Rabbi Hirsh: A Hero? || Book: Snow in August || Author: Pete Hamill

Essay by snipes April 2004

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Almost all heroes, in both fiction and reality, must suffer for standing up to evil or helping others. Because of this, those who suffer yet do not deserve it are automatically labeled as heroes. However, having undergone suffering is not what makes one a hero. The title comes with helping others in need without wanting anything in return. Rabbi Hirsch's case is no exception. Rabbi Hirsch has suffered much throughout his life, and deserves recognition for his pain. However, in response to his suffering, all he did was stay to himself. If he had got up on his feet and made an attempt to either stop the source of this suffering, or help others who are being or have been affected by it, then he could have been recognized as a hero.

One of the qualities of a hero is to express initiative when trouble is near or when help is needed.

Rabbi Hirsch sees that the Germans are about to invade Czechoslovakia. However, unlike his wife, he is against doing anything for his people that would separate him from his wife. He only agrees to go and deliver some money for the Zionist organization after his wife convinces him to, and even then, he agrees with reluctance. Rabbi Hirsch's love for his wife is an admirable quality, but a hero would put other people's well being in front, especially when his wife is asking him to do so.

The rabbi's reaction after he finds out about his wife's death is also an indicator of his level of heroism. If, before, he were against putting himself in danger to help others of his kind, than his wife's death should have been a significant motivator. However, instead of joining the Zionist organization, or doing anything else to help his...