Torah im Derekh Ereẓ in the Shadow of Hitler

Marc B. Shapiro writes circa 2006:

With the coming to power of the Nazi regime, and the governmental determination to remove Jews from all aspects of German culture and public life, Torah im Derekh Erez took another hit. Here was a philosophy that was so tied to German society and culture, and now Jews were being told that they were not welcome in Germany. Could R. Samson Raphael Hirsch’s philosophy still have a future in such circumstances? Many thought no, and this certainly pushed young German Orthodox Jews in different directions, such as to the yeshiva world and religious Zionism…

The German Orthodox also think that it is permitted to attend a university and study all matters, and also to attend the theatre, claiming that one can ignore the sensual elements and focus instead on the larger picture. He concludes this introductory section by asking the sages he turned to if the expression yafeh talmud Torah im derekh erez (Avot 2:2) can be understood in the way the German Orthodox explain it, especially since this approach appears to have been instituted as an emergency measure which would prevent it from being established on a permanent basis. With these words R. Schwab expressed the negative view towards Torah im Derekh Erez that had become a part of the culture of the younger generation of German Orthodox…

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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