Category: Thoughts

What do scholars say about the Zohar?

  Many rabbis, even those who do not claim to be mystics, are convinced that the Zohar is a holy book and quote from it in their sermons. They think that the Zohar was composed by Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai around the year 130 CE. However, scholars recognize that Moses d’ Leon, a Spaniard living […]

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, […]

The Non-Jewish Origin of Kapparot

  On Sunday, I posted remarks about the horrible practice of mistreating chickens. The following is a shortened version of what I wrote about kapparot generally in my book “Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind.” Many Jews recognized that the kapparot ceremony was based on superstition, that waiving a chicken over one’s head a magical number of […]

Animal cruelty and kapparos

I received the following from The Shamayim V’aretz Institute about the cruelty practiced against animals during the kapparos (also spelt kapparot) ceremony that many Orthodox Jews observe. I agree with what is stated and I think it is important for everyone to know about the cruelty. Therefore, I am printing it here. And I will […]

The truth about the untrue “Since Creation Calendar”

  Many people, secular and religious, of different cultures and worldviews, have attempted to calculate the age of the world. There is no agreement between them simply because it is an impossible task. Christians,[1] Muslims, and Jews have tried to do the calculation based on a literal reading of the Bible and have come up […]

Is God Involved in Human Activities?

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Must a Jew Obey a Rabbinical Decision He knows is Wrong?

  There are various views about mistaken rabbinical decisions. Maimonides answers “no.” Here is what I wrote in my book “Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind.” Rabbi Solomon Yitzchaqi (1040–1105), better known as Rashi, the acronym of his name, makes a rather remarkable and, in the mind of many, counterintuitive statement in his commentary to Deuteronomy 17:11. […]

The Truth About Conversions: It is not Biblical

  The Israeli Chief Rabbinate insists that conversions must be done their way, implying that the Torah tells us how it must be done. They blackballed dozens of rabbis by name who they charge did not convert people using their method. There are good reasons to think that the concept of conversion did not exist […]

Fasts Observed for Events That Did Not Occur on the Day of the Fast

                                      Fasts Observed for Events That Did Not Occur on the Day of the Fast   The Jewish calendar contains a mourning period during the summer months. It begins and ends with fast days, whose precise dates […]

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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