Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirsch
Rabbi Shimshon Refael Hirschצילום:

Both followers and enemies of Judaism sometimes claim that the Torah cares only about Jews. Yet, the first substantive (i.e., non-introductory) word of Sefer Vayikra indicates that all people – Jews and non-Jews – can bring offerings to the Beit Hamikdash, the holiest place on earth:

“Adam ki yakriv mikem korban laHashem – If any man brings an offering near unto Hashem” (Leviticus 1:2). “Adam,” according to Rashi and others, includes non-Jews. Thus, amazingly, “at the very portal of the laws given for the Jewish Temple, an inscription is made that opens this Temple to all men – not exclusively to Jews,” writes Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch. “Every human being can bring his offering here.”

Our G-d is not a particularistic G-d. He is the father of all of humanity.

Academic “scholars” in Rav Hirsch’s era apparently claimed that Judaism “evolved” and became more “enlightened” over time. Judaism was once narrow-minded but later grew to be more universalistic, especially under the influence of King Solomon.

Not true, writes Rav Hirsch. “It is not just ‘the progress of Solomon’s advanced illuminating theories’ which first extended ‘the narrow Mosaic ideas of God and Temple’ to that cosmopolitan outlook.” That outlook is inherent in the “very first word of the ‘Mosaic’ laws of the Temple [which] gives the Temple the most universal mission.”

Rav Hirsch writes that the prophet Isaiah later proclaimed this mission with these famous words:

“I shall bring [the children of the other nations] to the Mount of My Sanctuary, I shall make them happy in My House of Prayer, their elevating offerings and their meal-offerings will find favor on My Altar, for My House will be called a House of prayer for all the nations” (Isaiah 56:7).

Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888) was head of the Jewish community in Frankfurt, Germany for over 35 years. He was a prolific writer whose ideas, passion, and brilliance helped save German Jewry from the onslaught of modernity.

Elliot Resnick, PhD, is the host of “The Elliot Resnick Show” and the editor of an upcoming work on etymological explanations in Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch’s commentary on Chumash.