8 12, 2020

Ingratitude

By |2020-12-08T06:29:24-07:00December 8th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Howard Rubenstein’s play “Prometheus Bound” is based on the play “Prometheus Bound” attributed to the famed Greek playwright Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE - c. 456 BCE), called the father of tragedy, from which it was freely adapted, and based on the epic poem “Origin of the Gods” by the Greek didactic poet Hesiod (c. 750 [...]

6 12, 2020

Erroneous views about Hanukah

By |2020-12-06T05:21:10-07:00December 6th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Many Jews, even those who do not observe any Jewish practice other than Yom Kippur and Passover, observe Hanukah, mostly because their children want gifts, but they have wrong ideas about the history relating to the holiday. Even most observant Jews have wrong ideas, as do many non-Jews. Dr. Howard Rubenstein published a fascinating [...]

1 12, 2020

A very good play about an ancient legend

By |2020-12-01T05:17:43-07:00December 1st, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Dr. Howard Rubenstein, who passed away a couple of months ago, was a physician, author, and a playwright. The Golem is one of his plays. It is an adaptation of a well-known rather disturbing, timeless, and exciting age-old Jewish myth based on the false allegation that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in [...]

22 11, 2020

Was Chaucer an anti-Semite?

By |2020-11-22T05:16:52-07:00November 22nd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Jews have suffered much by being persecuted by people who hated them. Were these people anti-Semites? Or was there something else that caused the hatred? Let’s look at one example. One of the tales that is told in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is the controversial story told by a prioress called “The Prioress’s Tale.” [...]

19 11, 2020

A treasure of information

By |2020-11-19T07:15:41-07:00November 19th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Many readers of the Bible have mistaken ideas about the places mentioned in the Bible. The book "Places in the Parasha" is a very good book, with chapters for each of the more than fifty Torah readings in synagogues on the Shabbat as well as the special readings on holidays. It identifies the location of [...]

9 11, 2020

The Wisdom of Gersonides

By |2020-11-09T09:23:37-07:00November 9th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

It is tragic even bizarre that most rabbis today sermonize by quoting Midrashim as if what the Midrash states, despite being contrary to nature, actually occurred. They also quote the views of mystics, but not rational thinkers such as Maimonides other than to quote a legal view of his that parallels those of mystics, leading [...]

27 10, 2020

The religious and Literary ideas of Nachmanides

By |2020-10-27T07:19:19-07:00October 27th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The highly respected scholar Dr. Isadore Twersky (1930-1997) was a professor at Harvard University, a rabbi, the Chasidic Tainer Rebbe of Boston, and the son-in-law of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik. His works on Maimonides and other writings achieved high praise. In 1983, Harvard University Press published his book “Rabbi Moses Nahmanides (Ramban): Explorations [...]

25 10, 2020

Examining Jesus as a human

By |2020-10-25T08:06:52-07:00October 25th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“According to James” is an interesting and thoughtful book. Whether readers are Christians, Jews, Muslims, or something else, and even if they strongly disagree with the story Howard Rubenstein tells about James, an older brother of Jesus, they will find that the story prompts them to think about many aspects of religion. The story is [...]

20 10, 2020

Abraham ibn Ezra’s explanations of the Biblical Laws

By |2020-10-20T04:00:08-07:00October 20th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In Abraham ibn Ezra’s masterpiece, the twelve chapters of “Sefer Yesod Mora Ve-Sod Ha-Torah,” Treatise on the Foundation of Awe and The Secret of the Torah, ibn Ezra gave some of his explanations of the biblical commandments. He felt that each command, without exception was rational. The following are some of his other ideas. [...]

14 10, 2020

The Brilliant Ideas of Abraham ibn Ezra

By |2020-10-14T04:59:38-07:00October 14th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

One of the most brilliant ancient Jewish thinkers was Abraham ibn Ezra (1089 or 1092-1164). Being human, he, like all other people including the best of humans, without exception, made mistakes in his thinking, such as his belief that astrology is a true science. But overall. He ranks among the foremost thinkers of Judaism. His [...]

30 09, 2020

An excellent very engaging novel

By |2020-09-30T06:15:58-07:00September 30th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Avraham Azrieli’s “The Elixirist” is excellent, so full of exciting events that it will make a wonderful motion picture. It is the story of a young boy of 16, Sall, who lived in the biblical time of the judges, before the Israel tribes united, when they sometimes engaged in war with one another, when Israelite [...]

22 09, 2020

A very good mystery

By |2020-09-22T06:31:09-07:00September 22nd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Ken Farmer’s “Three Creeks” is delightful. I read all of Ken Farmer’s books cover to cover, usually without the ability to put them down but needing to read them in a single day, and I enjoyed them all. I think that this one is his best. As I read it, I thought it compared very [...]

16 09, 2020

A book filled with knowledge

By |2020-09-16T03:53:50-07:00September 16th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a world-wide respected religious leader, the former chief rabbi of the English Commonwealth, the author of more than thirty books, and the winner of numerous prizes. His new book "Judaism's Life-Changing Ideas," with a Foreword '"The Secret of Our Staying Power" by Bari Weiss, the award-winning author and op-ed editor [...]

15 09, 2020

Obscure biblical statements explained

By |2020-09-15T03:48:05-07:00September 15th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi David Fohrman published a book called “Genesis: A Parsha Companion.” In his book, he points out obscure and questionable matters in each of the twelve portions in Genesis and offers his view of what the lesson is that underlies the verse or event. The interpretations are usually based on his own ideas or ancient [...]

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 [...]

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, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]