Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

Orthodox Response to Modernity
4 Lectures

Item #: S400

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Item Description:

Rabbi Berel Wein discusses four different approaches to the great challenge still facing every Jew: how can we uphold a spiritual lifestyle in the modern age? Hear the outlooks of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch and Rabbi Yisroel Salanter and the friendly debate between them. Grasp the brilliantly innovative yet controversial view of Rav Kook. Appreciate the practicality of Rabbi Hildesheimer and his ground-breaking school. This rare glimpse into the ideas of four great and pioneering rabbis is as enlightening as it is unique.

Individual lectures:

Rav Avraham Kook - Perhaps the single most controversial rabbinic leader in recent Jewish history, Rav Kook viewed the rise of secularism and modernity as a phase in a historical process that would eventually lead to redemption. Delving into the kabbalistic ideas in Rav Kook's book "Orot", Rabbi Wein explains this revolutionary worldview and shows how Rav Kook applied his principles in his halachic rulings and in his relations with the secular Zionist movement.

Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch - The ideas of science and humanism that ushered in the modern age toppled religious institutions everywhere. The Jewish world was not immune to this phenomenon, and while most Torah leaders fought secularism tooth and nail, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch took a unique approach. Rabbi Wein analyzes Rabbi Hirsch's synthesis of Torah observance with secular studies and shows how his success in Frankfurt preserved the Torah lifestyle amidst rampant assimilation.

Rabbi Yisroel Salanter - Rabbi Wein presents the history of the mussar movement from a rarely heard viewpoint - the friendship between Rabbi Yisroel Salanter and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. Both dedicated their lives to saving European Jewry from mass assimilation, and though their approaches differed radically, their mutual respect for each other shines through.

Rabbi Hildesheimer - Though closely associated with Rabbi Shimshon Rafoel Hirsch, Rabbi Hildesheimer's view of "Torah im derech eretz" differed slightly. He saw secular studies as necessary, but unlike Rabbi Hirsch, did not believe they were in any way spiritually uplifting. Yet at the same time, he was much less of a separatist than Rabbi Hirsch and worked alongside the Reform when the German government required it. Because of this, he met with opposition on both sides of the Jewish spectrum, yet his solutions to the challenge of modernity are echoed in the current solutions implemented in the Jewish world today.

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