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 [...]

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 [...]