24 01, 2022

Did the prophet Elijah act properly?

By |2022-01-24T07:15:40-07:00January 24th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The biblical story of the prophet Elijah is interesting, but it is subject to radically different interpretations. A literal reading of scripture, without imagining acts that are not explicit in the verses, yield a negative interpretation of Elijah's behavior with God being dissatisfied with him, criticizing him, and even killing him. In contrast, [...]

11 01, 2022

Addressing why good people suffer

By |2022-01-11T13:40:01-07:00January 11th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dovid Sapirman, the author of Tranquility and Travail, is a Haredi rabbi. Many Haredi Jews are very conservative and have more fundamental ideas than other Jews. One of Rabbi Sapirman’s views, which many non-Haredi Jews do accept is that God is involved with matters here on earth, and that God knows the details of [...]

10 01, 2022

How Jesus Became God

By |2022-01-11T13:42:20-07:00January 10th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  How Jesus became God by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is an excellent, comprehensive, easy to read history about the begining of Christianity by a man who was once a very conservative Christian, who is now an agnostic, but who offers readers a non-dogmatic, respectful, historical examination of early Christianity. His ultimate goal in this [...]

30 11, 2021

The Cain v. Abel Trial

By |2021-11-30T10:01:38-07:00November 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dr. Dan Ornstein has just written an easy to read Jewish courtroom drama “Cain v. Abel” that is interesting, thoughtful, eye-opening, and thought-provoking based on the rather short close to two dozen biblical sentences in Genesis 4 that report the fraternal murder of Abel by his brother Cain. He includes the rather exiting imaginative [...]

18 10, 2021

The Life and Times of Rabbi Judah the Prince

By |2021-10-18T05:20:06-07:00October 18th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Using many sources, including hundreds of anecdotes, former US Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (1985-1987) and Under Secretary of Defense (2001-2004) Rabbi Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, author of Nehemiah: Statesman and Sage (Maggid Books, 2016), gives us a very informative and riveting, easy to read biography of one of the most important figures [...]

13 10, 2021

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Legacy

By |2021-10-13T06:10:57-07:00October 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    One of the most lamentable recent event was the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who was born in 1948 and died on November 7, 2020. He was a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, award-winning author, an international religious leader, respected moral voice, and public figure. He served as the Chief Rabbi of [...]

12 10, 2021

Aldous Huxley’s idea of a utopia

By |2021-10-12T13:40:53-07:00October 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  After reading Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic “Brave New World,” a book that described a nation which adopted behaviors that destroyed the freedom of its inhabitants by placing them under multiple controls and which hindered their opportunity to develop by engineering their births, and reading Huxley’s follow-up book “Brave New World Revisited” where he described [...]

8 10, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy

By |2021-10-08T07:12:14-07:00October 8th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                               Rabbi Dr, Michael Leo Samuel is one of the top world experts on Maimonides and Philo. His books on both philosophers are filled with easy to read information that will open the eyes and minds of readers. Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy is the final book of Rabbi Samuel’s series on Maimonides’ [...]

3 10, 2021

An Analysis of Brave New World

By |2021-10-03T12:17:49-07:00October 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

After I reviewed Animal Farm and 1984, a friend wrote to me telling me his opinion that Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World was a better book than George Orwell’s 1984. I was surprised that I hadn’t read Brave New World. I got a copy of it along with Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited and found [...]

26 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus

By |2021-09-26T04:43:21-07:00September 26th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                                Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel, author of Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus, has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing this beautiful book and bringing the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic, to his readers. Among many other sources, he focuses [...]

20 09, 2021

Are there anti-Orthodox views in Ecclesiastes?

By |2021-09-20T09:55:48-07:00September 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Kohelet, also spelt Qohelet, Ecclesiastes in Greek and now English, is read during the holiday of Sukkot. We do not know why this book was chosen from among the books of the Bible called The Writings. A popular explanation is that Sukkot is a happy holiday and Ecclesiastes is read to add a [...]

19 09, 2021

Questions about Sukkot

By |2021-09-19T14:34:48-07:00September 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of his book “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many Jewish practices, focusing on 27 holidays and events: synagogue, Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, marriage, birth, pidyin haben, bar mitzvah, tallit [...]

13 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary

By |2021-09-13T05:56:53-07:00September 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary on Exodus 22-40” is a very informative book. Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing it and bringing to his readers the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic. This volume follows his [...]

10 09, 2021

The rationale of Jewish customs and ceremonies of Yom Kippur

By |2021-09-10T09:42:55-07:00September 10th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Judaism has dozens of meaningful customs and ceremonies, but most people, even Jews, do not know all of them, their origins and rationale. Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many of these practices. He includes the views of famous Jewish sages [...]

6 09, 2021

The New Koren Tanakh

By |2021-09-06T08:01:11-07:00September 6th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Koren Publishers Jerusalem has just published an excellent single 2033 page volume of the entire Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, with the beautiful classic Koren Hebrew font and a new, modern, readable translation of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings by the recently deceased Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, and other scholars. Examples [...]

3 09, 2021

Animal Farm, 1984, and society today

By |2021-09-03T10:20:38-07:00September 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Some people maintain that there are striking similarities between George Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984 and American society today.   Animal Farm The farm in Animal Farm is a symbol of Russia and other totalitarian regimes. It was first published in 1945 by George Orwell (1903-1950) four years before he approached the [...]

30 08, 2021

Explanations of the 613 Biblical Commandments

By |2021-08-30T11:14:19-07:00August 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Mitzvot, The Commandments and their Rationale” a very readable listing of the commonly accepted list of biblical commands, presented in the order in which they appear in the Five Books of Moses, identifies the location of the command in the Bible, and gives the explanations [...]

12 08, 2021

A modern approach to the understanding of Judaism

By |2021-08-12T09:01:10-07:00August 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In 1953, the brilliant scholar Dr. Theodor H. Gaster published “Festivals of the Jewish Year: A Modern Interpretation and Guide.” It was updated in 1961. It is about the Jewish festivals and the Sabbath, their description, origin, and comparison to other ancient festivals. In six chapters of his 308 page book, Gaster discusses how [...]

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 [...]