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The Nineteen Letters: The World of Rabbi S. R. Hirsch Hardcover – 1995


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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Feldheim (1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873066960
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873066969
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By derek on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Rabbi Elias' commentary and footnotes shed much light and give in depth analysis of this damed work of Hirsch.As a reknowned Hirschian, He is certainly qualified for his work. The nineteen letters themselves are indubidibly one of the greatest treasures judaism possesses, as this landmark book makes abundantly clear the fallacies of attempting to contort religion to one's whims and clarifies and thereby brings out the beauty in true judaism.A masterpiece, with a tremendous and much needed commentary to boot.A must buy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on January 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The basic structure of the book is as follows: at the beginning, a character invented by Hirsch expresses his disenchantment with Judaism, and Hirsch responds.

At this point, one might think that Hirsch argues in favor of the Torah being a Divine invention that Jews should therefore obey. Instead, Hirsch assumes this to be the case (thus immediately winning the argument by his criteria) and goes off in an entirely different direction.

Hirsch focuses on the reasons for the ritual mitzvos (that is, the details of the parts of Jewish law not obviously related to ethics). Why did God (according to Hirsch) command us to do all these things? Hirsch says that the overall purpose of Revelation was to make the Jews a role model, leading to the perfection of humanity. In particular, writes Hirsch, the purposes of non-ethical Jewish law are to isolate the Jews to keep them distinctive and to orient Jews towards divine service through symbolic acts; for example, the mezuzah aids in the "Consecration of our home as a sanctuary of God and of our life in it as service of God." (p. 182). Whether the world has in fact been significantly perfected is, of course, a difficult question.

Finally, Hirsch criticizes conventional Jewish education and other Jewish philosophers. As to the former, Hirsch asserts that Jewish educators do not focus enough on Bible (as opposed to Talmud), and that they often mummify the laws by not focusing on the spirit behind those laws.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1998
Format: Hardcover
First of all, people looking for this book should know that there is another translation out by Joseph Elias, published by Feldheim Publishers. This came out recently so it should be easier to find. In any case, Rabbi Hirsch's great writing skills come out through any translation of his works I have ever read. Not only is this a fabulous introduction to his theory of Judaism, it is so well-done that you'll keep going back to read certain phrases or statements of ideas. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Judaism, including those who already know a lot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harold Reisman on November 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone with the slightest interest in Torah true Judaism (and that includes all denominations of Judaism as well as non-Jews) should read the book. It is written in a simple discoursive way and will not alienate anyone. Disagreement is possible, but should not put off the reader. If one has no knowledge of what Orthodox Jewry believes and acts on, then it is imperative to understand just what one is "against". Have a glance at the current Western world and its pursuit of pleasure and satisfaction with no regard for standards and you will have a glimpse of the future. One can always define deviancy downward, but no one ever considers the ultimate cost.
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