Respect your past – and gain respect

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Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

If you do not respect yourself, others will not respect you either. This principle holds true as a spouse, as a parent, and as a nation. Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch passed away 132 years ago today. Living in Germany in the late 1800's, he had to contend with many Jews who abandoned and belittled their tradition and culture and wanted to assimilate into the German culture that they considered more enlightened than theirs. Here are some of Rav Hirsch's penetrating words on this subject:

"In the same measure that you respect your past and the holy figures from your history, the nations of the world will respect you. It will likely happen that for one reason or another, you may gain more or less sympathy from the nations, but they will always respect you if you respect yourself. However, if you belittle your past and do not honor your ancestors' graves and do not respect your Holy Temple and do not try to acquire proper knowledge of your Torah – how can you expect other nations to respect you? Many delights will come to you at the price of denying the Torah, but do not expect respect."

In his memory.

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