About Israel Drazin

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So far Israel Drazin has created 1313 blog entries.
3 02, 2023

A new outstanding commentary on the biblical book Leviticus

By |2023-02-03T08:02:52-07:00February 3rd, 2023|Jewish Books|

   Koren Press’ “The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel - Leviticus” follows its predecessors on the Biblical books Exodus and Samuel as a third outstanding biblical commentary. It contains a wealth of scholarly information written in an easy-to-read and interesting – even fascinating – fashion by more than a dozen and a half [...]

2 02, 2023

Celebrating Groundhog Day

By |2023-02-02T05:22:25-07:00February 2nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

                                                                                                          Over time, I wrote two movie reviews on the hilarious film “Groundhog Day,” part of my over 10,000 reviews on books, movies, and music. The first [...]

31 01, 2023

Thoughts on the Biblical Portion Beshalach

By |2023-01-31T11:58:41-07:00January 31st, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The weekly biblical portion Beshalach, meaning When Pharaoh “sent out” the Israelites from their centuries of enslavement, tells how the exodus began, Pharaoh pursued the Israelites, the Israelites’ panic, God’s assurance of safety, the splitting of the sea, the survival of the Israelites in the sea while Egyptians drowned, the Israelites sing a song [...]

25 01, 2023

Thoughts on the Biblical Portion Bo

By |2023-01-25T06:20:02-07:00January 25th, 2023|Jewish Books|

The third parasha in Exodus, Bo, frequently mistranslated as “go,” despite meaning “come,” tell the last three of the ten plagues, God gives the Israelites the first of the 613 commandments concerning the Jewish calendar, a law that seems to be crystal clear, but Jewish tradition treated it as obscure and not mean what it [...]

18 01, 2023

Abiguities in the weekly biblical portion Va-ayra

By |2023-01-18T14:15:21-07:00January 18th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   Exodus 6:2-9:35   The second parasha in Exodus is called Va-ayra, meaning “And I appeared.” It is the first word in the second verse of the portion. As usual, the rabbis called the Bible books and portions after the first significant word, in this instance, the ninth word in the parasha. When the five [...]

12 01, 2023

Obscurities in the Biblical Portion Shemot: Exodus 1:1-6:1

By |2023-01-12T09:46:38-07:00January 12th, 2023|Jewish Books|

Exodus begins to relate the events that followed Joseph's death. He was second in power to Pharaoh and could protect his family while alive. A new Pharaoh assumes the throne and enslaves the Israelites. We read of Moses’ birth and early life, that the new Pharaoh enslaved Joseph’s family, his and his brothers’ descendants, who [...]

9 01, 2023

The Biblical Book Job

By |2023-01-09T06:24:37-07:00January 9th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The book Job is composed of three parts: a prologue, an epilogue, and the body of the tale. Many scholars are convinced that the prologue and epilogue are additions to the story’s original body. The two are different in tone and portray God in a radically distinctive manner that will disturb rational thinkers. The [...]

4 01, 2023

Was Maimonides a Deist?

By |2023-01-04T06:14:50-07:00January 4th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Some people think that Maimonides was a deist. I am convinced that they are mistaken. There are some similarities between Maimonides and deists, just as there are similarities between Jews and Christians, but these similarities do not result in us calling Jews Christians.   This becomes clear when we realize there were many different [...]

28 12, 2022

A truthful parable

By |2022-12-28T14:30:39-07:00December 28th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was the first Russian composer to be admired internationally because of the beauty of the melodies in his compositions. He is best known in the United States for the excitement in his 1812 Overture, composed in 1880 and played through the US on New Year's Eve. He wrote this last [...]

27 12, 2022

Chaim Grade’s superb book “The Well”

By |2022-12-27T08:00:28-07:00December 27th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  In my previous reviews of Chaim Grade’s books, I gave my opinion that Grade (1910-1982) should receive the Nobel Prize for literature. He was one of the leading Yiddish writers of the twentieth century. According to many, he was the best of an amazing group. His books are classics. I still feel this way. [...]

25 12, 2022

Days are Coming

By |2022-12-25T11:53:52-07:00December 25th, 2022|Jewish Books|

Maggid Books just published "Days are Coming" by Sivan Rahav-Meir, an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and inspiring book translated from Hebrew by Yehoshua Siskin. The book has many insightful ideas from sages, Bible commentators, and others regarding Jewish holidays, days following the holidays, and times when we remember people who taught us significant lessons that can improve [...]

15 12, 2022

Misconceptions about Hanukkah

By |2022-12-15T08:06:26-07:00December 15th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  Many people have wrong ideas about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The following are a few examples: Hanukkah does not celebrate a victory over the Greeks. The Greeks ruled many kingdoms due to Alexander the Great’s conquests, such as Egypt and Greece. Judea, the name Israel had at that time, was persecuted by the Syrians, [...]

13 12, 2022

A Guide for the Jewish Undecided

By |2022-12-13T06:52:12-07:00December 13th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Maggid Books, together with Yeshiva University Press, published “A Guide for the Jewish Undecided: A Philosopher makes a case for Orthodox Judaism” by Dr. Samuel Lebens, a rabbi and Orthodox Jew who is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Haifa in Israel. His other books are “The Principles of Judaism” (2020) [...]

1 12, 2022

Interesting facts about Iran

By |2022-12-01T08:44:28-07:00December 1st, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Anyone interested in understanding the government of Iran must read the brilliant ten-page analysis by Nolan Drazin in the current issue of the prestigious Cambridge Journal of Political Affairs. The article is remarkably easy to read despite the vast amount of information that it contains. For example, the author cites close to 100 sources. By [...]

27 11, 2022

The truth about the Oral Law

By |2022-11-27T08:23:56-07:00November 27th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Many Jews are convinced that the laws and customs that originated with the rabbis were taught at Sinai to the Israelites during the days of Moses and are called “Oral Law,” even though the Torah itself states that only the Decalogue that people call The Ten Commandments were spoken there. Rabbi Dr. Benyamin Lau [...]

24 11, 2022

A Jewish view of evolution

By |2022-11-24T08:19:40-07:00November 24th, 2022|Thoughts|

People should be familiar with "The Origin of the Species" by Charles R. Darwin (1809-1882), published in 1859. The book started a controversy that still, unfortunately, continues today between some religious and secular people. What is generally ignored is the idea that evolution can, indeed, should, be accepted even by the most conservative religious.  They [...]

22 11, 2022

An Example of Prejudice

By |2022-11-22T07:11:46-07:00November 22nd, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Unthinking prejudice resulted in the deaths of millions. The stories of Voltaire and Jenner are examples. The Frenchman Voltaire (1694-1778) tried unsuccessfully to get the French to inoculate children from smallpox. He was a very intelligent member of the Enlightenment, a writer, historian, and philosopher who criticized Christianity and slavery. He was an advocate [...]

21 11, 2022

When did Jews begin to observe Biblical Laws?

By |2022-11-21T07:16:30-07:00November 21st, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The question of when did Jews begin to observe the practices and prohibitions of biblical laws is one of the most important yet thorniest questions that has bothered scholars for centuries. While traditional Jews believe their ancestors accepted and practiced Torah laws since the time of Moses, there is no clear statement that this [...]

16 11, 2022

How does God want peole to behave?

By |2022-11-16T13:30:02-07:00November 16th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed, book 3, chapter 51, in the easy-to-read translation by Michael Friedlander, Maimonides tells readers: “The present chapter does not contain any additional matter that has not been treated in the (previous) chapters of this treatise. It is a kind of conclusion, and at the same time, it will explain in [...]

10 11, 2022

The Yeshiva Volume II

By |2022-12-28T08:18:28-07:00November 10th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The Chaim Grade masterpiece “The Yeshiva II” is subtitled “Masters and Disciples” because it tells of dozens of lives of people in a manner unequaled by other writers. Each of the many people who populate this story has interesting and exciting lives that fascinate readers. Grade is uniquely capable of telling their tales and [...]

3 11, 2022

Journeys to heaven and hell

By |2022-11-03T06:31:08-07:00November 3rd, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “Journeys to Heaven and Hell” by Bart D. Ehrman, a highly respected New Testament scholar, tells some of the different notions various nations and people had about the afterlife in ancient times. He describes a wide variety of katabases and anabases, but not all. Katabasis means going down, a descent. It is used to [...]

24 10, 2022

The Yeshiva – Part One – by Chaim Grade

By |2022-10-24T04:45:52-07:00October 24th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    I wrote in past reviews of Chaim Grade’s books that I and many others are convinced Grade deserves the Nobel Prize for literature. Most readers of his book published in Yiddish in 1967 titled Tsemakh Atlas and translated into English in 1976 as The Yeshiva in two parts will agree. The first part [...]

20 10, 2022

A non-traditional interpretation of Ecclesiastes called Kohelet in the Bible

By |2022-10-20T07:21:44-07:00October 20th, 2022|Thoughts|

There are many widely different interpretations of the biblical book Ecclesiastes in Hebrew Kohelet. Here is another one. A non-traditional one. It sees the book telling readers how they should behave. The name The root kahal in Hebrew means “assembly. The Latin Ecclesiastes has the same meaning. Tradition claims that King Solomon wrote the book. [...]

18 10, 2022

Jewish women in time and Torah

By |2022-10-18T07:14:38-07:00October 18th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

      Urim Publications and Ktav Publishing in Jerusalem and New York have just republished “Jewish Women in Time and Torah.” It focuses on three periods of time in how Judaism treated women: (1) The early period of more than a thousand years until around the beginning of the Common Era when women were treated [...]

12 10, 2022

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary: Numbers

By |2022-10-12T07:58:41-07:00October 12th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                     “Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary: Numbers” is another of the many brilliant, learned, eye-opening, easy-to-read, and understood books by the brilliant scholar Rabbi Dr. Michael L. Samuel. It is another of his excellent contributions to scholarship. Rabbi Samuel was born in San Francisco and grew up [...]

6 10, 2022

The Unknown English Torah Commentator Marcus M. Kalisch

By |2022-10-06T08:25:10-07:00October 6th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The Rabbi and scholar Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel has made a significant contribution to Jewish scholarship with his book “The Unknown English Torah Commentator Marcus M. Kalisch,” the first in a series of books introducing readers to the thinking and teachings of Marcus M. Kalisch. This first volume focuses on the first half [...]

3 10, 2022

Questions about Sukkot

By |2022-10-03T10:28:08-07:00October 3rd, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Judaism has dozens of meaningful customs and ceremonies, but most people, even Jews, do not know all of them, their origins and their rationale. Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of his book “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many Jewish practices. He focuses on 27 holidays and events: [...]

25 09, 2022

The Sacred and the Profane

By |2022-09-25T08:08:40-07:00September 25th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “The Sacred and the Profane’ contains three excellent novellas by Chaim Grade translated from the original Yiddish by Harold Rabinowitz and Inna Hecker Grade, Chaim Grade’s second wife, whom he married sometime after the Nazis murdered his first wife and his mother along with six million other Jews. The Yiddish name was Kloyz un [...]

19 09, 2022

Yom Kippur is not a Biblical Holiday

By |2022-09-19T07:07:34-07:00September 19th, 2022|Thoughts|

   As with Rosh Hashanah, Orthodox Jews like me recognize that Yom Kippur is not mentioned in the Bible. It replaces another day known as Yom Hakippurim, mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 16:29–31, 23:27–32, and Numbers 29:7–11. Orthodox Jews follow the Oral Law, the ways that the rabbis interpreted the Torah. This can be [...]