Archive: November, 2011

Religious people do not follow their Bibles

By Israel Drazin There is no religion today where its adherents do exactly what is in their Bible. Let’s look at Judaism as an example.                                           Ask many Orthodox and Conservative Jews about the origin of the oral law and they will tell you that God revealed both the written and oral Torah to the […]

Should we have faith?

By Israel Drazin   The humorist Ambrose Bierce wrote in his The Devil’s Dictionary that faith is: “Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.” Unlike most people, I agree with Bierce. I am convinced that religion should be based on reason, not faith. People should […]

Tolstoy did not respect women

Tolstoy A Russian Life By Rosamund Bartlett Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, 544 pages    Rosamund Bartlett, an authority on Russian culture, describes Lev Tolstoy, as she calls him, the greatest Russian writer, probably a genius, but a failure as a man. When he was young, he drank too much, gambled, and was over amorous with […]

Reincarnation

By Israel Drazin   Many scholars are convinced that no book of the Hebrew Bible, with the possible exception of the biblical book Daniel 12:2-3, speaks about life after death, and feel certain that the various ideas about the after-life were taken from pagan notions.  Daniel states that “those who sleep in the dust will […]

May women say the mourner’s kaddish?

A Daughter’s Recitation of Mourner’s Kaddish By Rahel Berkovits JOFA, 2011, 93 pages   Orthodox Judaism, like American and other judges, makes legal decisions based on precedences, not only on what modern people think is correct. When a question arises, Orthodox rabbis examine what has been said about the matter in the past, and scrutinize […]

What is the Messiah?

By Israel Drazin I think that the messianic age is not a miraculous affair and the messiah is not a supernatural figure. There will be a gradual evolutionary and educative process that will improve people and encourage everyone, or nearly everyone, to live in harmony and work together to improve every individual and society. I […]

Another Saramago “blasphemy”

The Elephants Journey By Jose Saramago Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010, 205 pages Anyone doubting Jose Saramago’s right to the 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature will rapidly change their mind when they read this superbly written book. Virtually every third sentence, on the average, is filled with clever eye-opening humor. The narrator also interrupts the drama […]

What is the Soul?

By Israel Drazin   I don’t think that people need to believe that a soul exists.   The currently-used Hebrew word for soul is nefesh. Nefesh is in the Torah, but it does not mean soul in Scripture. It means “a person” or “life force.” Thus when Leviticus 2:1 speaks of a nefesh bringing an […]

A revolution in Bible study

Bringing the Prophets to Life By Neil N. Winkler Gefen Publishing House, 2011, 193 pages   Many Jews consider the Bible to be the sacred text revealed by God to the Israelites trough Moses. Multiple commentaries were composed on the Torah. Some emphasized the Torah’s literal meaning, such as the commentaries of Rashbam, David Kinchi, […]

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