Hearing the Biblical Voice
Biblical text-study inspired by the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Ever since graduate school in clinical psychology, when I needed to explain to my skeptical Jewish and non-Jewish colleagues why I observed the Sabbath, Jewish dietary laws and holidays, I turned to the rational, profound insights of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. His writings, which were unusually sensitive to the psychology of human nature, were directed toward the educated young men and women of his generation (Germany, late 1800s). R. Hirsch wanted to persuade these intelligent adults to seek the meaningfulness of traditional Jewish ritual in the context of the Enlightenment and the newly acquired access to universities and cultural life.
I found Rabbi Hirsch's insights profound and compelling in my attempt to explain the meaningfulness of Judaism in contemporary life to myself and to others. Since then, I have been teaching and writing about his philosophy of Judaism, especially his explanation of Jewish practice (mitzvot).
A little academic background: After high school at Yeshivat Chafetz Chaim (Talmudical Academy) in Baltimore, I went on to obtain my BA from Yeshiva University and my Master's and Doctorate from Rutgers University. I returned to Baltimore to join the psychology faculty of Towson State University for 10 years and then moved to Los Angeles to do some clinical work, eventually turning to combining psychology with Jewish education. Being inspired by the developmental work of Prof. Lawrence Kohlberg at Harvard on moral education, I co-founded an experimental Jewish High School (Shalhevet) in Los Angeles, which, following Kohlberg's model of a Just Community, stressed democratic and ethical principles throughout the school experience.
From there my wife and I travelled to Israel, where, as a Senior Educator, I did research for the Lookstein Center at Bar Ilan University, culminating in a five-year, innovative Jewish curriculum project at Moriah College in Sydney, Australia.
After a couple of years as a visiting professor of education at York University in Toronto (training teachers for Jewish schools), we moved to Israel and settled in Jerusalem, with children and grandchildren.
Having previously published books entitled Kashrut, Tefillin and Tzitzit: Studies in the Purpose and Meaning of Symbolic Mitzvot and Finding Meaning in the Sabbath, High Holy Days and Festivals: Biblical text-study inspired by the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (revised and re-issued in 2014), I now have published five volumes of Studies on the Weekly Torah Reading, inspired by the writings of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch