Page 213 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 46

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LIBERLES/SAMSON RAPHAEL HIRSCH
205
to that effort, gradually returned in his thinking to a traditional
stance.
Unfortunately, Hirsch’s religious thinking as reflected in the
later stages o f his writings has not enjoyed anywhere near the
attention given to the young Hirsch and to his early works.
A systematic study o f his later essays in
Jeschurun
and his com­
mentaries would not only complement our understanding o f
Hirsch, but would also provide an important contribution to
our understanding o f Jewish thought and activity in the im­
mediate aftermath o f emancipation, an objective that Hirsch
had pursued so actively in earlier decades.
What, I would suggest, characterized Hirsch’s uniqueness was
his understanding o f the implications o f emancipation. In the
struggle for emancipation, to which Hirsch was as committed
as any other Jewish leader, he insisted that Jews not compromise
themselves in pursuit o f the objective. Only a Jew proud o f
himself could demand respect from others. Hence, when eman­
cipation finally came in 1871, he was better equipped than other
leaders to value its opportunities. While many communal lead­
ers now expressed anxiety over the future o f Judaism, Hirsch
had already demonstrated that a proud and noble Judaism
could take its place with dignity within society at-large. That
pride in Judaism had been demonstrated simultaneously in the
writings o f the man and in the accomplishments o f the com­
munity he led.