“The first ones:” leading rabbis and thinkers who lived in the 11th through 15th centuries.
15th-century philosophical commentary on the Torah based on sermons the author delivered to his congregation.
14th-century compilation of 12 discourses elucidating the fundamentals of Judaism alongside explanations of the Torah.
Duties of the Heart
11th-century treatise that details 10 principles of spiritual life, focusing on obligations performed with the heart, like repentance.
Maimonides’ 12th-century philosophical introduction to Pirkei Avot, analyzing the soul, human purpose, and free will.
Guide for the Perplexed
Maimonides’ 12th-century philosophical masterwork, written as a letter to his student demonstrating the compatibility of Judaism and philosophy.
10th-century treatise of Rav Saadia Gaon providing rational proof for traditional beliefs.
12th-century work of Rabbi Yehuda Helevi structured as a conversation between a rabbi and pagan king about the superiority of Judaism.
Ma'amar al Yishmael
13th-century polemical work of the Rashba refuting an Islamic scholar who had attacked Judaism.
14th-century collection of correspondence about a campaign against the study of rationalist philosophy like the works of Maimonides.
15th-century work of Rabbi Chasdai Crescas defining the principles of faith and criticizing attempts to harmonize Aristotelian rationalism with Jewish theology.
15th-century work detailing three principles of faith: God’s existence, the Torah’s divine origin, and divine reward and punishment.
The Wars of the Lord
14th-century work by the rationalist Ralbag on the basic tenets of faith, modeled after the Guide of the Perplexed.
“The later ones:” leading rabbis and thinkers who lived in the 16th through 19th centuries.
18th-century work of the Ramchal systematically organizing the basics of Jewish thought in clear and accessible language.
Derush Chidushei HaLevana
17th-century treatise by the Tosafot Yom-Tov expanding upon a midrash that describes God's diminishing of the moon during creation.
Essay on Fundamentals
The Ramchal’s brief summary of his Derekh Hashem.
Work describing the teachings of the Vilna Gaon on the signs of redemption, first published in the 20th century.
Letter to the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
Letter sent from rabbis in Israel to the tribes that they hoped would be found by an emissary sent to Yemen in 1830.
Works of the 16th-century mystic, philosopher, and talmudist Rabbi Yehuda Loew, commonly referred to as the Maharal of Prague.
Major 19th-century work of Rav Chaim of Volozhin on human purpose, God, Torah study, and prayer, incorporating kabbalistic elements.
Works of the 20th-century theologian, educator, and rabbi in Germany, England, Australia, and the United States.
18th-century work investigating Hebrew roots and their bases in Tanakh, focusing on the root “chakham” and its synonyms.
Halacha and Aggadah
Landmark 20th-century essay of Chaim Nachman Bialik about law, narrative, and the relationship between them.
20th-century work on the fundamentals of faith by Rav Ben-Zion Uziel, the first Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel.
In the Narrow Places; Daily Inspiration for the Three Weeks
21st-century work by Dr. Erica Brown with short essays and prompts for reflection for each day of the period from the 17th of Tamuz through Tisha B’Av.
Kol Dodi Dofek
20th-century essay by Rav Soloveitchik on God in the Holocaust and the State of Israel, considered a classic of contemporary religious Zionism.
19th-century defense of Orthodoxy by Rav Shimshon Rephael Hirsch, in the form of a fictional correspondence between a rabbi and a youthful intellectual.
20th-century works by Rav Moshe Avigdor Amiel, rabbi of Antwerp and later of Tel Aviv, on legal methodology and pre-state religious-Zionist (Mizrachi) ideology.
Works of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi in pre-state Israel and an essential figure in religious Zionism.
Revealment and Concealment in Language
20th-century poetic essay of Chaim Nachman Bialik on the meaning of words and the difference between poetry and prose.
About Jewish Thought“Jewish Thought” includes works of philosophy and theology, ranging from medieval to contemporary. These works analyze topics like free will, chosenness, miracles, and faith and reason.
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