On Comments and Rav Hirsch's Humanism
I appreciate comments and questions regarding what I write. I try to take people's remarks seriously.
Recently I wrote about a movie, which sounded intriguing to me. It's about three hours long and just watches monks in their element. I included rave reviews and mentioned my hopefulness tinged by ambivalence regarding the movie. Sometimes acclaimed documentaries don't grab me the way they excite the reviewers. (Since that writing I've watched about 40 minutes of the movie and find it good but not so easy to watch).
Flying Bubbie had this to say about that post, "It's a very mysterious concept to me, I'll tell you, opting out. But people say we do this, as Orthodox Jews, all the time. We say we're different, though, and as the drill is based on doing things, being active, maybe we are." I gave that comment some thought and wrote a long response, which I hope was helpful to Flying Bubbie and other serious minded readers.
Last Friday I was at a beautiful bris and wrote up some of the Torah of the parents. Included in that post was the fact that the esteemed late grandfather of the newborn boy was fond of the expression Mensch-Yisrael (which I wrote the way Rabbi Norman Lamm put in a drasha of his in 1966, as Yisrael-Mensch). Yitz Newton commented that, "R' Hirsch's was "Mensch-Yisroel."
The comment got me curious as to where Rav Hirsch uses the phrase. I sought the help of librarian friends - Beverly Geller at Frisch and Zalman Alpert at Y.U. The former pointed me in the direction of the eighth volume of The Collected Writings of Rav Hirsch, which is named Mensch -Yisrael: Perspectives In Judaism. In the introduction to that work the editor writes that Rav Hirsch used this term in his seminal work on the commandments, Horeb. I found it there and posted about it last night. I hope that the research I've done and shared has been helpful to Yitz Newton and other serious readers.
Zalman enlisted the help of Dr. Itzhak Levine, who pointed out that there is an extended footnote in Horeb, in which the editor, Dayan Grunfeld, addresses the term. He also showed me where it is available on line. I have pasted that note as the first comment. It is fascinating.
At the end of his in depth footnote, Dr. Grunfeld writes, "see also Humanism and Judaism, by Dr Mendel Hirsch (a son of Samson Raphael Hirsch). Dr. Levine found that article on line, here.