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The Kuzari as Contrasted With Rabbi S. R.

Hirsch's Conception of Tiqun Olam: The Place of Universalism and
Morality in Judaism
by Michael Makovi

I.

In Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's Nineteen Letters, we read his infamous denunciation of the
Rambam's philosophy (Letter 18; pp. 181-3 in the translation of Rabbi Dr. Bernard Drachman,
http://www.archive.org/details/nineteenletters00hirs):
This great man [viz. Rambam], to whom and to whom alone we owe the preservation of
practical Judaism to our time, is responsible-because he sought to reconcile Judaism with the
difficulties which confronted it from without, instead of developing it creatively from within -
for all the good and the evil which bless and afflict the heritage of the fathers. His peculiar
mental tendency was Arabic-Greek, and his conception of the purpose of life the same. He
entered into Judaism from without, bringing with him opinions of whose truth he had convinced
himself from extraneous sources and - he reconciled. For him, too, self-perfection through the
knowledge of truth was the highest aim; the practical he deemed subordinate. For him
knowledge of God was the end, not the means; hence he devoted his intellectual powers to
speculations upon the essence of Deity, and sought to bind Judaism to the results of his
speculative investigations as to postulates of science or faith. The mitzvot became for him
merely ladders, necessary only to conduct to knowledge or to protect against error, the latter
often only the temporary and limited error of polytheism. Mishpatim became only rules of
prudence, mitzvot as well; Chukkim rules of health, teaching right feeling, defending against the
transitory errors of the time; Edot ordinances, designed to promote philosophical or other
concepts; all this having no foundation in the eternal essence of things, not resulting from their
eternal demand on me, or from my eternal purpose and task, no eternal symbolizing of an
unchangeable idea, and not inclusive enough to form a basis for the totality of the
commandments.
Zvi E. Kurzweil, in Giants of Tradition: Samson Raphael Hirsch: Educationist and Thinker" (Tradition
2:2, Spring 1960), explains the previous quotation:
Two points in this criticism of Maimonides' Guide need special attention: 1) The argument that
Maimonides did not creatively develop Judaism from its intrinsic qualities, but rather entered.
Into it from without and superimposed upon it alien attitudes - in this case, the Aristotelian ideal
of a contemplative life and perfection of man though meditation upon the concept of an abstract
Godhead. 2)The second point springs from the first: if the contemplative life expresses the
highest value, it is clear that the positive, practical side of Judaism, that is, fulfilling the
commandments, is of secondary and subordinate importance. In other words, in Hirsch's
opinion, there appears in the Guide to the Perplexed a kind of relativization of the
commandments, whereas in Hirsch's view they have a supreme value and a validity which is
eternal. This is the source of Hirsch's constant demand for developing Judaism immanently,
from with itself (sich selbst begreifendes Judentum).
Rabbi Hirsch, following the Kuzari, presents his own conception of how the Torah should be viewed and
approached (Letter 2, pp. 12-13) as following:
[L]et us try to know that which we desire to measure - Judaism, in its history and teachings.
Perhaps, on the way, we may learn to think differently concerning the destiny of mankind, and
may obtain a different mode of discerning the purpose of the existence of the nations, and their
duties. But we must become acquainted with it from the source which it itself points out to us;
which it has rescued from the wreck of all its other fortunes as the only original document and
source of instruction concerning its true essence—from its Torah. Its history we must learn from
it, for Judaism is an historical phenomenon, and for its origin, its first entrance into history, and
for a long subsequent time, the Torah is the only monument. And if, at the cradle of this people,
we were to hear mystic voices, such as no other nation ever heard—voices announcing the
purpose of this people's existence—for which it entered into history, should we not hearken to
these voices, and try to comprehend them, that we might thus understand it and its history ? It is
the only source of its law, written and oral. Therefore, to the Torah!
If we might summarize: Rabbi Hirsch criticized the Rambam for developing his conception of Judaism
apologetically based on external and alien sources; rather than construing Judaism from itself, out of its own
sources, the Rambam rather adapted Judaism to an external alien philosophy, viz. Aristotelianism. By contrast,
the Kuzari sought to develop Judaism out of itself, based on its own sources of Tanakh, Talmud, Midrash and
Aggadah, etc.

II.

Professor Harry Wolfson, in "Maimonides and Halevi: A Study in Typical Jewish Attitudes Toward s
Greek Philosophy in the Middle Ages" (http://www.archive.org/details/maimonideshalevi00wolfuoft), explains
the difference between the Greek and Jewish conceptions of life:
What most characteristically distinguishes Jews and Greeks, is their respective views of
life. That of the former was ethical, that of the latter was cosmological. Of course, neither was
exclusive. In the process of the development of their respective ideas, Jews became interested in
cosmology and Greeks in ethics. Rabbis of the Mishnaic era assiduously cultivated cosmological
studies (‫)מעשה בראשית‬, and Greek philosophy ever since Socrates was for the most part ethical.
Yet the emphasis has always been laid on the point of view with which they started. Jewish
cosmology has always been ethical, while Greek ethics has always been cosmological.

[For the Hebrews, a]ll natural phenomena appeared to them as either physically good or
bad, pleasing or painful. But things appeared to them not merely as physically good or bad but
also as morally good or bad. Death, they recognized, is bad, and life is good; but why, they also
asked, is murder more terrible than natural death, and why is the saving of another's life a
pleasure to the saver? By putting this question, they realized the existence of moral good and
evil, and began to judge things in these terms. So by means of introspection rather than
inspection, from their version of the world rather than its own version of itself, the Jews
developed their organized ethical view of life.
The Greeks, on the other hand, beheld life objectively. They beheld things as they are,
without their relation to man and his visions, fears and pleasures. … What he saw in the world
was a variety of forms with a common background. Life was a chain of interlacing links. Things
were necessarily regenerations, producing other things, and events were leading, according to
law, to other events. This objective appreciation of orderly process gave rise to Hellenic
cosmology. … The Greeks … beholding the world objectively, saw the law and order existing in
it, the principles governing natural phenomena, the perfect arrangement of the parts of the
universe and their harmonic unity of interadaptation. Hence, reality was for them that observable
unity, order, and stability of the world. These opposing conceptions of reality have been well
summarized by Dr. H. M. Kallen in a recent paper on the subject. "For the Greeks, change is
unreal and evil; for the Hebrews the essence of reality is change. The Greek view of reality is
static and structural; the Hebrew view is dynamic and functional. The Hebrew saw the world as
a history. For them the inwardness of reality lay in the movement of events. The Greeks saw the
world as an immutable hierarchy of forms; for them the reality was the inert order of being."
According to Rabbi Hirsch, for Rambam "self-perfection through the knowledge of truth was the highest
aim; the practical he deemed subordinate. For him knowledge of God was the end, not the means".
Similarly, regarding the Greek conception of life, Wolfson's states,
To the Greeks, on the other hand, the Highest Good resides in the individual, in the perfection of
all his mental and physical qualities and in the attainment of the supreme good of rationality.
The state is, of course, necessary, for the faculties essential to the excellence of the individual
have in the state their only opportunity of development. But the state as such is not an end but an
instrument. "It is perhaps better for the wise man in his speculation to have fellow-workers; but
nevertheless he is in the highest degree self-sufficient." (Aristotle, Ethics, X, 7.) And virtues are
also merely means of conducing to happiness, in themselves neither good nor bad. "Thus, in
place of a series of hard and fast rules, a rigid and uncompromising distinction of acts and
affections into good and bad, the former to be absolutely chosen and the latter absolutely
eschewed, Aristotle presents us with the general type of a subtle and shifting problem, the
solution of which must be worked out afresh by each individual in each particular case."
(Dickinson, Greek View of Life, 136.) The highest individual perfection is speculative wisdom,
the excellence of that purely intellectual part called reason. (Comp. Aristotle, Ethics, I, 6.) "The
speculative is the only activity which is loved for its own sake as it has no result except
speculation." (Ibid., X, 7.) … To the Greek the essence of man is to be rational. Virtues are good
in so far as they conduce to the highest good ; and society likewise is merely a means to
facilitate man's reaching the Highest Good.
Thus, during the medieval era, a struggle between the Hebraic and Greek castes of mind began in Jewish
philosophy. Wolfson explains this historical background of medieval Jewish philosophy, saying,
The struggle between these two views of life, which began with the Jews' coming in
contact with Greek civilization and resulted on the one hand in Philo's Neo-Platonism and on the
other hand in Pauline Christianity, was renewed in the tenth century among the Jews of the
Mohammedan countries. The intrusion of Greek philosophical ideas into Jewish thought, chiefly
through Arabic channels, gave rise to the need of a new reconciliation between Judaism and
Hellenism. The attempt to satisfy that need resulted in the creation of a religious philosophy
which, though different from Philo's in content, was very much like it in spirit and general
outlook. Like Philo, the philosophers of the Middle Ages aimed at reconciling Jewish religion
with Greek philosophy, by recasting the substance of the former in the form of the latter. The
principles upon which they worked were (i) that the practical religious organization of Jewish
life must be preserved, but (2) that they must be justified and defended in accordance with the
principles of Greek philosophy. Thus Hellenic theory was to bolster Hebraic dogma, and Greek
speculation became the basis for Jewish conduct. The carrying out of this programme, therefore,
unlike that of Pauline Christianity, involved neither change in the practice of the religion, nor
abrogation of the Law. There was simply a shifting of emphasis from the practical to the
speculative element of religion. Philo and the mediaeval philosophers continued to worship God
in the Jewish fashion, but their conception of God became de-Judaized. They continued to
commend the observation of the Law, but this observation lost caste and became less worthy
than the "theoretic life." Practice and theory fell apart logically; instead there arose an artificial
parallelism of theoretic with practical obligations.

As against this tendency to subordinate Judaism to Hellenic speculation, there arose a
counter-movement in mediaeval Jewish philosophy which aimed to find in Judaism itself
satisfaction for the theoretical as well as the practical interest. This movement developed a
school which, though appreciative of the virtues of Aristotelianism, still saw their difference in
temper and attitude toward life and considered any attempt at reconciliation as a mere dallying
with meanings distorted by abstraction from their contexts. As this school aimed to justify
Judaism by its own principles, it sought to indicate its characteristic features, and to assert its
right to autonomous intellectual existence, the peer of Hellenism, because of its very diversity
therefrom. Consequently, the work of this school has a double character. It had, on the one hand,
to criticise Greek philosophy and undermine the common belief of its contemporaries in its
absolute truth, and, on the other hand, it had to differentiate and define the Jewish position.
Of the Hellenizers in Judaism, the most typical representative is Moses Maimonides
(1135-1204); of the Hebraizers, Judah Halevi (1085? 1400?). These two men represent the
opposite poles of Jewish thought in the Middle Ages. Maimonides is a true convert to
Aristotelian philosophy.
Wolfson notes that Rambam,
...does not, however, examine the views of the philosophers with the object of
supporting the Jewish traditional interpretation of religious principles. His aim is solely to show
that Scriptures and Talmud, correctly interpreted, strictly harmonize with the philosophical
writings of Aristotle. … An Aristotelian, though with limitations, in metaphysics, Maimonides is
also an Aristotelian in ethics.
...
We may, however, still ask: What is the end of man? Whereto Maimonides replies, with
Aristotle, that the end of man is the perfection of his specific form. … It is to be found in the
perfection of the intellect, the development of the loftiest intellectual faculties, the possession of
such notions which lead to true metaphysical opinions about God. "With this perception (the
right view of God) man has obtained his final object; it gives him true human perception; it
remains to him alone ; it gives him immortality ; and on its account he is called man." (Moreh
Neb., Ill, 60.) Thus the highest perfection of man consists in his becoming an "actually
intelligent being." The acts conducing to that are the virtues. Acts are, therefore, in themselves
neither good nor bad; their moral value is determined by their furthering or preventing the
Highest Perfection. Hence there is no virtue in doing righteousness for its own sake. "The
multitude who observe the divine commandments, but are ignorant, never enter the royal
palace." (Moreh Neb., Ill, 51.) Not only are virtues for their own sake unimportant, but they are
not even the best means of reaching the Highest Perfection. Speculation and knowledge will
lead to it sooner than practice and right conduct. "Of these two ways knowledge and conduct the
one, the communication of correct opinions, comes undoubtedly first in rank."(Moreh Neb., Ill,
27.) "For the Highest Perfection certainly does not include any action or good conduct, but only
knowledge, which is arrived at by speculation, or established by research." (Ibid.) "But one
cannot procure all this ; it is impossible for a single man to obtain this comfort ; it is only
possible in society, since man, as it is well known, is by nature social." (Ibid.) Hence the object
of society is to provide the conditions favorable to the production of "actually intelligent men."
All mankind live only for the few who can reach the Highest Perfection, just as all earthly
beings exist for men. "Common men exist for two reasons ; first. to do the work that is needed in
the state in order that the actually intelligent man should be provided with all his wants and be
able to pursue his studies; second, to accompany the wise lest they feel lonely, since the number
of wise men is small." (Introduction to ‫ ;סדר זרעים‬see also ‫אחד העם‬, ‫ שלטון השכל‬in ‫ השלח‬XV.)
...
Such a view, it is clear, could hardly be more Hellenic and still save even a semblance of
Judaism. Maimonides was not a rabbi employing Greek logic and categories of thought in order
to interpret Jewish religion ; he was rather a true mediaeval Aristotelian, using Jewish religion as
an illustration of the Stagirite's metaphysical supremacy. Maimonides adheres staunchly to the
Law, or course, but his adherence is not the logical consequence of his system. It has its basis in
his heredity and practical interests; it is not the logical implication of his philosophy. Judaism
designated the established social order of life, in which Maimonides lived and moved and had
his being; and it was logically as remote from his intellectual interests as he was historically
remote from Aristotle. That, naturally, he was unaware of the dualism must be clear. Indeed, he
thought he had made a synthesis, and had given scientific demonstrations of poetic conceptions.
Maimonides really saw no incompatibility between his Judaism and his philosophy; he was a
Jew in letter and philosopher in spirit throughout his life. As a rationalist he could not but
consider that religion and philosophy, both of which seemed reasonable to him, were identical.
Similarly, in Professor Lawrence Kaplan's "An Introduction To Maimonides’ "Eight Chapters""
(http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/kaplan2_2.pdf), we read,
To conclude [the entire essay]: for Maimonides, obedience to the Law's commands [which in
turn leads to the acquisition of moral virtue], while necessary, possesses only instrumental, not
intrinsic value [in leading to the acquisition of moral virtue]. For, in his view, both philosophy
and the Law agree that the path to the perfection of the soul is through acquiring the moral and
rational virtues. Indeed, even the possession of moral virtues turns out to possess only
instrumental value, in so far as it leads to possession of rational virtues, in particular to the
possession of the rational virtue par excellence, the knowledge of God—the only thing in the life
of man that possess any intrinsic value. Yet, just as possession of moral virtues is necessary on
account of its instrumental value, so obedience to the Law's commands is similarly necessary on
account of its instrumental value, insofar as obedience to those commands is conducive to moral
virtue, while disobedience is conducive to moral vice. In sum, E[ight ]C[hapters] should be
understood as an attempt on Maimonides' part to uphold the authority of the Law and the
necessity of obeying its commands within the framework of a[n Aristotelian] virtue ethic, or,
perhaps better, as an attempt to develop a[n Aristotelian] virtue ethic, precisely in light of which
the authority of the Law and the necessity of obeying its commands are upheld.
For Wolfson, in contrast to the Rambam, the Kuzari exemplifies the Hebraic approach to Judaism as history. As
Wolfson explains the Kuzari's view,
The God of religion is not arrived at by dialectic procedures and the operations of logic.
Knowledge of Him is empirical and uncriticised personal and human experience. … Judah
Halevi presents another proof for the existence of God; this is the history of human experience.
Like Socrates, Halevi considers that real science is not physics but ethics. He regards personality
and the relation of persons to one another as the essence of reality. But he goes further than
Socrates; he takes as the basis of his science not the conduct of individuals but the conduct of
humanity in history. He accuses the Greeks of lacking historic sense, of considering the history
of each man as beginning with himself. Therein he is quite the antithesis of the Greek
philosophers. The latter reflected upon the purposiveness of nature but saw no teleology in the
flux of history; Halevi, on the other hand, denies the purposiveness of nature, but asserts the
onward march of history to a clearly-defined end. "Generations come and generations go," and
yet history seems to have a purpose; human destiny seems to be guided by some pre-defined
plan. God is not the God of the universe only; He is the God of human destiny. … A review of
the experiences of the human race reveals enough empirical evidence to prove the existence of a
Supreme Being guiding human actions. … The empiricism is extraordinarily bold, even for our
time. For Halevi's position is tantamount to asserting that unless men perceived God, meeting
Him face to face, they cannot know Him at all. Thus the knowledge of God is natural
knowledge. He appears to individuals and to masses, He speaks, He rewards, He punishes. He is
known as other beings are known, by prophetic intuition, and by derived evidence, i. e. by
tradition.
Also, for Wolfson, the Kuzari exemplifies Rav Hirsch's demand for a Judaism that is learned out of
itself, from its own sources:
Diametrically opposed to Maimonides, in insight, in conception of life and destiny, is Judah
Halevi. In his discussion of God, His existence, His nature and His relation to the world, Halevi
displays, for his time, a remarkable freshness and originality of view. In a period when Hellenic
thought dominated Jewish and Arabic intellect, he was, though as familiar with it as the closest
student of the Greeks, remarkably free of its influence. He sees clearly, in contradistinction to
most Jewish thinkers of his time, the essential differences between the Jewish and the Greek
ideas of God, of conduct and of human destiny. From Philo to Maimonides, Jewish dialecticians
were intent upon thinning the concrete formalism of the biblical God to the abstract and tenuous
formalism of the Aristotelian Prime Mover. They reduced differences, so far as they could, to
expression and terminology, and sought to eliminate whatever more fundamental diversity there
remained by explaining it away. They failed to note the tremendous scope of the diversity, how
it reached down into the very nature and temperaments of people and spread to the unbounded
cosmos itself. Halevi alone among the philosophizing rabbis recognized the ineradicable reality
of the difference, and pointed out with unmistakable clearness the essential distinctions between
the Prime Mover of the Greeks and God of the Jews.
We are now in a position to fully appreciate Rabbi Hirsch's criticisms. The Rambam, rather than
conceiving Judaism out of itself, according to its own sources, rather construed Judaism according to Greek
philosophy, recasting Judaism according to philosophy. To be sure, the recasting was not complete; Rambam
obviously saw contradictions, and at times, he indeed disagreed with Aristotelian philosophy and retained
Judaism intact. But such moments are the exception, and the general frame of reference for Rambam is always
Aristotle, even if he does occasionally differ with Aristototle on the details.

III.

Of Torah-true Judaism, Wolfson says,
The original diversity between the Hebraic and the Hellenic views of being becomes still more
patent in their ideals of conduct and the end of life. The Jews who had a theory of creation as
opposed to the Greek philosophical doctrine of the eternity of matter, the Highest Good was not
that to which all things aim to reach but that for the sake of which all things had been created.
Now, the purpose of creation has indisputably been declared to be the Torah (‫)תורה‬. "But for the
Torah, heaven and earth would not have existed." (‫אלמלא תורה לא נתקימו שמים וארץ‬, Pesahim 65b.)
Everything in the world was created according to the prescriptions of the Torah. "The Holy One
looked in the Torah while creating the world." (‫הקב"ה היה מביט בתורה ובורא העולם‬, Gen. r., c. i.)
Hence the Torah is the most adequate guide for human life, for it is the most relevant to human
nature. Since "the Laws have been given for the purpose of refining men through them, (‫לא נתנו‬
‫מצות אלא לצרף בהן את הבריות‬, Gen. r., c. 47; Tanhuma ‫שמיני‬.) and since these laws can be realized
only in a social organization, the perfect organization of society, based on the precepts of the
Torah, is the Highest Good. The task of the individual is to adjust himself to such a social status,
to obey the Torah, and thereby to contribute his share to the collectively integrated righteous
society. But mere obedience, mere formality, mere practicing of virtue is not sufficient. The
individual is not perfect unless the divine virtues, the formal code of ethics, become the acts of
his inmost conscience, the spontaneous expression of his nature. "What God wants is the heart."
(‫הקב"ה לבא בעי‬, Sanhedrin 106b.) and "when a man performs his duties he shall perform them
with a joyful heart." (‫כשיהא אדם עשה מצוה יהא עושה בלב שמח‬, Levit. r., c. 34.) The test of individual
perfection is the perfect harmony or coincidence of his conscience with his deeds and the
residing joy therein. "Whenever a man is satisfied with his own right conduct, it is a good omen
for him; whenever a man is not satisfied with his own conduct, it is a bad omen for him." (‫כל‬
‫שרוח עצמו נוחה בשלו סימן יפה לו; אין רוח עצמו נוחה בשלו סימן רע לו‬, Tosefta Berakot 3, 4.) The perfect
man is the "Beautiful Soul" beautiful because his instinct and righteousness coincide.
But here, we begin to meet with a challenge to the conception that the Kuzari exemplifies Judaism learned from
itself. In 2:44, we read (Hebrew is ibn Tibbon, English is Rabbi N. Daniel Korobkin's The Kuzari: In Defense of
the Despised Faith, Feldheim: 2009),
‫והכל נהיה בעבור הסגולה ההיא להדבק בה הענין האלקי‬
Everything exists for the sake of this elite creature [viz. the Jew], to enable the Divinity [Inyan
haEloki, lit. "Divine Thing"to attach Itself to this being.
But did we not read in Wolfson, that according to Rambam,
Hence the object of society is to provide the conditions favorable to the production of "actually
intelligent men." All mankind live only for the few who can reach the Highest Perfection, just as
all earthly beings exist for men. "Common men exist for two reasons ; first. to do the work that
is needed in the state in order that the actually intelligent man should be provided with all his
wants and be able to pursue his studies; second, to accompany the wise lest they feel lonely,
since the number of wise men is small." (Introduction to ‫ ;סדר זרעים‬see also ‫אחד העם‬, ‫שלטון השכל‬
in ‫ השלח‬XV.)
In truth, the Kuzari's Inyan haEloki ("Divine Thing") seems roughly the same as the Aristotelian Active Intellect,
except that the latter is arrived at via metaphysical speculation and intellectual perfection, whereas the former is
arrived at via the performance of theurgically-efficacious rituals, especially the korbanot (sacrifices). (See the
parable of the apothecary in Kuzari 1:79.) Indeed, it is likely, I believe, that the Kuzari's Inyan haEloki is a
concession to the Active Intellect; the Greeks had the Active Intellect, and the Kuzari wished to apologetically
one-up the Greeks, by saying we had something even better, and only for Jews moreover. Professor Haim
Kreisel, in his "Interpreting Judah Halevi's Kuzari" (http://hsf.bgu.ac.il/cjt/files/electures/kuzari1.htm), notes that
the Kuzari makes rather a few such apologia. I would add that the the Kuzari's oft-made repetition of the
greatness and importance of prophecy seems to me to be also a concession. Be all this as it may, both Rambam
and Rabbi Halevi then believe that all of humanity exists solely for the sake of those few who engage in
metaphysical speculation for the sake of intellectual perfection and achieving/becoming the Active Intellect
(Rambam) or for the sake of those few who engage in theurgic ritualistic acts that are efficacious to bring the
Inyan haEloki.
The Kuzari King protests – at least to some degree - to this; when asked by the Haver (2:46),
‫?התחשב כי הקרבה הוא השפלות והכניעה והדומה למם‬

Do you now think that closeness [to G-d] comes simply through humility, lowliness, and the
like?
the King replies (2:47),
'‫ ומה ה‬:‫ ואמר‬.‫ מה ה' אלקיך שאל מעמך כי אם ליראה‬:‫ כמו שאמר‬,‫ וכן קראתי בספריכם‬,‫ וכן אני חושב‬.‫ עם הצדק‬,‫כן‬
‫ וזולת זה הרבה‬,‫דורש ממך כי אם עשות משפט ואהבת חסד‬.

When coupled with righteous conduct, yes! So I believe and I've even read this in your Torah. It
says, "What does the Lord your God ask of you except to fear [Him]?' [Devarim 10:12] and it
says, 'What does God request from you except to do justice and love truth [and walk humbly
with your God]?' [Michah 6:8] And there are many other similar citations.
The Haver, in turn, replies (2:48),
‫ אי אפשר‬,‫ קודמות לה בטבע ובזמן‬,‫ והם הקדמות והצעות לתורה האלקית‬,‫אלה והדומה להם הם החקים השכליים‬
‫ … אי‬.‫ עד שקהל הלסטים אי אפשר שלא היתה מתמדת חברתם‬,‫בלעדיהם בהנהגות איזו קהילה שתהיה מבני אדם‬
‫ כאשר אין אפשר לכל יחיד מבלעדי הדברים הטבעיים מאכילה ושתיה ותנועה ומנוחה‬,‫אפשר מבלעדיהם לכל קהלה‬
‫ושנה וקיצה … כי התורות האלקיות לא תשלמנה אלא אחר השלמת התורות המנהגיות והשכליות … ומי שלא החזיק‬
‫ איך מחזיק בקרבנות ובשבת והמילה וזולתם … והם התורות אשר בהם התיחדו בני ישראל תוספת על‬,‫באלה‬
‫ ובהם היה להם יתרון הענין האלקי‬,‫השכליות‬.

These and others like them are the rational laws. They are prerequisites – inherently and
sequentially – to the Divine Torah. No community of people can function without these laws.
Even a community of robbers cannot exist unless equity governs them; if not, their association
could not continue. … just as an individual cannot survive without natural activities such as
eating and drinking, moving and resting, sleeping and waking. … For the Divine laws cannot be
fulfilled without the prior fulfillment of the civil and rational laws... How can one who does not
uphold these essentials [viz. the rational laws] uphold sacrifices, the Sabbath, circumcision, and
the like? … [T]hey [viz. the ritual laws] are the laws which distinguish the Jewish people, in that
they are additions to the rational laws, and it was through this distinction that they achieved the
advantage of Divinity [i.e. the Inyan haEloki].
In other words, the Haver (and Rabbi Yehuda haLevi with him) views the rational and moral commandments as
mere utilitarian means by which to ensure a stable society in which the ritual laws can be executed. Just as a
human needs food and the like, and a community of thieves needs an internal code of honor and rule, so too, the
Jewish nation requires rational and moral laws to ensure a stable society, but all this is only to conduce the
fulfillment of the theurgic ritual laws, which bring the Inyan haEloki. We will recall that regarding Rambam,
Wolfson said,
We may, however, still ask: What is the end of man? Whereto Maimonides replies, with
Aristotle, that the end of man is the perfection of his specific form. … It is to be found in the
perfection of the intellect, the development of the loftiest intellectual faculties, the possession of
such notions which lead to true metaphysical opinions about God. "With this perception (the
right view of God) man has obtained his final object; it gives him true human perception; it
remains to him alone ; it gives him immortality ; and on its account he is called man." (Moreh
Neb., Ill, 60.) Thus the highest perfection of man consists in his becoming an "actually
intelligent being." The acts conducing to that are the virtues. Acts are, therefore, in themselves
neither good nor bad; their moral value is determined by their furthering or preventing the
Highest Perfection. Hence there is no virtue in doing righteousness for its own sake. … Not only
are virtues for their own sake unimportant, but they are not even the best means of reaching the
Highest Perfection. Speculation and knowledge will lead to it sooner than practice and right
conduct. "Of these two ways knowledge and conduct the one, the communication of correct
opinions, comes undoubtedly first in rank." (Moreh Neb., Ill, 27.) "For the Highest Perfection
certainly does not include any action or good conduct, but only knowledge, which is arrived at
by speculation, or established by research." (Ibid.) "But one cannot procure all this; it is
impossible for a single man to obtain this comfort ; it is only possible in society, since man, as it
is well known, is by nature social." (Ibid.) Hence the object of society is to provide the
conditions favorable to the production of "actually intelligent men."
To be sure, the Rambam and the Kuzari's Haver disagree diametrically on the role of ritual commandments per
se. For Rambam, the ritual commandments, along with the moral commandments, are purely utilitarian, and
merely conduce metaphysical speculation and the achievement of (the?) Active Intellect. Whereas for the Haver
and Rabbi Yehuda haLevi, the ritual laws are of the essence of Judaism; the Kuzari's Judeo-centric view is
clearly visible here. Nevertheless, however, what speculation is for the Rambam, the ritual laws are for the
Haver; what the Active Intellect is for Rambam, the Inyan haEloki is for the Haver. Notwithstanding their
diametrically opposed views of the ritual laws, their views are quite analogous, broadly speaking, and more
importantly, they share the same deprecatory view of the moral commandments. Just because the Kuzari is more
Judeo-centric than the Rambam, does not automatically mean the Kuzari is more Jewish (in the sense of being
more authentic to traditional Judaism). The previous statement cannot be emphasized enough; being more
staunchly Judeo-centric does not necessarily mean that the view being proposed is truer to traditional source-true
Judaism. (Similarly, being more obviously and overtly “Jewish” - be this in dress or other behaviors – does not
necessarily constitute a closer adherent to Judaism. ‫)והמבינים יבינו‬

IV.

But a different view of the moral and ritual commandments exists. Wolfson already said,
Since "the Laws have been given for the purpose of refining men through them, (‫לא נתנו מצות אלא‬
‫לצרף בהן את הבריות‬, Gen. r., c. 47; Tanhuma ‫שמיני‬.) and since these laws can be realized only in a
social organization, the perfect organization of society, based on the precepts of the Torah, is the
Highest Good.
And we will recall the Kuzari's King's quotation prophet Michah said, as quoted by the Kuzari's King,
‫ומה ה' דורש ממך כי אם עשות משפט ואהבת חסד‬
What does God request from you except to do justice and love truth [and walk humbly with your
God]?
Even Rabbi Hirsch, who so criticized the Rambam, and so extolled the Kuzari, also disagrees with the Kuzari's
Haver here! As we saw, if Rabbi Hirsch criticized Rambam for an intellectual aspiration, one that posited
perfection of intellect and achievement of/becoming the Active Intellect, it stands to reason he would similarly
criticize a mystical aspiration, one that simply replaces metaphysical speculation with ritual observance and and
the Active Intellect with the Inyan haEloki. According to Wolfson's characterization of the ethical Hebraic view
and the scientific Greek view, both Rambam and Kuzari would seem to be together in accordance with the latter,
notwithstanding the Kuzari's Hebraic emphasis on history and personal relationship, and learning Judaism “from
itself”. Rabbi Howard I. Levine's "Enduring and Transitory Elements in the Philosophy of Samson Raphael
Hirsch" (Tradition 5:2, Spring 1963) is (with all due respect) rife with error (see Rabbi Shelomo Danziger's
"Clarification of R. Hirsch's Concepts - a Rejoinder" (Tradition 6:2, Spring-Summer 1964,
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Clarification%20of%20RSRH_danziger.pdf), but he (viz. Levine), in
one particular topic of his essay, is exactly correct in almost every way. He correctly notes,
Strangely enough the same line of reasoning [of Rabbi Hirsch's, in his criticism of Rambam and
his rationalism] resulted in condemnation of both mysticism and rationalism for their non-
humanistic ideals. For the rationalist the knowledge of God, and not the practical consequences
of the Mitzvot, constitutes the highest desideratum of religious living. … For Hirsch, the Mitzvot
must serve the eternal purpose and task of Israel, the mission to humanity. The higher purpose
that Maimonides finds in religion is unacceptable to Hirsch...in his zeal for the humanistic
conception of Mitzvot.
Thus, Rabbi Hirsch disagreed not only with Rambam – as his own explicit words indicate – but also
with the Kuzari, on the same issue in fact. Levine notes that in general,
Despite Hirsch's espousal of the philosophy of Halevi, he is antipodal to him in many major
aspects. The very essence of Halevi's philosophy is that Israel has a special spiritual endowment
which is transmitted by heredity. For Halevi, unlike Hirsch, Eretz Israel represents an irreducible
value. Again, in contrast to Hirsch, the Mitzvot do not merely represent an instrument for the
fulfillment of our mission to the nations. Insofar as Halevi is concerned, the ethical and moral
content of the Torah, irrespective of its vital importance as the first step in our religious life,
cannot be regarded as the higher purpose and fulfillment of Judaism. The revelational laws are
distinguished from the moral or rational laws in that they are the higher stage of religious
experience and are a distinctive trait of Jewish religion.
In the same vein, Levine notes, again, exactly correctly,
Hirsch's views on the close relationship between Torah study and secular learning also
come to the fore in his stress upon the practical significance of the Mitzvot. It is through their
effect upon both nature and history that, according to Hirsch, they enable Israel to fulfill its
mission to humanity. It can be said without exaggeration that Hirsch's philosophy stands or falls
with the validity of this notion.

It is important to recognize that in Hirsch's scheme, the Mitzvot are merely regarded as a
means to the fulfillment of Israel's mission But the goal of this mission is completely this-
worldly and humanistic.

In line with this approach, Hirsch reverses the traditional view of the highest goal of
religious life: holiness. We are accustomed to viewing holiness, the experience of the numinous,
as the very acme of religion. For Hirsch, however, holiness is but a means of preparing us for the
end purpose which is the life of service to mankind.

Rabbi Moses Chaim Luzzato provides a sharp antithesis to the Hirschian view. In his
classic Mesilat Yesharim, which follows the generally accepted ranking of perfection described
in the Mishnah Sotah (9: 15), divine inspiration is higher than chasidut [piety]. The opening
section of the Mesilat Yesharim introduces us to a view which is the antithesis of Hirsch's.
It is fundamenatly [sic] necessary to realize clearly what constitutes man's duty
in this world. Our sages have taught us that man was created only to find delight
in the Lord, and to bask in the radiance of His Presence. But, the real place for
such happiness is the world to come, which has been created for that very
purpose.
Regarding the Mesilat Yesharim: Indeed, I distinctly remember an incident a few years ago, at yeshiva:
my havruta (study partner) asked me what I thought the purpose of life was, and I described that which was
apparent from Rav Hirsch's corpus. My havruta was astounded at my words, and pulled out Mesilat Yesharim's
introduction. I was not fazed; I told him that Rav Hirsch disagreed with Ramhal. Now I see that Levine would
agree with me. But we might wish to note that if “we are accustomed to viewing holiness, the experience of the
numinous, as the very acme of religion”, then we should realize that not only Rav Hirsch, but further the
Prophetic mind in general will disagree with the Mesilat Yesharim. In Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz's Early and Late
(Soncino Press, 1943), we read, (“A Vindication of Religion”, p. 197),
An essential element in that [religious] vision is God's holiness. And the Holy God can only be
sanctified through righteousness, Isaiah has for all time declared. That is, moral conduct is the
beginning and end of religion, and men and nations are to be judged purely by their moral life.
'The righteous of all nations are heirs of immorality', is an unchallenged dogma of the
Synagogue.
One should not miss the far-reaching statements that Hertz has just made. “We are accustomed to viewing
holiness, the experience of the numinous, as the very acme of religion” (Levine), for “an essential element in that
[religious] vision is God's holiness” (Hertz). But if so, if God's holiness is really the essential element and acme
of religion, then, according to Isaiah, “the Holy God can only be sanctified [ - made holy - ] through
righteousness”. And therefore, “moral conduct is the beginning and end of religion” (Hertz). Moreover, “men
and nations are to be judged purely by their moral life”. This is an amazing statement. According to Rabbi Dr.
Isidore Epstein (Judaism: A Historical Presentation. Great Britain: Penguin Books, 1959 and numerous
reprintings thereafter. p. 14),
Belief in the one and only God was not demanded [of the non-Jew], provided there is no
idolatry, which Judaism condemns not so much because it is false religion, but because it is false
morality; the Son of Noah is not charged the confess the one and only God of the son of Israel.
He may be a dualist or a trinitarian, as he wishes. This conception of the Noah laws reveals the
real significance of the theocratic constitution of Israel: it rested not on the unity of the state and
religion but on the unity of the state and morality.
Apparently, the first Noachide command would not mandate strict monotheism of the Jewish sort, but rather,
would prohibit gross heathenistic worship. In like wise, Hertz says (The Pentateuch, p. 759, on Deuteronomy
4:19),
[I]dolatry was for them [viz. the Jews] an unpardonable offense; and everything that might
seduce them from that Divine Revelation was to be ruthlessly destroyed. Hence the amazing
tolerance shown by Judaism of all ages towards the followers of all other cults, so long as these
were not steeped in immorality and crime. [Emphasis in original.]
Similarly, Hertz says (ibid., p. 833, on Deuteronomy 20:10-18),
It is seen that the Canaanites were put under the ban, not for false belief, but for vile action;
because of the savage cruelty and foul immorality of their gruesome cults.
(These passages are also found, with some minor but noticeable variations, in Rabbi Hertz's Sermons, Addresses,
and Studies, London: Soncino, 1938. Vol 3. Pp. 215 and 219, under “Religious Tolerance”; and Affirmations of
Judaism, London: Soncino, 1975. Pp. 183 and 186, under “Religious Tolerance”.) This argument by Hertz and
Epstein - that “men and nations are to be judged purely by their moral life” (Hertz), that there is an “amazing
tolerance shown by Judaism of all ages towards the followers of all other cults, so long as these were not steeped
in immorality and crime” (Hertz), that “It is seen that the Canaanites were put under the ban, not for false belief,
but for vile action; because of the savage cruelty and foul immorality of their gruesome cults” (Hertz), that
“Judaism condemns [idolatry] not so much because it is false religion, but because it is false morality” (Epstein)
– this argument would parallel one by Rabbi Ahron Soloveichk, brought by Rabbi Dr. David Berger (“Jews,
Gentiles, and the Modern Egalitarian Ethos: Some Tentative Thoughts”, in Formulating Responses in an
Egalitarian Age, ed. Marc Stern, Lanham, 2005, pp. 83-108.
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Jews_Gentiles_and_Egalitarianism_2.pdf):
This position is spelled out more rigorously in his [Rabbi Ahron Soloveichik's] novellae to Sefer
ha-Madda. Here he maintains that the discriminatory laws against non-Jews result only from
their status as evildoers (their shem rasha). Non-Jews who behave righteously by following the
six Noahide laws other than the prohibition against avodah zarah are not considered evil as long
as their theological error was inherited, as the Talmud suggests about pagans in the diaspora,
from their parents and is thus considered inadvertent or even a result of compulsion.
Elsewhere, Berger remarks (Alex Ozar, “An Interview With Rabbi Dr. David Berger”, YU Commentator,
http://media.www.yucommentator.com/media/storage/paper652/news/2007/12/17/KolHamevaser/An.Interview.
With.Rabbi.Dr.David.Berger-3144750.shtml, issued December 17, 2007),
And this raises larger issues about whether in order to get into olam haba a non-Jew has to get a
hundred on his exam. Does he need a perfect score on the sheva mitzvos in order to have a helek
la-olam haba? Now I suppose that a straightforward reading of most discussions of this matter
would be yes. You have to observe all of the sheva mitzvos, not six out of seven. However, there
is a teshuva of Rav Yaakov Emden, and you get a similar impression from a piece by the elder
Rav Henkin, and this appears to be Rav Ahron Soloveichik’s position, that indicates that the
observance of the moral commandments is sufficient and that mistakes with respect to the
understanding of God would not keep you out. Sinners, Jews and gentiles, are not punished
forever but rather achieve a restored state.
To summarize: if the essential element and acme of religion is God's holiness (Levine), then God is made holy
only through righteousness (Hertz citing Isaiah), and all men are judged only by their moral conduct (Hertz,
Epstein, Soloveichik, Emden).
I am further pleased beyond words with Levine's next point. He says,
Hirsch's view that the Mitzvot constitute the means of advancing the mission of Israel to
humanity is most clearly evidenced in his greatest contribution to the study of the Mitzvot, his
system of classification of the 613 Commandments of the Torah:
Levine proceeds to quote the sixfold classification of the mitzvot, as found in Rabbi Hirsch's Nineteen Letters
and Horeb. To summarize:
• Torot are "the historically revealed ideas concerning God, the world, the mission of humanity and of
Israel."
• Mishpatim, Chukkim, and Mitzvot are various kinds of social justice and righteousness, and also love.

• Edoth are symbolic "testimonies to truths essential to the concept of the mission of man and of Israel."

• Avodoth are "symbols to the end that our conception of our task be rendered clearer, and we be better
fitted to fulfill our mission on earth."
In other words, three of the kinds of commandments are justice and righteousness themselves, while the other
three serve to promote justice and our "mission of man and of Israel". Levine notes,
Notably absent in this scheme are appreciation of Israel as an end in itself, or the worth of the
Mitzvot for their expression of the direct relationship of man to God, transcending the scope of
human relation.
I find this proof of Levine's especially edifying, because I made precisely the same point when, in my personal
contribution to Wikipedia's "Tikkun Olam" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tikkun_olam), I adduced Rabbi
Hirsch's sixfold classification itself as evidence that he held by a sociological and practical non-mystical
conception of tiqun olam. I also contributed the following two footnotes there:
19. Rabbi Shelomoh Danziger, "Rediscovering the Hirschian Legacy", Jewish Action 5756/1996, p. 23
(http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/Danziger.pdf, accessed October 23, 2008) quoting Rabbi
Hirsch's Commentary on Genesis 9:27: "[T]hese spiritual pursuits ... are meant to lead to proper action,
to the right response to the ever-changing conditions of life, in order 'to prepare the world for the
kingdom of G-d', as we put it in our daily prayers." The phrase "prepare the world for the kingdom of G-
d" is a translation of l'takken olam b'malkhut Shaddai ("to perfect the world under God's sovereignty";
see [the Wikipedia article titled] "In Jewish prayer"). Thus Hirsch explicitly relates tikkun olam to
practical sociological rectification of the material world.
20. Dr. Judith Bleich, "Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: Ish al Ha'edah", Jewish Action, issue unknown, p. 28
(http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/bleich_rsrh.pdf, accessed October 23, 2008): "[Hirsch aimed
at n]othing less than transformation of the entire Jewish community and ultimately, the molding of
society at large in its moral image (tikkun olam)."
Levine, regarding Rabbi Hirsch's rejection of Kabbalah (or more correctly, his reinterpretation of Kabbalah; see
Rabbi Danziger, "Rediscovering the Hirschian Legacy", op. cit., and its sequel, "Dialogue: Hirschians Debate
The True Meaning of Hirsch", Jewish Action, issue unknown, at http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/RS
%20Hirsch%20R'Elias%20vs%20R%20Danziger%20JAction.pdf.), correctly notes,
With his antipathy to supra-mundane worlds, Hirsch naturally had no use for Kabbalah with its
ascription of value to the religious act itself irrespective of its social effect… It need be stressed
that though Hirsch's sharpest criticisms are directed against practical mysticism and its
performances, the logic of his position requires his opposition to the very basis of the Kabbalah:
a belief in supra-mundane worlds and the effects of the religious act in spheres not directly
related to man and his world.
We bring ourselves to Rabbi Hirsch's essay "Sivan I" (in Collected Writings I and Judaism Eternal I, and at
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/sivan_1.pdf), to what is perhaps the keynote in his writings: his
famous declaration that Judaism is not a theology, but rather an anthropology. We read,
We have seen how the name "religion" became fatal to the true understanding of the
Torah because this name was given to it in defiance of the fact that the essence of the Torah is in
complete contrast to what is usually known as religion and its manifestations. Having thus
wrongly applied the term "religion" to the Torah, people subsequently drew conclusions from
the application as if it were correct. A similar danger to the understanding of the true essence of
the Torah arises from the application of other conceptions to the Torah institutions.
Thus one calls the Torah "Theology," "Jewish Theology." By "theology" we generally
understand a system of human ideas and conceptions of the Godhead. God is the highest notion
which the human intellect can conceive; and the knowledge or assumed knowledge of things
Divine is so remote from the average man, and the systems of theology so complicated, that a
whole class of professional theologians came into existence. Compared to these "theologians"
ordinary people were are and considered as "laymen" who do not know and are not supposed to
know the intricacies of theological speculation.
Nothing could be more senseless than to apply the name Theology to the Torah, than to
call the Torah "Theology" or even "Jewish Theology." For, whilst "theology" contains the
thoughts of man on God and things Divine, the Torah contains the thought of God on man and
things human. There is little said in the Torah which refers directly to God and things Divine;
and of the inner essence of the Godhead and the supernatural we find in the Torah nothing at all.
The Torah rather tells us what God is to us, to the Universe as a whole and to every part of it;
above all, what the universe, the earth, mankind, Israel and every individual Israelite mean to
God the Ruler of them all. The Torah tells us how we should regulate, develop and perfect our
intellectual, spiritual, physical, domestic and social relationships on earth; how to sanctify our
existence as well as all our endeavours on earth, so that the Divine Glory may abide in our midst
during existence here, and our happiness need not be deferred to the life beyond.
It is this conception of man and human affairs which the Torah reveals to us; it addresses
itself to everyone; it speaks of one's most intimate affairs. The Torah does not want to tell us
how things look in Heaven, but how they should look in our hearts and homes.
A veritable book-length treatment of this topic is given to us in Rabbi Dr. Leo Adler's The Biblical View of Man
(Urim: 2007). In the translator-editor's "Appendix 2: Adler and Heschel on Theology and Anthropology" (pp.
109ff), we read
Is man or God the central focus of the Bible? This is the fundamental question regarding
the nature of the Bible. If we assume that the Bible's first and last concern is the divine, then it is
a doctrine of God, a theology in the truest sense of the word. But if man is the focus of biblical
consideration, then it is a doctrine of man – an anthropology from God's perspective. (from
Adler's Introduction, p. 5)
Rabbinic Judaism therefore brought forth no theology. Instead of constructing a
judgment as to God's essence or even merely asking about God's nature, rabbinic Judaism taught
God's judgment of man, thereby remaining on biblical ground. It is therefore incorrect to speak
of a Jewish theology; Judaism is rather more like an anthropology from God's perspective, or a
"theonomy," as Samson Raphael Hirsch termed it. (pp. 97-98)
...
[Quoting again Adler's Introduction,] Does the Bible teach us what we should believe of
God, or does it seek to clarify man to us by telling us what God thinks of man and how we must
think of and perceive ourselves? Theology or anthropology – that is the question upon which
biblical interpretation depends... Two thousand years of Jewish thought leave no doubt that it is
man who is studied and sought out by the Bible.
Rav Hirsch elsewhere expresses the same thought in a different way. Almost the whole of his commentary to
Parshat Vayetze in his Penteuch (trans. Isaac Levy, Judaica Press: 1973) is devoted to the fact that
If Jewish wisdom has taught the great idea that transforms the whole point of view
regarding the universe viz. that ‫ עיקר שכינה בתחתונים‬the principle and real place of Schechina is
on earth; or: when people piously turn their eyes upwards to heaven and imagine that they have
to seek God up above, the angels laugh at them and call them "bags of wing" (18 ‫ ;)ס"ח‬or if
someone walking out of doors, studying, and interrupts his study to say "how beautiful is this
tree, how beautiful is that field" - who finds God more wonderful in the beauties of Nature than
in the pious development of the human soul – has almost committed a capital crime (Ethics III.
9), for all these and similar sayings and teachings of Jewish wisdom we have to thank the spirit
of Jacob.

[From that angels were descending and ascending on the ladder which Jacob saw] it
would mean: he sees all forces that wish to seek God, ascending to find Him, but he need not
seek God in heaven, he find God next to him. There that which the sages teach from these
words, that ‫האבות הם הם המרכבה‬, that pure human beings like the Patriarchs are the true bearers of
the Glory of God, which wants to have its home primarily on earth ‫עיקר שכינה בתחתונים‬, then
became clear to Jacob. For the meaning of this whole revelation is summarised in the fact that '‫ה‬
‫( נצב עליו‬God was there, right next to him I. L.).
Given all this, it is readily understandable why Rabbi Hirsch said justice and righteous is the acme of
religiosity, whereas Rabbi Halevi and the Ramhal – in their way – and Rambam – in his way - rather held the
acme to be personal holiness and closeness to the Divine, whether of the mystical or intellectual variety. If the
Torah is a human-centered this-worldly anthropology - as Rabbi Hirsch claims it to be – then it is difficult to
imagine anything but righteousness and justice to be the Torah's primary aims and expectations of man. If so,
then we can understand Rabbi Hirsch's remarks in his Penteuch (trans. Isaac Levy, Judaica Press: 1973), to God's
musing over informing Avraham of the fate of Sodom. In the Torah there (Genesis 18:19), we read,
‫כי ידעתיו למען אשר יצוה את בניו ואת ביתו אחריו ושמרו דרך יי לעשות צדקה וצשפט למען הביא יי על אברהם את‬
‫אשר דבר עליו‬

For I have given him My special Care so that he will command his children and his household
after him that they shall keep the way of God to do benevolence as a duty, and justice, that God
may bring upon Avraham that which He hat spoken of him.
Rabbi Hirsch there comments,
The task for which Abraham is to bring up his descendants is called ‫לשמר דרך ה‬, to keep
to the path indicated by God, and ‫לעשות צדקה ומפשט‬, practising acts of duty and justice. The
former carries out the ‫ התהלך לפני ה' והיות תמים‬the holy pure moral life before God, to which Mila
lays the foundation, and the latter, living humanely and benevolently with one's fellow men as
was shown in the example set by Abraham. Together they constitute the most complete contrast
to Sodom, the former to the immorality of the ‫חטאים‬, the latter to the hardness of heart of the
‫רעים‬.

And it is not just absolute ‫ צדקה‬and ‫ משפט‬which will rescue and free the world from
crime and misery, but only both in the Jewish sense of being fruit matured on the tree of "living
before God", ‫ושמרו דרך ה' לעשות צדקה ומשפט‬. The whole person must live before God, his whole
life must be spent in the idea of duty before God, then his whole behaviour between man and
man will only be making the dictates of duty a reality.
We see that Rabbi Hirsch emphasizes social justice and love and righteousness as man's duty before God; "the
task for which Abraham is to bring up his descendants"! And apparently, this task is synonymous with
"rescu[ing] and free[ing[] the world from crime and misery" - a sociological and practical tiqun olam of this
temporal world!

V.

Levine said, "Hirsch's views on the close relationship between Torah study and secular learning also
come to the fore in his stress upon the practical significance of the Mitzvot." Indeed, there is one common source
for Rabbi Hirsch's famous view on secular learning, and his view of the practical significance of the mitzvot. For
both notions, the source is that which Rabbi Shelomo Danziger says ("Rav S. R. Hirsch – His ‫תורה עם דרך ארץ‬
Ideology", in ‫צבי‬ ‫תרומת‬ The Living Hirschian Legacy. New York/Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1988.
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/danziger_tide.pdf):
So, to the point. What is the ‫מקור‬, the source, for ‫[ תועד"א‬Rabbi Hirsch's Torah im
Derekh Eretz]? Our simple, "lomdische" ‫ תירוץ‬is : There is no such source! And do you know
why? Because the basis of ‫ תודע"א‬is axiomatic, self-evident, and therefore no source is
necessary! The first, the most primary fact of our existence is not that we are Jews, who have
been given the Torah. The first, the most primary fact of our existence is that we have been
given life, and have been placed in this world, in this century, in this living generation of fellow
human beings who compromise the society, culture and civilization of our allotted time on earth.
This is fact number one, chronologically and logically. Fact number two is that ‫ ה‬gave us the
Torah to teach us how to live in this world, in this century, in this living generation of fellow
human beings to comprise the society culture and civilization of our allotted time on earth.
These are the do's and don'ts of the Torah, the ‫ מצוה עשה‬and ‫ מצוה לא תעשה‬and the ‫( השקפות‬the
outlooks), which guide us in the use of the physical, social and cultural raw material which
comprises the world in which we live. First there is life – ‫ – חיים‬the physical, social and cultural
raw material – that is the great give! - And then there is the Torah – ‫ – תורת חיים‬which shapes this
given life, this physical, social and cultural raw material, and tells us what to use of it and how,
and what to reject. In the process, the raw material of life becomes "Toraized" (to coin a word) –
it becomes Torah. But there must be a raw material for the Torah to work on. The Torah is not
the raw material. The raw material is supplied by the life around us, into which we were born.
No man understood Rav Hirsch better than ‫[ רב יעקוב יחיא']ל ווינברג[ג‬- Rabbi Yehiel
Yaakov] Weinberg, the Lithuanian ‫ גאון‬,‫ פוסק‬,‫ ראש ישיבה‬and academic scholar, the ‫ מחבר‬of ‫שו"ת‬
‫שרידי אש ידירש‬. Let me quote from an article he wrote in the Hebrew anthology, ‫ הירש‬.‫ר‬.‫הרב ש‬
‫משנתו ושיטתו‬:
‫ מהותו ואין דרך‬:‫ והצורה אזל אריסטו פירושה‬,‫התורה היא איפוא לדעת רשר"ה הכוח הצר צורה‬
‫" ארץ אלא החומר אשר עליו פועלת התורה‬The Torah, then, is according to Rav Hirsch,
the force that gives form; and form, in the Aristotelian sense, means: the
essential nature of a thing (as distinguished from the matter in which it is
embodied). ‫ דרך ארץ‬is simply the matter on which the Torah works."
... [Rabbi Danziger earlier raised the question of the propriety of "supplementing the
holy Torah with mundane secular pursuits and learning. How could one have ‫ ?תורה עם דרך ארץ‬Is
it not demeaning to the Torah to suggest that it requires such a "supplementation"? Based on
what he has said, Rabbi Danziger now answers this objection: Thus t]here is no
supplementation! There is only raw material, which the Torah does not supply, but which it
molds and transforms into Torah. Not supplementation, but "Toraization" - of the given raw
material!
If we still insist on some ‫מקור‬, the closest would be the ‫כ"ו דורות קדמה ד"א את‬. :‫מאמר חז"ל‬
‫ התורה‬The raw material of ‫ דרך ארץ‬precedes the Torah, chronologically and logically. It is the
given raw material which the Torah must shape, mold, "Toraize" - transform into Torah into
‫ – שכינה‬nearness.
“Humanism and Judaism” (in Fundamentals of Judaism, ed. Jacob Breuer, New York: Feldheim.
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/humanism_judaism_m_hirsch_1.pdf), by Rabbi Mendel
Hirsch ( the son of Rabbi S. R. Hirsch) evinces extensive reliance on Rabbi Hirsch the elder's comments
to the Humash, and this essay serves as an excellent summary of Rabbi Hirsch's thoughts in general
within the scope of its own subject (viz. “humanism and Judaism”). There, we read,
The Torah, that book which the Jews, despite unparalled martyrdom, have cherished
through thousands of years as their highest treasure and the key to their own and all humanity's
redemption, does not preface its teachings with a declaration such as this: Prior to the Revelation
on Sinai or to Abraham, all men were doomed and incapable of attaining salvation. On the
contrary, it begins with the elevating doctrine that all men are created in the image of God (Gen.
I, 26). For it is not the Jew but man who is represented as the highest aim of creation. It is not
the Jew but man on whom the “Adam”-character is conferred.
...[The name] “Adam” represents man in his highest dignity, as the “trustee of the divine
glory on earth,” as the “seal of God on His creation,” as “God's representative on earth.” All this,
implied by the word “Adam,”, is not said of the Jews; it is of – man! In this same Bible, too, it is
said that man, not the Jew, has been formed “in the image worthy of God.” And again, not of the
Jew, but of man, it is said (ibid: 15, 7) “God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man
became a living personality.”
Likewise, Rabbi Shimon Schwab writes (Elu v'Elu – These and Those, New York: Feldheim, 1966.
http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/these_and_those.pdf) that Rav Hirsch's philosophy
starts out from the premise that the Torah must rule over all manifestations of human
life. The earth and the fullness thereof are created for man, and the ideal man at this his highest
potential is what Rabbi S. R. Hirsch ‫ זצ"ל‬calls "Mensch – Yisroel," or as the Sages formulated it:
‫אתם קרואים אדם‬
The divine task handed to Adam, namely to control the earth according to the will of the
Creator [i.e. ‫]פרו ורבו ומלאו את הארץ וכבשה‬, applies to all men in general, but first and foremost[!!]
to Yisroel. We were chosen and separated from the nations of the world to become G-d's "first-
born son", whose historic function shall be to lead all the other "children" to their Heavenly
Father. The ultimate goal of Judaism: ‫ לעשות רצון אבינו שבשמים‬therefore will become the ideal of
all mankind in G-d's own time. To this end Yisroel was constituted – not into a sect or a
brotherhood, but into a nation established in its own land and endowed with all the
manifestations of statehood. There exists nothing truly human anywhere outside the scope of the
Divine Teaching. All is contained within the Torah and subject to its application. Nothing which
the Creator has fashioned could escape the attention and the concern of the revealed Will of the
Divine Lawgiver. The "four squares of Halacha" encompass the whole wide world, as the Sages
formulated it: ‫אין להקב"ה בעולמו אלא ד' אמות של הלכה בלבד‬. This nation with all its material
endeavor, and all of its intellectual strivings, is to become ‫ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדוש‬, a Divinely
controlled organism – unlike all other political, cultural and economical entities, and subject
only to the sovereign rule of the Torah. The Torah nation is to blaze the trail for all other nations
to follow towards the universal messianic goal of free man's total submission to the absolute
Will of the Almighty.
Or as Rabbi Hirsch himself writes (The Hirsch Chumash, Sefer Shemot, (New) English Translation by Daniel
Haberman, Feldheim Publishers and Judaica Press, 2005. Commentary on Shemot 20:9, "Six days shall you
serve and do all your [creating] work", quoted in "Orthodoxy, Then and Now", by Dr. Yitzchok Levine,
http://www.jewishpress.com/pageroute.do/38591),
Not for your own glory should you do your work, by which you rule over the world. You should
regard your work as "service," service in God's kingdom, done in the service of God. Do your
work at His bidding and for the sake of His world, in which He has placed you, "to serve it and
to keep it." By appropriating, transforming and altering the world's resources, you are to elevate
this world from blind physical compulsion to the purpose of moral freedom and the service of
God in freedom.
Therefore, for Rabbi Hirsch, our secular and mundane occupation and our secular and mundane learning
are both for one common reason: because a Jew is also a human, and everything that is true of humans is
true of Jews as well, if not more so. The Jewish mission then, like the human one, is to "be fruitful and
multiply, fill the earth and subdue it". All of human civilization is therein subsumed – art, architecture,
literature, science, everything; "the Torah must rule over all manifestations of human life". And as part
of such a Torah, it is obvious that the Torah's primary goal will be not to lead man to theosophical
speculation and theurgical activity, but rather, he will be taught by the Torah how to manage earth's
resources, how to relate to his fellow man, how to accomplish his worldly and temporal goals, both in
society – i.e. with his fellow man - and in nature – i.e. regarding science and the inanimate world.
From what little I've seen of Rabbi Benzion Uziel – in Rabbi Marc Angel's Loving Truth and Peace: The
Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel (Jason Aronson: 1998) and "The Grand Religious View of
Rabbi Benzion Uziel" (Tradition 30:1, Fall 1995) - it would seem that he would largely agree with Rabbi Hirsch.
According to Rabbi Uziel (quoting from Tradition, ibid.),
Judaism is not a narrow, confined doctrine limited only to a select few individuals; rather, the
Torah is the guide for the ideal way of life for the entire Jewish people, and also carries a
message for humanity at large. … Through their moral and ethical accomplishments, the Jews
would succeed in making the rest of the world aware of the great standards set by the Torah for
all humanity. … The national charter [i.e. the Torah] of the Jewish people is "to live, to work, to
build and be built, to improve our world and our life, to raise ourselves and to raise others to the
highest summit of human perfection and accomplishment. (This is accomplished by following)
the path of peace and love, and being sanctified with the holiness of God in thought and deed. …
According to the Torah, work is obligatory [because e]ach individual...must...share in the
building of the world and the advancement of humanity. … The Torah tradition teaches Jews to
be engaged in the development of society (yishuvo shel olam) in the broadest sense of the term.
This entails not only populating the world and settling the world, but studying the ways of
nature (science) in order to advance human civilization. Yishuvo shel olam involves knowledge
of how to establish a system of justice and how to develop a harmonious and ethical society. …
As active and knowledge participants in world civilization, our goal is to lead humanity in the
paths of proper ethics and social harmony. … A basic responsibility of the Jewish people is to
teach monotheism and ethical behavior to the peoples of the world. … The goal (of life) … is to
know the God of the universe, to walk in His ways and to cling to Him.

VI.

The last statement there of Rabbi Uziel's deserves attention. We already know the prophets would
support the forgoing conception of Judaism and life; it is enough that we have seen Micha 6:8, "What does God
request from you except to do justice and love truth and walk humbly with your God?" But from "to walk in His
ways and to cling to Him", we realize that Hazal as well would apparently hold like Rabbi Hirsch. We are all
aware of Rabbi Akiva's famous declaration that "'You shall love your fellow as yourself' (Lev. 19:18) – this is the
Torah's overall general principle." Regarding this commandment, Rambam says in his Sefer haMitzvot (Positive
Commandent 8, quoting from Dr. Shalom Rosenberg, "You Shall Walk in His Ways", The Edah Journal 2:2,
http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/rosenberg2_2.pdf),
It is that we are commanded to imitate Him (may He be exalted) to the extent we can, as
Scripture says, "You shall walk in His paths" (Deut. 28:9). And this command is reiterated as
"Walk in all His paths" [Deut. 10:12, 11:22], meaning, just as He called compassionate, so shall
you be compassionate; just as He is called merciful, so shall you be merciful; just as He is called
kind, so shall you be kind. The matter is otherwise expressed in the statement, "After the Lord
your God shall you walk" (Deut. 13:5), meaning that resembling the good actions and worthy
qualities used metaphorically to describe God, may He be exalted, will greatly exalt all humans.
Rambam is basing himself - among various sources, for this idea is a common one - on the midrashic teaching
found in Sotah 14a (trans. Soncino),
R. Hama son of R. Hanina further said: What means the text: Ye shall walk after the Lord your
God [Deut. 13:5]? Is it, then, possible for a human being to walk after the Shechinah; for has it
not been said: For the Lord thy God is a devouring fire [Ibid. 4:24]? But [the meaning is] to
walk after the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He. As He clothes the naked, for it is
written: And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skin, and clothed them
[Gen. 3:21] , so do thou also clothe the naked. The Holy One, blessed be He, visited the sick, for
it is written: And the Lord appeared unto him by the oaks of Mamre [Gen. 18:1], so do thou also
visit the sick. The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, for it is written: And it came
to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son [Gen. 25:11], so do thou also
comfort mourners. The Holy one, blessed be He, buried the dead, for it is written: And He
buried him in the valley [Deut. 34:6], so do thou also bury the dead.
Evidently, imitating God entails not performing the ritual mitzvot bein adam laMakom, but rather, imitating His
mercy and kindness, which are part of justice and righteousness and love and mercy. Similarly, Rabbi Yom Tov
Schwarz, in his Eyes to See (Urim: 2004), writes (p. 195),
[T]he Torah was given exclusively to the Jewish people, the progeny of Avraham, Yitzchak and
Yaakov, for whom the attribute of mercy is the very foundation and essence of their nature. As
our Sages taught (Beitza 32b), "Whoever is not compassionate with people is certainly not a
descendant of our forefather Avraham."
He explains the ramification of this as follows (p. 123):
Similarly, the Rambam writes [Yad haChazakah, "Laws of Charitable Gifts" (10:1).] that we are
obligated to pay more heed regarding the commandment of charity than with regard to any other
positive commandment of the Torah. Thus, although tzedaka is but a mitzvah between man and
his fellow, we are obligated to be more stringent concerning its observance than for that of all
the positive commandments between man and G-d. We have also not seen it stated with regard
to any commandment, that one who does not perform the mitzvah is not a descendant of our
forefather Avraham, with the exception of one who does not have compassion for others, as
cited in the Talmud (Beitza 32b).
Rabbi Schwarz further (pp. 127ff) quotes the Rambam (from Laws of Theft 7:12) that,
The punishment for sins committed with faulty measures is more sever than the punishment for
sins of sexual impropriety. Whoever denies the commandment of middos (measures) [i.e. proper
and accurate weights and measures] is likened to one who denies the Exodus from Egypt, which
the commencement of the Divine commandments. Whoever accepts the commandment of
middos upon himself acknowledges the Exodus from Egypt, which is the cause of all the
commandments.
The Rambam is basing himself on Sifrah Parshat Kedoshim (itself based on Leviticus 19:36) where we read,
Whoever acknowledges the commandment of middos, acknowledges the Exodus from Egypt;
whoever denies the commandment of middos, denies the Exodus from Egypt.
But Sifrah crucially adds that the reason is that
It was on this condition that I took you out of the land of Egypt – on the condition that you
accept upon yourselves the commandment of measures.
Rabbi Schwarz comments,
Thus, although the ultimate purpose of the Exodus from Egypt was for the Jewish
people to perform all of the Torah's commandments...G-d made the Exodus conditional upon
their acceptance of this commandment in particular, thereby making it a foundation and more
central axiom than all the other mitzvos for whose sake He brought the Jewish people out of
Egypt.
Thus, according to the Sifrah, we have a clear indication from the Torah that sins
committed between man and his fellow carry a more severe punishment than sins between man
and G-d alone. It is only with regard to the mitzvah of correct measures that the Torah tells us, "I
have taken you out of the land of Egypt on the condition that you accept upon yourselves the
commandment of middos." We do not find any such stipulation with regard to a mitzvah between
man and G-d. And although the Torah only mentions the mitzvah of middos in this regard, it
seems clear that this condition applies not only to this mitzvah, but to other commandments
between man and his fellow, as well. For it certainly does not seem likely that violating the
commandment of weights and measures – whereby he only causes his friend a minor loss –
would be more severe than theft or fraud on a major scale. The Torah only specified the mitzvah
of weights and measures to teach us that it applies even in this case, where only something
minor is stolen. From this we can infer that it certainly applies even more so to a theft of
significant value.
Elsewhere (ibid. p. 253), Rabbi Schwarz quotes Yoma 86a that,
[The Torah states (Deut. 6:5)], "And you shall love Hashem your G-d" - [See to it] that G-d's
Name shall become beloved through you. That is, he should learn [Scripture], study [Talmud]
and attend to Torah scholars; conduct his business dealings faithfully; and speak softly with all
people. What will people then say about him? … "This person who has learned Torah, see how
pleasant are his ways, how perfect are his deeds!" Regarding him it is stated (Isaiah 49:3), "And
[G-d] said to me, you are My servant, Israel, it is through you that I am proud."
Rabbi Schwarz explains,
Thus, the phrase, "Israel, it is through you that I am proud," mean in the eyes of other nations.
But as the Gemara implies, it is only through their fulfillment of mitzvos bein adam la'chaveiro
(between man and his fellow) that Jews can be boastful before the gentiles. The gentiles do not
scrutinize us to see if we buy high-quality tefillin or a beautiful esrog, but rather whether we are
truthful in our business dealings.
In summary, we see from Rabbi Schwarz that we were brought out of Egypt precisely to keep the moral and
rational commandments. Our mission as Jews is to create a kiddush hashem – Rabbi Schwarz's title for chapter
24 of Eyes to See is "The Primary Mission of a Jew Today is for the World to Extol G-d and the Jews on
Account of His [Sic?: Their?] Conduct" - but the gentiles scrutinize not our ritual observance, but our morality
and righteousness. A person's Jewish status is impugned if he is not merciful, but Hazal never suspect the
Jewishness of one who does not keep Shabbat or kashrut. Apparently, those who held all this – viz. Hazal – also,
contra Rambam and Kuzari, believe that the laws of morality are something more than a mere conducive to
metaphysical speculation or ritual commandments, Active Intellect or Inyan haEloki.

VII.

But based on all this, wherein lies the difference between Jews and gentiles? The Kuzari held that the
ritual commandments were the principle laws of the Torah, and that they distinguish the Jew and the gentile. But
now that we have said that the ritual commandments are secondary to the moral ones, wherein lies the crucial
distinction? The answer is, quite bluntly, that there is indeed not so very much of a difference between Jew and
gentile. We already saw Rabbi Danziger above, that a Jew is ontologically and chronologically a human first,
and a Jew only second; he is a Mensch-Yisroel, a human of the Jewish persuasion.
Rabbi Dr. J. H. Hertz, in his commentary on Genesis 12:3 (The Pentateuch, Soncino; "I will bless those
who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse, and all the families of the earth will be blessed in you"),
comments,
Israel shall be 'a light of the nations' (Isa. XLII, 6). Through him, all men were to be taught the
existence of the Most High God, and the love of righteousness, thereby opening for themselves
[i.e. for the gentiles, all humankind] the same treasury of blessings which he [viz. the Jew]
enjoyed. 'The germ of the idea underlying the fuller conception of the Messianic Age was in
existence from the time of the founders of the race of Israel. In thy seed shall all the families of
the earth be blessed, was the promise given both to Abraham and Isaac. It was a promise that
reached far beyond the lifetime of each, farther than the limits of the temporal kingdom their
descendants founded; that has obtained by partial fulfillment in up to our time, and looks for
fullest realization to that future towards which each of us in his measure may contribute his
share' (S. Singer).
Apposite these words are those of Rabbi Hirsch, in his commentary to Exodus 19:5-6 ("And now, you
will surely listen to My Voice, and guard My covenant, and will be for Me a treasure from all the nations, for
Mine is the whole world (‫)כי לי כל הארץ‬, then you will be to Me a kingdom of priests (‫ )ממלכת כהנים‬and a holy
nation (‫)גוי קדוש‬."). He says,
...‫כי לי כל האררץ‬: For this relationship you are to bear towards Me is really nothing exceptional, is
nothing but the beginning of the return to the normal condition which the whole world should
bear towards Me. The whole of humanity, every nation in the world really is destined to belong
to Me and will be ultimately educated by Me up to Me. And it is just for this ultimate destiny of
the whole world that you are to become a ‫ ממלכת כהנים‬and a ‫ גױ קדוש‬unto Me. ‫ממלכת כהנים‬, each
and every individual of you is to become a ‫כהן‬, a priest, inasmuch as he is to allow all his actions
to be "regulated" by Me, to take the ‫ עול מלכות שמים‬faithfully on his shoulders and become a true
‫ כהן‬who by his word and example spreads the knowledge of God and loyalty to Him, as Isaiah
expresses it in LXI, 6, "But you shall be named the Priests of God, men shall call you Ministers
of our God". And ‫גױ קדוש‬, just as, individually, you are to appear priestlike, so is the impression
which Israel as a nation is to make on the world to be one of holiness to God. You are to be a
unique nation among the nations, a nation which does not exist for its own fame, its own
greatness, its own glory, but the foundation of and glorification of the Kingdom of God on
Earth, a nation which is not to seek its greatness in in power and might but in the absolute rule
of the Divine Law – the Torah – for that is what ‫ קדושה‬is.
It is evident from all the foregoing that Jews and non-Jews are all ultimately working for the same goal, and are
all part of one common unity – humanity. The only difference is a minor one, that the Jews have been chosen as
G-d's pedagogues and missionaries, to bring the truth of His will for mankind, to all mankind. But essentially
speaking, the Jew and the non-Jew are not so inherently distinct. Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Berkovits makes this same
point in metaphysical terms, in his Judaism: Fossil or Ferment (New York, Philosophical Library: 1956; p. 65:
Probably the most significant aspect of the Chosen People concept is, however, usually
overlooked. The notion does not belong in the realm of either theology or of metaphysics.
Jewish theology, often described as as the theology of ethical monotheism, contains no concept
to justify the assumption of a Chosen People; nor is there anything in the principles of a
metaphysics corresponding to Jewish monotheism that may lead to the Chosen People idea. The
idea indicates an event in history, not a theoretical principle of faith or philosophy. If, for
example, one should accept the definition of dogma as a “proposition having metaphysical
significance,” [Edwyn Bevan, Symbolism and Belief, p. 290.] the belief in being a Chosen
People could not even be considered a religious dogma of Judaism. Whether God did or did not
elect Israel has no consequence whatever for Israel's interpretation either of the Nature of God
or of Reality. It is the same God and the same Universe whether Israel is chosen or rejected.
Judaism's faith in God never depended on God's treatment of Israel, “for I the Lord change not.”
[Malachi 2:6.]
We understand, then, that the Jewish people are not so inherently distinct from gentiles; rather,
the Jews have been chosen for a task, for promoting and propagating “ethical monotheism”. (Do not
misunderstand this, however; we are speaking of ontology and metaphysics, i.e. the spiritual or essential
difference between Jews and gentiles. Practically speaking, however, keeping kosher and putting on
tefillin and making aliyah to Israel are no mean differences between Jew and gentile! We are speaking of
the ultimate essence of things, and not as they are currently manifested in the real world.) Rabbi
Berkovits said that Jewish Chosenness is due to history, not metaphysics. This historical notion is highly
Kuzaric, but rather than holding by the Kuzari's segula explanation – that Adam and his descendants,
down through Avraham and the Jews, had an inherent spiritual inheritance and advantage – one suspects
that Rabbi Berkovits will hold by something akin to that which Rabbi Dr. Mendel Hirsch says in
“Humanism and Judaism (op. cit.):
Surely it is not without deliberate intent that the Bible records all these facts and
teachings in which the status of man is so conspicuously stressed, before it comes to the
narrative of the call addressed to Abraham. Mankind sank lower and lower. Men, individually,
became slaves to their sensual appetites [a reference to Rabbi Hirsch's comments to the incident
in the Garden of Eden, regarding human psychology], and collectively, slaves to cunnings and
hypocritical tyranny [a reference to Rabbi Hirsch's interpretation of the Tower of Babel as a
manifestation of authoritarian tyranny]. With their distribution over the earth the history of the
world and the education of mankind began. Along with the education by experience,
educationby the word of Divine truth had to come: As the bearer of this truth, and for the
salvation and deliverance of mankind, a specific nation had to be trained under God's immediate
control.
It was obviously necessary, for the proper understanding of its historic mission, that this
people should be enlightened from the outset as to the position and tasks of its fellow-men. Only
thus could it be protected against the overrating of its own nationality. The experience of all
times has amply shown how easily nations succumb to the danger of looking contemptuously
upon everything alien. How great this peril was for a nation deemed worthy of God's direct
guidance and raised to an nation entity, after having seen the world-power of its dreaded
opponents bite the dust! Thus we can easily understand why it is that the wisdom of the Bible
keeps anxiously reminding this people, at each step of its development, that all men are God's
children, and that Israel was called upon to lead the way towards the tree of life, or rather to
preserve and transmit to men, in the Divine teaching, the fruit of this tree of life [a reference to
Rabbi Hirsch's comment on the cherubim and the spinning flaming sword which guards the way
to return mankind to Eden once again, to preserve Eden until man will be again ready for it].
For this reason, when Abraham was chosen, the mission entrusted to him and his
children was at once epitomized in the words: while all others yearn to be blessed, "be you a
blessing"; "through you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (ibid. 13, 2, 3.) The same
injunction or teaching was also contained in the words with which Moses was to approach the
Egyptian ruler: "The Hebrew pariah, despised by you, and cast into bondage by you, is My son,
My first-born son." [I.e., Israel is God's firstborn son, but not His only son.]
But above all, at Sinai, when Israel was to be prepared for the revelation, the conception
of all men as subservient to God's purposes was emphasized in particularly clear and precise
terms. "Mine is the whole earth" (Ex. 19, 5, 6.) You, however, shall belong to me, more
exclusively even than all peoples, because "you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy
nation." By this declaration, the laws which follow are characterized as those which establish
Israel's consecration to the priesthood of mankind. Yet any misconception with regard to Israel's
position is obviated by the emphatic declaration: "All the earth is Mine."
Thus it is universality, with its broad outlook on the whole of humanity, and the ideal of
the loftiness of human destiny which forms the basis as well as the starting point of the Torah in
its view of the world. These conceptions were the premises of the Prophets' ad the Psalmists'
teachings. They also characterize the spirit of the Rabbis and the Sages of the Talmud.
Similarly, Rabbi Dr. David Berger says words that are highly reminiscent of Rabbi Hirsch's explanation
in Nineteen Letters and Rabbi Hirsch's son's just above ("Jews, Gentiles, and the Modern Egalitarian
Ethos: Some Tentative Thoughts," in Formulating Responses in an Egalitarian Age, ed. Marc Stern,
Lanham, 2005. http://www.stevens.edu/golem/llevine/rsrh/judaism_and_gentiles.html):
[I]f we examine an overarching pattern in the earliest chapters of the Torah, we discover,
I believe, that this choice [of Israel] emerges in a universalist context. The famous statement in
the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 4:5) that Adam was created singly so that no one would be able to say,
“My father is greater than yours” underscores the universality of the original divine intent.
While we can never know the purpose of creation, one plausible objective in light of the
narrative in Genesis is the opportunity to actualize the values of justice and lovingkindness
through the behavior of creature who subordinate themselves to the will of God. If God created
the world for his glory, that glory is expressed through human recognition of divine authority as
a vehicle for forging just relationships with others. Tragically, however, repeated divine efforts
to achieve this objective on a universal level fail.
Not only do Adam and Eve not subordinate themselves to God; they aspire to “be like
God by knowing good and evil.” Later, the generation of the flood precipitates the destruction of
the world by actions that Hazal understand as violations of the canons of proper behavior toward
others. “Their final fate was sealed because of robbery” (Rashi’s famous comment on Genesis
6:13, paraphrasing R. Yohanan’s observation in Sanhedrin 105a.) - a point whose essential
message remains intact even if we assign a broader meaning to hamas. But God does not give
up, and once again he attempts to create a world without divisions among people. And again he
“fails”—and precisely because of another effort, this time on the part of “the generation of
division,” to ascend to a level where they can challenge God.
It is only at this point that the Creator, forced as it were by his recognition of the failings
of human nature, introduces division in mankind and chooses one family to bear the torch of the
original, ultimately universal, objective of creation. The choice of Abraham rests precisely on
qualities that counteract those earlier failings. In contrast to the hubris of earlier generations,
Abraham declares himself dust and ashes, and in contrast to the unethical behavior of the
generation of the flood, he “will instruct his children…to do what is just and right.” The tension
between Abraham’s two famous confrontations with ethically problematic divine behavior
underscores precisely these two characteristics. Faced with a direct divine command, he utterly
submits; told of a divine plan affecting others, he issues a challenge based on his perception of a
violation of what is just and right, though it is on that very occasion that he underscores his
standing as dust and ashes. (I refer, of course, to the contrast between Genesis 22 and Genesis
18:23-33.)
Though the choice of Abraham and his descendants represents a short-term narrowing of
God’s focus, it seems highly improbable that it represents a permanent abandonment of the great
aim of creation implied in all that went before. Rather, it is God’s way of taking a longer, slower,
surer path to the achievement of his universal objective. The messianic dream in its broadest and
most inclusive version is implicit at the moment of creation—this, I think, is the meaning of the
rabbinic vision of the pre-existing soul of the Messiah-- as well as at the election of the father of
Israel, who is also the father of a multitude of nations. (I compressed the essential argument of
the last four paragraphs into one in my contribution to a symposium entitled “What Do
American Jews Believe”?” in Commentary 102:2 (August, 1996): 20. In the discussion of this
paper at the Orthodox Forum, Rabbis Norman Lamm and Shalom Carmy noted Buber’s similar
analysis, and Rabbi Carmy pointed me to R. Ovadiah Seforno’s introduction to his commentary
on the Torah, where he summarizes the unfolding of the divine plan in Genesis as one of
repeated efforts to perfect the human species as a whole ultimately culminating in the need to
choose a single hasid among the entire species to fulfill the divine plan. See his introduction in
Torat Hayyim (Jerusalem, 1986), p.23.)
Notwithstanding this universal goal, the election of Israel, formalized at Sinai,
unquestionably establishes deep differences between Jews and non-Jews. Israel becomes a
kingdom of priests and a holy nation with all that such hierarchical language implies; the set of
obligations and beliefs embodied in the Torah elevate the recipients of the revelation even as
they are warned that it was not their own righteousness that entitled them to this privilege; the
status of Jews and gentiles with respect to ritual, to purity and impurity, and to the establishment
and dissolution of marital ties is marked by sharp distinctions. On the whole, I do not think that
this complex of differences, especially if understood in the way that I have presented it, strikes
contemporary Orthodox Jews as troubling. Quite the contrary. The sanctity of Israel, with all the
responsibilities that it imposes, is a badge of honor. We are inclined to see the radical leveling of
difference and the relentless relativization of values in extreme expressions of multiculturalist
ideology as proper objects of criticism rather than ideals worthy of emulation. (When values
close to the heart of the contemporary liberal ethos clash with unfettered moral relativism, limits
are sometimes rediscovered. Thus, clitoridectomy is often seen as beyond the pale of even an
expansive respect for cultural difference.)
Rabbi Berger just emphasized the fact that despite the lack of essential and enduring
metaphysical or ontological gulf between Jew and gentile, there nevertheless remain many ritualistic
distinctions. Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh, however, well explains for us why this should be so. Rabbi
Benamozegh taught, according to Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Luria's "Rabbi Eliyahu Benamozegh: Israel and
Humanity" (http://www.jewishideas.org/articles/rabbi-eliyahu-benamoz):
Israel serves a "priestly" function for "lay" Humanity": "Judaism is really two doctrines in one.
There are two laws, two codes of discipline -- in a word, two forms of religion: the lay law,
summarized in the seven precepts of the sons of Noah, and the Mosaic or priestly law, whose
code is the Torah. The first was destined for all the human race, the second for Israel alone. … It
is one Eternal Law, apprehended from two perspectives." "Priestly" Israel is regarded as
fulfilling its mission, as justifying its very existence, by serving the spiritual needs of "lay"
Humanity, even as its prototypes, the Kohanim, were essentially exalted functionaries, but
functionaries nevertheless, who existed to serve their people. "Such is the Jewish conception of
the world. In heaven a single God, father of all men alike; on earth a family of peoples, among
whom Israel is the "first-born", charged with teaching and administering the true religion of
mankind, of which he is priest. This "true religion" is the Law of Noah: It is the one which the
human race will embrace in the days of the Messiah, and which Israel's mission is to preserve
and propagate meanwhile." (Benazmogeh, Israel and Humanity, trans. Luria 53-54.) This
"priestly" function explains the elaborate cultic obligations of Mosaism: "But as the priestly
people, dedicated to the purely religious life, Israel has special duties, peculiar obligations,
which are like a kind of monastic law, an ecclesiastical constitution which is Israel's alone by
reason of its high duties." (Israel and Humanity, 54.)…. "We shall show that in Judaism,
universality as ends and particularism as means have always coexisted, and that particularist
Judaism has the very special function of serving as trustee and voice for the universal Judaism."
(Israel and Humanity, 58.) This service is, perhaps, Israel's raison d'etre: "Far from feeling
obliged to convert non-Jews to his practices, [Israel] confines himself to preaching to them that
universal religion whose establishment on earth was, in a sense, the purpose of his own
existence." (Israel and Humanity, 327.) Rabbi Benamozegh rejects categorically the notion that
Israel enjoys any intrinsic superiority over the rest of Humanity. "The image of divinity on earth,
the partner of the Creative Spirit, is not the Jew: it is man." (Israel and Humanity, 325.) This
passionate perception of the unity (which implies the essential equality) of all mankind,
including Israel, is at the heart of R. Benamozegh's vision. To articulate this vision in traditional
Jewish terms, he moved the Noahide doctrine of Israel's relation with Humanity from the margin
of Jewish thought to the center. What had been a self-flattering and, in practice, largely
conceptual obligation for Jews became, in his powerful conception, the reason for Jewish
existence. What had been a God-given but, in practice, largely theoretical obligation for ancient
"heathens" became an urgent desideratum for modern "Gentiles".
Thus, Jews and non-Jews are all ultimately working for the same goal, and are all part of one common unity –
humanity. The only difference is that for the present, the Jewish people has been chosen as G-d's pedagogues and
missionaries, to bring the truth of His will for mankind, to all mankind. But if so, then the ultimate and
transcending mission and purpose – whatever it may be – will be the same for Jew and gentile alike. We saw that
Levine says,
It is important to recognize that in Hirsch's scheme, the Mitzvot are merely regarded as a
means to the fulfillment of Israel's mission But the goal of this mission is completely this-
worldly and humanistic. … Notably absent in this scheme are appreciation of Israel as an end in
itself, or the worth of the Mitzvot for their expression of the direct relationship of man to God,
transcending the scope of human relation. … [But for Rabbi Yehuda haLevi,] the ethical and
moral content of the Torah, irrespective of its vital importance as the first step in our religious
life, cannot be regarded as the higher purpose and fulfillment of Judaism. The revelational laws
are distinguished from the moral or rational laws in that they are the higher stage of religious
experience and are a distinctive trait of Jewish religion. … [Moreover,] Rabbi Moses Chaim
Luzzato provides a sharp antithesis to the Hirschian view. In his classic Mesilat Yesharim, which
follows the generally accepted ranking of perfection described in the Mishnah Sotah (9: 15),
divine inspiration is higher than chasidut. The opening section of the Mesilat Yesharim
introduces us to a view which is the antithesis of Hirsch's. … Hirsch reverses the traditional
view of the highest goal of religious life: holiness. We are accustomed to viewing holiness, the
experience of the numinous, as the very acme of religion. For Hirsch, however, holiness is but a
means of preparing us for the end purpose which is the life of service to mankind.
There is clearly indeed a dispute between Rabbi Hirsch on the one hand, and the Kuzari and Mesilat Yesharim on
the other. And despite Rabbi Hirsch's and Professor Wolfson's enthusiastic endorsement of the Kuzari's historical
view of Judaism, one that is learned from Judaism's own sources rather than imported from foreign alien
philosophies (as with Rambam), we nevertheless see that Rabbi Hirsch's criticism of Rambam applies to Kuzari
as well, in the area which we have discussed. One of course has the full freedom to choose Rambam and/or
Kuzari over Rabbi Hirsch, but at least now we understand the dispute.
Once one understands Rabbi Hirsch's position, one can understand his words and Rabbi Benzion Uziel's.
Rabbi Hirsch says (“Religion Allied to Progress”, excerpted at
www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/363_Transp/Orthodoxy/SRHirsch.html, and found complete in Judaism Eternal and
Collected Writings),
The more, indeed, Judaism comprises the whole of man and extends its declared mission to the
salvation of the whole of mankind, the less it is possible to confine its outlook to the four cubits
of a synagogue and the four walls of a study. The more the Jew is a Jew, the more universalist
will his views and aspirations be, the less aloof... will he be from anything that is noble and
good, true and upright, in art or science, in culture or education; the more joyfully will he
applaud whenever he sees truth and justice and peace and the ennoblement of man prevail and
become dominant in human society: the more joyfully will he seize every opportunity to give
proof of his mission as a Jew, the task of his Judaism, on new and untrodden ground; the more
joyfully will he devote himself to all true progress in civilisation and culture--provided, that is,
provided, that is, that he will not only not have to sacrifice his Judaism but will also be able to
bring it to more perfect fulfillment. He will ever desire progress, but only in alliance with
religion. He will not want to accomplish anything that he cannot accomplish as a Jew. Any step
which takes him away from Judaism is not for him a step forward, is not progress. He exercises
this self-control without a pang, for he does not wish to accomplish his own will on earth but
labours in the service of God. He knows that wherever the Ark of his God does not march ahead
of him he is not accompanied by the pillar of the fire of His light or the pillar of the cloud of His
grace.
Similarly, in “Judaism Up-to-Date” / “The Jew and His Time”, Rabbi Hirsch says,
The guide-book with which G-d had equipped them for their wanderings had solved for
them the riddle of history. G-d had taken them back to to the beginning of human history and
had disclosed the glorious culmination which was to follow the deepest gloom. G-d had called
them His firstborn because among all the lost sons of G-d they had been the first to find their
way back to Him; and they knew from this all all their fellow-men would one day follow them
to their Father's heart. G-d had called them His priests, and they knew from this that all mankind
must be his people, for which they as priests had to proclaim His eternal promise of salvation.

[And] he knows that the upright and pure in all societies of men are working with him
for the kingdom of G-d on earth. He knows that for almost two thousand years both the seeds of
a purer humanity which were saved even in the days of heathendom and since then other
genuine seeds of Jewish thought have been germinating and have come to fruition in the most
varied spiritual activities for the benefit of mankind. And his very Judaism which guides him
through the garden of nature and the galleries of history, which invites him to the full unfolding
of his powers in the service of G-d, makes him find in every new truth which is propounded a
welcome contribution to the clearer revelation of G-d in nature and in history, and to see in
every new art and in every new science a welcome addition to the means for rendering perfect
service to G-d.
Hence the Jew will not frown on any art, any science, any culture provided that it is
found to be true and edifying, and really to promote the welfare of mankind. He has to taste
everything by the unimpeachable touchstone of his divine law; whatever does not stand this test
for him does not exist. But the more firmly he takes his stand on the rock of his Judaism, the
more ready will he be to accept and gratefully appropriate whatever is true and good in other
sources according to Jewish standards; in whatever mind it originated, from whose-ever mouth it
issued, he will always be ready to say, as the Sages say, l'kabel ha'emet mimi she'amrah to
receive the truth from him who spoke it. Nowhere will he ever sacrifice a single thread of his
Judaism or trim his Judaism to the needs of the time. Wherever the age offers him anything
which is consonant with his Judaism he will willingly adopt it. He will in every period regard it
as his duty to pay due appreciation to the age and its conditions from the standpoint of his
Judaism, and to make use of the new means provided by any period in order that in the
conditions of that period he may be able to make the old Jewish spirit expand in new beauty and
may perform his duty to it with ever-renewed vigour and loyalty.
Rabbi Benzion Uziel says (Hegyonei Uziel (Jerusalem, 5714), vol. 2, p. 127. Translated and quoted in Rabbi Dr.
Marc D. Angel, Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion Uziel (Jason
Aronson), p. 50. In turn quoted in “Loving Truth and Peace: The Grand Religious Worldview of Rabbi Benzion
Uziel By Rabbi Marc D. Angel” (review), Reviewed by Professor Zvi Zohar, The Edah Journal 1:2, Sivan
5761/2001, http://www.edah.org/backend/JournalArticle/1_2_zohar.pdf),
Each country and each nation which respects itself does not and cannot be satisfied with its
narrow boundaries and limited domains; rather, they desire to bring in all that is good and
beautiful, that is helpful and glorious, to their national [cultural] treasure. And they wish to give
the maximum flow of their own blessings to the [cultural] treasury of humanity as a whole, and
to establish a link of love and friendship among all nations, for the enrichment of the human
storehouse of intellectual and ethical ideas and for the uncovering of the secrets of nature.
Happy is the country and happy is the nation that can give itself an accounting of what it has
taken in from others; and more importantly, of what it has given of its own to the repository of
all humanity. Woe unto that country and that nation that encloses itself in its own four cubits and
limits itself to its own narrow boundaries, lacking anything of its own to contribute [to
humanity] and lacking the tools to receive [cultural contributions] from others.
And further, Rabbi Uziel says (Hegyonei Uziel, Vol. 2, pp. 121-125. See also, Mikhmanei Uziel, p.460. Quoted
from Rabbi Angel's Tradition article on Rabbi Uziel, “The Grand Religious View of Rabbi Benzion Uziel”, op.
cit.),
Our holiness will not be complete if we separate ourselves from human life, from human
phenomena, pleasures and charms, but (only if we are) nourished by all the new developments
in the world, by all the wondrous discoveries, by all the philosophical and scientific ideas which
flourish and multiply in our world. We are enriched and nourished by sharing in the knowledge
of the world; at the same time, though, this knowledge does not change our essence, which is
composed of holiness and appreciation of God's exaltedness.
The reason for Rabbi Uziel's viewpoint is that he also held (ibid.),
The national charter [i.e. the Torah] of the Jewish people is "to live, to work, to build and be
built, to improve our world and our life, to raise ourselves and to raise others to the highest
summit of human perfection and accomplishment. As active and knowledge participants in
world civilization, our goal is to lead humanity in the paths of proper ethics and social harmony.
… A basic responsibility of the Jewish people is to teach monotheism and ethical behavior to the
peoples of the world.
A universalist view of Jewish choseness and a practically-minded view of the mitzvot as effecting sociological
and temporal tiqun olam go hand-in-hand. Our goal has been to show not only what we consider a true
interpretation of Judaism, but also to show that students and adherents of G-d's Torah must diligently and
carefully examine what different views say, and not be beholden to any one of them in particular. Rabbi Hirsch
criticized the Rambam, but his same criticism applies to the Kuzari as well, and we must have both the scholarly
capability of detecting this fact, and the intellectual courage to perhaps choose Rabbi Hirsch over both Rambam
and Kuzari alike.

Postscript: By way of showing gratitude, I must note that
• Professor Wolfson's and Professor Kreisel's essays (op. cit.), along with
• Rabbi Daniel Korobkins's Introduction 1 and Appendix A to his new edition of the Kuzari (op. cit.)
• Professor Adam Shear's "The Kuzari and the Shaping of Jewish Identity, 1167-1900"
(http://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521885331),
all together served to make the Kuzari for me a living work of religious and spiritual edification. Before I saw
these sources, my only window to the Kuzari was those of my rabbis who, to use Professor Yaakov Elman's
phrase, turned the Kuzari into something "desiccated and bereft of life".
Professor Elman's original context for that phrase was his speaking of fundamentalists and dogmatists of
the Oral Law, when he introduced me to Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Glasner. Incidentally, Rabbi Glasner (thanks to
Professor Elman) reconciled me to the Talmud, and made the Talmud itself a source of edification to me,
whereas it - like the Kuzari - had been "desiccated and bereft of life", according to the teachings of my rabbis.
What Graetz says of Rav Hirsch, I'd say of Rabbi Glasner. (But whether perhaps comparing myself to Graetz is
truly rather apt is a difficult question.)
When I first learned the Kuzari on my own, it was in light of my own rabbis' interpretation, which
rendered the Kuzari into nothing more than a wretched and puerile mass of ignorance and stupidity and
irrelevance. Thanks to Professors Wolfson, Kreisel, and Shear, and Rabbi Korobkin, the Kuzari now actually has
religious meaning for me. Even if I disagree with it often, at least I'm now disagreeing with something
meaningful and intelligent.