A Reassessment of Natural Law in Rabbi Joseph Albo's 'Book of Principles'

Dror Ehrlich

Abstract: Natural law is often considered to have entered Jewish thought through the work of Albo and to have first been expounded upon in his 'Book of Principles.' Nonetheless, natural law is not generally seen as a central concept in Albo's thought, nor is it thought to account for more than a few basic moral principles. This article revisits the common understanding of the significance of Albo's natural law to his philosophical system. By employing an interpretive approach that has not yet been applied to his thought, some seeming inconsistencies in Albo's legal typology are resolved, and a new understanding of the place of natural law in his legal and political thought is firmly grounded.

Biography: Dror Ehrlich was born in 1973 in Israel. He holds a BA in philosophy from Bar-Ilan University (summa cum laude) and earned his PhD (summa cum laude) in 2005 on "Philosophy and the Art of Writing in Joseph Albo's Book of Principles." Ehrlich also studied in the Hesder Yeshiva Har Etzion in Alon Shvut and holds a teaching certificate from the Hebrew University. He currently lectures at Bar-Ilan University and at the Academic College in Ashkelon.

Volume 1, Number 4 (Summer 2006) pp. 413-439