Skip to main content

Belkin, Samuel


BELKIN, SAMUEL (1911–1976), U.S. rabbi, educator, and scholar. Born in Swislocz, Poland, Belkin studied at the yeshivot of Slonim and Mir, and was ordained in Radun (1928). He immigrated to the U.S. in 1929 and received his Ph.D. at Brown University in 1935. He joined the Yeshiva College faculty as instructor in Greek and Talmud (1935–37), becoming secretary of its graduate school (1937) and member of the College Executive Committee (1939). Appointed professor and dean of Yeshiva's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1940, Belkin became president of the riets and Yeshiva College in 1943. He launched a far-reaching program of academic and physical expansion which enlarged Yeshiva University from 850 students and a faculty of 94 to 8,000 students and a faculty of some 2,200 with teaching centers throughout New York City. Fourteen constituent schools were founded, and in 1945 the college became *Yeshiva University.

Belkin, an authority on Jewish law and Hellenistic literature, especially Philo and early Midrashic sources, published many scholarly studies. In his major work, Philo and the Oral Law (1940), he stressed that "the oral law which originated in Palestine was also known and practiced among the Jews who lived outside of Palestine, and that Philo's halakhah is based upon the Palestinian oral law as it was known in Alexandria." He further showed that "there prevailed a great interdependence of thought between the Alexandrian and Palestinian Jewish communities and that we cannot regard them as two entirely separate forms of Judaism." His later works also demonstrate Philo's dependence upon ancient rabbinic traditions. Belkin wrote Essays in Traditional Jewish Thought (1956) and In His Image (1960), in which he formulated a religious philosophy of Judaism as reflected in the halakhah. Numerous articles of his were published in learned periodicals, both in Hebrew and in English.

As an educator, Belkin stressed that "Torah is the source from which all human obligations spring." He especially enunciated the religious philosophy of Judaism as reflected in the halakhah. To him its basic principles are the sovereignty of God and the sacredness of the individual. Hence, many legal and spiritual institutions in Judaism can be understood only by these fundamental teachings based on belief in divine king-ship and the finite worth of the human personality. Though recognized as a modernist Orthodox spokesman, Belkin generally maintained rapport with all groups in Judaism, promoting the unity of peoplehood.


G. Klaperman, History of Yeshiva University (1969); Hadoar (Kislev 6, 5728); Hapardes (Tammuz 5728); Yeshiva University, The Inauguration of Rabbi Samuel Belkin (1945). add. bibliography: V.B. Geller, Orthodoxy Awakens: The Belkin Era and Yeshiva University (2003).

[Sidney B. Hoenig]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Belkin, Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 18 Jun. 2019 <>.

"Belkin, Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (June 18, 2019).

"Belkin, Samuel." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved June 18, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.