||R. Samson b. Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888) was the leader and foremost exponent of Orthodoxy in Germany in the 19th century. Born in Hamburg, Hirsch studied Talmud there with his grandfather R. Mendel Frankfurter. His education was also influenced by rabbis Jacob Ettlinger and Isaac Bernays, and by his father, R. Raphael (who had changed his surname from Frankfurter to Hirsch). R. Hirsch's importance as a religious spiritual leader, his wide influence as a preacher and teacher, organizer and writer, made him a dedicated champion of Orthodoxy in its controversy with the Reform-liberal Judaism. While advocating strict adherence to halakhah, R. Hirsch tried to find a solution to the political and cultural challenges presented in modern life to Judaism. He considered his view of Judaism not as a system of philosophical speculation but as an explication of the Sinaitic revelation. Despite widespread opposition to his ideas from many circles in German Jewry his personal qualities won their respect and admiration.
During his 11 years in office he wrote his most significant works, Neunzehn Briefe ueber Judentum (Iggerot Zafon; "Nineteen Letters on Judaism": first published under the pseudonym "Ben Uzziel," Altona, 1836; it appeared in many editions, translated into English by B. Drachman 1899; revised 1960), and Choreb, oder Versuche ueber Jissroels Pflichten in der Zerstreuung (1837, Horeb, Essays on Israel's "Duties" in the Diaspora, ed. and tr. by I. Grunfeld, 1962). In these two works, which together form a complete unit, and were designed for young men and women with a consciousness of Judaism, Hirsch laid down his basic views on Judaism which were elaborated and explained in his subsequent writings. The first made a profound impression in German Jewish circles for its brilliant intellectual presentation, in classic German, of Orthodox Judaism. It is written in the form of an exchange of letters between two youths: Benjamin, the spokesman for the "perplexed," who expresses the doubts of a young Jewish intellectual, and Naphtali, the representative of traditional Judaism, who formulates his answers in 18 letters discussing questions concerning the relationship of Judaism to world culture.