27 09, 2023

Are the “miracles” in the Elijah and Elisha tales natural events?

By |2023-09-27T09:07:46-07:00September 27th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  There is a greater concentration of miracles in the Elijah and Elisha stories in the biblical book Kings than in the Exodus tales.[1] Are all of them natural events? Maimonides would answer yes, they were natural events, not miracles. In his Guide of the Perplexed 2:48, Maimonides emphasizes that whenever the Bible states that an event, [...]

22 09, 2023

What does “Man of God” mean?

By |2023-09-22T06:34:50-07:00September 22nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The biblical book Kings describes the Deity as Y-h-v-h, as did the Five Books of Moses. It also calls the Deity Elohim, generally translated as “God,” as does the Five Books. Yet, it describes the prophet Elisha as a “Man of Elohim,” not a “Man of Y-h-v-h.” Why? A related question. Are the many [...]

18 09, 2023

Two witnesses prove God exists

By |2023-09-18T07:58:04-07:00September 18th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The weekly portion of Haazinu (chapter 32), the penultimate Torah’s ending, is “The Song.” In it, because he realizes the significance of his message, Moses reemphasizes the benefits and consequences derived from observing and disobeying the divine law.   Jewish law generally requires, with few exceptions, two witnesses to produce evidence in a court [...]

14 09, 2023

A Digest of Judaism

By |2023-09-14T10:16:30-07:00September 14th, 2023|Jewish Books|

     II Kings 4 describes a troubled woman who discovers her son has died. She rushes to leave her home and seeks help from the prophet Elisha. Her husband did not know his son died. He asks her in verse 23, “Why do you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath?” [...]

4 09, 2023

Fights among the Zealots

By |2023-09-04T09:57:49-07:00September 4th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Just as fights exist between religious Zionists, they exist among the Zealots. Judaism is destroying itself. Maggid Books in Israel has reprinted the original 1920 version of the classical mystical book Orot, “Lights,” by the famous Rabbi Abraham Isaac Hakohen Kook. The 2023 publication appears in its original Hebrew with a preface, introduction, [...]

30 08, 2023

Religious Zionists are destroying themselves

By |2023-08-30T05:37:16-07:00August 30th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Yair Ettinger’s “Frayed, The Disputes Unraveling Religious Zionists” is eye-opening. He is revealing a dangerous situation that many people do not know exists. And those who know don’t know how to resolve the problem. The religious Zionist movement today in Israel is splintered. And each side, like squabbling children who fail to realize the [...]

28 08, 2023

Maimonides’ view of ideal humans

By |2023-08-28T09:27:40-07:00August 28th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Professor Rabbi Dr. Michael A. Shmidman described “Isadore Twersky’s Unique Contribution to the Study of The Guide of the Perplexed” in five steps. These were Maimonides’ descriptions of ideal humans. They are people who enhance their thinking and study the sciences to understand how the world functions and use that knowledge to act and [...]

24 08, 2023

There are many important laws in the portion Ki Seitzei

By |2023-08-29T04:15:37-07:00August 24th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    The parasha Ki Seitzei (21:10-25:19) contains many laws. The Masorites of the first millennium of the Common Era counted 110 verses in the portion. They gave it the mnemonic Hebrew letters ayin lamed yud, whose numerical numbers total 110. The word means “upon me” and suggests that the Jew accepts the many laws [...]

20 08, 2023

What we don’t know about the biblical Abraham

By |2023-08-20T06:36:03-07:00August 20th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Grossman, a professor at Bar Ilan University in Israel, published Abraham, The Story of a Journey. Maggid Books published it in 2023. The book is brilliant, very thoughtful, and informative. It was initially published in Israel in Hebrew in 2016. Atara Snowbell translated it into English. Her rendition is excellent, enjoyable, [...]

15 08, 2023

Why do we need judges?

By |2023-08-15T13:10:31-07:00August 15th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   The parasha Shoftim (16:18-21:9) begins with Moses requiring the Israelites, “You must make judges and officers in every gate that Y-h-v-h gives you for your tribes. They must judge the people with righteous judgment. They must not show any [special] respect to anyone nor take gifts because gifts blind the eyes of the wise [...]

15 08, 2023

Where does the Bible allow people to change Torah laws?

By |2023-08-15T08:35:04-07:00August 15th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Two sources support the view that the Torah allows Jewish leaders, including rabbis, to change biblical laws, even radically.   First, the Torah gives multiple hints that its laws are designed for the ancient former slaves who were influenced by the treatments they received and other cultures. They are not ideal but commands that [...]

11 08, 2023

Why do we need to see?

By |2023-08-11T06:26:59-07:00August 11th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The weekly biblical portion Re’eh (11:26-16:17) begins with Moses saying, “See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse. The blessing is if you keep the commands of Y-h-v-h your God that I command you today. The curse if you do not keep the command of Y-h-v-h your God and turn aside [...]

7 08, 2023

Were the 613 biblical commands proclaimed at Mount Sinai?

By |2023-08-07T07:26:44-07:00August 7th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  As I wrote in my “Mysteries of Judaism IV”: “The first report that the Torah contains 613 commandments dates to the third century CE, when Rabi Simlai mentioned this concept in a sermon recorded in the Babylonian Talmud, Makkot 23b. The Talmud states: ‘Rabi Simlai gave as a sermon (darash Rabi Simlai): 613 commandments were communicated [...]

1 08, 2023

Disobedience to God’s ways has consequences

By |2023-08-01T11:36:33-07:00August 1st, 2023|Jewish Books|

   There are multiple changes in spellings and repetitions in Deuteronomy. This contradicts Rabbi Akiva’s view that God dictated the Torah to Moses, even every letter. He claimed that God is perfect and has no need to repeat what is communicated. If there is a change in spelling and seeming repetitions, they must be understood [...]

1 08, 2023

A note on the division of the Bible

By |2023-08-01T09:33:56-07:00August 1st, 2023|Jewish Books|

                                         Reflecting the ancient practice, the original Torah lacked divisions between words, sentences, and sections. These were added at later times. The subject of their introduction is complex because we no longer have all the facts, [...]

25 07, 2023

Must Jews be Orthopractic?

By |2023-07-25T07:51:57-07:00July 25th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   The word orthodoxy comes from the Greek root orthos, which means correct, accurate, straight, and doxa, opinion. It describes accurate belief. Orthodox Judaism is Jews who adhere strictly to traditional beliefs. The first known mention of Orthodox Jews was made by German “enlightened Jews” in the Berlinische Monatsschrift in 1795. The term was most likely developed to mock “traditionally-minded [...]

19 07, 2023

The numbers 3, 7, 10, and Tisha b’Av in Judaism

By |2023-07-19T06:26:56-07:00July 19th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   The numbers three and seven occur well over a hundred times in Judaism and even more in other cultures, as do their combination, the number ten, including on holy days.[1] The fast day of Tisha b’Av, meaning the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, seems to be an exception – but is it [...]

17 07, 2023

Did God dictate the biblical book Deuteronomy to Moses?

By |2023-07-17T06:57:53-07:00July 17th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Dr. Micah Goodman says, “No,” in his new book, “The Last Words of Moses.” Deuteronomy is “a human document authored by Moses whose inclusion in the Bible lends it divine authority. Goodman is a Research Fellow of the Kogod Research Center at Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He was named by the Jerusalem Post [...]

13 07, 2023

A “new” look at the biblical Dinah story

By |2023-07-13T07:18:05-07:00July 13th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Dinah is the only daughter of the patriarch Jacob mentioned in the Torah. Her story is mentioned in Genesis 34. Readers, rabbis, scholars, and laypersons differ in how they interpret the story. Some blame Dina for what transpired. Others criticize her parents for allowing her to wander among evil people. But some people [...]

3 07, 2023

Comparing biblical stories with other tales enhances their meaning

By |2023-07-03T05:17:50-07:00July 3rd, 2023|Jewish Books|

                                           One of the ways rabbis and secular scholars acquire a deeper understanding of the Bible is by comparing the events in the story with events in other biblical tales. They also compare two Bible sections that use the same word. David Curwin does both in his engaging, eye-opening 2023 book “Kohelet: A [...]

28 06, 2023

The strange tale of Balaam

By |2023-06-28T07:55:49-07:00June 28th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Chapters 22–24 in Numbers tell the tale of Balaam, a non-Israelite prophet whom the Moabites summon to curse the Israelites. The Moabite king, Balak, sees the advancing Israelites and feels he lacks sufficient forces to defeat them. Like many ancients, he thinks that a seer’s curse will weaken the Israelites and make it possible [...]

26 06, 2023

A book that prompts us to think

By |2023-06-26T10:23:04-07:00June 26th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  "The Koren Lev Ladaat Humash - Bemidbar" is a superb Bible commentary that is very enlightening. It is filled with information. It prompts readers to think and better understand the Bible. It has clear easy-to-see Hebrew text with the highly acclaimed Koren font and the readable English translation by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks. It [...]

22 06, 2023

Examining Rashi: The spies and the reluctant hero

By |2023-06-22T13:11:22-07:00June 22nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

    The Torah is usually obscure. It leaves the interpretation of the text to readers. It challenges them to think about their reading, discover its meaning, and improve themselves and society. Rashi does not take this approach. He fills his commentary with Midrashim, interesting parables not even hinted at in the Torah. The following [...]

19 06, 2023

Who was Rashi?

By |2023-06-19T05:54:14-07:00June 19th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  All we know about Shlomo ben Yitzchak of Troyes, France, known as Rashi, are his writings. We know no facts about his life. Much has been written about him, but it is all legends. It is commonly thought, for example, that he was born in the year 1040, although this is uncertain, and his [...]

9 06, 2023

The obscure law of the suspected adulterous wife

By |2023-06-09T08:53:03-07:00June 9th, 2023|Jewish Books|

      One of the most obscure Torah laws concerns the wife whose husband suspects committed adultery. She is called a Sotah. It is in Numbers 5:11 to 31. Since the husband has no proof that she had relations with another man, the Torah requires her to undergo a strange procedure that raises many [...]

30 05, 2023

Excellent advice about the state of Israel

By |2023-05-30T13:10:14-07:00May 30th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Dr. Michael Oren’s splendid book, “2048, The Rejuvenated State,” is 104 pages in English, with a complete translation in Arabic and Hebrew. Oren is a statesman, historian, and parliamentarian. He served as Israel’s ambassador to the United States, a member of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament), and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office.  He was [...]

30 05, 2023

One of the best English commentaries on the Torah

By |2023-05-30T06:03:58-07:00May 30th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Koren Press’ “The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel - Numbers” follows its predecessors in the Biblical books Exodus, Leviticus, and Samuel as a fourth outstanding biblical commentary on the Hebrew Bible. It contains information not in other books. It has a wealth of scholarly information written in an easy-to-read and interesting [...]

29 05, 2023

What is the value of Jewish laws?

By |2023-05-29T06:16:29-07:00May 29th, 2023|Jewish Books|

I understand that Jewish laws are valuable because they help us learn how to behave and improve ourselves and society. "Values in Halakha" is by Rabbi Dr. Aharon Lichtenstein (1933-2015). He was an eminent rabbinic scholar and teacher who served as one of the heads of the famed prestigious Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel for [...]

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