Page 212 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

Basic HTML Version

2 0 4
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
ily an educational journal, from which were taken the essays
that now comprise such anthologies in English as
Judaism Eter­
nal.
It was on the pages o f
Jeschurun
that Hirsch published
his well-known series on the significance o f each month o f the
Jewish calendar.
HIS COMMENTARIES
By the time Hirsch ceased the publication o f
Jeschurun
in
1870, his views were being spread to the public through his
loyal supporter Marcus Lehmann, rabbi o f the Orthodox con­
gregation in Mainz. Meanwhile, Hirsch was already turning to
the third phase o f his writing activities: the preparation o f com­
mentaries on a variety o f traditional texts, most especially the
Torah, but including also the Books o f Psalms and Proverbs,
the Siddur, and Ethics o f the Fathers.
I f we take an overview o f Hirsch’s literary career, we see a
movement back to tradition. Although in his early writings
Hirsch had sought to reach out beyond traditional society both
in substance and in format, by the time o f his last works he
had returned to the rabbinic genre o f textual commentaries.
The change can be demonstrated by noting Hirsch’s writings
on Psalms. Hirsch’s essays on Psalms, now printed in volume
IV o f the English-language collected writings, were originally
published in
Jeschurun
in 1859-60 and 1866-67, while his com­
mentary on Psalms appeared in 1882. As the nineteenth century
ran its course, Hirsch along with many other German Jews be­
came increasingly pessimistic and sober regarding the oppor­
tunities awaiting the Jew.8 Meanwhile, Orthodoxy had succeed­
ed in safeguarding a respected position for their tradition with­
in Jewish society, and Hirsch, who had contributed so much
7 Much o f Hirsch’s writing has been translated to English. For
The Nineteen
Letters o f Ben Uziel,
the 1899 translation by Bernard Drachman is recom­
mended. A later edition was not always true to the text.
Horeb,
2 vols.,
trans. by I. G run fe ld (2nd ed., London , 1962).
Judaism Eternal,
2 vols., ed.
and trans. by I. G run fe ld (London , 1956). A new edition o f H irch ’s works,
entitled
The Collected Writings
(N ew York, 1984) is being published by Philipp
Feldheim.
8
This point is made in an incisive essay by Steven S. Schwarzschild, “Samson
Raphael Hirsch — T h e Man and His Though t.” See
Conservative Judaism
X I I I (1959), no. 2, pp. 26-45.