TiDE and Slabodka
(The previous post was off topic, but on the blog. This post is on topic, but posted elsewhere.)
Rabbi Rich Wolpoe posted to the Nishma blog an exchange we had by email. Here are some snippets of things I say in the post and consequent dialog (so far):
Look how similar TIDE [Torah im Derech Eretz] and Slabodka are in terms of objective. …
There is a fundamental difference in how they define refinement. R’ Hirsch speaks in terms of culture. Slabodka, unsurprisingly, in terms of middos. The overlap is large, but they are far from identical. I think that also underlies their difference in approach to ta’amei hamitzvos [the reasons for, or lessons taken from, mitzvos -micha].
RSRH makes it about internalizing messages. And therefore when the message is unclear, he invokes symbology. Symbols do present messages in a manner where they can be better internalized. Thus the power of poetry over prose. …
Mussar looks to mitzvos to behaviorally change the person. …
Middos aren’t really emotions as much as the various propensities to have one or the other. In English, the difference between the emotion of anger and the character trait of having a temper.
Slabodka (as the rest of Mussar, but Slabodka IMHO is closest to TiDE) is speaking of mitzvos in terms of precognitive changes, of being the kind of person more likely to experience religious ecstasy, not necessarily creating that moment of ecstasy itself.
RSRH’s symbology system presumes changes through internalization of symbols — and yet very little Torah existed before his day explicating those symbols….