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The Jewish view on Philo


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Sivan 26, 5780
What is the Jewish view on Philo?
Philo, Yedidya in Hebrew, lived about 2,000 years ago in Alexandria of Egypt. He believed in the classic ideal of Jewish thought: monotheism, the Chosenness of the Jews, the world to come, revival of the dead, etc., but was somewhat assimilated, wishing to merge it with Greek philosophy, with some apparently controversial ideas, and sometimes explained the Torah allagorically. Accordingly, he wasn't accepted by mainstream Judaism (us, the Pharasees), but this is also because he didn't write in Hebrew. He definitely invested much time and effort to help the Jewish people vis a vis the gentiles and nations, and his intentions were pure, trying to prevent assimilation and anti-Semitism. He cared about and apparently observed halacha, but wasn't the most knowledgable halachist, and apparently his inclusion of Greek ideas also was not intentionally against Judaism. In short, I wouldn't suggest studying Philo, until one has a strong knowledge in Judaism, so that he won't get confused, nevertheless, you will hear rabbis sometimes referring to his ideas, particularly some of his ta'amei hamitzvot (benefits or explanation of the mitzvot).
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