Can someone recommend a work of the Maharal to serve as an introduction to his thought? I have no experience with his work, except where he has been quoted in other books and essays. I don't know where to start.
I would recommend reading the essays written by Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, there are 47 parashot that are covered in these lessons.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein explains on the study of the Maharal's work, Gur Aryeh that it is sometimes extremely straightforward (peshat), but sometimes, the Maharal explains things in a philosophical and mystical way:
Gur Aryeh is sometimes extremely straightforward, analyzing Rashi’s words and the options that Rashi rejected. At other times, Gur Aryeh is deeply philosophical or mystical.
Similary, Rabbi Eliyahu Brin wrote something like a introduction to the Maharal's approach on the website of Yeshiva.co, see: The Maharal of Prague: An Introduction
Rabbi Eliyahu Brin explains:
Among the Maharal's other works, the most important are "Netzach Yisrael," "Tiferet Yisrael," and "Gevurot HaShem." The last of these three works deals with the exodus from Egypt, while each of the previous two deals with the subject of its title: "Netzach Yisrael" - with the Jewish people and their redemption; "Tiferet Yisrael" - with the Torah. In a sense, "Netzach Yisrael" is the Maharal's opus magnum. This is because it succeeds, in a few short chapters, in paving the way to a clear understanding of the unique status of the Jewish people and their collective nature. In "Netzach Yisrael" the Maharal drive homes the point that because of their inherent chosen status, the Jewish people are forever advancing toward an inevitable redemption.
So, it depends on what you are looking for.
- If you are looking for his commentary on the Torah; you can study Gur Aryeh
- If you are looking for his work about the exile and redemption, you should check out Netzach Yisrael
- If you are looking for his work about the Torah and mitzvot, you should check out Tiferet Yisrael. Please note that this is the Tiferet Yisrael from the Maharal and not Tiferet Yisrael (Rabbi Israel Lifschitz, author of Tiferet Yisrael on the Mishnah and Shulchan Arukh). Sefaria offers the free version. However, if you are looking for a version that includes commentary, I would recommend buying this version from Tiferet Yisrael
- The Gevurot Hashem is also very interesting. It deals with the exodus from Mitzrayim and Pesach Haggadah
Can someone recommend a work of the Maharal to serve as an introduction to his thought?
It seems Sefaria might answer this question by saying that Be'er HaGolah, also one of the works from the Maharal, can be viewed as an introduction to all the works from the Maharal
In Be’er HaGolah, the Maharal of Prague (Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel c.1512 - 1609), addresses the critique of his contemporaries on various aspects of Aggadic literature. Through his responses, the Maharal sets out his overall methodology and approach to Aggadah. Be’er HaGolah can be viewed as an introduction to all of the Maharal’s works.