Rav Hirsch wrote his first work under the pen name “Ben Uziel”. In the leaf preceding the work he quoted the Talmud megilah 3a “

But You know very well that I did it not for my own honor, nor for the honor of my father’s house, but rather I did it for Your Honor, in order to minimize arguments within the People of Israel”

These words were uttered by Yonatan ben Uziel and thus there is a hint to why he chose this pseudonym. He wanted to put humself out of the spotlight and focus on the work itself. Bernard Drachman gives this reason for the anonimity.

I think there is another message in the reference to Ben Uziel. The Talmud there is telling the story of Ben Uziel’s having provided a translation to the Torah. A heavenly rumble expressed consternation for revealing hidden secrets concerning the end of days. It is for that reason that Ben Uziel justifies his translation as a way to avoid misundertsandings in the explanation of the Torah.

Rav Hirsch may have seen himself as one who is bringing to light Torah ideas that could be misinterpreted. It was in the vernacular of High German and would be accessible to the Christian world as well. While there is nothing of great controversy within the pages, it was a bold step for someone acting from deep within the Torah community. He therefore proclaims his intentions. To give clarity and thereby settle dispute.

We find that Hashem even allows his name to be erased in order to settle dispute. Perhaps this is why the “good intentions” of Ben Uziel justify something that otherwise elicited consternation!

E may learn from this that if someone wishes to spread Torah and “use” the Torah to reach the hearts of Jews, his mission is sanctioned- if but he remembers that he is doing it for the sanctification of Hashem’s name!

A Lesson on Hirsch

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