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 [...]

29 08, 2021

Yom Kippur and the Holiday the Romans Destroyed

By |2021-08-29T07:58:09-07:00August 29th, 2021|Thoughts|

     Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur does not exist in the Bible. It replaces another day known as Yom Hakippurim. Yom Kippur is singular, “day of atonement,” while Yom Hakippurim is plural, “day of atonements.” The biblical Yom Hakippurim is mentioned in Leviticus 16:29–31, 23:27–32, and Numbers 29:7–11. No work was permitted on this [...]

20 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah practices are not biblical but are important

By |2021-08-20T05:02:56-07:00August 20th, 2021|Thoughts|

    None of the practices associated today with Rosh Hashanah are biblical. Yet they should be observed for they are very helpful.   Sin The concepts of sin and repentance as a religious experience are not in the Bible; they are post-biblical.   “Sin,” a prime element in Christian theology, is chet in Hebrew, [...]

15 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah is not a Biblical Holiday

By |2021-08-15T10:52:15-07:00August 15th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Rosh Hashanah is not a biblical holiday, although it replaced a biblical one. It is notably different from the holiday it replaced. The biblical holiday, Yom Teruah, had a totally different purpose than Rosh Hashanah, which focuses on the onset of a new year, repentance, and commitment to live the next year properly. Yom [...]

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 [...]

6 07, 2021

The connection of fast days to the numbers three and seven

By |2021-07-06T04:05:28-07:00July 6th, 2021|Thoughts|

      The numbers three and seven occur well over a hundred times in Judaism, as do their combination the number ten.[1] The fast day of Tisha b’Av, meaning the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, seems to be an exception – but is it an exception?   The Number Seven Symbolized Completeness [...]

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, [...]

14 06, 2021

Was Spinoza wrong or wholly or partially correct?

By |2021-06-14T04:39:44-07:00June 14th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Spinoza lived from 1632 to 1677 in Holland, had an excellent education, knew the writings of Jewish philosophers, and was considered quite intelligent even at an early age. The Amsterdam community expected him to become a rabbi. His views are unalike the notions of most Jews at his time and now, but he would [...]

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 [...]

25 05, 2021

A review of one of my books

By |2021-05-25T05:49:20-07:00May 25th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Author Dissects Popular Myths About the Bible Mysteries of Judaism IV; Over 100 Mistaken Ideas about God and the Bible by Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin; Gefen Publishing House, 2020;  ISBN 9789657-023457; 220; pages;  $19.95. By Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel CHULA VISTA, California — Rabbi Dr. Israel Drazin’s latest book in [...]

23 05, 2021

Does the Torah mention life after death?

By |2021-05-23T12:38:57-07:00May 23rd, 2021|Thoughts|

    The Bible says nothing about life after death. It does not mention heaven or hell as an abode after death. The Torah’s entire focus is on behavior that results in the betterment of life, human and non-human, on earth. The only rewards offered to those who need the carrot of physical rewards and [...]

20 05, 2021

Christopher Marlowe’s anti-Semitic concept of Jews

By |2021-05-20T06:17:07-07:00May 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

     Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), a contemporary of William Shakespeare, wrote an anti-Semitic play like Shakespeare. Shakespeare wrote “The Merchant of Venice” and Marlowe “The Rich Jew of Malta.” Both writers were Englishmen. Both wrote excellent, very insightful plays. Marlowe was killed in a bar-room brawl, apparently over a dispute over a bill, and died [...]

12 05, 2021

The Truth about Conversion: It is not Biblical

By |2021-05-12T04:18:04-07:00May 12th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Many people, including rabbis, are convinced that the biblical Ruth converted to Judaism. This is not true. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate insists that conversions must be done their way, implying that the Torah tells us how it must be done. These rabbis blackballed dozens of rabbis by name who they charge did not convert [...]

11 05, 2021

The truth about the Book of Ruth

By |2021-05-11T13:56:17-07:00May 11th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

     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 [...]

9 05, 2021

The present holiday of Shavuot is not a biblical holiday

By |2021-05-09T12:02:16-07:00May 9th, 2021|Thoughts|

    The current observance of Shavuot has no relationship to its biblical ancestor and doesn’t even occur at the same time. Very few people know the truth about this day. Most Jews think Shavuot recalls the day the Torah was revealed to the Israelites during the days of Moses. This is not true. This significance [...]

4 05, 2021

An indispensable guide to the Talmud

By |2021-05-04T03:44:36-07:00May 4th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz who authored sixty books and hundreds of articles is the author of the 549 page book “Reference Guide to the Talmud: The Indispensable Talmud Study Aid.” It is one of five new books published by Maggid Books. I reviewed four of the volumes previously. The series [...]

29 04, 2021

A Guide to Jewish Philosophy

By |2021-04-29T04:20:27-07:00April 29th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The 437 page book “A Concise Guide to Mahshava: An overview of Jewish Philosophy,” 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 three of the volumes previously, on the Torah, [...]