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Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch:

Optimism towards Humanity -

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau 

Rosh Yeshiva, Jerusalem based, Yeshivat Orayata 

MA, Medieval Jewish History, Bernard Revel Graduate School  

Rabbinic Ordination, Yeshiva University, RIETS  

Author, Fresh Fruit and Vintage Wine: The Ethics and Wisdom of the Aggada 

Associate Editor, Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Though 

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Episode #1

Q: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888)

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau


The Life and writings of Samson Raphael Hirsch, with an emphasis on Hirsch's "Optimism towards humanity".

 Two early influences shaping Rabbi Hirsch include Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger (Aruch L’Ner) and Chacham Yitzchak Bernays.

Episode #2

Q: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch – Frankfurt 1851 

A: In 1851, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, after serving in numerous prestigious rabbinical positions, takes the helm of the Frankfurt Jewish Orthodox community.  

Episode #3

Q: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch – Major Writings 

A: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote a number of seminal works including the 19 Letters, Chorev, Commentary on the Torah as well a wide range of articles and essays. 

Episode #4

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch – Curse of Man? 

A:​ Who is cursed after the sin in Paradise/Gan Eden? The land or Man?  

How does Samson Raphael Hirsch explain the biblical verses and how does it tie into an optimistic approach towards mankind? 

Episode #5

Q: Greatness of Mankind – Some Sources  

A: Rabbi Hirsch explains that the sin in Gan Eden does not negate the greatness of man. What are the sources of that greatness? 

Episode #6

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch – Is Man’s Heart Evil?  

A: Two verses in the book of Genesis/Bereshit appear to condemn man as “evil”. How does Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch cogently interpret these verses differently? 

Episode #7

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch – Physicality, Symbolism & Optimism 

A: Rabbi Hirsch explanation of the symbolism underlying the intricate laws of the Nazirite provides a theme linking physicality with optimism.    

Episode #8

Q:  Samson Raphael Hirsch – Jews & Non-Jews

A: The historic encounter between Jacob and his brother Esav provides a possible paradigm for Jewish / Non-Jewish relationships. 

How does Rabbi Hirsch view this event? 

Episode #9

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch – Non-Jewish Wisdom 

A: A look at Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch’s view of Non-Jewish wisdom and how that connects to an optimistic assessment towards all of humanity? 

Episode #10

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch: Joy, Sacrifices & Tithes 

A: Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch – understanding joy thru the lens of the sacrifices and tithes. Another angle in Hirsch’s optimism vis-à-vis humanity. 

Episode #11

Q: Hirsch  - Torah Im Derech Eretz  & Optimism 

A: Does Samson Raphael Hirsch’s deeply developed concept of Torah Im Derech Eretz engender optimism towards humanity? 

Episode #12

Q: Hirsch  - Torah Im Derech Eretz  - How Far?

A: The world view of Torah Im Derech Eretz formulated by Samson Raphael Hirsch – how far does it go in studying secular studies?  

Episode #13

Q: Samson Raphael Hirsch - Optimism – Post Holocaust?   

A: Does Samson Raphael Hirsch’s optimism towards humanity remain relevant in a post-Holocaust era?    

Full Interview - Rabbi Yitzchak Blau 

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