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] [...]

12 07, 2021

A terrible 9 Av mistake

By |2021-07-12T04:28:43-07:00July 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Many years ago, Judeans, as Jews were called in the past, realized that they should do all that is reasonable to assure that all fellow Judeans are familiar with the contents of the three parts of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible: the Five Books of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and the [...]

30 06, 2021

An excellent new commentary of the biblical book Samuel

By |2021-06-30T06:09:15-07:00June 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel – Samuel,” published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem in 2021, is one of the best Bible commentaries in English. I say this because of its massive easy to read scholarly material on many far-reaching subjects, contributions by twenty renowned scholars, and because I see the value of [...]

28 06, 2021

Jews in The Decameron

By |2021-06-28T04:23:00-07:00June 28th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

   Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) authored the classic Decameron around 1348, a word meaning “ten days,” referring to the activities described in the book. The book’s subtitle Prencipe Galeotto refers to the legendary friend of Lancelot, an enemy of King Arthur. He helped Lancelot seduce and bed Arthur’s wife Guinevere. The subtitle catches the theme found [...]

23 06, 2021

Delightful, entertaining, and thoughtful stories

By |2021-06-23T04:38:55-07:00June 23rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

While he only started writing short stories when he was eighty-years-old, Rabbi Dr. Charles H. Freundlich has mastered the genre and become an excellent writer of easy to read fascinating short stories. His plots, depiction and development of characters, and surprise endings are perfect. He catches our interest as soon as we start reading his [...]

21 06, 2021

The outrageous lie

By |2021-06-21T06:54:37-07:00June 21st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Nikole Hannah-Jones and others introduced a new, previously unknown notion in the New York Times that since 1619 when a pirate ship arrived in America and sold its slaves to the Americans, nothing, yes nothing, in America was done for any other reason than to enslave people of color. This was the founding idea [...]

21 06, 2021

Eye-opening and delightful thought-provoking rabbinic tales

By |2021-06-21T04:43:27-07:00June 21st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    While the Talmud and other rabbinic documents are known as volumes containing legal discussions, most people do not know that the Talmud and other rabbinic volumes such as Midrash also include non-legal writings about theology, ethics, psychology, health, and many other topics, as well as fascinating and delightful stories. Along with being appealing, [...]

11 06, 2021

Can we prove that God exists?

By |2021-06-11T07:14:08-07:00June 11th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Many Great scholars attempted to prove that God exists, including the Jewish Maimonides and Roman Catholic Thomas Aquinas who offered what he felt was five ways through which God could be known. They all failed. We are unable to prove God’s existence. Maimonides went so far as to say that we really know nothing positive [...]

1 06, 2021

A well-done film version of thoughtful classics

By |2021-06-01T04:10:29-07:00June 1st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The 1961 film “Master of the World” is based on two novels by the great French novelist Jules Verne (1828-1905), both about 90 pages in length “Master of the World” and “Robur, The Conqueror.” Verne is famous for his insightful books about science, foreseeing items that were not discovered during his lifetime. He is called [...]

25 05, 2021

A review of one of my books

By |2021-05-25T05:49:20-07:00May 25th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Author Dissects Popular Myths About the Bible Mysteries of Judaism IV; Over 100 Mistaken Ideas about God and the Bible by Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin; Gefen Publishing House, 2020;  ISBN 9789657-023457; 220; pages;  $19.95. By Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel CHULA VISTA, California — Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin’s latest book in [...]

20 05, 2021

Christopher Marlowe’s anti-Semitic concept of Jews

By |2021-05-20T06:17:07-07:00May 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

     Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a contemporary of William Shakespeare, wrote an anti-Semitic play like Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote “The Merchant of Venice” and Marlowe “The Rich Jew of Malta.” Both writers were Englishmen. Both wrote excellent, very insightful plays. Marlowe was killed in a bar-room brawl, apparently over a dispute over a bill, and died [...]

11 05, 2021

The truth about the Book of Ruth

By |2021-05-11T13:56:17-07:00May 11th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

     During the holiday of Shavuot, the practice in many synagogues is to read the beautiful biblical book Ruth. Various reasons attempt to explain the practice including that Ruth is said to have converted to Judaism around the time of Shavuot and so did the Israelites when they accepted the Torah; Ruth was an [...]

4 05, 2021

An indispensable guide to the Talmud

By |2021-05-04T03:44:36-07:00May 4th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz who authored sixty books and hundreds of articles is the author of the 549 page book “Reference Guide to the Talmud: The Indispensable Talmud Study Aid.” It is one of five new books published by Maggid Books. I reviewed four of the volumes previously. The series [...]

29 04, 2021

A Guide to Jewish Philosophy

By |2021-04-29T04:20:27-07:00April 29th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The 437 page book “A Concise Guide to Mahshava: An overview of Jewish Philosophy,” is one of five new books published by Maggid Books which were authored by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz who authored sixty books and hundreds of articles. I reviewed three of the volumes previously, on the Torah, [...]

27 04, 2021

A new guide to Jewish law

By |2021-04-27T09:45:07-07:00April 27th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “A Concise Guide to Halakha: An overview of Jewish Law,” is one of five new books published by Maggid Books which were authored by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz who authored sixty books and hundreds of articles. I reviewed two of the volumes previously, on the Torah and on the Sages. [...]

19 04, 2021

Moral issues raised by Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”

By |2021-04-19T06:24:01-07:00April 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  There are Shakespearian scholars who feel that “Measure for Measure” is Shakespeare’s greatest play. This is very possible. It certainly is one of his best. It is very thoughtful. It addresses ancient unresolved problems of human nature that still exist today, and it prompts us to think: the good verses the evil inclination, male [...]

14 04, 2021

A huge wealth of information from the Sages

By |2021-04-14T11:47:35-07:00April 14th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “A Concise Guide to the Sages,” subtitled “An Overview of Jewish Wisdom,” is one of five new books published by Maggid Books which were authored by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz who authored sixty books and hundreds of articles. The series informs readers in easy to read English of the fundamentals [...]

9 04, 2021

A new series of five books that explain Judaism

By |2021-04-09T10:43:34-07:00April 9th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid Books has published a new five volume series of books by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz that inform readers in easy to read English of the fundamentals of Judaism. The series focuses on five main topics of Jewish tradition (1) Torah, in a volume called “A Concise Guide to [...]

19 03, 2021

A dead holiday called Passover passed on its name

By |2021-03-19T06:00:23-07:00March 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The biblical holiday Passover ceased to exist when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE. It disappeared entirely and Chag Hamatzot’s name was changed to Passover.   The biblical Passover The biblical holiday Passover occurred on the fourteenth day of the first month, later called Nisan. It had only one ceremony. The Israelites were required [...]

8 03, 2021

Was Thomas Jefferson a heretic and anti-Semite?

By |2021-03-08T05:21:50-07:00March 8th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

      Often when I hear people wanting to destroy statues of historical figures and burn books of authors who mentioned something they considered wrong, even though these men and women also did good things and are part of our history, I wonder what they would do with the Hebrew Bible if they found [...]

26 02, 2021

A new excellent Torah commentary for Va’era

By |2021-02-26T07:11:13-07:00February 26th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rather than following the usual practice of writing a single book on one or more volumes of the Five Books of Moses with the authors ideas supplemented by up to about a dozen commentaries from other sources, Koren Publishers Jerusalem has launch a huge project that will benefit many Jews and non-Jews. This new series [...]

21 02, 2021

What is the book of Esther really about?

By |2021-02-21T09:11:38-07:00February 21st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid books 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. She [...]

10 02, 2021

An excellent new extensive Bible commentary

By |2021-02-19T10:07:20-07:00February 10th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Koren Publishers Jerusalem has launch a huge project that will benefit many Jews and non-Jews. While most books containing commentaries on the bible either focus on all five books of the Torah or just one of the five books, and then gives only the commentaries of about a dozen commentators as well as that [...]

5 02, 2021

The moving history of God Bless America

By |2021-02-05T05:23:59-07:00February 5th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

This is the very moving history of God Bless America sent to me by Judith Rubenstein. Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes [...]

1 02, 2021

One of the great plays

By |2021-02-01T05:26:27-07:00February 1st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Dr. Howard Rubenstein’s translation of the famed Greek playwright Aeschylus’ play “Agamemnon” is a brilliant work. It is the first modern, very readable, very interesting and educational translation of an important classic with a wealth of explanatory information. The problem with former translations is that its English is outdated, stilted, and often hard to understand. [...]

28 01, 2021

The best English commentary on the Torah

By |2021-02-19T10:09:55-07:00January 28th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

While most books containing commentaries on the bible either focus on all five books of the Torah or just one of the five books, and then gives only the commentaries of about a dozen commentators as well as that of the author of the volume, Koren Press Mikraot Hadorot offers much more. It is part [...]

15 01, 2021

An interesting and very thoughtful film

By |2021-01-15T07:40:39-07:00January 15th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

I have seen many films made in the 1930s and I feel that “As the Earth Turns” is the best of the lot. Edmund Hartman produced the restored 45 minute film and composed the dramatic music for this silent sci-fi film. It was made in 1937 and he arranged for its distribution in 2020. The [...]

13 01, 2021

Esther in America

By |2021-01-13T06:37:27-07:00January 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The biblical book Esther made a significant impact upon Americans, Jews and non-Jews, as seen in the new book "Esther in America." As I described in detail in my book “Ruth, Esther, and Judith,” the biblical book Esther is in no way similar to what many think the book contains. Most noteworthy is that it [...]