14 10, 2019

Four misunderstood discontinued Jewish institutions

By |2019-10-14T23:52:29-07:00October 14th, 2019|Thoughts|

There are many disagreements about four ancient Jewish institutions: the Sanhedrin, the Men of the Great Assembly, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees. Put differently, no one knows the truth about these institutions, even though that for many Jews, the subject is profoundly important.   Sanhedrin Jewish tradition supposes that the institution of the Sanhedrin began [...]

13 10, 2019

Difficulties and explanations regarding Kohelet

By |2019-10-13T00:07:47-07:00October 13th, 2019|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Tradition mandates that Jews should read the biblical book Kohelet, also spelt Koheleth and Qohelet, called Ecclesiastes in English, during the holiday of Sukkot. Both the Hebrew and English names mean “collector” or “collection.” We do not know why this mandate was made. Some say that since Sukkot is a very happy holiday, we need [...]

10 10, 2019

The origin of Sukkot

By |2019-10-10T22:37:45-07:00October 10th, 2019|Thoughts|

People who pay attention to what they read realize that none of the Jewish holidays are practiced today as the Torah mandates. The rabbis made extensive changes in Torah laws because of changes in human circumstances. I discuss this in detail in my first “Mysteries of Judaism” book. The following is from this book. What [...]

7 10, 2019

Problems with Jonah that make us think

By |2019-10-07T23:46:21-07:00October 7th, 2019|Thoughts|

In my book “Unusual Bible Interpretations Jonah and Amos,” I raised problem areas in the book of Jonah in my introduction and answered them in the pages that followed. Here are some but not all of the problem areas. Some of the questions are: Who was Jonah? When did he live? Is he mentioned elsewhere [...]

5 10, 2019

Ancient rabbis disagreed on how to interpret the Torah

By |2019-10-05T22:11:10-07:00October 5th, 2019|Philosophy, Thoughts|

  Two Talmudic sages lived around 130 CE and disagreed on how to interpret the Bible. Rabbi Akiva won out, and Rashi, Nachmanides, and most ancient Bible commentators as well as most Midrashim follow his view. Others, such as Rashi’s grandson Rashbam, Abraham ibn Ezra, and Maimonides interpret the Torah as Rabbi Ishmael.   Rabbi [...]

12 12, 2018

A very good Bible commentary

By |2018-12-12T05:24:50-07:00December 12th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Koren Publishers’ “The Steinsaltz Humash: Humash Translation and Commentary” by Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz is excellent. The word “Humash” means “five” and refers to the Five Books of Moses which is in this volume in clear Hebrew text in the beautiful Koren font, with a completely new modern English translation that is faithful to the [...]

9 12, 2018

Was the biblical Joseph autistic?

By |2018-12-09T07:22:34-07:00December 9th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  While the idea presented in Samuel J. Levine’s book Was Yosef on the Spectrum, that the biblical Joseph, son of Jacob, was autistic, having Asperger’s Syndrome, may bother some people who prefer to think that Israel’s ancient leaders had no imperfection,[1] they will still find much to learn and much to appreciate in this [...]

5 12, 2018

God vs. gods

By |2018-12-10T09:24:07-07:00December 5th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein’s book “God versus gods: Judaism in the Age of Idolatry" (Mosaica Press, 2018), which is found on Amazon at https://amzn.to/2NO4jLy is filled with information on every page about Jewish history, ideology, God, idols, superstition, and mistakes made by the ancients. There are seven chapters on the history of monotheism in 276 pages, many [...]

27 11, 2018

The new Rabbinical Council of America Siddur

By |2018-11-27T05:27:08-07:00November 27th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    This new 1452-page siddur, which includes 106 additional pages of essays, edited in chief by Rabbi Basil Herring, shows why it is beneficial to have more than one version of the siddur. This new version, with weekday, shabbat, yom tov prayers, and a host of additional sections, offers much that is not in many [...]

25 11, 2018

The Chanukah story does not battle against Greek culture

By |2018-11-25T11:39:51-07:00November 25th, 2018|Thoughts|

   Many people are mistakenly convinced that the Jewish holiday of Chanukah celebrates the victory of the Jewish religion over Hellenism and that the enemy was Greece. Neither supposed fact is true. The Jews in Judea, Egypt and other countries of the diaspora had a longstanding favorable relationship with the Greeks and Hellenism well before [...]

21 11, 2018

What prompted Jacob to wrestle with an angel?

By |2018-11-21T05:04:28-07:00November 21st, 2018|Thoughts|

  The extraordinary and astonishing episode of Jacob wrestling an angel at the Wadi Jabbok raises many questions and an assortment of conflicting answers.   The text The wrestling episode is related in Genesis 32:25–33. Jacob had reached the Wadi Jabbok on his return home after an absence from Canaan of some twenty years. He [...]

18 11, 2018

Do Jews believe in angels?

By |2018-11-18T07:04:57-07:00November 18th, 2018|Thoughts|

 The Bible and prayers mention angels, but Jews differed in the past and still do today on the existence of angels. Should we interpret these allusions symbolically, and deny the existence of angels? Or, should we take these references literally, and insist that not only do angels exist but that they are involved in and [...]

5 11, 2018

One of the best deals on Amazon

By |2018-11-05T05:27:06-07:00November 5th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

There are free short books written in easy to read English that contain significant history that can be obtained from “Hourly History” every Friday. The books can be read in their entirety in an hour. This past Friday, on November 2, 2018, for example, the free books were: Babylon, Anne Frank, Spartacus and the Slave [...]

31 10, 2018

The truth about the Balfour Declaration and its results

By |2018-10-31T04:47:55-07:00October 31st, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

On November 2, 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour sent a historic letter to a leading British Jewish citizen Lord Rothschild that publicized British support of a Jewish homeland. This was the first national recognition of the Jewish right to Israel since the destruction of Israel in 70 CE by the Romans. The letter [...]

21 10, 2018

The Bible is filled with obscurities – examples from women

By |2018-10-21T15:01:58-07:00October 21st, 2018|Thoughts|

  The Bible has many obscure matters. In my forthcoming book “Mysteries of Judaism III,” I will give many examples of the obscurities and how some people have used the obscurities to disparage women. The following is a short version of what will appear in the 2019 book. These examples focus on women.   Eve [...]

17 10, 2018

Difficulties with the Akedah story explained

By |2018-10-17T04:01:41-07:00October 17th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The thrust of Soren Kierkegaard’s 1843 influential book “Fear and Trembling” is long reflections on Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac, a story told in Genesis 22.[1] Kierkegaard concludes from his analysis that Abraham represents the prototype of faith, for he showed faith when he was willing to obey God’s command to [...]

15 10, 2018

More examples of mystical additions to the siddur

By |2018-10-15T04:05:10-07:00October 15th, 2018|Thoughts|

  There are multiple examples of additions by mystics to the siddur and machzor and to the practices concerning how and when the prayers are said. The following are a few examples.   Additions to the Shema The several sections from the Torah which the siddur and machzor call the Shema are recited in the [...]

14 10, 2018

The Siddur is not what most people think it is

By |2018-10-14T07:54:56-07:00October 14th, 2018|Thoughts|

  Contrary to what most people think, the siddur and machzor are not books containing a single view of Judaism. Additionally, much of what is in it are not prayers seeking help. The siddur and machzor are anthologies of diverse, even conflicting views, composed and collected and inserted into the collections by various people during [...]

12 10, 2018

Fascinating ideas of Arnold Ehrlich on Noah and Abraham

By |2018-10-12T06:37:29-07:00October 12th, 2018|Thoughts|

             The great scholar Arnold Ehrlich (1848-1919) authored Mikra Kipheshuto, “The Bible Literally,” in three Hebrew volumes.[1] His ideas are frequently unconventional, even untraditional – for example, he denied that Kings David and Solomon ever existed – yet his ideas are generally very intelligent and thought provoking. The following are [...]

9 10, 2018

Judaism’s first non-biblical philosopher

By |2018-10-09T05:03:08-07:00October 9th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                             Scholars have recognized long ago that the Bible has “wisdom books,” books that contain philosophy. They are Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes (also called Qohelet), and Ben Sira (also called Sirach and Ecclesiasticus) and the [...]

7 10, 2018

Does God punish even after a person repents?

By |2018-10-07T05:09:11-07:00October 7th, 2018|Thoughts|

  In the September 9, 2018 “thetorah.com,” Dr. Rabbi Zev Farber[1] offers a very thoughtful essay “Does YHWH Remit Punishment.” He asks does God inflict punishment even after a person repents. He cites several Torah statements that seem to indicate that even after people repent, they and their innocent descendants are punished for several generations. [...]

4 10, 2018

Was Abel and not Cain the real villain?

By |2018-10-04T11:04:52-07:00October 4th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

In his 1919 superb novel Demian, the 1946 Nobel Prize winning author Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) suggested, despite the biblical text clearly stating that Cain criminally murdered his brother Abel, that it is possible to interpret the biblical story of Genesis 4 hinting that Abel was the brother who acted improperly.   The 1919 novel Hesse’s [...]

26 08, 2018

Some Jokes

By |2018-08-26T03:58:01-07:00August 26th, 2018|Thoughts|

I received these jokes from a former study partner, a smart fellow, and I think you will like them as I did.   A little boy went up to his father and asked: 'Dad, where did my Intelligence come from?' The father replied. 'Well, son, you must have got it from your mother, Cause I [...]

24 08, 2018

More information about Nachmanides

By |2018-08-24T07:37:38-07:00August 24th, 2018|Thoughts|

  In my last essay, I included some of the facts about the great sage Nachmanides that are in my recent book “Nachmanides, An Unusual Thinker.” I did not include the supporting notes that are in the book. Here are some additional views by the great sage. Reading Mystic ideas into halakhah Nachmanides inserted his [...]

21 08, 2018

Nachmanides: An Unusual Thinker

By |2018-08-21T04:59:49-07:00August 21st, 2018|Thoughts|

Gefen Publishing House just published my “Nachmanides: An Unusual Thinker.” In the book, I tell much about Nachmanides, his views about the Torah, about God, his praise but misunderstanding of Targum Onkelos, his views about such things as demons, hell, souls, and other subjects. The following is an abbreviated version of some of his unusual [...]

16 08, 2018

Buddhist ideas that Maimonides would like

By |2018-08-16T04:07:48-07:00August 16th, 2018|Thoughts|

  Dr. Oliver Kent wrote a fascinating educational book called “Inspirational Buddhist Quotations: Meditations and Reflections.”[1] He quotes 100 Buddhist teachings and adds his own brief reflections on each of them. The famed philosopher Maimonides wrote that people should realize that “The truth is the truth no matter what its source.” Although Jewish, he saw [...]

14 08, 2018

The solution is simple

By |2018-08-14T04:17:33-07:00August 14th, 2018|Thoughts|

                                                  In an exccelent and informative article, Professor Marty Lockshin of York University, a rabbi, examined the difficulty raised by Deuteronomy 13:2-4 and tells the solutions offered in a Midrash and by several medieval Jewish commentators.[1] I will add another solution. Deuteronomy states: “If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner – [...]

9 08, 2018

The Bible forbids only certain intermarriages

By |2018-08-09T05:56:48-07:00August 9th, 2018|Thoughts|

  We are not Bible Jews. We are Rabbinical Jews. The Torah only forbids intermarriages with certain non-Israelites, not all of them. But at least since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, Judaism has forbidden intermarriages with non-Jews who have not converted. There are many verses that proscribe marriages with non-Israelites, but until the time [...]

8 08, 2018

I just published a new book.

By |2018-08-08T04:36:06-07:00August 8th, 2018|Thoughts|

Pub date: October 2018 Nachmanides An Unusual Thinker by Israel Drazin ISBN: 9789652298874 Price: $24.95 Pages: 217 Binding: Hardcover Nachmanides was and still is a highly respected scholar. Yet despite his brilliance he had ideas that many modern Jews are unable to accept. He was the first person who contended that the Bible, Targum Onkelos, [...]