24 05, 2023

Teachings by a brilliant Harvard professor

By |2023-05-24T07:06:46-07:00May 24th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Yitzhak Twersky (1930-1997) was one of the top scholars of the past generation. He was brilliant. He was a highly respected professor at Harvard University and founder and head of Harvard's Center of Jewish Studies. Some of his books are classics, especially his monumental work on Maimonides, “Introduction to the Code of Maimonides,” and [...]

22 05, 2023

An Introduction to Jewish Biblical Commentators

By |2023-05-22T12:50:34-07:00May 22nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Dr. Avigail Rock's book (1971-2019) "Great Biblical Commentators," is a very informative, eye-opening, thought-provoking introduction to twenty-four of the many rabbis and scholars who commented on the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible. All of the many who did so could not be listed in the 426 easy-to-read pages, which contain the biographies, methodologies, and samples [...]

1 05, 2023

My health and what’s next

By |2023-05-01T11:58:36-07:00May 1st, 2023|Jewish Books|

Dear Friends, A couple of weeks ago, I fell and hurt myself.  As such, I have been unable to work. I expect a full recovery and a resumption of my normal posting within the next month. I know you would like to send me emails wishing me good health.  Please do not do so because [...]

2 04, 2023

How Should we Think and Live

By |2023-04-02T10:19:19-07:00April 2nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Rabbi Dr. Nachum L. Rabinovitch (1928-2020) authored “Pathways to Their Hearts,” an easy-to-read book by a renowned scholar about how we should think and live. His views are correct. They are based on the rational teachings of the “Great Eagle,” Judaism’s foremost philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204). Rabbi Lord Jonathan Saks (1948-2020), called the “towering intellect [...]

20 03, 2023

Some Rational Thoughts about Vayikra and Sacrifices

By |2023-03-20T07:13:22-07:00March 20th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The first weekly portion in the third Book of Moses is called Vayikra. The third book as a whole was initially called in Hebrew Torat Kohanim, “The law of the Priest,” since much of the book deals with the priestly functions of the family of Moses’ brother Aaron and the Israelite duty to be [...]

17 03, 2023

Mistaken interpretations

By |2023-03-17T04:47:12-07:00March 17th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  I stressed for decades that the Torah is filled with obscurities. They were purposely placed in the Bible to prompt people to think, develop themselves, be all they can be, and help improve society. Unfortunately, some people derive mistaken ideas from what is obscure. The sage Nachmanides is an example. Moshe ben Nachman, also [...]

13 03, 2023

Rational thoughts on Vayyakhel, Pekudey, Shabbat, Synagogues, and more

By |2023-03-13T04:54:19-07:00March 13th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  Two biblical Torah portions are read this week. The portion of Vayyakhel, Exodus 35:1-38:20, contains the Sabbath law, which the rabbis translated as “You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day,” which the Sadducees translated as “You shall have no fire throughout your habitations,” and celebrated Shabbat in darkness, the [...]

2 03, 2023

When is Purim celebrated?

By |2023-03-02T05:13:28-07:00March 2nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The current practice is that Purim is celebrated as a one-day holiday. Cities that were walled at the time of Joshua’s conquest of Israel – most notably Jerusalem – celebrate Purim on Adar 15 to recall the end of hostilities in the walled city of Shushan, where the battles occurred Adar 13 and 14. [...]

21 02, 2023

Thoughts on the portion Terumah, prayer, sacrifices, the synagogue. and more

By |2023-02-21T14:25:06-07:00February 21st, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The weekly portion of Terumah discusses some matters involving the portable Tabernacle the Israelites used for sacrifices while they were in the desert. We read the command that the Israelites must bring material to construct the Tabernacle and its contents, the building of an ark that will contain the Stone Tablets containing the Decalogue, [...]

19 02, 2023

The Graphic Novel Esther

By |2023-02-19T05:18:34-07:00February 19th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  “The Koren Tanakh Graphic Novel Esther” is an excellent volume that will be enjoyed by young and old. The biblical story of Esther and Mordecai’s struggle against anti-Semitism in ancient Persia has fascinated people of all religions for centuries. The events are celebrated joyously by the holiday of Purim instituted by ordinary people, not [...]

12 02, 2023

A fascinating book on lessons derived from architecture in the Bible

By |2023-02-12T06:17:23-07:00February 12th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   Urim Publications published “ArchitecTorah, Architectural Ideas in Judaism and the Weekly Torah Portion” by Joshua Skarf in 2023. It contains 178 short, informative, easy-to-read essays on the fifty-four weekly portions focusing on Torah topics that reveal hidden information about God and architecture design and theory in his 594-page book. He gives at least two [...]

6 02, 2023

Thoughts on the biblical portion Yitro

By |2023-02-06T05:55:51-07:00February 6th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  As usual, the biblical portion Yitro is named after the first significant word in the portion, the name of Moses’ father-in-law Yitro. His name in English is Jethro with a J. German scholars began to transliterate some, but not all, names that start with the Hebrew letter yud with a J. Examples include Jerusalem [...]

3 02, 2023

A new outstanding commentary on the biblical book Leviticus

By |2023-02-03T08:02:52-07:00February 3rd, 2023|Jewish Books|

   Koren Press’ “The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel - Leviticus” follows its predecessors on the Biblical books Exodus and Samuel as a third outstanding biblical commentary. It contains a wealth of scholarly information written in an easy-to-read and interesting – even fascinating – fashion by more than a dozen and a half [...]

2 02, 2023

Celebrating Groundhog Day

By |2023-02-02T05:22:25-07:00February 2nd, 2023|Jewish Books|

                                                                                                          Over time, I wrote two movie reviews on the hilarious film “Groundhog Day,” part of my over 10,000 reviews on books, movies, and music. The first [...]

31 01, 2023

Thoughts on the Biblical Portion Beshalach

By |2023-01-31T11:58:41-07:00January 31st, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The weekly biblical portion Beshalach, meaning When Pharaoh “sent out” the Israelites from their centuries of enslavement, tells how the exodus began, Pharaoh pursued the Israelites, the Israelites’ panic, God’s assurance of safety, the splitting of the sea, the survival of the Israelites in the sea while Egyptians drowned, the Israelites sing a song [...]

25 01, 2023

Thoughts on the Biblical Portion Bo

By |2023-01-25T06:20:02-07:00January 25th, 2023|Jewish Books|

The third parasha in Exodus, Bo, frequently mistranslated as “go,” despite meaning “come,” tell the last three of the ten plagues, God gives the Israelites the first of the 613 commandments concerning the Jewish calendar, a law that seems to be crystal clear, but Jewish tradition treated it as obscure and not mean what it [...]

18 01, 2023

Abiguities in the weekly biblical portion Va-ayra

By |2023-01-18T14:15:21-07:00January 18th, 2023|Jewish Books|

   Exodus 6:2-9:35   The second parasha in Exodus is called Va-ayra, meaning “And I appeared.” It is the first word in the second verse of the portion. As usual, the rabbis called the Bible books and portions after the first significant word, in this instance, the ninth word in the parasha. When the five [...]

12 01, 2023

Obscurities in the Biblical Portion Shemot: Exodus 1:1-6:1

By |2023-01-12T09:46:38-07:00January 12th, 2023|Jewish Books|

Exodus begins to relate the events that followed Joseph's death. He was second in power to Pharaoh and could protect his family while alive. A new Pharaoh assumes the throne and enslaves the Israelites. We read of Moses’ birth and early life, that the new Pharaoh enslaved Joseph’s family, his and his brothers’ descendants, who [...]

9 01, 2023

The Biblical Book Job

By |2023-01-09T06:24:37-07:00January 9th, 2023|Jewish Books|

  The book Job is composed of three parts: a prologue, an epilogue, and the body of the tale. Many scholars are convinced that the prologue and epilogue are additions to the story’s original body. The two are different in tone and portray God in a radically distinctive manner that will disturb rational thinkers. The [...]

4 01, 2023

Was Maimonides a Deist?

By |2023-01-04T06:14:50-07:00January 4th, 2023|Jewish Books|

    Some people think that Maimonides was a deist. I am convinced that they are mistaken. There are some similarities between Maimonides and deists, just as there are similarities between Jews and Christians, but these similarities do not result in us calling Jews Christians.   This becomes clear when we realize there were many different [...]

28 12, 2022

A truthful parable

By |2022-12-28T14:30:39-07:00December 28th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was the first Russian composer to be admired internationally because of the beauty of the melodies in his compositions. He is best known in the United States for the excitement in his 1812 Overture, composed in 1880 and played through the US on New Year's Eve. He wrote this last [...]

27 12, 2022

Chaim Grade’s superb book “The Well”

By |2022-12-27T08:00:28-07:00December 27th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  In my previous reviews of Chaim Grade’s books, I gave my opinion that Grade (1910-1982) should receive the Nobel Prize for literature. He was one of the leading Yiddish writers of the twentieth century. According to many, he was the best of an amazing group. His books are classics. I still feel this way. [...]

25 12, 2022

Days are Coming

By |2022-12-25T11:53:52-07:00December 25th, 2022|Jewish Books|

Maggid Books just published "Days are Coming" by Sivan Rahav-Meir, an easy-to-read, enjoyable, and inspiring book translated from Hebrew by Yehoshua Siskin. The book has many insightful ideas from sages, Bible commentators, and others regarding Jewish holidays, days following the holidays, and times when we remember people who taught us significant lessons that can improve [...]

15 12, 2022

Misconceptions about Hanukkah

By |2022-12-15T08:06:26-07:00December 15th, 2022|Jewish Books|

  Many people have wrong ideas about the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. The following are a few examples: Hanukkah does not celebrate a victory over the Greeks. The Greeks ruled many kingdoms due to Alexander the Great’s conquests, such as Egypt and Greece. Judea, the name Israel had at that time, was persecuted by the Syrians, [...]

19 12, 2021

Jewish Ethics is preferred over Jewish Law

By |2021-12-19T06:12:57-07:00December 19th, 2021|Jewish Books|

    Most people, Jews and non-Jews, think that Judaism prefers that Jews observe Jewish Law, called halakha, rather than ethics, and if the two come in conflict the Jew must follow the halakha. Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn shows in his excellent easy to understand book “To be a Holy People: Jewish Tradition and Ethical [...]

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