Jewish Virtue Ethics

Edited by Geoffrey D. Claussen, Alexander Green, and Alan L. Mittleman

Subjects: Jewish Philosophy, Jewish Studies, Ethics, Jewish Religious Studies
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Jewish Thought
Hardcover : 9781438493916, 531 pages, August 2023
Paperback : 9781438493909, 531 pages, February 2024

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Table of contents

Julia Annas
Geoffrey D. Claussen, Alexander Green, and Alan L. Mittleman

1. Biblical Literature
Amanda Beckenstein Mbuvi

2. Philo of Alexandria
Carlos Lévy

3. Titus Flavius Josephus
Clifford Orwin

4. Rabbinic Literature
Deborah Barer

5. Baḥya Ibn Paquda
Diana Lobel

6. Solomon Ibn Gabirol
Sarah Pessin

7. Maimonides
Kenneth Seeskin

8. Elazar of Worms
Joseph Isaac Lifshitz

9. Naḥmanides
Jonathan Jacobs

10. The Zohar
Eitan P. Fishbane

11. Gersonides
Alexander Green

12. Ḥasdai Crescas
Roslyn Weiss

13. Joseph Albo
Shira Weiss

14. Isaac Arama
Baruch Frydman-Kohl

15. Moses Cordovero
Eugene D. Matanky

16. Baruch Spinoza
Heidi M. Ravven

17. Moses Ḥayyim Luzzatto
Patrick Benjamin Koch

18. Moses Mendelssohn
Elias Sacks

19. Menaḥem Mendel Lefin
Harris Bor

20. Ḥayyim of Volozhin
Esti Eisenmann

21. Naḥman of Bratslav
Shaul Magid

22. Isaac Bekhor Amarachi
Katja Šmid

23. Israel Salanter
Sarah Zager

24. Simḥah Zissel Ziv
Geoffrey D. Claussen

25. Hermann Cohen
Shira Billet

26. Abraham Isaac Kook
Don Seeman

27. Martin Buber
William Plevan

28. Mordecai Kaplan
Matthew LaGrone

29. Eliyahu Eliezer Dessler
Esther Solomon

30. Joseph Soloveitchik
Yonatan Y. Brafman

31. Hannah Arendt
Ned Curthoys

32. Emmanuel Levinas
Richard A. Cohen

33. Abraham Joshua Heschel
Einat Ramon

34. Jewish Feminism
Rebecca J. Epstein-Levi

35. Jewish Environmentalism
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson

Alan L. Mittleman
List of Contributors

Explores the diversity of Jewish approaches to character and virtue, from the Bible to the present day.


What is good character? What are the traits of a good person? How should virtues be cultivated? How should vices be avoided? The history of Jewish literature is filled with reflection on questions of character and virtue such as these, reflecting a wide range of contexts and influences. Beginning with the Bible and culminating with twenty-first-century feminism and environmentalism, Jewish Virtue Ethics explores thirty-five influential Jewish approaches to character and virtue.

Virtue ethics has been a burgeoning field of moral inquiry among academic philosophers in the postwar period. Although Jewish ethics has also flourished as an academic (and practical) field, attention to the role of virtue in Jewish thought has been underdeveloped. This volume seeks to illuminate its centrality not only for readers primarily interested in Jewish ethics but also for readers who take other approaches to virtue ethics, including within the Western virtue ethics tradition. The original essays written for this volume provide valuable sources for philosophical reflection.

Geoffrey D. Claussen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Lori and Eric Sklut Scholar in Jewish Studies, and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Elon University. He is the author of Sharing the Burden: Rabbi Simhah Zissel Ziv and the Path of Musar, also published by SUNY Press. Alexander Green is Visiting Associate Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. He is the author of Power and Progress: Joseph Ibn Kaspi and the Meaning of History, also published by SUNY Press. Alan L. Mittleman is the Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Jewish Philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the author of Does Judaism Condone Violence? Holiness and Ethics in the Jewish Tradition, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for Modern Jewish Thought and Experience.


“This is a fantastic book. Its contribution to the field of virtue ethics is significant because it provides a sweep of Judaic treatments of the topic, and its contribution to the field of Jewish ethics will be invaluable due to the relative dearth of material on virtue ethics thus far. It will be a cherished and, I hope, widely used resource.” — Jonathan K. Crane, coeditor of The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality