Category: Book Reviews

What “The Wisdom of Solomon” teaches

  Most people do not realize that along with other kinds of ancient books that were felt to be religious, some of which were included in the canonized Hebrew Bible, there were books known as “wisdom literature.” Three biblical books are recognized as wisdom literature: Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and Job. Two other early books that were […]

A scholar’s interpretation of Ecclesiastes

  The biblical book Kohelet, Ecclesiastes in English, is read in synagogues during the holiday of Sukkot. Why? The traditional answer is that a major theme of Kohelet is the futility of mundane pursuits and pleasures. Sukkot demonstrates this theme by the commandment to live in temporary dwellings. We move outside our homes, which provides […]

The truth about Jonah

In her book “Jonah: The Reluctant Prophet,” Dr. Erica Brown accepts the view held by many scholars that Jonah son of Amitai is the same man who in II Kings 14:25-27 gave King Jeroboam II the divine prophecy to expand his kingdom in the eight century BCE. She accepts the biblical story in the biblical […]

Nachmanides’ attempt to defend Judaism at Barcelona

“The Disputation at Barcelona, by Ramban,” translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel, is a classic text composed by Nachmanides (1195-1270), also known as Ramban, of the formal dispute that Nachmanides had with Pablo Christiani in 1263 before the king of Aragon, James I. It is an interesting piece of Jewish history. There are two […]

Is God involved in prophecy?

                                                                                         The views of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Maimonides The late Abraham […]

A secret rabbis do not reveal

  Abraham Joshua Heschel’s book Torah min hashamayim (translated into English by Gordon Tucker as “Heavenly Torah: As refracted Through the Generations”) reveals a truth that most rabbis do not know or, if they know, refuse to reveal. The methodologies of Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael differed on how to interpret the Torah, and only […]

Did Halevi prove that God exists?

One of the best-loved books in Judaism is the Spanish Jewish poet Yehuda Halevi’s Kuzari (around 1075-1141), a book that was completed around 1140. It is considered by many to be an easy-to-read and informative book of philosophy that expresses, in the opinion of many, the basic principles of Judaism. Halevi’s goal was to demonstrate, […]

A nice informative story about Kapparot

Kapparot By Ted Gross Ted Gross’s beautiful short 16-page tale, reminiscent of I. L. Peretz’s masterpiece “If not Higher,” dramatizes in a very pleasant way that the Kapparot ceremony, when many Jews transfer their misdeeds to a chicken, is not a magical ceremony, nor is it effective in itself. It is symbolic, designed to prompt […]

Some people dislike paradise

Lost Horizon By James Hilton   The philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204) considered the biblical story of the Garden of Eden as a parable, not an actual event, in his Guide of the Perplexed 1:2. He states that the Torah is speaking about morality. I think his interpretation is correct. I will not summarize it here, but […]

Questions about the Torah that bothered scholars for centuries

  In “Inconsistency in the Torah,” Rabbi Dr. Joshua A. Berman, addresses questions that have bothered scholars and clergy for centuries—the many seeming contradictions that are found in the Torah, in both its narrative and legal portions. He offers a solution that they ignored, a solution that makes sense. He suggests that many of the […]

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