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 [...]

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.” [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

12 03, 2020

Why do Jews win so many Nobel prizes?

By |2020-03-12T05:05:14-07:00March 12th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Super Achievers” by Ronald Gerstl reveals the remarkable disproportionate Jewish contributions to world knowledge of science and heath, and the surprisingly high number of Jewish Nobel Prize Winners in these fields. Although Jews are only 0.2% of the world’s population, Jews were awarded 24% of the Nobel Prizes in science and medicine. Similarly, while [...]

1 03, 2020

A New Haggada

By |2020-03-01T06:02:52-07:00March 1st, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Koren Youth Haggada,” an illustrated new 2020 Haggada for use during the Passover Seder has reflections about Passover and Jewish practices, drawing on every other page, raises questions on most pages to prompt thinking and discussion, and is filled with instructions, activities to experience, and thoughts or quotes or a story to attract children’s [...]

1 03, 2020

A New Haggada

By |2020-03-01T06:00:10-07:00March 1st, 2020|Book Reviews|

“The Koren Youth Haggada,” an illustrated new 2020 Haggada for use during the Passover Seder has reflections about Passover and Jewish practices, drawing on every other page, raises questions on most pages to prompt thinking and discussion, and is filled with instructions, activities to experience, and thoughts or quotes or a story to attract children’s [...]

21 02, 2020

A very informative commentary on Isaiah

By |2020-02-21T05:30:40-07:00February 21st, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Most people think that since Jewish ancestors placed certain books in the Hebrew Bible, this means that they are significant in some way, and this way is clear to even the average reader. Nothing is further from the truth. All of the biblical books have deep messages. Some are even obscure and difficult to understand. [...]

13 02, 2020

An Excellent Study of Maimonides

By |2020-02-13T07:40:36-07:00February 13th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The Spaniard Maimonides (1138-1204) is generally considered the greatest Jewish philosopher. He sours so high above other people that he is called “The Great Eagle.” The popular saying about him is “From Moses to Moses, there were none like Moses.” The first Moses is the biblical law giver. The second refers to Maimonides whose first [...]

13 01, 2020

The Best Bible Commentary in English

By |2020-02-02T07:42:31-07:00January 13th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel” is without doubt the best Bible commentary in English. I say this after using over a hundred such books while writing my own books on the Bible, such as my many volumes on the differences between the Hebrew Bible and its Aramaic translation called Onkelos. I feel [...]

11 11, 2019

An excellent history of ancient Israel

By |2019-11-11T05:22:16-07:00November 11th, 2019|Book Reviews|

Alex Israel’s new book on II Kings follows his book on the first half of the book of Kings, called I Kings. Both are excellent, easy to read, very thorough, very informative. The Book of Kings was broken into two parts because the Greek translation of the book around 200 BCE divided the book in [...]

13 10, 2019

Difficulties and explanations regarding Kohelet

By |2019-10-13T00:07:47-07:00October 13th, 2019|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Tradition mandates that Jews should read the biblical book Kohelet, also spelt Koheleth and Qohelet, called Ecclesiastes in English, during the holiday of Sukkot. Both the Hebrew and English names mean “collector” or “collection.” We do not know why this mandate was made. Some say that since Sukkot is a very happy holiday, we need [...]

12 12, 2018

A very good Bible commentary

By |2018-12-12T05:24:50-07:00December 12th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Koren Publishers’ “The Steinsaltz Humash: Humash Translation and Commentary” by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz is excellent. The word “Humash” means “five” and refers to the Five Books of Moses which is in this volume in clear Hebrew text in the beautiful Koren font, with a completely new modern English translation that is faithful to the [...]

9 12, 2018

Was the biblical Joseph autistic?

By |2018-12-09T07:22:34-07:00December 9th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  While the idea presented in Samuel J. Levine’s book Was Yosef on the Spectrum, that the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, was autistic, having Asperger’s Syndrome, may bother some people who prefer to think that Israel’s ancient leaders had no imperfection,[1] they will still find much to learn and much to appreciate in this [...]

5 12, 2018

God vs. gods

By |2018-12-10T09:24:07-07:00December 5th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein’s book “God versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry" (Mosaica Press, 2018), which is found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2NO4jLy is filled with information on every page about Jewish history, ideology, God, idols, superstition, and mistakes made by the ancients. There are seven chapters on the history of monotheism in 276 pages, many [...]

27 11, 2018

The new Rabbinical Council of America Siddur

By |2018-11-27T05:27:08-07:00November 27th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    This new 1452-page siddur, which includes 106 additional pages of essays, edited in chief by Rabbi Basil Herring, shows why it is beneficial to have more than one version of the siddur. This new version, with weekday, shabbat, yom tov prayers, and a host of additional sections, offers much that is not in many [...]

14 11, 2018

Fascinating tales by a scoffer

By |2018-11-14T08:53:31-07:00November 14th, 2018|Book Reviews|

  “Miriam & Other Stories,”[1] is a splendid collection of stories by Ukrainian-born Micha Josef Berdichevsky (1865-1921). [2] He was a journalist, a scholar with a PhD, a writer of fiction, and a collector of Jewish legends which he published in a book called “Mimekor Yisrael,” From an Israel Source.[3] He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish, [...]

11 11, 2018

Great stories by H. N. Bialik

By |2018-11-11T05:16:11-07:00November 11th, 2018|Book Reviews|

“Random Harvest and Other Novellas,” by Haim Nachman Bialik ((1873-1934) contains six tales which vary in length from two being about 20 pages to two being close to 90. The book has an informative introduction of 18 pages about Bialik who many consider the greatest Hebrew poet in the past six hundred years, and each [...]

7 11, 2018

The day I met Father Isaac at the supermarket

By |2018-11-07T05:45:32-07:00November 7th, 2018|Book Reviews|

Jack Riemer, a rabbi, is one of the best clergymen of all religions in delivering sermons. Clergy can learn from his speeches, and congregants can enjoy listening to them or reading what he writes. It is a shame that other clergy lack his skill because sermons can be a great teaching tool. I think that [...]

5 11, 2018

One of the best deals on Amazon

By |2018-11-05T05:27:06-07:00November 5th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

There are free short books written in easy to read English that contain significant history that can be obtained from “Hourly History” every Friday. The books can be read in their entirety in an hour. This past Friday, on November 2, 2018, for example, the free books were: Babylon, Anne Frank, Spartacus and the Slave [...]

31 10, 2018

The truth about the Balfour Declaration and its results

By |2018-10-31T04:47:55-07:00October 31st, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a historic letter to a leading British Jewish citizen Lord Rothschild that publicized British support of a Jewish homeland. This was the first national recognition of the Jewish right to Israel since the destruction of Israel in 70 CE by the Romans. The letter [...]