When I was writing on other faiths, I posted often on that topic. Now that I am working on Varieties of Modern Orthodoxy, I keep posting on interesting points in the German Orthodoxy chapter.
Hirschian Orthodoxy like novels about Orthodoxy. Last year, we discussed those of Hirsch’s daughter Sarah Guggenheim and those of Rabbi Markus Lehrman. I came across a wonderful article by Michael Brenner, East and West in Orthodox German –Jewish Novels. Leo Baeck Institute Annual 37/1 1992. In the article, he deals with three authors who, unlike Lehrman , attempted to answer the issues of the day- Selig Schachnowitz, Pinchas Kohn, and Isaac Breuer. I fleshed the post out with some material from Morgenstern’s book.
Selig Schachnowitz thought the world of urban Frankfort and its Orthodoxy was ideal. In 1912 novel Luftmenchen, he paints a dystopic vision of Eastern European Jewry. They either have no education or only a Yeshiva education so they are assimilating and becoming communists. The only safe answer for a Yeshiva graduate is to come to the West and become Orthodox. The Russian Talmud bakhur needs to be turned into a civilized human being. Rude students need to be cultivated into Hirschian Orthodoxy, where Yosef Karo, Friedrich von Schiller, and Yehuda Halevi meet. The ideal is to be a successful businessman who keeps the mizvot and marries a day school teacher. In other works, he anachronistically painted the 18th century as Hirschian and even painted the Hatam Sofer as Hirschian. Schachnowitz was uberHirsch is his writings.
Pinchas Kohn was a key figure in the birth of the Agudah, anti-Zionist and anti-gemidne. In his 1915 novel he extols the pastoral life of rural Jewry. He yearned for old time 18th century Jewry–pre-Hirsch rural life without culture, refinement, or education. He glorified the magic and superstition of the 18th century Jewish rural life. The genuine Jew does not require German culture, sermons, or seminaries, but is a natural Jew. He became the editor of the Hirschian Agudah journal.
Isaac Breuer wrote several novels in the 1920’s were he expresses his disgust with the Hirschian community. His protagonist criticized their concern with German culture and superficial ritual observance. Breuer paints the Hirschian community as living the same lives as the Reformers; they only differ only in the outer appearance of their lives.
He criticizes the Bourgeois culture of the Hirschian college associations who alternate between beer drinking bouts and Talmud study. He thinks finance and a Torah-true life do not, and can not, go together. He paints Hirsch as against his own will founding a bourgeois Orthodoxy.
For Breuer’s era, Schiller & Goethe had been replaced by crude materialism and nihilism, leaving little to emulate. Besides having anti-Semitic undertones, this new materialism bred skepticism. In addition, the middle class life was requiring more hours and greater commitment, leaving no time for any Torah study. Breuer blamed it on the decadent superstructure of capitalism. America was the worst. (AB- think of the Brecht-Weil Opera Mahogany.) He is disgusted by Hirschian materialism where Torah im Derekh Eretz means that on Shavuot people consume great quantities of cheesecake, rather than appreciate revelation.
In the story, Breuer glorifies Ost-Juden, he prefers a society of women and grandmothers to the mechanical observances of the Hirschian businessmen, and he creates a scene where a simple Ost-Juden dairyman teaches the protagonist Talmud in a way that the Hirschain community Rabbi could not.
He painted the opposite of the Hirschian philistinism the even worse community of nomads who need an organization to lead them. He saw the Agudah and Rosenheim as an organizer, a pejorative opposite of the need to be a living organism and people. Breuer answer is to create a non-capitalist religious Torah state in Zion.
Already, in a 1907 story, an orthodox university student leaves university for a few weeks at home with his extended Hirschian family, a philistine among philistines. He sees the only ones who care about Zion, anti-semtiism, Torah, ideas, and Sinai are the college Orthodox students. Hirsch in Deut 4:25 had warned against becoming part of the land and Breuer applies it not to Reform but to the Hirschian community.
I am not sure about the other authors, but since Breuer wrote dozens of books and hundreds of essays we can use a new anthology of his untranslated essays.