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11 08, 2020

Science and Religion are not Similar

By |2020-08-11T06:09:37-07:00August 11th, 2020|Thoughts|

I read an article by a professor who wanted to show that science and religion are similar. I think that the support he offers for his view is simplistic and, worse, it is wrong.   The professor’s view The professor argued that both science and religion have the same outlook and are therefore alike. Both, [...]

5 08, 2020

Should a Rabbi Make Lenient decisions?

By |2020-08-05T08:12:21-07:00August 5th, 2020|Book Reviews, Jewish Books, Thoughts|

  Rabbi Professor Dr. Daniel Sperber is a leading scholar of Jewish law and customs and the author of many books on these subjects. Citing many fascinating examples and the rulings of highly respected rabbis that often read like short stories, he shows that the view of ultra-Orthodox Jews that an ideal rabbi is a man [...]

30 07, 2020

Fasting for Events That Occurred on Unverifiable Days

By |2020-07-30T05:55:13-07:00July 30th, 2020|Thoughts|

The Jewish calendar contains a mourning period during the summer months. It begins and ends with fast days, whose precise dates are not based on verifiable facts. The mourning period chiefly commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples, and serves to remind Jews of their history and their connection to the land and [...]

23 07, 2020

God and the Pandemic

By |2020-07-23T04:39:42-07:00July 23rd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel, the author of ten books, has made a fascinating, enlightening, and much needed contribution to our understanding of the Corona Virus pandemic and Jewish and other views on the subject in his book “God and the Pandemic.” He gives readers a thorough very readable analysis of the many pandemics, earthquakes, [...]

19 07, 2020

A nice inspiring story

By |2020-07-19T06:23:40-07:00July 19th, 2020|Thoughts|

The following story was sent to me by Hessel Meilech.   A very religious Rebbetzin loved cleaning her silver candlesticks every week. She also helped her friend out in a small business in the Shetel. One day she returned home and the candlesticks were stolen. Her friend said tomorrow we will visit all the homes to find [...]

17 07, 2020

Was the Torah revealed from Heaven?

By |2020-07-17T06:23:41-07:00July 17th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The doctrine of Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, “The Torah is from Heaven,” is a fundamental teaching of Orthodox Judaism. Rabbis say it means that God dictated the Five Books of Moses to Moses. But even rabbis who strongly defend this doctrine do not know how God communicated the Torah to Moses or how much of it. [...]

10 07, 2020

The judges in the biblical book Judges did not judge

By |2020-07-10T04:37:16-07:00July 10th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

People may think that they know about the biblical book Judges and that they understand what Michael Hattin’s new book “Judges”contains. Hattin’s Judges is 207-page book with 19 chapters which devotes one or more of the 19 chapters to the 21 chapters in the biblical book. “Judges,” is part of a series of Maggid Books, [...]

5 07, 2020

What is the book of Esther Really about?

By |2020-07-05T05:15:04-07:00July 5th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Maggid books has just published an excellent comprehensive 493-page study of the biblical book Esther called “Esther: Power, Fate, and Fragility in Exile” by Dr. Erica Brown, an award-winning author of many books, lecturer, and Jewish teacher. Her book tells readers exactly what the Bible text is saying, not what people read into it, [...]

29 06, 2020

Aquinas and theology vs. Maimonides and philosophy

By |2020-06-29T10:08:57-07:00June 29th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“Saint Thomas Aquinas” by G. K. Chesterton, the author of fiction and nonfiction books, including the famous Father Brown murder mysteries, wrote this comparatively short history of the Italian Roman Catholic saint who was canonized in 1323. His teachings became the official teachings of Catholicism in 1917. Chesterton’s depiction of Aquinas Chesterton describes Thomas Aquinas [...]

25 06, 2020

Pascal’s foolish bet

By |2020-06-25T04:31:29-07:00June 25th, 2020|Thoughts|

  What is more important believing in God or acting properly? Some philosophers and academics today recognize that the Jewish philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204) stressed behavior. He recognized that we cannot force people to believe what they are convinced is untrue. In contrast to belief, he spoke of knowing God. He stated that one can gain [...]

14 06, 2020

Can Orthodox Judaism have female rabbis?

By |2020-06-14T05:12:08-07:00June 14th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Women have been degraded since ancient history. Scholars debate whether the Torah is pro-women or indifferent to them with some exceptions. The ancient Greeks seemed to use women only for procreation and for taking care of their homes. Even the remarkably wise philosophers Aristotle among the Greeks and Maimonides among the Jews made negative statements [...]

10 06, 2020

He helped persuade England to allow Jews to live in its land

By |2020-06-10T08:05:16-07:00June 10th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Menasseh ben Israel (1604-1657) is one of the heroic figures in Jewish history. After Jews were expelled from England in 1290, he was one of the leading figures in persuading the English king and government to allow Jews to return. Steven Nadler’s 2018 biography of the rabbi, published by Yale University Press is excellent.  [...]

7 06, 2020

Who were Jacob’s sons and why did they do what they did

By |2020-06-07T11:41:32-07:00June 7th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

              Jews and non-Jews who want to know more about the Bible, the Tanakh, who want to know why biblical figures acted as they did, and about the twelve sons of the patriarch Jacob and some of their descendants mentioned in the Tanakh, could do no better that to read Professor Nechama Price’s “Tribal Blueprints.” [...]

4 06, 2020

Does this make sense?

By |2020-06-04T13:01:51-07:00June 4th, 2020|Thoughts|

         Does the following suggestion on how to avoid the corona virus make sense? And if one is convinced, as he or she should be, that there is no proof that it will work, and perhaps even that the idea is not scientific, should we do it anyway?   Alcohol It is [...]

28 05, 2020

Our Shavuot is not a biblical holiday

By |2020-05-28T07:57:40-07:00May 28th, 2020|Jewish Books|

The current observance of Shavuot has no relationship to its biblical ancestor and doesn’t even occur at the same time. Very few people know the truth about this day. Most Jews think Shavuot recalls the day the Torah was revealed to the Israelites during the days of Moses. This is not true. This significance was [...]

26 05, 2020

The Devil and Daniel Webster

By |2020-05-26T10:34:53-07:00May 26th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Good literature makes us think. The poet Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story “The Devil and Daniel Webster” is a classic that everyone can enjoy, and it makes us think. It can raise many questions for perceptive readers. Lots of adaptations were made of the story, including two full-length movies in 1941 and 2001 - the [...]

21 05, 2020

Does God Have Emotions: Anger, Hatred, and Love?

By |2020-05-21T03:57:05-07:00May 21st, 2020|Thoughts|

                       I was asked to explain the verse in Malachi 1:3, "Esau I hated." He wrote: “This is one of the few verses in the Bible that truly disturbs me…. I believe everyone who has ever lived … will attain supreme, lasting happiness….  What exactly does it mean that God hated him, I don't know?” A [...]

17 05, 2020

A strange reaction to the pandemic face mask

By |2020-05-17T14:31:43-07:00May 17th, 2020|Jewish Books|

My fiend the philosophy professor Dr. Raphi Jospe who was also one of the editors of the Jewish Encyclopedia sent me the following and said I can pass it along.   See what happens when American legislators don’t study medieval Jewish philosophy.  In the news: An Ohio state representative says he won't wear a mask [...]

13 05, 2020

What was the Spanish Flu?

By |2020-05-13T04:34:28-07:00May 13th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Spanish Flu” is a 2020 Hourly History book, a series of books that contain the essential information about a subject that can be read in about an hour. This book tells about the unusual conditions of 1918, the beginning of the flu that lasted until 1920 in three outbreaks, each outbreak being slightly different [...]

11 05, 2020

Epicurus was not as bad as he is portrayed

By |2020-05-11T13:08:24-07:00May 11th, 2020|Thoughts|

Judaism describes a non-believer in God as an Apicorus, a name most likely derived from the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE), as Professor Marcus Jastrow states in his famed Dictionary, although Maimonides in his essay Chelek states it is an Aramaic word.  The rabbis thought that Epicurus denied the existence of God and was a [...]

3 05, 2020

An excellent revelation of the style of the Torah

By |2020-05-03T07:00:11-07:00May 3rd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                 Rabbi Dr. Joshua A. Berman is a brilliant scholar, writer, and speaker. In his new book “Ani Maamin,” words that mean “I believe,” he answers questions that bothered Bible readers – Jews, Christians, and Muslims - for centuries, and answers them in an interesting, readable, eye opening, and engaging way. Why was the Bible [...]

26 04, 2020

Does the Torah speak in divine or Human Language?

By |2020-04-26T13:20:53-07:00April 26th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

In the classic Torah Min Hashamayim Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) masterly tells the methodology of Rabbi Akiva and the difference between him and Rabbi Ishmael. Gordon Tucker translated the work into English as Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations. The two Talmudic sages lived around 130 CE and disagreed on how to interpret the Bible. Rabbi Akiva won [...]

22 04, 2020

My dad was a hero

By |2020-04-22T07:15:50-07:00April 22nd, 2020|Thoughts|

Today is my dad’s yahrzeit.  My dad, Rabbi Dr. Nathan Drazin was born on March 16, 1906 and passed away in Israel on 28 Nisan 1976. He is well-known as a brilliant man, a scholar with a beautiful personality. He was also a hero. It is proper to remember him today. Although dad came from [...]

20 04, 2020

Good advice to help keep us safe

By |2020-04-20T06:33:51-07:00April 20th, 2020|Thoughts|

 Hessel Meleich sent me this list. Most are not on the list of other people.   Wash hands frequently with soap and water (20 seconds minimum time). This destroys the lipids on the surface of the virus. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet (one metre) away from another person Wear a mask and [...]

19 04, 2020

It helps these days to laugh

By |2020-04-19T04:31:32-07:00April 19th, 2020|Thoughts|

Where there's a will, I want to be in it. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on my list. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. We never really grow up, [...]

16 04, 2020

The Remarkable Thinking of Maimonides

By |2020-04-16T04:42:02-07:00April 16th, 2020|Jewish Books|

Micah Goodman’s “Maimonides” This is an important book. The following are some major points in it. The quotes are from the book.   Maimonides’ God: Goodman states that Maimonides’ God is transcendental, meaning God is not involved in the daily activities of the world. God placed in the world the laws of nature, and then [...]

14 04, 2020

Hessel Meilech sent me this nice story

By |2020-04-14T06:33:40-07:00April 14th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The Power of Lighting Shabbat Candles By Shula Bryski Two rabbinical students were sent under the direction of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, to the faraway Aleutian Islands, with the sole purpose of bringing the joy and light of Judaism to any Jews that lived there. After a week of searching, they found not [...]

12 04, 2020

Addressing Bible difficulties

By |2020-04-12T06:47:36-07:00April 12th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

It is only in recent times that Yeshivas (post-high-school religious schools) began again to teach Bible. The problem that the rabbis faced was that enlightenment scholars raised multiple questions about the Bible, questions that seemed to show that God did not write or inspire the Bible, but that it was composed by many different authors [...]