descriptions
in the
Jeschurun
of Jewish life in America, especially in New
York and in New Orleans.
Of Hirsch’s celebrated essays published in the monthly I shall
mention only a few. First is “The Festival of Revelation and
the Uniqueness of the Torah” (reprinted in English translation
in
Judaism Eternal,
vol. 1, page 88 ff.). This essay deals with the
veracity of Jewish tradition, which testifies to the historical fact
of Revelation as the ultimate source of Jewish religious truth.
It poses the fundamental question whether Judaism can be con-
sidered a “religion” in the ordinary meaning of this word, and
answers in the negative. The Torah is an “absolutely unique