Innovation Theory in Jewish Thought

Posted: 3 Dec 2020

See all articles by Mirit Eyal-Cohen

Mirit Eyal-Cohen

University of Alabama - School of Law

Michael J. Broyde

Emory University School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2020


Novelty generally refers to the discovery of superior products, technologies, or processes. Economists have viewed the concept of “innovation” as a way of delivering new goods, new methods of production, new markets, new sources of raw materials, and the carrying out of new organizations of industries that confront, and eventually defeat, previously existing economic orders. Entrepreneurs have been described by innovation theorists as agents of “creative destruction” who diffuse and execute new knowledge into products bearing commercial value that disrupt market equilibrium but eventually transform the economy. By this account, innovations are not necessarily creating something out of nothing but rather obtaining knowledge about how to make successful new combinations out of nature’s existing properties while disrupting present conditions and stimulating growth and prosperity.

Jewish scholars, specifically Hasidic philosophers, have long held the Divine as the only power able to create something out of nothing. Furthermore, once created, the universe is constantly been recreated with opportunities—for individual humans as sole agents possessing the capacity—to “elevate” material, food, and everyday artifacts by infusing into them a divine spark in a manner that changes reality and advances humankind.

Could innovation theory have parallel ideas and themes in Jewish thought? This project aims to utilize a comparative methodology to elucidate concepts from secular innovation theory with central ideas from religious Jewish scripture and Hasidic interpretation.

Suggested Citation

Eyal-Cohen, Mirit and Broyde, Michael J., Innovation Theory in Jewish Thought (September 1, 2020). Available at SSRN:

Mirit Eyal-Cohen (Contact Author)

University of Alabama - School of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 870382
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
United States

Michael J. Broyde

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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