22 07, 2019

Does God have a Name?

By |2019-07-22T02:49:59-07:00July 22nd, 2019|Jewish Books|

The Lord God is described in the Bible as Y-h-v-h, which is called “the Tetragrammaton,” meaning a four-letter word. Many think the Tetragrammaton is God’s name, but this is not true. It is a description of how God functions in the universe, an abbreviated version of Exodus 3:14. When God first appeared to Moses and [...]

17 07, 2019

Do Jews believe in Satan and demons?

By |2019-07-17T10:44:09-07:00July 17th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Jews are no different than people of other religions. There is no subject that every Jew accepts. Even rabbis differ in what they think is right. Many Jews reject the notion of the existence of demons and even angels. They feel, like Maimonides, that there is no mention of demons in the Hebrew Bible and [...]

11 07, 2019

Rabbis invent a false Maimonides

By |2019-07-11T04:27:47-07:00July 11th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The “Yeshiva world,” is comprised for the most part of schools where far-right rabbis teach Jewish students their view of Judaism, a religion that rejects secular studies as harmful and heretical. Many far-right rabbis respect Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, his code of Jewish laws, but not his philosophical Guide of the Perplexed because it is based [...]

9 07, 2019

Jewish fasts are not what people think they are

By |2019-07-09T04:39:45-07:00July 9th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The Fast of 17 Tammuz occurs this year on July 20 which is a Saturday, so the fast is postponed to Sunday July 21, as will be explained below. The Jewish calendar contains a mourning period during the summer months. It begins and ends with fast days, whose precise dates are not based on verifiable [...]

3 07, 2019

Reinventing Maimonides

By |2019-07-03T06:17:03-07:00July 3rd, 2019|Jewish Books|

“Maimonides: Between Philosophy and Halakhah: Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik’s lectures on the Guide of the Perplexed” is interesting because it shows the basic ideas of Rabbi Soloveitchik’s thinking. But readers should not suppose that they will gain an insight into the teachings of Maimonides or even some of his teachings by reading the book. It [...]

1 07, 2019

The messiah is descended from the evil Jezebel

By |2019-07-01T04:45:05-07:00July 1st, 2019|Jewish Books|

It is generally unknown that according to tradition the messiah who will bring peace to the world is not only a descendant of King David, but also from the wicked King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the later being a rabid worshiper of the idol Baal and murderer of many prophets of the Lord. A brief [...]

24 06, 2019

A Great Love story

By |2019-06-24T07:43:30-07:00June 24th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The story of Peter Abelard (1079-1142) and Heloise (1095-1163) is considered a great medieval love story. We have still today Abelard’s autobiography and letters between the parties, so we know much but not all of the love story. James Burge’s “Heloise and Abelard” is an interesting easy to read scholarly study. Peter Abelard was a [...]

19 06, 2019

Golf joke

By |2019-06-19T04:04:53-07:00June 19th, 2019|Jewish Books|

A Catholic friend of mine sent me this joke. The Pope met with his Cardinals to discuss a proposal from Benjamin  Netanyahu, the leader of Israel. "Your Holiness", said one of his Cardinals, “Mr. Netanyahu wants to challenge you to a game of golf to show the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared by the Jewish [...]

16 06, 2019

Is the Zohar an Ancient Book?

By |2019-06-16T06:07:04-07:00June 16th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Many mystics insist that the Zohar was composed by Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai around the year 130 CE. However, scholars recognize that Moses d’ Leon, a Spaniard living in Granada, wrote it around 1286, that parts of the book were added by others after his death, and that the work is a pious forgery. Zohar [...]

13 06, 2019

Differences between a Jewish and non-Jewish tale

By |2019-06-13T04:27:32-07:00June 13th, 2019|Jewish Books|

There are many instances where both Jews and non-Jews tell stories with some variations on the same plot. In many of these instances, the Jewish version attempts to use its version to teach Jews proper behavior. The following is an example. Rip Van Winkle Washington Irving (1783-1859) published “Rip Van Winkle” in 1820 and the [...]

11 06, 2019

The world is filled with Jews

By |2019-06-11T04:40:26-07:00June 11th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Most people are convinced that there are comparatively few Jews in the world, only about 13.3 million in 2001, about 1.4 percent of the world population, 4.9 million lived in Israel and 8.3 million outside the Holy Land. Logic would dictate that the actual figure is many times that number and percentage. It is even [...]

5 06, 2019

The truth about Ruth

By |2019-06-05T04:06:32-07:00June 5th, 2019|Jewish Books|

During the holiday of Shavuot, the practice in many synagogues is to read the beautiful biblical book Ruth. Various reasons attempt to explain the practice including that Ruth is said to have converted to Judaism around the time of Shavuot and so did the Israelites when they accepted the Torah; Ruth was an ancestress of [...]

2 06, 2019

Who were the most influential Jews of all time?

By |2019-06-02T05:02:45-07:00June 2nd, 2019|Jewish Books|

Whether one agrees with Michael Shapiro’s listing in his 1995 387-page book “The Jewish 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of all Time” or not, the books should make us think not only whether we would agree with his selections, whether we would delete some names and substitute others, but also who we [...]

29 05, 2019

Young Abraham was different than what we think

By |2019-05-29T10:05:43-07:00May 29th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Everything written about Abraham as a young man is midrashic. They are imaginative events, not based on anything in the Torah. A close reading of the Torah reveals a totally different young Abraham than the fictional midrashic accounts. What does the Bible say about Abraham’s early life? The story of Abraham’s early life in the [...]

26 05, 2019

An insufficiently recognized biblical style

By |2019-05-26T07:32:43-07:00May 26th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Many religious people of all faiths accept the Five Books of Moses, the Torah, as a divine document. They see that the Torah has many stories and are convinced that they understand the stories which teach them lessons. The truth is different. While the Torah relates many events, it rarely explains them. Virtually all the [...]

22 05, 2019

The Biblical Flood and the Gilgamesh Myth

By |2019-05-22T04:12:59-07:00May 22nd, 2019|Jewish Books|

There are remarkable similarities between the biblical story of the flood and the more ancient version of Gilgamesh. The Babylonian epic Gilgamesh was written on twelve tablets around 2000 BCE and has survived in several versions. It was discovered in 1839 among the ruins of a buried library in the excavated ancient city Nineveh. Amazingly, [...]

19 05, 2019

The biblical and a Greek creation stories

By |2019-05-19T06:38:54-07:00May 19th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Greek and Jewish myths, reports and tales appear at first blush to be remarkably similar, but there are stark differences in how each culture views God, the world, the presence of evil, the worth of people, their duty and their future. Psychologists have recognized that one can understand a subject better by comprehending its opposite [...]

15 05, 2019

The Myth of Lag B’omer

By |2019-05-15T05:37:06-07:00May 15th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The following is from my book “Mysteries of Judaism.” The semi-holiday Lag B’omer is based on an unsubstantiated and unlikely tradition[1]. Lag B’omer means the thirty-third day since bringing the barley harvest (omer) to the tabernacle and later temples to thank God for the barley harvest. An omer is a certain weight of the grain such as [...]

12 05, 2019

Maimonides’ most relevant teaching

By |2019-05-12T03:31:39-07:00May 12th, 2019|Jewish Books|

I wrote about Maimonides’ medical teachings in my book Maimonides: Reason above All and gave many examples there. Maimonides was not only a great philosopher and writer on Jewish laws, he also practiced as a doctor and he wrote extensively about healthy living. Maimonides wrote his Commentary on the Aphorisms of Hippocrates, one of his [...]

7 05, 2019

An engrossing Sephardic memoir

By |2019-05-07T04:57:13-07:00May 7th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Rabbi Dr. Marc D. Angel’s “A New World: An American Sephardic Memoir” reads like an engrossing novel. It describes the transition of the Angel family from an immigrant Sephardic community into an Americanized group over several generations. In the process, it "reminisces" about the immigrant generation, but also deals with the struggles of trying to [...]

5 05, 2019

Did Adam have an affair with a demon for 130 years?

By |2019-05-05T04:42:12-07:00May 5th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The book of Genesis tells readers that Adam and Eve’s first two children were Cain and Able. Then in Genesis 5:3, it states that when Adam was 130-years-old he had his third son Seth. The Bible and Talmud commentator Rashi (1040-1105) relied on the Midrash Genesis Rabbah and states that Adam refrained from having sex [...]

1 05, 2019

The concept of “sin” is not Jewish

By |2019-05-01T05:01:37-07:00May 1st, 2019|Jewish Books|

There are two things I have been saying and then a third item came along and surprised me. I mentioned often that there is no concept of “sin” in the Hebrew Bible as a distorting stain upon the soul that requires a kind of supernatural atonement process, as the concept is understood today. I suggested [...]

28 04, 2019

Did Jacob wrestle with an angel?

By |2019-04-28T08:00:08-07:00April 28th, 2019|Jewish Books|

DMy father Rabbi Dr. Nathan Drazin was a very wise man. He was a rabbi in Shaarei Tfiloh Congregation in Baltimore for 31 years. I enjoyed listening to his sermons. The one I liked the best concerned his true interpretation of the incident where many mistakenly understand that Jacob wrestled with an angel. What really [...]

24 04, 2019

Huge mistaken Bible interpretations

By |2019-04-24T10:23:12-07:00April 24th, 2019|Jewish Books|

There are many interpretations of biblical event that people were taught to believe which are clearly untrue. The following are three examples. Adam lied to his wife resulting in a catastrophe Genesis 2:16-17 states that before Eve was created, “The Lord God commanded the man, saying: ‘You may eat of every tree of the Garden; [...]

22 04, 2019

The Biblical rule to count weeks while Jews count days

By |2019-04-22T04:13:15-07:00April 22nd, 2019|Jewish Books|

                                     As I described in detail in my book Mysteries of Judaism, the ancient religious Jewish group Pharisees, who existed from about 320 BCE until 70 CE, and the rabbis who followed them changed all of the Jewish practices and holidays mentioned in the Torah in some ways, without any exception. As a result, Jews are [...]

17 04, 2019

The Mysterious Origin of the Passover Haroset

By |2019-04-17T04:33:12-07:00April 17th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Many Jewish practices are not as old as people think and many had no religious significance when first introduced. We do not even know how or when most Jewish practices began and why they began. We can only guess. And in many instances our guesses reveal that it wasn’t rabbis who started the practice, it [...]

14 04, 2019

Why was the first Passover different from all other Passovers?

By |2019-04-14T04:09:59-07:00April 14th, 2019|Jewish Books|

The Israelites’ first Passover, celebrated in Egypt just prior to the exodus and described in Exodus 12:1-11, was radically different from the Torah mandated holiday observed after the exodus. Exodus 12, which describes the Egyptian ceremony, raises many questions. (1) Why does the Torah command that “this month,” the month of the exodus, should be [...]

12 04, 2019

A Beautiful Passover Graphic Haggadah

By |2019-04-12T04:12:54-07:00April 12th, 2019|Jewish Books|

A Jordan B. Gorfinkel and Erez Zadok’s 2019 graphic Haggadah will delight parents and children.[1] There are humorous comics explaining the Haggadah and Seder ceremonies in about half of the book’s 170 pages with the chad gadya, the Haggadah’s goat, explaining the Seder practices to his hungry impatient daughter. At one point, when the vegetable [...]

10 04, 2019

Passover: A Dead Holiday Passed on its Name

By |2019-04-10T06:34:29-07:00April 10th, 2019|Jewish Books|

Unlike Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which I discuss in my book "Mysteries of Judaism," the holiday of Passover did not continue to exist in a radically modified fashion with a new name after the temple was destroyed in 70 CE. It disappeared entirely and Chag Hamatzot’s name was changed to Passover. The biblical Passover [...]

7 04, 2019

I was surprised

By |2019-04-07T06:14:50-07:00April 7th, 2019|Jewish Books|

There are two things I have been saying, and then a third item came along and surprised me. I mentioned often that there is no concept of “sin” in the Hebrew Bible as a distorting stain upon the soul that requires a kind of supernatural atonement process, as the concept is understood today. I suggested [...]