Prof. David Patterson
Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies
University of Texas at Dallas.

What Makes Jewish Philosophy Jewish?


This paper examines the categories of thought, such as creation, revelation, and redemption, that impart a Jewish aspect to the thinking. It contrasts those categories with those that shape Western speculative thought, such as causation, reason, and personal autonomy.

What Makes Jewish Thought Jewish?


The University of Texas at Dallas Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies

Much has been written about Jewish thought. Universities offer courses on Jewish thought and organizations offer awards for scholarship in Jewish thought. Seldom, however, is it asked: What makes Jewish thought Jewish? Surely the fact that a Jew has a thought does not make it a Jewish thought. If the Jewishness of Jewish thought were merely a matter of ethnic accident, then the designation would be meaningless. In that case every Jew who thinks, from Karl Marx to Menachem Mendel Schneerson, would be a Jewish thinker.

Still, in one way or another, Jewish thinkers have been engaged with the question of what makes Jewish thought Jewish since the Maccabees’ revolt against the Hellenization of Judea in 167 BCE. The reason for this engagement lies in the question of whether Greek speculative thought is compatible with Jewish thinking. Throughout the first millennium of rabbinic Judaism the attitude toward Greek philosophy was generally hostile. In the Talmud, for example, it is written, “When Ben Damah, the son of Rabbi Ishmael’s sister, asked when he may study the wisdom of the Greeks, the Rabbi answered, ‘Go find a time that is neither day nor night and then learn the Greek wisdom’” (Menachot 99b). And it is said of the talmudic sage who became an apostate, Elisha ben Avuya, that he had secretly studied Greek philosophy before he abandoned Torah (Chagigah 14b).

Why should Greek philosophy pose such a threat to a Jew’s embrace of Torah? Because the categories of thought most central to Torah are most alien to Greek thinking: creation and revelation. For creation and revelation imply the action and the entry of One who is more than all there is into the midst of all there is. And, from the standpoint of reason as understood by the Greeks, there cannot be more than all. Hence the Greek speculative thinkers had no concept of creation or revelation. Hellenistically speaking, all that is has always been, and within all that is lies all that is to be realized. Hellenistically speaking, creation and revelation simply do not stand to reason.

In this opposition of the categories of thought lies the tension between the Greek and Hebrew traditions. The context of the question before lies in the history of that tension.

Historical Background and Contexts

The first of the giants among Jewish thinkers who did not shy away from reason was Saadia Gaon (882 -942).1 Saadia, however, did not take reason alone to be the high court of truth. For along with reason, he maintained, tradition and revelation are two other sources of knowledge and wisdom.2 The Middle Ages saw other Jewish thinkers who incorporated some of the Greek thinking—particularly the thinking of Aristotle—into their own thinking; among them are Bachya ibn Paquda (ca. 1090 – 1156), Maimonides (1135 – 1204), and Gersonides (1288 -1344). Says Bachya, “Reflection is a lamp, which you bring into your mind.”3 “Through intellect,” Maimonides asserts, “man distinguishes between the true and the false.”4 And “if the literal sense of the Torah differs from reason,” writes Gersonides, “it is necessary to interpret those passages in accordance with the demands of reason.”5

These Jewish thinkers who extolled the importance of reason, however, have been misleadingly labeled “rationalists.” According to the Greek thinking that gave rise to the speculative tradition, the aim of wisdom is to “know thyself.” According to Jewish thinking, as stated by Bachya, the aim of wisdom is to “become cognizant of the Creator,” who is revealed, and not deduced.6 Those who would file Maimonides into the category of “rationalist” perhaps forget his insistence upon creation as a defining category of Jewish teaching7 and his opening statement in Part III of The Guide for the Perplexed, where he says, “We have stated several times that it is our primary object in this treatise to expound, as far as possible, the Biblical account of the Creation (Ma‘aseh bereshit) and the description of the Divine Chariot (Ma‘aseh mercabah) in a manner adapted to the training of those for whom this work is written.”8 Thus invoking the two concepts most central to Kabbalah, Maimonides can hardly be labeled simply as a rationalist, as speculative philosophy would define the term. As for Gersonides, he insists that in his philosophical reflection “we have not assented to the view that our reason has suggested without determining its compatibility with our Torah.”9 For all three, the revealed Torah, and not the Metaphysics of Aristotle, remains the measure of truth.

In the modern period the tension between Jewish thought and speculative philosophy truly comes to bear, in such a way that the question of what makes Jewish thought Jewish becomes all the more pressing. The first of the modern Jews to embrace the speculative tradition to the exclusion of Torah—that is, to the exclusion of the categories of creation and revelation as they unfold in Torah—is Benedict de Spinoza (1632 – 1677). Because we have reason, according to Spinoza, “we do not need any privileged revelation of God’s intentions.”10 In the Age of the Enlightenment Moses Mendelssohn (1729 – 1786) defended the rationalism that characterized Spinoza’s thinking. “Necessary truths,” he writes in Jerusalem, “are based upon reason, i.e., upon the unchangeable logical relationship and essential coherence of concepts,”11 and not upon revelation. “We have no doctrines that are contrary to reason,” he insists, in keeping with the philosophical trend of the Enlightenment. “The fundamental tenets of our religion rest on the foundation of reason.”12 This process of a Jewish accommodation of philosophy, particularly the Kantian philosophy of the Enlightenment, reached its culmination in Hermann Cohen’s (1842 – 1918) Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, published posthumously in 1919. Situating reason—and especially the ethics derived from reason—above revelation, the Kantian Cohen writes, “Ethics knows neither man nor God; it begets these concepts through its method.”13 Hence ethics born of reason, and not commanded by the Most High, is the highest. In the end, such a move makes Torah—the very thing that defines a Jew—irrelevant.

Inasmuch as it makes Torah irrelevant, such a view is not Jewish, and the major thinkers of the Enlightenment knew it. Hence their animosity toward Judaism. As Berel Lang has pointed out, “there are few figures of the Enlightenment in fact who in their common defense of toleration do not qualify that principle where the Jews are concerned. This fact alone would be significant for assessing the Enlightenment in relation to its ideals; it becomes still more significant in the light of evidence that this attitude toward the Jews was not accidental or simply the recrudescence of earlier prejudices, but was engendered by the doctrines of the Enlightenment itself.”14 In a word, Enlightenment thought, which is the outcome of centuries of the Western speculative tradition, is antithetical to Jewish thought.

What Lang refers to as “doctrines,” however, might be better understood as modes or categories of thought. For the animosity of Voltaire and Kant, of Fichte and Hegel, toward the Jews has more to do with a Jewish mode of thought than with ethnic or religious prejudice. Understanding freedom, for instance, in terms of self-legislating autonomy, Kant decried the Jews’ “heteronomous” view of freedom rooted in divine commandments and called for the “euthanasia” of Judaism.15 Equally hostile toward Judaism, which insists upon revelation and the absolute distinction between God and humanity, Hegel maintained that revealed religion is superseded by the absolute knowledge of reason16 and denied the otherness of the divinity; for Hegel, Emil Fackenheim (1916 – 2003) correctly explains, “divinity comes to dwell, as it were, in the same inner space as the human self.”17 To be sure, the idealist thinking with which we shall contrast Jewish thought “reduces the world to the perceiving self,”18 as Cohen’s student Franz Rosenzweig (1886 – 1929) pointed out. If the Cartesian cogito situates being within the thinking ego, the Kantian critique deduces everything from the thinking ego. Such a move, as Nietzsche understood, makes God as superfluous to thought as He is to life.19

Realizing that the speculative mode of thought is alien to a Jewish way of thinking, Rosenzweig was the first of the major twentieth-century Jewish thinkers to take up a renewed critique of the speculative tradition. In his most important work, The Star of Redemption, he situates the concrete life of Judaism over against the abstract reasoning of idealist philosophy. In contrast to the discourse of causality, rationality, and morality, Rosenzweig’s key terms are creation, revelation, and redemption. Further, whereas speculative thought would reduce God, world, and humanity to concepts and therefore to derivatives of one another, Rosenzweig insists upon the distinctive differences among these realities. In order to delineate these differences, he calls for a new method of thinking: in contrast to the abstraction and isolation of thought ruled by reason, Rosenzweig posits the concrete, time- bound interrelation of human beings through what he calls “new thinking” or “speaking thinking,” which is essentially Jewish thinking. In accordance with Jewish teaching,20 Rosenzweig sees the human being not so much as a thinking being as a speaking being.

While numerous Jewish thinkers who followed Rosenzweig took up a critique of speculative ontological thought,21 Emmanuel Levinas (1906 – 1995) was the most thorough and persistent, especially in his response to Martin Heidegger (1889 – 1976), the philosopher in whom the ontological tradition arguably finds its culmination. Levinas writes, “A philosophy of power, ontology is, as first philosophy which does not call into question the same, a philosophy of injustice… . Heideggerian ontology, which subordinates the relationship with the Other to the relation with Being in general, remains under obedience to the anonymous, and leads inevitably to another power, to imperialist domination, to tyranny.”22 And: “Heideggerian philosophy precisely marks the apogee of a thought in which the finite does not refer to the infinite (prolonging certain tendencies of Kantian philosophy: the separation between understanding and reason, diverse themes of transcendental dialectics), in which every deficiency is but weakness and every fault committed against oneself—the outcome of a long tradition of pride, heroism, domination, and cruelty. Heideggerian ontology subordinated the relation with the other to the relation with the neuter, Being, and it thus continues to exalt the will to power, whose legitimacy the other alone can unsettle, troubling good conscience.”23 Over against Heideggerian ontology Levinas posits ethics as first philosophy, and his understanding of ethics is rooted in Jewish teaching.

Levinas sees the ethics of Judaism as an “ethics of heteronomy that is not a servitude, but the service of God through responsibility for the neighbor, in which I am irreplaceable.”24 Contrasting the God of Torah with the god of the philosophers, Levinas maintains that ethics is not a moment in being or conceived by thought.25 Rather, it is otherwise or better than being: it is the divine ought that enters being as a commandment from beyond being [revelation], before being [creation].26 Similarly, God and humanity do not share a moral essence; rather, each is beyond essence, for each is irreplaceable. In a word, God the Creator and the one created in His image and likeness are holy. As an ethical being, therefore, the human being is a “breach of being,” manifest not in the thinking “I” but in the divinely commanded movement toward the other human being, for the sake of the other human being.

For Levinas, coming to a knowledge of God lies not in having engaged in a certain reflection but in having received a certain revelation, a revelation in the mode of commandment, a mitzvah. The mitzvah, Levinas insists, “is not a moral formalism” but is rather “the living presence of love,”27 which is manifest precisely in the commandment to love. God is not love, says Levinas; rather, God is the commandment to love.28 Whereas speculative thought derives God from, say, a moral principle,29 Levinas sees God as the source of the ethical commandment and manifest in the commandment.30 Whereas speculative thought emphasizes the autonomy of the self, Levinas focuses on the self’s heteronomous responsibility for the other person.31 Whereas speculative thought is interested in freedom, Levinas insists upon the pursuit of justice.32 In short, whereas speculative takes revelation to be the revelation of reason, Levinas views it as the revelation of love.

Like Rosenzweig and contrary to Kant, Levinas maintains that love can be commanded; like Rosenzweig and contrary to Cohen, Levinas embraces not a “reformed Judaism” but a Judaism grounded in Torah and Talmud. “The meaning of being, the meaning of creation,” he affirms in one of his studies of the Talmud, “is to realize the Torah” through a concrete action of loving kindness toward our fellow human being.33 Emphasizing the concreteness of Jewish tradition over the abstractions of “spiritual” religion-in-general, Levinas insists upon the primacy of the divine commandments that lie at the heart of Jewish life. The Holy One is the source of those commandments, which we receive not through ethereal reflection but through the flesh-and-blood encounter with the face of the other human being, through this person who is here before me now. “The face,” says Levinas, “is what forbids us to kill.”34 To encounter the face is to encounter Torah; it is through the face that Torah enters this world from beyond this world. Through the face, Torah commands us to be there for the sake of another. And the obligation precedes the situation: I do not enter into a situation and then derive my universal maxim; no, the “maxim” is already commanded by the Creator, prior to all context.

Levinas views the welcome or the greeting extended to the other person as the core of Judaism and Jewish thought.35 Because greeting the other person is incumbent upon me, I share no equality with the other human being; rather, he or she always comes first. Therefore I have one responsibility more than the other, namely the responsibility to die rather than inflict death upon the other: the death that concerns me, Levinas states it, is the death of my fellow human being—not my death.36 And I must attest to that concern even at the cost of my own life. Speculative thought grounded in reason cannot deduce this radical inequality. For reason, all equations must balance. For reason, everyone is the same—not equally holy, but merely the same, so that in the end, nothing really matters, because nothing is really holy. Which means: every life is replaceable. From the standpoint of Jewish thought, not only is every life unique and irreplaceable—every life is indispensable to all of creation.

The Categories That Define Jewish Thought as Jewish

From this discussion of the historical tension between Athens and Jerusalem there emerge certain polarities in the categories that shape the two modes of thought. Lining up those categories may provide some clarity to the question posed here: What makes Jewish though Jewish, and, at least up to our own time, not Hellenistic? The differences may be summarized like this:

These categories that define what is Jewish about Jewish thought are rooted in Torah, so that, in the words of Fackenheim, “nothing so powerfully makes a philosopher Jewish as ‘Torah.’”37 What, then, makes Jewish thought Jewish? It is Torah. And the fundamental categories that shape Jewish thought rooted in Torah can be derived from its opening line: Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim v’et ha-aretz, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Bereshit, “in the beginning,” does not refer to the first in a sequence of things but to the first thing, the most important thing, namely that God created: Bereshit bara… . The movement of creation, moreover, is a movement into relation, as indicated by the word bara, meaning “created.” For bara, as Nachmanides (1194 – 1270) has noted,38 is a cognate of brit, which is “covenant.” Of the many names used to refer to God, the word for “God” in this verse is Elohim. The Zohar explains the significance of this term by saying, “When the most Mysterious wished to reveal Himself, He first produced a single point which was transmuted into a thought… . This is called Mi, or ‘Who,’ and was the beginning of the edifice, existent and non-existent, deeply buried, unknowable by name. It was only called Mi. It desired to become manifest and to be called by name. It therefore clothed itself in a refulgent and precious garment and created Eleh, or ‘These,’ and Eleh acquired a name. The letters of the two words intermingled, forming the complete name E-l-o-h-i-m” (Zohar I, 2a). While the teaching that God created is a first principle of Torah and Jewish thought, God Himself is not the First Principle or the First Cause. There is no entering into a covenant with a principle or a cause. Because creation entails a movement into a covenant, Jewish thought is concerned not with what caused all this to exist but with who created it. And this matter of concern is couched in the divine name Elohim.

This point is a crucial one. Contrary to Greek speculative thought, which views god as a principle, cause, concept, logos, and so on—that is, which views god as a what—Jewish thought view God as a who, as a living, commanding presence with whom the human being enters into a relation. As Creator, God is never the object of thought but rather is the thinking subject. This distinctively Jewish view is a theme that runs throughout the work of the distinctively Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel. He says, for example, that “God-awareness is not an act of God being known to man; it is an act of man’s being known by God. In thinking about Him we are thought by Him.”39 Thus “we approach Him, not by making Him the object of our thinking, but by discovering ourselves as the objects of His thinking.”40 Thinking, therefore, is relational. Jewishly understood, it unfolds not within the confines of the ego but in a breaking free from the ego; thinking takes place under a canopy of thought steeped in love and longing. The philosophers’ First Cause, by contrast, is utterly indifferent toward the human being and therefore utterly alien to Jewish thought. Understood as sheer perfection, such a god is in need of nothing: as Aristotle asserts, it neither loves nor is in need of love.41 Nor does it ask what God asks Adam: “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). The question from the Holy One is not “What do you think?” or “How do you feel?” but “Where are you in relation to your neighbor and to Me?” For “it is not good for the human being to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). In Jewish thought, we are who we are in the midst of relation, not in the cave of isolation.

The Jewish thinker thinks in just such a context of being questioned, singled out by name to answer to the Name. That being singled out is the meaning of the word you. Thus, looking further at the opening line of Torah, we recall another teaching from the Zohar. Instead of reading Bereshit bara Elohim et ha-… as “In the beginning God created the…,” the Zohar reads it as “In the beginning God created the alef, tav, hey of atah: You.” Says the Zohar, “The word et consists of the letters alef and tav, which include between them all the letters, as being the first and last of the alphabet. Afterwards hey was added, so that all the letters should be attached to hey, and this gave the name atah (You)” (Zohar I, 15b). Only a who—only one who bears a name and not an essence, only a unique one—can say you and be addressed as you.

In just such a you-saying the Creator is revealed: creation is tied to revelation. The Creator who cries out to us, “Where are you?” reveals Himself as commanding Presence who longs for a relation with us. Revealing His longing, He reveals an intimate aspect of Himself; putting to us a question, He calls forth from us a response and announces our responsibility. In this way He reveals to us a certain “connection” to Him, a tzavta, as it is called in the Talmud, and tzavta is the root of mitzvah, the word for “commandment.” If, from the standpoint of Jewish thought, our thinking unfolds under the canopy of divine thought, it unfolds in the context of commandment and revelation. Revelation is the revelation of a connection to the Creator; it is the revelation of the responsibility which I alone can meet. “The attributes of God,” Levinas makes this point, “are given not in the indicative, but in the imperative. The knowledge of God comes to us like a commandment, like a Mitzvah. To know God is to know what must be done.”42 Such knowledge cannot be deduced—it comes only with being commanded, only by being summoned to answer, “Here I am,” to another. The voice of reason, by contrast, is nothing more than an echo of the ego: it is the voice of no one.

Who calls us by name, asking us where we stand in relation to our neighbor? The One who is Most High: thus God creates the heavens, et ha-shamayim, prior to creating the earth, opening up a dimension of height from which all that is below receives its meaning. Where do we encounter this dimension of height? Not in the isolation of our abstract ruminations but in the concrete encounter with this human being. In this encounter we are shaken from the sleep of our complacency. Realizing that I do not deduce what is needful, that I do not determine whether I am called, and that who I am lies in my capacity to answer, “Here I am, for you,” I realize that who I am lies not in my autonomous self-legislation but in the heteronomy of this disturbance by the concrete presence of the other human being. For Jewish thought—and contrary, for example, to Kantian idealism—my “freedom” (if one can still speak of freedom) lies in the heteronomous relation. It consists not in what I want to do or will to do but in the realization of what I must do, of what I am commanded to do, not from within myself but despite myself, in an abrogation of the ego. For Jewish thought, then, it is not freedom that we are commanded to pursue, at least not in the Kantian sense, where freedom is characterized by self-legislating autonomy. Instead of seeking freedom, we are summoned to seek “justice,” or tzedek, as it is written (Deuteronomy 16:20). Where do we seek justice? Not in the heights but here below, on this concrete earth, this aretz.

In the framework of Jewish thought, moreover, the pursuit of justice on this earth is not a matter of appropriate compensation, balancing scales, or being fair. For tzedek also means “righteousness,” so that the pursuit of justice entails both the human-to-human relation and the human-to-divine relation, both the ben adam lechevero and the ben adam leMakom, both the heavens and the earth. It is a righteousness that lives in tzedakah or “charity,” which is an unequal giving, a giving without expectation of reciprocity, a giving that is never enough. Thus the self is never equal to itself. In the transition from thought to word to deed—a transition that is a defining feature of Jewish thought—there is always something more that the human being must become but never is: the human being is a breach of being. That is what it means to have a name, and not an essence: it means being summoned to be more. Thus we have the commandment to love the Holy One with all out heart, all our soul, and all our more, b’kol meodekha (Deuteronomy 6:5). The more here is more than what we are: it is more than all there is, more than being, what Levinas calls “otherwise than being.” It is kadosh.

Because speculative thought grounded in reason cannot think in terms of more than all there is, it cannot think in terms of the holy but only of the good. In Jewish thought the category of the “holy,” of the kadosh, is the category of what is unlike anything else: ain kamokha, it is written in the Psalms (86:8), “there is nothing like You.” Meaning “separate” or “distinct” from all other things, kadosh does not refer to one special thing in the ontological landscape of things. Rather, it designates what lies outside of all ontological categories and therefore what imparts meaning to being. If the meaning of being is to realize Torah, the meaning of being is to draw holiness into this realm, which is to say: for Jewish thought, the meaning of being is to draw meaning into being from what is otherwise than being. Otherwise, being can have no meaning. For Jewish thought, the Holy One, who in the beginning—in a beginning antecedent to all beginnings—created the heavens and the earth, is not the “Supreme Being.” He is not the ultimate “Good,” “Perfection,” “Power,” or anything else that belongs to the categories of speculative thought. Beyond all categories, beyond all thought, He is the One who gives meaning to thought by commanding us to transform thought and word into deed.

Closing Thoughts on the Stake in the Question

“In order to understand ourselves and to illuminate our trackless way into the future,” writes Leo Strauss, “we must understand Jerusalem and Athens.”43 Part of understanding Jerusalem and Athens entails understanding something about their languages. From the foregoing one will note that Jewish thought is a mode of thinking informed by Hebrew, that is, by the Holy Tongue of Torah, Mishnah, Midrash, and the books of the sacred tradition. The fact that language informs and shapes thought should be self-evident. People who have studied languages other than their own have studied other ways of framing reality and viewing the world. Inasmuch as the context for raising the question of what makes Jewish thought Jewish is the Greek speculative tradition in which Jewish thinkers find themselves, the relation between language and thought is a critical one. In that relation there is more at stake than we may realize.

Martin Heidegger once asserted that, along with Greek (the language of Athens), German (the language of Auschwitz) “is at once the most powerful and the most spiritual of languages,” and therefore the most appropriate language for philosophy.44 But what sort of philosophy? It is the philosophy of power that Levinas describes above, a philosophy empty of the dimension of height, a philosophy for which power is the only reality and weakness is the only sin, a philosophy in which man is justified by will alone. Once speculative thought has silenced the commanding Voice of revelation, it can take us down a wayward path, as history has shown: the road that led to Auschwitz had its origins in Athens. Heidegger himself, one of the greatest philosophers of the twentieth century, is proof of this.

An unrepentant Nazi, Heidegger affirmed Nietzsche’s contention that value is determined by will, saying, “The expression ‘will to power’ designates the basic character of beings; any being which is, insofar as it is, is will to power.”45 Insisting upon the preeminence of decisiveness, he maintained that “Dasein is its own self in the original isolation of silent resolve.”46 Here, as Hans Jonas points out, “decision in itself is the greatest virtue. . . . [Heidegger] identified the decisiveness (of the Führer and the Party) with the principle of decisiveness and resoluteness as such… . I realized, appalled, this was not only Heidegger’s personal error but also somehow set up in his thinking.”47 In Heidegger’s thinking we have the culmination of centuries of the speculative tradition, a tradition hostile toward Jewish thought from the beginning. Hence his complaint about the “Jewification” of the German mind.48 An unrepentant Nazi, he formulated a philosophical underpinning for Volk and Führer, which insists, as Heidegger did, that “the Führer himself and he alone is the present and future German reality and its law.”49

On 10 March 1940 Chaim Kaplan wrote in his Warsaw Ghetto diary that after this evil, which had left the world covered with the ashes of the dead, “either humanity would be Judaic, or it would be idolatrous-German.”50 Which is to say: either humanity would curl up in the solipsistic cocoon of self-interest, or it would realize its calling in a concern for the other. And so we have an intimation of what is at stake in our engagement with the question of what makes Jewish thought Jewish. What had been a tension between Athens and Jerusalem has become a tension between Auschwitz and Jerusalem. Nor is the question merely a Jewish question. Going to the core of how we understand the dearness of a human being, it goes to the core of all humanity. It shapes what we make of commandments such as the prohibition against murder and the summons to love our neighbor, or whether, indeed we take these to be commandments at all.

Levinas has said that where ethics is first philosophy, the question is not “Why is there something rather than nothing” but rather “Do I not kill by being?”51 How we answer that question is what is at stake in our engagement with the matter of what makes Jewish thought Jewish. But there is just one more question decided in this engagement, and in this one everything is at stake: Does it matter whether I kill by being?


1 Some will immediately ask, “What about Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE – 50 CE), the Hellenized Jew? He did not shy away from reason.” But that’s just it: he was a Hellenized Jew. Philo certainly did not shy away from reason. Unlike Saadia Gaon, he shied away from Torah and the categories that shape its thinking.

2 Saadia Gaon, The Book of Beliefs and Opinions, trans. Samuel Rosenblatt (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1976), 336.

3 Bachya ibn Paquda, Duties of the Heart, Vol. 2, trans. Moses Hyamson (New York: Feldheim, 1970), 319.

4 Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed, trans. M. Friedlaender (New York: Dover, 1956), 15.

5 Gersonides, The Wars of the Lord, Vol. 1, trans. Seymour Feldman (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1984), 98.

6 Bachya ibn Paquda, Duties of the Heart, Vol. 1, trans. Moses Hyamson (New York: Feldheim, 1970), 151.

7 See Maimonides, 49, 149.

8 Ibid., 251.

9 Gersonides, 226.

10 Benedict de Spinoza, Ethics, trans. Edwin Curley (New York: Penguin, 2005), viii.

11 Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusalem and Other Religious Writings, trans. and ed. Alfred Jospe (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), 62.

12 Ibid., 137.

13 Hermann Cohen, Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism, trans. Simon Kaplan (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), 237.

14 Berel Lang, Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2003), 185.

15 Immanuel Kant, Conflict of the Faculties, trans. Mary J. Gregor (New York: Abaris, 1979), 95.

16 For a good discussion of this point, see Edith Wyschogrod, Spirit in Ashes: Hegel, Heidegger, and Man-Made Death (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 69-72.

17 Emil L. Fackenheim, Encounters between Judaism and Modern Philosophy (New York: Basic Books, 1993), 190-91.

18 See Nahum Glatzer’s introduction to Franz Rosenzweig, Understanding the Sick and the Healthy, trans. Nahum Glatzer (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), 24.

19 See Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1974), Section 125.

20 See, for example, Rabbi Shalom Dov Ber Schneersohn, Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5659: Discourse One, trans. Yosef B. Marcus and Moshe Miller (Brooklyn: Kehot, 2000), 36.

21 These thinkers, their significant differences notwithstanding, include Martin Buber (1978 – 1965), Joseph Soloveitchik (1903 – 1993), Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907 – 1972), Emil L. Fackenheim (1916 – 2003), and others.

22 Emmanuel Levinas, Totality and Infinity, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1969), 46-47.

23 Emmanuel Levinas, Collected Philosophical Papers, trans. Alphonso Lingis (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff, 1987), 52.

24 Emmanuel Levinas, Outside the Subject, trans. Michael B. Smith (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1994), 35.

25 Emmanuel Levinas, Of God Who Comes to Mind, trans. Bettina Bergo (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1998), 56.

26 See Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, trans. Richard A. Cohen (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1985), 109.

27 Levinas, Outside the Subject, 57.

28 See Emmanuel Levinas, “The Paradox of Morality,” in Robert Bernasconi and David Wood , eds., The Provocation of Levinas: Rethinking the Other (London: Routledge, 1988), 176-77.

29 See Immanuel Kant, Religion with the Limits of Reason Alone, trans. Theodore M. Greene (New York: HarperOne, 1960), 171.

30 See, for example, Levinas, Collected Philosophical Papers, 59.

31 See, for example, Levinas, Of God Who Comes to Mind, 71.

32 See, for example, Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, p. 99.

33 Emmanuel Levinas, Nine Talmudic Readings, trans. Annette Aronowicz (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 41.

34 Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, 86.

35 See Emmanuel Levinas, Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism, trans. Sean Hand (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 173.

36 See Emmanuel Levinas, “Bad Conscience and the Inexorable”, in Richard A. Cohen, ed., Face to face with Levinas (Albany: SUNY Press, 1986), 40.

37 Emil L. Fackenheim, Jewish Philosophers and Jewish Philosophy, ed. Michael L. Morgan (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996), 107-08.

38 See Nachmanides, Commentary on the Torah, Vol. 1, trans. Charles B. Chavel (New York: Shilo, 1971), 112.

39 Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1955), 160.

40 Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets, Vol. 2 (New York: Harper & Row, 1975), p. 267.

41 See ibid., 12 ff.

42 Levinas, Difficult Freedom, 17.

43 Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 147.

44 Martin Heidegger, Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Gregory Fried and Richard Polt (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2000), 60.

45 Martin Heidegger, “Will to Power as Art” In Nietzsche, Vol. 1, trans. D. Krell (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979), 18.

46 Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1963), 322.

47 Hans Jonas, “Heidegger’s Resoluteness and Resolve,” in Guenther Neske and Emil Kettering, eds., Martin Heidegger and National Socialism, trans. Lisa Harries (New York: Paragon, 1990), 202 – 03.

48 Reported in Die Zeit, 29 December 1989; see Theodore Kisiel, “Heidegger’s Apology: Biography and Philosophy and Ideology,” in Tom Rockmore and Joseph Margolis, eds., The Heidegger Case: On Philosophy and Politics (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), 12.49 From the Freiburger Studentenzeitung, 3 November 1933; see Neske and Kettering, 45.

50 Chaim A. Kaplan, Scroll of Agony: The Warsaw Diary of Chaim A. Kaplan, trans. Abraham I. Katsh (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 130.

51 Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, 120.