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 [...]

25 06, 2020

Pascal’s foolish bet

By |2020-06-25T04:31:29-07:00June 25th, 2020|Thoughts|

  What is more important believing in God or acting properly? Some philosophers and academics today recognize that the Jewish philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204) stressed behavior. He recognized that we cannot force people to believe what they are convinced is untrue. In contrast to belief, he spoke of knowing God. He stated that one can gain [...]

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.” [...]

4 06, 2020

Does this make sense?

By |2020-06-04T13:01:51-07:00June 4th, 2020|Thoughts|

         Does the following suggestion on how to avoid the corona virus make sense? And if one is convinced, as he or she should be, that there is no proof that it will work, and perhaps even that the idea is not scientific, should we do it anyway?   Alcohol It is [...]

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 [...]

21 05, 2020

Does God Have Emotions: Anger, Hatred, and Love?

By |2020-05-21T03:57:05-07:00May 21st, 2020|Thoughts|

                       I was asked to explain the verse in Malachi 1:3, "Esau I hated." He wrote: “This is one of the few verses in the Bible that truly disturbs me…. I believe everyone who has ever lived … will attain supreme, lasting happiness….  What exactly does it mean that God hated him, I don't know?” A [...]

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 [...]

11 05, 2020

Epicurus was not as bad as he is portrayed

By |2020-05-11T13:08:24-07:00May 11th, 2020|Thoughts|

Judaism describes a non-believer in God as an Apicorus, a name most likely derived from the Greek philosopher Epicurus (341-270 BCE), as Professor Marcus Jastrow states in his famed Dictionary, although Maimonides in his essay Chelek states it is an Aramaic word.  The rabbis thought that Epicurus denied the existence of God and was a [...]

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 [...]

22 04, 2020

My dad was a hero

By |2020-04-22T07:15:50-07:00April 22nd, 2020|Thoughts|

Today is my dad’s yahrzeit.  My dad, Rabbi Dr. Nathan Drazin was born on March 16, 1906 and passed away in Israel on 28 Nisan 1976. He is well-known as a brilliant man, a scholar with a beautiful personality. He was also a hero. It is proper to remember him today. Although dad came from [...]

20 04, 2020

Good advice to help keep us safe

By |2020-04-20T06:33:51-07:00April 20th, 2020|Thoughts|

 Hessel Meleich sent me this list. Most are not on the list of other people.   Wash hands frequently with soap and water (20 seconds minimum time). This destroys the lipids on the surface of the virus. Keep a distance of at least 6 feet (one metre) away from another person Wear a mask and [...]

19 04, 2020

It helps these days to laugh

By |2020-04-19T04:31:32-07:00April 19th, 2020|Thoughts|

Where there's a will, I want to be in it. The last thing I want to do is hurt you, but it's still on my list. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong. We never really grow up, [...]

14 04, 2020

Hessel Meilech sent me this nice story

By |2020-04-14T06:33:40-07:00April 14th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The Power of Lighting Shabbat Candles By Shula Bryski Two rabbinical students were sent under the direction of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, to the faraway Aleutian Islands, with the sole purpose of bringing the joy and light of Judaism to any Jews that lived there. After a week of searching, they found not [...]

12 04, 2020

Addressing Bible difficulties

By |2020-04-12T06:47:36-07:00April 12th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

It is only in recent times that Yeshivas (post-high-school religious schools) began again to teach Bible. The problem that the rabbis faced was that enlightenment scholars raised multiple questions about the Bible, questions that seemed to show that God did not write or inspire the Bible, but that it was composed by many different authors [...]

7 04, 2020

Why was the first Passover different from subsequent Passovers?

By |2020-04-07T07:31:24-07:00April 7th, 2020|Thoughts|

The following is an abbreviated version of what I wrote in my Mysteries of Judaism 1.   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 [...]

5 04, 2020

Nachmanides Unique View of the Passover Seder

By |2020-04-05T04:39:15-07:00April 5th, 2020|Jewish Books, Thoughts|

Some may say that the mystic Nachmanides (1194-1270) was more interested in heaven than earth. Unlike Maimonides (1138-1204), who focused on a scientific study of the world, Nachmanides was concerned with the way in which Jews interact with God. Maimonides’ view led him to see three people-oriented purposes for the 613 biblical commandments. In his [...]

1 04, 2020

Our Passover is not the biblical Passover

By |2020-04-01T06:46:44-07:00April 1st, 2020|Thoughts|

The following is part of a chapter from my book Mysteries of Judaism 1 in which I explain that every Jewish holiday, without exception, differs with what the Bible mandates. In fact, several biblical holidays ceased to exist. Passover is one of them.   A dead holiday passed on its name Unlike Rosh Hashanah and [...]

1 04, 2020

Good jokes

By |2020-04-01T04:46:10-07:00April 1st, 2020|Thoughts|

My editor sent me the following good Corona virus jokes. Even in terrible times, we should keep up optimistic good humor. To go to the store, they said a mask and gloves were enough…they lied…everyone else had clothes on. 20 years ago, we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs.  Now we have no [...]

29 03, 2020

Demons and magic in the Passover Seder

By |2020-03-29T07:23:54-07:00March 29th, 2020|Thoughts|

There is probably no more meaningful and enjoyable service than the Passover Seder. The word “Seder” means “order.” The Seder service is arranged and celebrated in the Jewish home by the family to teach its participants about the message of the holiday: to recall the exodus from Egyptian slavery, and recognize the need for freedom [...]

22 03, 2020

The Life and Time of Hasdai Crescas

By |2020-03-22T07:42:44-07:00March 22nd, 2020|Thoughts|

One of the most tragic occurrences in Judaism’s long history is the frequent absorption of alien, often heathen and Christian notions. For example, many people do not realize that when they say “gosh almighty” they are speaking about the Christian Holy Ghost and when they say “bloody” they are talking about the blood of Jesus [...]

17 03, 2020

Yehuda Halevi’s Mistakes

By |2020-03-17T08:01:44-07:00March 17th, 2020|Thoughts|

Remarkably, although Yehuda Halevi’s well-known book is filled with illogical ideas, many Jews call the poet a philosopher and rabbi, although he was neither, and praise his book. I will show some of the illogical matters. The twelfth century Spanish poet Yehuda Halevi (1075 or 1086 to 1141) was well-respected during his lifetime. He is [...]

12 03, 2020

Why do Jews win so many Nobel prizes?

By |2020-03-12T05:05:14-07:00March 12th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Super Achievers” by Ronald Gerstl reveals the remarkable disproportionate Jewish contributions to world knowledge of science and heath, and the surprisingly high number of Jewish Nobel Prize Winners in these fields. Although Jews are only 0.2% of the world’s population, Jews were awarded 24% of the Nobel Prizes in science and medicine. Similarly, while [...]

9 03, 2020

The Book of Esther

By |2020-03-09T05:27:28-07:00March 9th, 2020|Thoughts|

                                       After writing about the book of Esther in “Ruth, Esther, and Judith,” I wrote the following Afterword about the book.   Esther is in no way similar to what many think the book contains. Perhaps most [...]

1 03, 2020

A New Haggada

By |2020-03-01T06:02:52-07:00March 1st, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“The Koren Youth Haggada,” an illustrated new 2020 Haggada for use during the Passover Seder has reflections about Passover and Jewish practices, drawing on every other page, raises questions on most pages to prompt thinking and discussion, and is filled with instructions, activities to experience, and thoughts or quotes or a story to attract children’s [...]

25 02, 2020

Esther never fasted on the Fast of Esther

By |2020-02-25T08:41:38-07:00February 25th, 2020|Thoughts|

The holiday of Purim is observed beginning the evening of March 9 with a fast day called the “Fast of Esther” that precedes it on 13 Adar. Some Jews observe the fast day from morning of March 9 until sundown. It does not begin the night before as Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, and is, [...]