About Israel Drazin

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So far Israel Drazin has created 1263 blog entries.
22 11, 2021

What we don’t know about Adam and Eve

By |2021-11-22T08:38:06-07:00November 22nd, 2021|Thoughts|

    The very introduction to the Bible is obscure. We would have expected the introduction to tell us why God created the world and what God expects from humans, a problem that bothered the famous Bible commentator Rashi (1040-1105), but instead chapters 1 and 2 and other parts of the Bible are obscure, as [...]

18 11, 2021

What we don’t know about Rebekah, Isaac’s wife

By |2021-11-18T15:48:52-07:00November 18th, 2021|Thoughts|

    As with all of the prior men and women mentioned in the Bible, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, patriarchs whom we might expect that the Torah would give us plenty of information about them, there is nothing about Isaac’s wife Rebekah that is crystal clear. Every fact and every event is obscure. The [...]

10 11, 2021

The story of Noah and divine punishment

By |2021-11-10T10:04:51-07:00November 10th, 2021|Thoughts|

    The biblical story of the flood during the days of Noah raises many questions especially about divine punishments, and the answers help us to understand how to interpret biblical events. Some of the questions are: Why did divine punishments vary in delivery? Some examples are as follows: Cain’s banishment in Genesis 4:12 for the [...]

8 11, 2021

What do we know about Isaac, the second patriarch?

By |2021-11-08T04:58:39-07:00November 8th, 2021|Thoughts|

     Virtually all, if not all that we are told about Isaac is obscure, as with Abraham and Jacob. The Torah leaves out explanations for behaviors, leaving it to us to imagine what occurred and to derive meaning from our own ideas. The following are some examples of opaque events.   Is there meaning [...]

1 11, 2021

What do we know about Lot, Abraham’s nephew?

By |2021-11-01T13:52:16-07:00November 1st, 2021|Thoughts|

  A careful analysis of Abraham’s nephew Lot raises the question of whether or not he was a righteous man. What did he do to merit saving when the people among whom he lived died by fire?  We may think we know about him, but actually virtually everything the Torah tells us about him is [...]

29 10, 2021

What do we know about Abraham?

By |2021-10-29T05:13:02-07:00October 29th, 2021|Jewish Books|

    Most people think they know a lot about Abraham the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They are mistaken. The events recorded about Abraham in scripture are generally if not always obscure. When the Bible does not clarify exactly what is happening, people tend to imagine details and come to think of them [...]

18 10, 2021

The Life and Times of Rabbi Judah the Prince

By |2021-10-18T05:20:06-07:00October 18th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Using many sources, including hundreds of anecdotes, former US Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (1985-1987) and Under Secretary of Defense (2001-2004) Rabbi Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, author of Nehemiah: Statesman and Sage (Maggid Books, 2016), gives us a very informative and riveting, easy to read biography of one of the most important figures [...]

14 10, 2021

The Legacy of Hannah Senesh

By |2021-10-14T11:07:14-07:00October 14th, 2021|Thoughts|

I saw the film “Hannah’s War” about the heroine and martyr Hannah Senesh on TV. I feel that it is a film everyone should see. It is very moving. Hannah Senesh is one of Israel's most important heroines. She was born on July 17, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, and died on November 7, 1944 in [...]

13 10, 2021

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Legacy

By |2021-10-13T06:10:57-07:00October 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    One of the most lamentable recent event was the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who was born in 1948 and died on November 7, 2020. He was a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, award-winning author, an international religious leader, respected moral voice, and public figure. He served as the Chief Rabbi of [...]

12 10, 2021

Aldous Huxley’s idea of a utopia

By |2021-10-12T13:40:53-07:00October 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  After reading Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic “Brave New World,” a book that described a nation which adopted behaviors that destroyed the freedom of its inhabitants by placing them under multiple controls and which hindered their opportunity to develop by engineering their births, and reading Huxley’s follow-up book “Brave New World Revisited” where he described [...]

8 10, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy

By |2021-10-08T07:12:14-07:00October 8th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                               Rabbi Dr, Michael Leo Samuel is one of the top world experts on Maimonides and Philo. His books on both philosophers are filled with easy to read information that will open the eyes and minds of readers. Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy is the final book of Rabbi Samuel’s series on Maimonides’ [...]

6 10, 2021

Noah, the second Adam

By |2021-10-06T12:45:04-07:00October 6th, 2021|Thoughts|

    There is a remarkable similarity between Noah and Adam that should prompt us to think and understand each of the two biblical figure in a deeper manner. The following are some of the similarities. Both were the fathers of all future generations. Their names indicated their character. Adam, which derives from the word [...]

3 10, 2021

An Analysis of Brave New World

By |2021-10-03T12:17:49-07:00October 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

After I reviewed Animal Farm and 1984, a friend wrote to me telling me his opinion that Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World was a better book than George Orwell’s 1984. I was surprised that I hadn’t read Brave New World. I got a copy of it along with Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited and found [...]

1 10, 2021

Years in Genesis

By |2021-10-01T07:03:08-07:00October 1st, 2021|Thoughts|

  Many Jews feel that biblical time frames and dating were never meant to be taken literally. The Bible is not a history book. It is designed to teach about the existence of God and proper behavior. The world may have been created over a very long period of time, humans may not have appeared [...]

26 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus

By |2021-09-26T04:43:21-07:00September 26th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                                Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel, author of Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus, has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing this beautiful book and bringing the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic, to his readers. Among many other sources, he focuses [...]

20 09, 2021

Are there anti-Orthodox views in Ecclesiastes?

By |2021-09-20T09:55:48-07:00September 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Kohelet, also spelt Qohelet, Ecclesiastes in Greek and now English, is read during the holiday of Sukkot. We do not know why this book was chosen from among the books of the Bible called The Writings. A popular explanation is that Sukkot is a happy holiday and Ecclesiastes is read to add a [...]

19 09, 2021

Questions about Sukkot

By |2021-09-19T14:34:48-07:00September 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  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, focusing on 27 holidays and events: synagogue, Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, marriage, birth, pidyin haben, bar mitzvah, tallit [...]

13 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary

By |2021-09-13T05:56:53-07:00September 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary on Exodus 22-40” is a very informative book. Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing it and bringing to his readers the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic. This volume follows his [...]

10 09, 2021

The rationale of Jewish customs and ceremonies of Yom Kippur

By |2021-09-10T09:42:55-07:00September 10th, 2021|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 rationale. Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many of these practices. He includes the views of famous Jewish sages [...]

6 09, 2021

The New Koren Tanakh

By |2021-09-06T08:01:11-07:00September 6th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Koren Publishers Jerusalem has just published an excellent single 2033 page volume of the entire Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, with the beautiful classic Koren Hebrew font and a new, modern, readable translation of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings by the recently deceased Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, and other scholars. Examples [...]

3 09, 2021

Animal Farm, 1984, and society today

By |2021-09-03T10:20:38-07:00September 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Some people maintain that there are striking similarities between George Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984 and American society today.   Animal Farm The farm in Animal Farm is a symbol of Russia and other totalitarian regimes. It was first published in 1945 by George Orwell (1903-1950) four years before he approached the [...]

30 08, 2021

Explanations of the 613 Biblical Commandments

By |2021-08-30T11:14:19-07:00August 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Mitzvot, The Commandments and their Rationale” a very readable listing of the commonly accepted list of biblical commands, presented in the order in which they appear in the Five Books of Moses, identifies the location of the command in the Bible, and gives the explanations [...]

29 08, 2021

Yom Kippur and the Holiday the Romans Destroyed

By |2021-08-29T07:58:09-07:00August 29th, 2021|Thoughts|

     Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur does not exist in the Bible. It replaces another day known as Yom Hakippurim. Yom Kippur is singular, “day of atonement,” while Yom Hakippurim is plural, “day of atonements.” The biblical Yom Hakippurim is mentioned in Leviticus 16:29–31, 23:27–32, and Numbers 29:7–11. No work was permitted on this [...]

20 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah practices are not biblical but are important

By |2021-08-20T05:02:56-07:00August 20th, 2021|Thoughts|

    None of the practices associated today with Rosh Hashanah are biblical. Yet they should be observed for they are very helpful.   Sin The concepts of sin and repentance as a religious experience are not in the Bible; they are post-biblical.   “Sin,” a prime element in Christian theology, is chet in Hebrew, [...]

15 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah is not a Biblical Holiday

By |2021-08-15T10:52:15-07:00August 15th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Rosh Hashanah is not a biblical holiday, although it replaced a biblical one. It is notably different from the holiday it replaced. The biblical holiday, Yom Teruah, had a totally different purpose than Rosh Hashanah, which focuses on the onset of a new year, repentance, and commitment to live the next year properly. Yom [...]

12 08, 2021

A modern approach to the understanding of Judaism

By |2021-08-12T09:01:10-07:00August 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In 1953, the brilliant scholar Dr. Theodor H. Gaster published “Festivals of the Jewish Year: A Modern Interpretation and Guide.” It was updated in 1961. It is about the Jewish festivals and the Sabbath, their description, origin, and comparison to other ancient festivals. In six chapters of his 308 page book, Gaster discusses how [...]

28 07, 2021

Two floods: Gilgamesh and Noah

By |2021-07-28T11:18:38-07:00July 28th, 2021|Jewish Books|

The approximately 4,000 year old Babylonian tale "Gilgamesh" disturbs many religious people who feel threatened by the idea that a story that is very similar to the biblical flood story was written before the story of Noah and the flood. Gilgamesh was composed around 2000 B.C.E. and predates the scriptural version. A Jewish tradition dates [...]

27 07, 2021

An explanation of the famed book Tanya

By |2021-07-27T10:18:26-07:00July 27th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid Books in association with Steinsaltz Center has published part of the text of one of the two famous books by the founder of Chabad Hasidim, also called Lubavitcher Hasidim, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812). Rabbi Zalman’s other famous book is “Shulchan Arukh Harav,” a book that only partially survived, which deals [...]

20 07, 2021

Rationalism verses Mysticism

By |2021-07-20T08:49:40-07:00July 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Many Jews would like to find an easy way to learn what Judaism teaches about various subjects. Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin, an Orthodox rabbi, gives them this information in his fact-filled book “Rationalism vs. Mysticism: Schisms in Traditional Jewish Thought,” with quotes from many sources and many learned footnotes, all easy to read.[1] [...]