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 [...]

17 10, 2018

Difficulties with the Akedah story explained

By |2018-10-17T04:01:41-07:00October 17th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The thrust of Soren Kierkegaard’s 1843 influential book “Fear and Trembling” is long reflections on Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac, a story told in Genesis 22.[1] Kierkegaard concludes from his analysis that Abraham represents the prototype of faith, for he showed faith when he was willing to obey God’s command to [...]

9 10, 2018

Judaism’s first non-biblical philosopher

By |2018-10-09T05:03:08-07:00October 9th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                             Scholars have recognized long ago that the Bible has “wisdom books,” books that contain philosophy. They are Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes (also called Qohelet), and Ben Sira (also called Sirach and Ecclesiasticus) and the [...]

4 10, 2018

Was Abel and not Cain the real villain?

By |2018-10-04T11:04:52-07:00October 4th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

In his 1919 superb novel Demian, the 1946 Nobel Prize winning author Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) suggested, despite the biblical text clearly stating that Cain criminally murdered his brother Abel, that it is possible to interpret the biblical story of Genesis 4 hinting that Abel was the brother who acted improperly.   The 1919 novel Hesse’s [...]

19 06, 2018

An extremely important book

By |2018-06-19T07:18:42-07:00June 19th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

In "21 Lessons for the 21st Century," Yuval Noah Harari gives us an extremely important book. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Oxford. He has a deep understanding of human behavior and states his views clearly and vividly. His prior two books on the past and future of humanity, Sapiens: A Brief [...]

30 05, 2018

All we want to know about Saudi Arabia

By |2018-05-30T03:54:54-07:00May 30th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Ellen R. Wald’s book “Saudi, Inc.” about the Arabian kingdom’s pursuit of profit and power has been justly praised as “crucial reading for understanding Saudi Arabia” by Steve Forbes, and as “Masterful” by James B. Smith, American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2009-2013. He also called it “mandatory reading.” They are right. The book is [...]

27 05, 2018

Ecclesiastes does not say what we think it says

By |2018-05-27T10:29:23-07:00May 27th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The JPS Bible Commentaries are highly respected for their scholarship and for the clear and easy to read manner in which this scholarship is presented so that even readers with little knowledge of the biblical books can effortlessly understand what is being explained. Michael V. Fox's 2004 interpretation of Ecclesiastes in the JPS series reflects [...]