God in Search of Man

God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism is a work on Jewish philosophy by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel saw the work's title as a paradoxical formula, rooted in the rabbinic tradition, summarizing human history as seen in the Bible: God in search of man.[1]

God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
First edition
AuthorAbraham Joshua Heschel
SubjectReligion, philosophy
PublishedJewish Publication Society (1955)
Media typePrint

In God in Search of Man Heschel articulates a belief in a personal God who sees humankind as partners in creation, forging a world filled with justice and compassion.[2]

God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism is a companion volume to Heschel's earlier work Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion where he delineates experiential and philosophical interpretations of Jewish views of humanity and the world, while in God in Search of Man Heschel focuses particularly on Jewish revelation and orthopraxis.[3]


In God in Search of Man, Heschel discusses the nature of religious thought, how thought becomes faith, and how faith creates responses in the believer. He discusses ways that people can seek God's presence, and the "radical amazement" that we receive in return.[4][5] He offers a criticism of nature worship; a study of humanity's metaphysical loneliness, and his view that we can consider God to be in search of humanity.

Heschel, like his teacher Martin Buber, stresses the personal relationship between God and mankind, defined by Heschel as the Godly pathos and mankind's radical amazement.[6]

Main topicsEdit

The first section concludes with a study of Jews as a chosen people. Section two deals with the idea of revelation, and what it means for one to be a prophet. This section gives us Heschel's idea of revelation as an event, as opposed to a process. This relates to Israel's commitment to God. Section three discusses his views of how a Jew should understand the nature of Judaism as a religion.

Faith and lawEdit

Heschel discusses and rejects the idea that mere faith (without law) alone is enough, but then cautions against rabbis he sees as adding too many restrictions to Jewish law. He discusses the need to correlate ritual observance with spirituality and love, the importance of Kavanah (intention) when performing mitzvot. He engages in a discussion of religious behaviorism—when people strive for external compliance with the law, yet disregard the importance of inner devotion.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Heschel, Abraham Joshua. Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays. Macmillan. 1997. Accessed May 25, 2014.
  2. ^ Rose, Or N. "A Life in Search of Meaning: Heschel at 100." The Jewish Daily Forward. January 4, 2007. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Kaplan, Edward K. "Mysticism and despair in Abraham J. Heschel's religious thought." The Journal of Religion (1977): 33-47.
  4. ^ Gillman Neil. Doing Jewish Theology: God, Torah & Israel in Modern Judaism. Jewish Lights Publishing. Accessed May 25, 2014.
  5. ^ Brooks, David."Alone, Yet Not Alone." The New York Times. January 27, 2014. Accessed May 26, 2014.
  6. ^ Wettstein, Howard. Literary Theology. Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Ideas. Josh Rolnick, The Sh'ma Institute. April 2011: 14-15. Accessed May 26, 2014.