During the Middle Ages, two systems of thought competed for theological primacy, their advocates promoting them as explanatory foundations for observance of the Law.One was the rationalist-philosophic school, which endeavored to present all commandments as serving higher moral and ethical purposes, while the other was the mystical tradition, exemplified in Kabbalah, which assigned each rite with a role in the hidden dimensions of reality.These, like the apopathic views of Yeshayahu Leibowitz or the Feminist interpretation of Tamar Ross, had little to no influence on the mainstream.Orthodox Judaism affirms monotheism, the belief in one God.In more open Orthodox circles, attempts were made to formulate philosophies that would confront modern sensibilities.Notable examples are the Hegelian-Kabbalistic theology of Abraham Isaac Kook, who viewed history as progressing toward a Messianic redemption in a dialectic fashion which required the strengthening of heretical forces, or the existentialist thought of Joseph B.At a time when excessive contemplation in matters of belief was associated with secularization, luminaries such as Israel Meir Kagan stressed the importance of simple, unsophisticated commitment to the precepts passed down from the Beatified Sages.This is still the standard in the ultra-Orthodox world.
They are almost uniformly exclusionist, regarding Orthodoxy as the only authentic form of Judaism and rejecting all competing non-Orthodox philosophies as illegitimate.
Relations between its different subgroups are sometimes strained and the exact limits of Orthodoxy are subject to intense debate.
Very roughly, it may be divided between Ultra-Orthodox or "Haredi", which is more conservative and reclusive, and Modern Orthodox Judaism which is relatively open to outer society.
Orthodox Judaism now includes opinions on eschatology which, in past centuries, were not mainstream views in Judaism.
The prophecy of the coming of a Messiah is now central to Orthodox Judaism.
According to this doctrine, a Messiah will arise from King David's lineage, and will bring with him signs such as the restoration of the Temple, peace, and universal acceptance of God.