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Benjamin Brown

Benjamin Brown

Gruss Visiting Professor of Talmudic Civil Law

Benjamin Brown is a professor of Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

While he is deeply engaged with modern philosophy and political philosophy, the primary focus of his scholarship has been Orthodox Judaism, of which he studies various aspects: Jewish law (Halakhah), Hasidism, the theology of the Musar movement, and Haredi ideology (Hashkafah).

Brown completed his undergraduate studies in law and philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. After practicing law for a year, he returned to the Hebrew University to study Jewish thought (Mahshevet Yisrael) through the Faculty of Humanities and Jewish law (Mishpat ‘Ivri) through the Faculty of Law. His dissertation on the Hazon Ish, which integrated legal, theological, and historical analyses, later servedas a basis for his first book (The Hazon Ish: Halakhist, Believer, and Leader of the Haredi Revolution [Jerusalem: Magnes, 2011; Hebrew]). Upon completion of his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University (2005), he taught Jewish law at Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University. Shortly thereafter, he was appointed a faculty member in the Department of Jewish Thought at his alma mater, the Hebrew University.

While his primary institution is the Hebrew University, Brown also works as a researcher at the Israeli Democracy Institute, where he studies Israeli Haredi Jewry, and teaches a regular course on modern political philosophy at the Kohelet Policy Forum. He was recently named the Samuel L. Haber Chair in Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University.

Among other awards, Brown has received the 20192022 Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grant for his work on hasidic modes of interpretation, as well as the 20222024Yefroikin Grant of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet LeIsrael) for his examination of the politics of early Hasidism.

His books include The Lithuanian Musar Movement: Personalities and Ideas (Tel Aviv:Modan, 2014; Hebrew), based on a series of his radio lectures; The Haredim: A Guide to Their Beliefs and Sectors (Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: Am Oved and Israel Democracy Institute, 2017; Hebrew); Thoughts and Ways of Thinking: Source Theory and Its Applications (London: Ubiquity, 2017); Like a Ship on a Stormy Sea: The Story of Karlin Hasidism (Jerusalem: Shazar Center, 2018; Hebrew); A Society in Motion: Structures and Processes in Ultra-Orthodox Judaism (Jerusalem: Israel Democracy Institute, 2021; Hebrew); and Holiness and Law: Kabbalistic Customs and Sexual Abstinence in Hasidism (forthcoming).