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Rav Hirsch: Vaeira

The 27th of Tevet is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, Frankfurt am Main, Germany (1808-1888). His father, Rav Raphael Aryeh (1777-1857), who changed the family name to Hirsch, was the son of Rav Menachem Mendel Frankfurter of Altuna (1742-1823).

Rav Menachem Mendel was a talmid of Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz and was the Rav of three communities of Altuna, Hamburg, and Wandsbeck (“AHU”). At the age of 18, Rav Shamshon Raphael went to Mannheim to learn at the yeshiva of Rav Yaakov Ettlinger, author of Aruch La’ner. Rav Hirsch received smicha from Rav Ettlinger after learning there for a year. Thereafter, he attended the University of Bonn. That education would serve him well later in life as he combated the forces of Reform with eloquence.

When he was 21, he was appointed Chief Rabbi of the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg. There, he married Chana Judel. He also authored Iggros Hatzafon (The 19th Letters), under the pen name Ben Uziel. One year later, he published Chorev.

In 1847, he became Chief Rabbi of Moravia, a region of 50,000 Jews in 52 communities, and which is now the Czech Republic. In 1851, he became the Rav of Frankfurt am Main, which he transformed into a Torah bastion. His best known works are the classic six-volume Commentary on Chumash.

Exodus 6:14: Up till now Moses’ and Aaron’s efforts had been completely frustrated, and if nothing further was to occur, it would probably have been considered unnecessary to provide us with such exact proof of their parentage and relations. But, from this point onwards begins their triumphal mission, a mission which has never been accomplished before or after the,, so that then it became a real necessity to first of all establish their parentage and relations so that for all time their absolutely human origin, and the absolutely ordinary human nature of their beings should be firmly established.

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