Caution: see Mark Twain's "Little Story."  


Joseph B. Yesselman

Spinoza's Religion  
Home  Page  -  Spinozistic Glossary and Index  -  Spinozistic Ideas  -  Salvation 
Runes's Introduction with Forward by Einstein 
Preface; Durant on G-DGraetz's Censure of SpinozaDurant's TributeSchorsch;  
Gen 43:14; Lev 19:18; Psalms; Isaiah; Micah 6:8; Proverbs 4:14; 23:19. 

Notes by JBY:

1.  The text was taken (except as noted) from Book V.  
     Page Numbers given below refer this book. 
     The translation and commentary are by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (unless noted). 
     Rabbi Hirsch's commentaries are replete with Hebrew-language's insights. 
     For Bible-study, Strong, Gesenius, and BibleWorks are indispensable.  

2. Format for R. Hirsch's Translations: 

HirPsalm:92:7; pg.155.        Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

            A brutish man knoweth not,                        {translation from Jewish Publication Society, 1917 edition}
            Neither doth a fool understand this.
         A man bare of reason does not understand,    {translation by R. Hirsch}
      nor does a conceited fool comprehend this:  

           Followed by Rabbi Hirsch's commentary which I have abbreviated and heavily edited for          people who do not know Hebrew.

           R. Hirsch's translations vary from the JPS translations in his own inimitable style. 

3. Symbols:

4. Three Stages in the Evolution of the Concept of G-D:
         I have made the following changes, throughout all my web pages (not consistently), in 
         the spellings of God to reflect, in my opinion, the three stages of this evolution: 
         1. god(s)
Polytheistic; Pagan, Idolatry, Myth. Einstein on these three stagesParadigm Shifts.
         2. God Monotheistic; Judaeo-Christian-Islamic, Anthropomorphic, Transcendent God.  
             Durant:637Re-interpret all anthropomorphisms in accordance with TTP1:3:13Schweizer:79, James Hall:21. 
         3. G-D or G-d Monotheistic; Spinoza's Immanent, Indwelling G-D/Nature. 
             ^ spelling ^ not consistently.           Analogies, James Hall:51, Weinphal:49, Durant:636, Dawkins:307.
            'G-D', Being, and 'Nature' are interchangeable. Deus sive Natura. Term G-D.     Spinoza's Religion
'G-d', being, and 'nature' are interchangeable. Mode. Spinoza's Pantheism. D2:Spinozistic Meaning
          I use the words 'G-D', 'Thou' - 'thee', 'Deus', and 'Nature' interchangeably.

The above stages show the constant evolution of Religion's hypotheses. G-D is a synthesis of god(s) and God. See Dialectics, and Theistic and Non-theistic world views synthesized. Overcome. Memes.
The evolving concept of God results in the re-interpretation of HolidaysParadigm Shifts.  

From Mook and Vargish Inside Relativity; 0691025207; p. 22. 

From Richard Dawkins' A Devil's Chaplain 2003; 0618335404; p. 150. 

Paradoxically, Spinoza's G-D has much in common with the Pagan gods. Spinoza treats all things as Holy and as organically interdependent (analogy); whereas the Pagan treats things as independent separatesstanding alone. The cash value of Spinoza's hypothesis of 'G-D' is that it establishes the logic for the Golden Rule and it synthesizes theistic and non-theistic world views.  

Conjecture: Spinozism is Evolved Judaism; law libraries of the world merge into the Talmud.

5.  Make my following emendations throughtout the Work: 
          soul                   change to            mind, thought, or life. 
6.   Partake of the Work (and my comments) as you would a pomegranaterelish 
      the flesh and spit-out the pits—things out-of-date; things you disagree with; and 
      things incomprehensible.  

     The ideas that I express may not be explicit in Spinoza's Works or in Rabbi Hirsch's Works ,      but are (in my opinion) implicit in their general principles. 

7.  Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view is a transcendent, anthropomorphic {ascribing human form or        attributes to a thing or a being not human, as to a deity} God, which leads R. Hirsch to take man's       point-of-view of things. But if you re-interpret to an indwelling, immanent G-D, it gives the       same end results except when the former lapses into idolatry. The latter, immanent,      G-D, makes many scriptural passages literally true instead of allegorical (the representation of        spiritual, moral, or other abstract meanings through the actions of fictional characters that serve as symbols). 
    Get behind the anthropomorphisms and find Deus sive Natura  {Example+1+2.} 
     See Book XXI, Kenneth R. Miller "Finding Darwin's God".

8.  In studying Scripture always remember that the purpose of "Religion" is 
     to bring peace-of-mind; not teach philosophy, nor to make men learned.      TTP1:Prf:42

9. Definitions: 

10.  Suggestion: 

11.  Suggested Web Sites for Sacred Bible Texts:
A CD of the Sacred Texts of all Faiths is available.


As I kept studying Spinoza, what Elwes thought happened to Spinoza,
happened to me.

From "Elwes's Introduction to his Translations of Spinoza's Works".

This "unfolding itself" was to me an infinite "organic interdependence of 
" which led directly to the "Golden Rule";  not out of altruism but of 
enlightened self-interest.   

Now, after some fifty-six years, I am still studying Spinoza and Scripture
and gaining ever-new insights.

Study Spinoza's "A THEOLOGICO-POLITICAL TREATISE" - especially 1:66 and Ch. 7.


Spinoza's Religion  

JBY Glossary definition is:  
Religion is an ever-evolving hypothesis designed (posited) 
to find 

From Glossary Note 1: The definitions as given in dictionaries are the everyday language     usages, and are generally synonyms or properties of the word—not the nature (cause)     thereof. Spinoza attempts to find the cause.
 From Ethics: Part III: Def. of the Emotions XX Explanation:178 
    "But my purpose is to explain, not the meaning of words, but the nature of things ."  

The following are the entries for 'religion' given in "Webster's Electronic Dictionary". I posit that the definitions given do not get at the principle need, principle craving, and principle cause for Religion, PEACE-OF-MIND, but merely give its properties. Properties merely show the ways people hope to find Peace-of-Mind (PcM); however momentarily. 

re-li-gion (ri lij'uhn) n.      {JBY comments.}

1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when     considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usu. involving devotional     and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code for the conduct of human affairs.
Knowing, positing, the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, and your place in it, help bring PcM.
      Devotional and ritual observances
help reinforce your beliefs.
     A moral code, and laws, for the conduct of human affairs certainly bring PcM. Constitution.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of     persons or sects: the Christian religion. {If the tenets of the Religion are believed and observed,
     it helps bring PcM. Mark Twain's "Little Story"

8. <get religion>. a. to become religious; acquire religious convictions. b. to resolve to mend     one's errant ways {in order to bring PcM}.

[1150-1200; ME religioun (< OF religion) < L religio conscientiousness, piety = relig (are) to tie, fasten (re- RE - + ligare to bind, tie; cf. LIGAMENT) + -io - ION; cf. RELY]
To re-bind a torn apart world brings PcM; by not bringing-on atomic warfare.}

From Parkinson's Introduction to Bk.XV:xx-xxiiSpinoza's Religion:
                                                    Moral Agency, Robinson3:189 

[Parkinson:1]  Spinoza, for his part, would agree that there is a connection between religion and the concept of G-D {posit 1D6 = ONE}; however, he would deny that religion, in the genuine sense of the term, requires the concept of a personal God. Religion, as he understands it, is 'Whatever we desire {PcM} and do of which we are the {active} cause, in so far as we ... know G-D' {because it brings Peace of Mind.(4P37n1). To grasp the full meaning of this, one must take account of the fact that there is for Spinoza a link {Letter:3724[7]} between one's knowledge of G-D and one's activity as a moral agent {to act as a part of an infinite organism so that, that organism can be healthier and you, as part of that organism, be healthier. Damasio—biological, Robinson3:15}. This link involves what is page xxi perhaps the key concept of Spinoza's moral philosophy, namely, the concept of freedom {the heart acts freely in accordance with its nature, the lung acts freely in accordance with its nature, for the health of the organism.}. By 'freedom', in the context of his moral philosophy, Spinoza does not mean the freedom to philosophise which he defended in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, nor does he mean what is commonly called the 'freedom of the will'. Spinoza was in fact a strict determinist; in his view, whatever happens must happen, and nothing can happen other than what does happen (1P33). A free agent, for him, is not someone whose actions are undetermined; a free agent is someone whose actions are self-determined, i.e. who is an {active} autonomous agent. The connection between such freedom and the knowledge of G-D is this: Spinoza argues that to be self-determined is not to be controlled by one's passions; one is self-determined when one's reason is in control. This means that one is free when one understands oneself and, in so doing, understands that 'God, or Nature' of which one is an {organic} part.  

[Parkinson:2]  Since G-D, by virtue of being self-caused, is self-determined,
it is not surprising that Spinoza should say that G-D is a 'free cause' (1P17c2). The problem is, how anything other than G-D can be called free. Spinoza insists that each particular thing is determined by another (1P28); how, then, can there be any point in finite beings such as ourselves having freedom as a goal? The answer, stripped of Spinoza's technical terminology, is this: To be a rational agent is to understand; now, Spinoza argues that when we understand {Mock} something, we are not reacting to external stimuli. Rather, G-D is (as it were) thinking through us, or, as Spinoza says, G-D is 'explained through the nature of the human mind' (2P11c).  

[Parkinson:3]  Just how this is to be interpreted is a matter of controversy, but perhaps enough has been said to show, in general terms, how Spinoza's moral philosophy is related to his views about G-D. It has been seen that the free man, the man who is the master of his passions, is the man who has understanding, and that such understanding involves a knowledge of, and indeed in a sense is, the knowledge of the ultimate and self-explanatory being. We can now return to Spinoza's use of the term 'religion' to refer to the desires and actions which are caused by our knowledge of such a being {things that bring peace-of-mind.}. The question is, whether this is a proper use of the term 'religion' - a question the answer to which bears on the question whether Spinoza is entitled to call page xxii his self-caused Being by the name 'G-D'. Certainly, it is hard to see how Spinoza's concept of religion can have any place for the concept of worship, or of petitionary prayer. Some might argue, however, that these concepts are not necessary to religion. What is necessary, they would say, is the idea that human beings are part of an {organic} whole, and one which is, in some way, a rational {determined to exist} whole. If one views religion in this way, then there is a case for saying that Spinoza did hold religious views, and that he had a right to use the word 'G-D' in the way that he did {Religious language}. One may add that it is probably this aspect of his philosophy, and not (say) his technical views about substance or about knowledge, that has proved attractive to many who are not philosophers.  

[Parkinson:4]  What has just been said about Spinoza and religion
provides an answer to another question raised earlier (p.xviii): namely, whether Spinoza is one of those who see science and religion as in conflict. The answer is that he would not recognise such a conflict - provided that 'religion' is taken in his sense of the term. We have seen that, for Spinoza, to speak of religion is to speak of those desires and actions that spring from a knowledge of G-D. Similarly, he would say that a scientific knowledge of the world depends in the last analysis on a knowledge of G-D, the ultimate explanation of all things. Spinoza would say, then, that in his sense of the term 'religion', there is no conflict between religion and science {Scientific Method}. However, he also believed that false views about G-D had been a major obstacle to understanding, and to those false views {God} he was firmly opposed.



From Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.  [Accessed July 18, 2003].  

SalvationNature and significance:     ST:Wolfson:2:3113, Scr:Dijn'sSalvation, Nagel:274.

It could be argued reasonably that the primary purpose of all religions is to provide {hypothesize} salvation for their adherents, and the existence of many different religions {Spinoza's Religion} indicates that there is a great variety of opinion about what constitutes salvation and the means of achieving it {peace-of-mind}. That the term salvation can be meaningfully used in connection with so many religions, however, shows that it distinguishes a notion common to men and women of a wide range of cultural traditions.

EB Salvation
[2]  The fundamental idea contained in the English word salvation, and the Latin salvatio and Greek soteria from which it derives, is that of saving or delivering from some dire situation {no atheists in a foxhole, religion}. The term soteriology {spiritual salvation, esp. by divine agency} denotes beliefs and doctrines concerning salvation in any specific religion, as well as the study of the subject. The idea of saving or delivering from some dire situation logically implies that mankind, as a whole or in part, is in such a situation. This premise, in turn, involves a series of related assumptions about human nature and destiny.

EB Salvation
[3SalvationObjects and goals: 

The creation myths of many religions express the beliefs that have been held concerning the original state of mankind in the divine ordering of the universe. Many of these myths envisage a kind of Golden Age at the beginning of the world, when the first human beings lived, serene and happy, untouched by disease, aging, or death and in harmony with a divine Creator. Myths {a traditional or legendary story, esp. one that involves gods and heroes and explains a cultural practice or natural object or phenomenon} of this kind usually involve the shattering of the ideal state by some mischance, with wickedness, disease, and death entering into the world as the result. The Adam and Eve myth is particularly notable for tracing the origin of death, the pain of childbirth, and the hard toil of agriculture, to man's disobedience of his maker. It expresses the belief that sin is the cause of evil in the world, and implies that salvation must come through man's repentance and God's forgiveness and restoration.

EB Salvation
[4]  In ancient Iran, a different cosmic situation was contemplated, one in which the world was seen as a battleground of two opposing forces: good and evil, light and darkness, life and death. In this cosmic struggle, mankind was inevitably involved, and the quality of human life was conditioned by this involvement. Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism, called upon men to align themselves with the good, personified in the god Ahura Mazda, because their ultimate salvation lay in the triumph of the cosmic principle of good over evil, personified in Ahriman. This salvation involved the restoration of all that had been corrupted or injured by Ahriman at the time of his final defeat and destruction. Thus the Zoroastrian concept of salvation was really a return to a Golden Age of the primordial perfection of all things, including man. Some ancient Christian theologians (e.g., Origen) also conceived of a final “restoration” in which even devils, as well as men, would be saved; this idea, called universalism, was condemned by the church as heresy.

EB Salvation
[5]  In those religions that regard man as essentially a psychophysical {the branch of psychology that deals with the relationships between physical stimuli and resulting sensations and mental states} organism (e.g., Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam), salvation involves the restoration of both the body and soul. Such religions therefore teach doctrines of a resurrection of the dead body and its reunion with the soul, preparatory to ultimate salvation or damnation. In contrast, some religions have taught that the body is a corrupting substance in which the soul is imprisoned (e.g., Orphism, an ancient Greek mystical cult; Hinduism; and Manichaeism, an ancient dualistic religion of Iranian origin). In this dualistic view of human nature, salvation has meant essentially the emancipation of the soul from its physical prison or tomb and its return to its ethereal home. Such religions generally explain the incarceration of the soul in the body in terms that imply the intrinsic evil of physical matter. Where such views of human nature were held, salvation therefore meant the eternal beatitude of the disembodied soul.

EB Salvation
[6]  Christian soteriology {spiritual salvation, esp. by divine agency} contains a very complex eschatological {any system of religious doctrines concerning last or final matters, as death, judgment, or an afterlife} program (regarding the final end of man and the world), which includes the fate of both individual persons and the existing cosmic order. The return of Christ will be heralded by the destruction of the heaven and earth and the resurrection of the dead. The Last Judgment , which will then take place, will result in the eternal beatitude of the just, whose souls have been purified in purgatory {esp. in Roman Catholic belief) a place or state following death in which penitent souls are purified of venial sins or undergo the temporal punishment still remaining for forgiven mortal sins and thereby are made ready for heaven}, and the everlasting damnation of the wicked. The saved, reconstituted by the reunion of soul and body, will forever enjoy the Beatific Vision; the damned, similarly reconstituted, will suffer forever in hell, together with the devil and the fallen angels. Some schemes of eschatological imagery, used by both Christians and Jews, envisage the creation of a new heaven and earth, with a New Jerusalem at its centre.

EB Salvation
[7SalvationMeans of achieving: 
The above means "to be saved from frustration by the LOVE of G-D."  

The hope of salvation has naturally involved ideas about how it might be achieved. These ideas have varied according to the form of salvation envisaged; but the means employed can be divided into three significant categories: (1) the most primitive is based on belief in the efficacy of ritual magic—initiation ceremonies, such as those of the ancient mystery religions, afford notable examples; (2) salvation by self-effort, usually through the acquisition of esoteric {private; secret} knowledge, ascetic {a person who practices self-denial and self-mortification for religious reasons} discipline, or heroic death, has been variously promised in certain religions—Orphism, Hinduism, Islam, for example; and (3) salvation by divine aid, which has usually entailed the concept of a divine saviour who achieves what man cannot do for himself—as in Christianity, Judaism, Islam.

From Gerth and Mills's "From Max Weber"; Copyright 1946; Pages 272-3—On Salvation. 

From Herman De Dijn's Book III:238-239—On Salvation.

From Clifford's The Ethics of Belief reprinted in Klemke, Philosophy, ISBN: 0312084781;
        pp. 66ff—{
Credulity of belief in God}. 


The Hebrew Bible is the Jewish bible "Tanakh" (The Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings)  as sectarianly translated and sectarianly interpreted by Jews.  {Anti-Semitism}  

The Old Testament is the Hebrew Bible as sectarianly translated and sectarianly interpreted by Christians.  

From Lawrence Boadt's Reading the Old Testament; Paulist Press 1984; ISBN: 0809126311
The term "Old' Testament; Page 19.

From Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene; 0192860925; p. 270—Hebrew Bible.

From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed September 22, 2003]. 

NEW TESTAMENT, the Christian Holy Scriptures
(other than the Hebrew Bible and the Apocrypha).

The name in Greek is the translation of the Hebrew words "Berit Hadashah" {new covenant} in Jeremiah 31:30: "Lo, the days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah." Since Jeremiah states clearly that the "new covenant" will be made with Israel and Judah, and not with other nations, there is nothing in this passage at variance with the Jewish Holy Scriptures. The confrontation, however, of the New Testament with the Hebrew Bible—which the Christians refer to as the Old Testament—as two conflicting covenants, is already found in the Gospel of Luke (22:20) and in Paul's Epistles (e.g., I Cor. 11:25; II Cor. 3:6, 14).

Spinoza's G-D,  though simple, is a very abstract {A thought apart from           Posit: 1D6 = ONE
concrete realities, specific objects, or actual instances: an abstract idea.
} concept. 
If  it  is  anthropomorphized,  as in Scripture, it is easier to conceive 
and  then,  explain.  That  is  why,  in  the evolution of Religion, the            {A picture is worth
anthropomorphic  phase  came  first.   In the monotheistic religions,         a thousand abstractions}
they  both  end-up  with  the same conclusionlove your neighbor.  

I conjecture the reasons Spinoza continued to use the "language of           
Spinoza's Meaning
religion", (G-D instead of Nature) are the following: 

The word "religion" as we use it does not exist in Biblical Hebrew.                   Torah  
They  looked  upon  the  Bible  as  we  do  our  Constitution,  and                Constitution 
took  it  as  a  given—a way of life.    The Hebrew Bible was their 
Constitution   and   Legislative   enactments;   Post-biblically,  the 
Talmud  was, and  is,  the  equivalent  of  a  modern  Law Library.          Din Medinah Din
When   modern   Hebrew  had  to  coin  a  word for "religion" they 
chose  the  word  (daht) whose root is "knowledge",  Strong:1847 
from 3045.  EL:[64]:xxxi. 

E4:(Prf:27):189Good and Evil 

From Runes's Book XXV:iii - viii—Spinoza Dictionary
Spinoza: By Way of Introduction
with Forward by Albert Einstein.

Forward to Runes's Introduction by Albert Einstein pages i & ii 



From Book 33 Yirmiyahu Yovel's Spinoza and Other Heretics, ISBN: 0691020787, Page127.


From Yirmiyahu Yovel's Spinoza and Other Heretics, ISBN: 0691020787, pp. 146 & 147.
{I have changed Yovel's spelling of God in accordance with Note 4.}

From Ismar Schorsch's Foreward to Etz Hayim (A Living Tree), Torah and Commentary;
The Rabbinical Assembly; The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism;  
Produced by The Jewish Publication Society; 2001; ISBN: 0827607121; Page xvii.  



From Thoemmes Press - History of Ideas - Benedict de Spinoza - Philosophy/Religion.

From Max Jammer's Einstein and Religion; ISBN: 0691006997; 1999; p. 94Three stages in         the Evolution of the Concept of G-DParadigm Shifts. 

From Daniel C. Dennett's Breaking The Spell; 2006; 067003472X; pp. 267-8—Accepting the          Theory of Evolution: 

From Will and Ariel Durant's The Story of Civilization: Part VIII, Chapter XXII - Spinoza.
ISBN: 0671012150, 1963, pp. 636-641.  

{I have changed Durant's spelling of God in accordance with Note 4.} 

IV. G-D          

"Monotheism" from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. [Accessed July 20, 2003].  

Pantheism and panentheism: 

Pantheism and panentheism are not necessarily connected with the notion of either monotheism or polytheism. In both cases the conception of the god or gods is impersonal, which tends, of course, to the conception of one god, of one divine substance, like Spinoza's deus sive natura, “G-D or Nature.” In pantheism G-D is immanent, in monotheism God is mostly transcendent, but in polytheism the gods may be either. Pantheism, however, is in most cases more a philosophical than a religious category. Sometimes the term panentheism is used to distinguish between the {Spinozistic} view that all is in G-D and {panentheism} that G-D is in all.

HirPent:Gn 43:14        Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalms: 1:1-3, 4-6; 1:2:1-3, 4-5, 6-9, 10-12; 2:92:5-10, 13-16. 

HirPsalm 1:1:1 Vol.1, psa.1, verse1.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalm 1:2 Vol.1, p.3.        Scriptural Interpretation.    Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       


Vol.1, p.4.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalm 1:4 Vol.1, p.6.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalm 1:5 Vol.1, p.6.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalm 1:6 Vol.1, p.7.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

From Book XXIV:Page 3.

HirPsalm 2:1 Vol.1, p.7. 

HirPsalm 2:2 Vol.1, p.8. 

HirPsalm 2:3 Vol.1, p.9. 

HirPsalm 2:4 Vol.1, p10. 

HirPsalm 2:5 Vol.1, p10. 

HirPsalm 2:6 Vol.1, p11. 

HirPsalm 2:7 Vol.1, p11. 

HirPsalm 2:8 Vol.1, p12. 

HirPsalm 2:9 Vol.1, p12. 

HirPsalm 2:10 Vol.1, p13. 

HirPsalm 2:11 Vol.1, p13.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

HirPsalm 2:12 Vol.1, p14. 

HirPsalm 6:2 Vol.1, p35. 

HirPsalm 12:6 Vol.1, p86. 

HirPsalm 92:5 Vol.2, p154.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

           For Thou, Lord, hast made me glad through Thy work;                  {JPS}
           I will exult in the works of Thy hands. 
      For Thou hast given me joy in Thy work {done by all modes}, O Lord;
      I will exult in the works of Thy hands
{all the modes}.  

HirPsalm:92:6; pg.154. 

           How great are Thy works, O Lord!
           Thy thoughts are very deep. 
      How great are Thy works, O Lord,
      how infinitely profound Thy thoughts!

A sample of the Hebrew of
See BibleWorks for all given verses 
and Strong Numbers. 

HirPsalm:92:7; pg.155.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

            A brutish man knoweth not,
            Neither doth a fool understand this.
         A man bare of reason does not understand, 
      nor does a conceited fool comprehend this: 

HirPsalm:92:8; pg.155. 

           When the wicked spring up as the grass, 
           And when all the workers of iniquity do flourish; 
           It is that they may be destroyed for ever. 
      When the lawless spring up as the grass 
      where all the abusers of might flourish,
      that is so that they may be destroyed forever.

HirPsalm:92:9; pg.156. 

           But Thou, O Lord, art on high for evermore. 
      But Thou, O Lord, wilt remain on high forever.

HirPsalm:92:10; pg.156. 

           For lo, Thine enemies, O Lord, For lo, Thine enemies shall perish;  
      For behold, Thine enemies, O Lord, lo, Thine enemies shall
      perish, all the abusers of might shall break up of themselves, 

HirPsalm:92:13; pg.159.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

           The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree;
           he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
      The righteous will flourish like the palm tree, 
      he will grow tall like a cedar in Lebanon; 

HirPsalm:92:14; pg.159.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

           Planted {posit-rooted} in the house of the Lord,
           they shall flourish {true productivity} in the courts {work-a-day world} of our G-D. 
      Planted in the House of the Lord, 
      they will flourish in the courts of our G-D. 

HirPsalm:92:15; pg.159. 

           They shall still bring forth fruit in old age,                                                          Einstein
           They shall be full of sap and richness; 
      They will still bear fruit even in old age, 
      they will remain full of sap and vigor forever,

HirPsalm:92:16; pg.159.       Rabbi Hirsch's point-of-view.       Scriptural Interpretation.

           To declare that the Lord is upright, 
           My Rock, in whom there is no unrighteousness.  
      To declare that the Lord is upright, 
      my Rock, in Whom there is no injustice.  



Additional Scriptural Verses: 
These Verses and Commentaries are taken from Book XXIV unless noted. 

Micah 6:8. 


Proverbs 4:14. 

Proverbs 23:19. 

Isaiah: 2:2-5, 8, 11:1-4

2:2-5. The  Future  House of G-D. 

Isaiah 11.


From Encyclopædia Judaica on a CD-Rom. [Accessed August 26, 2003].

1.  Biography of HIRSCH, SAMSON (BEN) RAPHAEL (1808–1888), 
       rabbi and writer; leader and foremost exponent of Orthodoxy in Germany in the 19th        century. {Psalm 1:1:1}

[1:1]  Born in Hamburg, Hirsch studied Talmud {the body of Jewish civil and ceremonial law and legend comprising the Mishnah and the Gemara.} with his grandfather Mendel Frankfurter there. His education was influenced by the enlightened Orthodox rabbis Jacob Ettlinger and Isaac Bernays, and by his father, R. Raphael (who had changed his surname from Frankfurter to Hirsch), an opponent of the Reform congregation at the temple in Hamburg but also a supporter of hakham {learned} Bernays who included secular studies in the curriculum of the talmud torah of that city. Bernays had a great influence on Hirsch's philosophy of Judaism. Hirsch attended the University of Bonn for a year (1829), where he studied classical languages, history, and philosophy. He there formed a friendship with Abraham Geiger, and with him organized a society of Jewish students, obstensibly to study homiletics {the art of preaching} but with the deeper purpose of drawing them closer to Jewish values. The friendship of these two youths, the future leaders of the two opposing movements in German Jewry, was disrupted only after Geiger published a sharp though respectful criticism of the content of Hirsch's "Nineteen Letters" (see below in 1:2).

[1:2]  In 1830 Hirsch became Landrabbiner of the principality of Oldenburg. During his 11 years in office he wrote his most significant works, Neunzehn Briefe ueber Judentum (Iggerot Zafon; "Nineteen Letters on Judaism": first published under the pseudonym "Ben Uzziel," Altona, 1836; it appeared in many editions, translated into English by B. Drachman 1899; revised 1960), and Choreb, oder Versuche ueber Jissroels Pflichten in der Zerstreuung (1837, 19215; Horeb—Essays on Israel's "Duties" in the Diaspora {the body of Jews living in countries outside Palestine or modern Israel.} , ed. and tr. by I. Grunfeld, 1962). In these two works, which together form a complete unit, and were designed for young men and women with a consciousness of Judaism, Hirsch laid down his basic views on Judaism which were elaborated and explained in his subsequent writings. The first made a profound impression in German Jewish circles for its brilliant intellectual presentation, in classic German, of Orthodox Judaism. It is written in the form of an exchange of letters between two youths: Benjamin, the spokesman for the "perplexed," who expresses the doubts of a young Jewish intellectual, and Naphtali, the representative of traditional Judaism, who formulates his answers in 18 letters discussing questions concerning the relationship of Judaism to world culture. H. Graetz, who was deeply impressed by the "Nineteen Letters," visited Oldenburg in 1837 and remained there for three years in order to complete his Jewish education under the guidance of Hirsch. Graetz later dedicated his Gnosticismus und Judentum ("Gnosis and Judaism," 1846) to Hirsch "with sentiments of love and gratitude, to the inspiring defender of historic Judaism, to the unforgettable teacher and loved friend.

[1:3]  In 1841 Hirsch moved to Emden, where he served as rabbi of Aurich and Osnabrueck in Hanover. From 1846 to 1851 he lived in Nikolsburg (Mikulov) as Landesrabbiner of Moravia. Here Hirsch took an energetic part in the struggle to obtain emancipation for Austrian and Moravian Jewry, during the revolution of 1848. After the March revolution of 1848 he was unanimously elected chairman of the Committee for the Civil and Political Rights of the Jews in Moravia. In Nikolsburg he also applied himself to reorganizing the internal structure of Moravian Jewry and drafted a constitution for a central Jewish religious authority for the whole country. The extreme Orthodox community he served had reservations about the intermediate position he adopted between the Orthodox and Reform. Some of the customs he practiced, his wearing a robe during services and especially his method of teaching (his rejection of casuistic {the application of general ethical principles to particular cases of conscience or conduct.} argumentation and his refusal to disregard study of the Bible for that of the halakhah {rabbinic law}) aroused opposition among the extreme Orthodox element in Nikolsburg. In 1851, Hirsch was called to serve as rabbi of the Orthodox congregation Adass Jeschurun (known in German as the "Israelitishe Religionsgesellschaft") in Frankfort on the Main, a position he held for 37 years until his death. Here Hirsch found a small circle of like-minded friends whose encouragement and moral support helped him develop and crystallize his conception of Judaism and to adopt a practical attitude to the problems which confronted the German Jews of that period. In addition, the Orthodox congregation of Frankfort, whose institutions, especially the educational system that he established and supervised, embodied Hirsch's ideas, served as a paradigm and prototype for neo-Orthodoxy, which continued to develop in Germany and abroad.

2.  Hirsch and Jewish Education

Hirsch referred his educational ideal to the saying of R. Gamaliel in Pirkei Avot (2:2): "The study of the Torah is excellent together with derekh erez [worldly occupation, i.e., secular education]" and the ideal Jew, in his opinion, was the Jissroelmensch ("Israel-man"), a term coined by Hirsch for "an enlightened Jew who observed the precepts." The principle Torah im derekh erez became the general slogan of Hirsch's congregation and other congregations in Germany that were patterned on his community. It was this ideal that Hirsch endeavored to embody in the three schools he founded: a primary school, a secondary school, and a high school for girls. Besides the Hebrew language and Jewish subjects, the school curriculum included secular studies (such as German, mathematics, and natural sciences, including geography). This broadened syllabus, which aroused the antagonism of Rabbi Isaac Dov Bamberger, not only was the result of Hirsch's views on education, as designed to develop the student's talents in several fields as well as to prepare him to face life, but also reflected the need to compete with the Philanthropin Jewish free school that had been established in Frankfort, among whose teachers was an extreme advocate of Reform, M. Creizenach.

3.  Hirsch's Attitude to Reform and Secession

[3:1]  Besides Jewish education, the chief contemporary problem facing Judaism was the demand for reform. Its challenge put Hirsch's conceptions of Judaism to the test. The advocates of Reform felt that Jews were prevented from finding their place within German society, not only because of a distinctive dress and language of prayer (Hebrew) but also by the observance of practical precepts which they considered were difficult to perform in a Christian environment. In 1854 Hirsch published a pamphlet Die Religion im Bunde mit dem Fortschritt ("Religion Allied with Progress") in which he refuted the argument of the Reform leaders that the combination of traditional Judaism and secular education was impossible. Hirsch himself recognized the need for effecting a revision within Judaism of externals, but rejected changes affecting the principles of Jewish faith proposed by the Reform wing, or alterations in the observances of the Law. In Hirsch's opinion the Jews, rather than Judaism, were in need of reform. Jews were in no need of "progress" (the catchword of the reformers) but of "elevation." For Judaism to have access to the cultural life of Europe it was essential for Jews to rise to the eternal ideals of Judaism and not to bring it down to adjust to the requirements of contemporaries who desired merely a more comfortable life (Nineteen Letters, 17): for the troubles of the generation are but the birthpangs of a "Judaism that recognizes and understands itself" (ibid., 18).

[3:2]   Even Hirsch introduced some external improvements in the liturgy, such as a choir under the direction of a professional musical conductor, participation of the congregation in the singing, and preaching twice a month in "the national cultural language" (i.e., German). However, at the same time he defended the traditional Jewish synagogue (the schul) against attacks by the Reform wing, and stressed the "inner harmony" within it. Similarly, he defended the Hebrew language as the sole language for prayer and instruction of Jewish subjects. Had our forefathers, he argued, written their prayers in the language of the nations of their environment, they would now be incomprehensible to us; he thus saw the Hebrew language as an important means of communication between Jews in the Diaspora. Although he confessed that the piyyutim were difficult to comprehend and alien in spirit, it would not be advisable to remove them from the prayer book. On the other hand, according to Graetz's testimony (and on the latter's initiative), Hirsch removed the Kol Nidrei prayer on the ground that it was susceptible to misunderstanding.

[3:3]   With all his opposition to the Reform movement, Hirsch did not consider that there was sufficient ground for an organizational separation between Orthodox and Reform Judaism as long as the latter exercised caution in its demands for reform. Even the rejection {holocaust!} of the belief in the coming of the Return to Zion (as expressed in the prayers recited in the Hamburg Temple), which Hirsch strongly opposed, did not impel him to a "separation." In contradistinction to Geiger, who regarded separation as a kind of a surgical operation that would save the body of Judaism, Hirsch looked upon it as a schism that should be avoided as far as possible. When the rabbinical synod at Brunswick (1844) decided to annul several prohibitions, especially those relating to the dietary and matrimonial laws, he changed his attitude however. In a letter addressed to the Reform wing, Hirsch wrote that if they carried out their decisions "the House of Israel would be split in two." The Reform wing would be the ones to disrupt the unity of the people by compelling the traditionalists to secede from them: "Our covenant of unity will no longer endure and brother shall depart from brother in tears."

[3:4]   As authority in the congregations increasingly passed to the hands of the supporters of a break with tradition, a breach between the Orthodox and Reform and separation became the slogan of Hirsch and his supporters. As an example Hirsch pointed to the congregation in Hungary where the government in 1871 (after the Congress of Hungarian Jewry in 1868–69) had recognized the Orthodox congregations as separate bodies. In the memorandum (published in his writings, vol. 4, 239ff.) written by Hirsch to the authorities, the representatives of Orthodox Judaism in Prussia asked "to permit the Jews to leave their local community organizations for reasons of conscience." In 1873 the Prussian Landtag debated a bill which would permit every man to leave his church or religious congregation, the intention of the law being to countenance the existence of "those without religion." According to the proposal of Eduard Lasker an amendment to the bill was accepted "that a Jew is permitted to leave his local congregation, for religious reasons, without leaving Judaism." The objections of the Reform wing to the amendment were not accepted, and in July 1876 the "Law of Secession" ("Austrittsgesetz") was passed and a legal basis created to create a specific, organizational framework for neo-Orthodoxy. The "separationist" movement, for which Hirsch envisaged not only an organizational goal but also religious obligations, was joined by, besides his congregation Adass Jeschurun of Frankfort, small groups of the Orthodox in the congregations of Berlin, Koenigsberg, Wiesbaden, Cologne, and Giessen. But the large majority of Orthodox Jews in Germany continued to remain within the framework of the general congregations, and even Bamberger, who in general was not less Orthodox than Hirsch, permitted the Orthodox to remain within the general community body on condition that their independence be guaranteed and their religious needs provided for. This attitude gave rise to a stormy controversy between Hirsch and Bamberger.

[3:5]   In 1885 Hirsch established the Freie Vereinigung fuer die Interessen des orthodoxen Judentums ("The Free Society for the Advancement of the Interest of Orthodox Judaism") with its seat in Frankfort. This organization was a restricted body during the lifetime of Hirsch and was broadened only after 1907.

4.  Hirsch's Traditionalist Conception of Judaism
[4:1]  Hirsch's views on the essential content of Judaism led him to oppose the conception of the historical development of Judaism, as conceived by Graetz and Z. Frankel. He regarded genuine Judaism as the expression of Divinity, revealed in two ways: in nature and in the Torah {Deus sive Natura} (Nineteen Letters, nos. 18 and 6). Since the Torah, like nature, is a fact, no principle revealed in it may be denied even when it is beyond man's powers of understanding. It is incumbent on him to search for the revelation of God's wisdom in the Torah, as in nature; but the existence of this wisdom is contained in the {ethical} commandments prescribed therein, just as the physical laws in nature are not conditioned by man's search. The character of the Torah as an objective reality lies in the fact that its central pivot is the Law. The Law is an objective disposition of an established order that is not dependent on the will of the individual or society, and hence not even on historical processes. Nevertheless, the historical process is not without importance: mankind attains religious truth as the result of experience acquired in time. As a pledge and a guarantee, however, that mankind will reach its religious goal in this manner, a single people {TTP1:43} was created to whom the religious truth was given directly. Since this people has recognized this truth from the outset, it has no need for experiences acquired in time in order to learn it, hence it is not dependent on the historical process. Menschentum (humanity) as a concept based on ancient classical civilization and on humanism, as conceived by the classic German philosophers and writers, is merely an intermediate preparatory stage, which attains its highest expression in Isroeltum. Man is led to this highest point of perfection by Torah-true Judaism.

[4:2]  This view also largely determined Hirsch's attitude to the modern approach to Jewish scholarship (Wissenschaft des Judentums). He applied one criterion to all branches of Jewish studies: to what extent do they contribute to the preservation and strengthening of "Jewish life?" "How many of those who study the selihot, the yozerot and the piyyutim," he asked, "still rise early in the morning for selihot?" Such study, then, is removed from "life" (as Hirsch understood it) for the sake of which the study itself is pursued. The mitzvot {deed of merit, religious or civil} are explained not as mere ceremonies, to be discarded at will, but as divine rules of life for the people of G-D, eternal and inviolable. Where faithfulness in observance of the mitzvot is not put before speculation about them, the speculation becomes imprudent and deleterious (his commentary on Psalms 119:1).

5.  Explanation of the Commandments and their Reasons;
     Classification of the Commandments
[5:1]  In conformity with his general views on the Jewish religion, Hirsch developed a system for explaining the commandments based on two methods: the method of "speculative etymology" or philosophical etymology {Pity, Righteousness} (a term coined by the German philosopher F. Schlegel) which attempts to discover the intellectual conception of a word, and the symbolical method which seeks to demonstrate that the commandment in itself has meaning only by virtue of the ideal expressed through it. Hence the performance of a commandment is not determined by simple devotion but by attachment to the religious thought represented in symbolic form by the commandment. Symbolic meanings must be attributed in Hirsch's opinion {pomegranates}, particularly to:  

[5:2]   Hirsch arranged the commandments under six headings: teachings (the principles of the Jewish faith), decisions (precepts concerning the relations of man to man), ordinances (referring to the relations of man to the animal, vegetable, and inanimate kingdoms), commandments (commands concerning the love of all created things), testimonies (mnemonic signs), and worship (prayer and sacrifice) {TTP1:69}. In Hirsch's opinion, all the commandments, despite their variety, reveal "a spirit of unity" (Nineteen Letters, 18), and can be reduced to three basic principles: justice, love, and the education of ourselves and others (ibid., 10).

6.  Translations of the Bible and its Exegesis     
A prominent place in Hirsch's activity was his translation of, and commentary on: the Pentateuch (Der Pentateuch uebersetzt und erklaert, 5 vols., 1867–78, 19208; English translation of the commentary, 1956–62); the Book of Psalms (Psalmen uebersetzt und erklaert, 1883; 19243: The Psalms, 2 vols., 1960–66); and prayers (Israels Gebete, uebersetzt und erlaeutert, 1895). Hirsch's translation of the Bible into German is a literal rendition; in its faithfulness to the details of the original it goes so far as to employ forms that are alien to the spirit of the German language. Franz Rosenzweig, who much later collaborated with Martin Buber in translating the Bible into German, regarded their work in this respect as resembling the method of Hirsch. Hirsch rejected the aesthetic approach adopted by his teacher Isaac Bernays, a disciple of Herder. In the opinion of Hirsch, the Bible addresses itself to the heart and intellect and leaves no room for the workings of the imagination {but to the second and third kinds of knowledge} . As one who denied {pomegranates} the validity of the historical approach of the Reform wing, he also rejected the methods of biblical interpretation based on the context in time and space.

7.  Views on Jewish Nationalism
[7:1]  While the Reform wing, with Geiger at its head, sought to demonstrate that Judaism was nothing more than a religious sect, Hirsch considered that God had established Israel as a people and not as a religious congregation, even though the concept of Judaism also includes dat (religion). Hirsch employs the concept "national Jewish consciousness" in his writings, and they are not altogether devoid of traces of love for Zion. "The Jewish people, though it carries the Torah with it in all the lands of its dispersion, will never find its table and lamp [i.e., its economic and spiritual development] except in the Holy Land {holocaust}" (Gesammelte Schriften, vol. 3, p. 411). Fundamentally, then, Hirsch acknowledged the concept of Jewish nationalism, even though this nationalism is far removed from the nationalism that inspired the early founders of Zionism. Hirsch explicitly opposed the negation of galut {exile} by "both Jews and non-Jews whose description of galut is always accompanied by a violation and derogation of our rights" (ibid., vol. 4, p. 82). These words were apparently directed against the views of Z. Kalischer and M. Hess (who, incidentally, made a number of observations concerning Hirsch and his ideas in his Rome and Jerusalem (1954), 69, 73). Israel's mission, as Hirsch sees it, is to teach the nations "that G-D is the source of blessing." For this reason "there was given to it as a possession the Land and its blessings; it was given a state system; but these were not conferred as an end in themselves but as the Torah." These views, particularly in conjunction with the other aspects of his philosophy became in the course of time—through the efforts of his son-in-law, S. Z. Breuer, his grandson Isaac Breuer, and Jacob Rosenheim—the ideological basis of the Agudat Israel. Hirsch was the founder and editor of the German periodical Jeschurun (1854–70; new series 1883–90 edited by his son Isaac Hirsch), which served as a vehicle for the dissemination of his ideas ("a monthly for the inculcation of the spirit of Judaism and of Jewish life in home, community, and school"). In that journal, Hirsch published his essays, some of which were later republished in his Gesammelte Schriften (6 vols., 1902–12). In English, Hirsch's collected essays appeared as Judaism Eternal (ed. and tr. by I. Grunfeld; 2 vols., 1960–66); an anthology of his writings, Timeless Torah, appeared in 1957. 

[7:2]  Hirsch's importance as a religious spiritual leader, his wide influence as a preacher and teacher, organizer and writer, made him a dedicated champion of Orthodoxy in its controversy with the Reform-liberal Judaism. While advocating strict adherence to halakhah {orthodox laws} , Hirsch tried to find a solution to the political and cultural challenges presented in modern life to Judaism. He considered his view of Judaism not as a system of philosophical speculation but as an explication of the Sinaitic revelation. Despite widespread opposition {pomegranates} to his ideas from many circles in German Jewry his personal qualities won their respect and admiration. 

[Simha Katz] 
M.A. Associate Editor, Encyclopaedia Judaica, and former
General Associate Editor, Encyclopaedia Hebraica, Jerusalem.


     Since May 27, 2002    hits.

Revised: September 18, 2006 
"A Dedication to Spinoza's Insights"