Texts and Traditions


Various movements within the religion have been viewed heretical by those who disagreed with them.

Principles of Faith

Maimonides' theological principles were never unanimously embraced.

Biblical Faith

In the Torah, faith in God means trust, not belief in particular propositions.

Medieval Jewish Philosophers

Thinkers who believed they were unearthing existing wisdom, not creating new ideas.

Thinkers and Thought 101

It is difficult to speak of a single or official Jewish worldview, theology, or philosophy.

Modern Insights

Baruch Spinoza

A significant figure in the history of philosophy, excommunicated by the Jewish community.

Outside Influences

Jewish thinkers have both embraced and directly reacted to foreign ideas and philosophies.

Moses Mendelssohn

Herald of the Jewish Enlightenment.

Martin Buber

The creation of a Jewish existentialism--and a Jewish state.

Abraham Joshua Heschel

Heschel aimed to shock modern people out of complacency and into a spiritual dimension.

Major Thinkers

Judah Halevi

A Spanish poet, philosopher, and proto-Zionist.


Solomon Ibn Adret wrote numerous medieval responsa.

Saadiah Gaon

An introduction to the life and work of an early medieval spiritual leader.

Leo Baeck

Theologian who stressed the ethical center of Judaism.

Joseph Soloveitchik

A teacher, writer, and community leader who helped to shape modern Orthodoxy in America.

Books and People

The Jewish Philosophy Reader

Edited by Daniel Frank, Oliver Leaman, Charles H. Manekin

Fifty Key Jewish Thinkers

By Dan Cohn-Sherbok

Bahya Ibn Pakudah

His Duties of the Hearts stressed the inwardness of Judaism.

Emmanuel Levinas

A Jewish sensibility encounters Western thought and ethics.

Quiz Yourself

How much do you know about Jewish thinkers and thought?