Rabbi Wein.com The Voice of Jewish History

The Challenge of Secularism
From the Biography Series
4 Lectures

Item #: S349

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Item Description:

Between the Reform Movement, the haskala, and secular Zionism, the Jewish world of the 19th century was a world at war. While Jews abandoned Torah Judaism en masse, it fell to the rabbis to fight for the integrity of the Jewish people. Rabbi Wein recounts the lives, battles, and sacrifices of four of secularism’s fiercest opponents. Whether their gains offset their losses is for you, the educated listener, to decide.

Individual lectures:

Rabbi Meir Leibish Malbim - Renowned for his incisive Torah commentaries, the Malbim lived a tragic personal life and achieved his acclaim posthumously. Rabbi Wein tells the little-known story of the Malbim, a story so heart-rending it is almost overlooked in the Jewish world. An inveterate traveler, he railed against the Reform movement, earning him enemies who had him thrown in prison. Yet despite all the injustice he suffered, he is author of the greatest and most beloved Torah commentaries of the 20th century.

Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch - Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch lived when everyone believed that Orthodox Judaism was dying and Reform was the wave of the future. Almost single-handedly, he proved them wrong. With the power of his leadership and writing, he turned the tables on the Reform movement, showing Western European Jewry that it was indeed possible to be both a worldly intellectual and a pious Jew.

Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes - Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chajes was the Rabbi Samson Rafael Hirsch of Eastern Europe: simultaneously a talmid chacham and secular scholar. He aimed to fight the haskala with its own weapons, but because of his time and place, he came under suspicion as a maskil himself. The tragic story of this misunderstood genius is the eternal story of the Jewish people, struggling to walk the tightrope between Torah and modernity.

Rabbi Chaim Elazar Wachs - As the Rov of Kalish, a border town between Poland and Germany, Rabbi Chaim Elazar Wachs fought secularizing forces on all fronts. An absorbing biography of a fearless Rov, his life story is the barometer of stormy Jewish times.

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