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, [...]

27 04, 2021

A new guide to Jewish law

By |2021-04-27T09:45:07-07:00April 27th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “A Concise Guide to Halakha: An overview of Jewish Law,” 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 two of the volumes previously, on the Torah and on the Sages. [...]

19 04, 2021

Moral issues raised by Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”

By |2021-04-19T06:24:01-07:00April 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  There are Shakespearian scholars who feel that “Measure for Measure” is Shakespeare’s greatest play. This is very possible. It certainly is one of his best. It is very thoughtful. It addresses ancient unresolved problems of human nature that still exist today, and it prompts us to think: the good verses the evil inclination, male [...]

14 04, 2021

A huge wealth of information from the Sages

By |2021-04-14T11:47:35-07:00April 14th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “A Concise Guide to the Sages,” subtitled “An Overview of Jewish Wisdom,” 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. The series informs readers in easy to read English of the fundamentals [...]

9 04, 2021

A new series of five books that explain Judaism

By |2021-04-09T10:43:34-07:00April 9th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid Books has published a new five volume series of books by the recently deceased scholar Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz that inform readers in easy to read English of the fundamentals of Judaism. The series focuses on five main topics of Jewish tradition (1) Torah, in a volume called “A Concise Guide to [...]

6 04, 2021

The trial of the builders of the Tower of Babel

By |2021-04-06T06:19:05-07:00April 6th, 2021|Thoughts|

  I pointed out many times that virtually the entire Bible is either obscure or ambiguous. This not a criticism. Some scholars and I have noted that all very good literature is obscure or ambiguous. This enhances what is written. It gives the reader an opportunity to interpret what is being read. It is as [...]

30 03, 2021

Why do Jews Count 49 Days?

By |2021-03-30T04:28:38-07:00March 30th, 2021|Thoughts|

  As I explained in my book Mysteries of Judaism 1, 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 in some ways. Let’s look at the laws of counting the omer, called in Hebrew [...]

21 03, 2021

Two biblical holidays celebrated at the same moment

By |2021-03-21T11:46:08-07:00March 21st, 2021|Thoughts|

  There are rabbis and scholars who are convinced that half of the biblical holiday of Passover was celebrated during the biblical holiday of Chag Hamatzot.   The problem I heard a rabbi and professor mistakenly tell his audience that the biblical holiday of “Passover” of the fourteenth day of the first month of the [...]

19 03, 2021

A dead holiday called Passover passed on its name

By |2021-03-19T06:00:23-07:00March 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The biblical holiday Passover ceased to exist when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE. It disappeared entirely and Chag Hamatzot’s name was changed to Passover.   The biblical Passover The biblical holiday Passover occurred on the fourteenth day of the first month, later called Nisan. It had only one ceremony. The Israelites were required [...]

17 03, 2021

Demons and Sympathetic Magic in the Passover Seder

By |2021-03-17T04:34:42-07:00March 17th, 2021|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 [...]

16 03, 2021

The first Passover was different than subsequent Passovers

By |2021-03-16T05:52:32-07:00March 16th, 2021|Thoughts|

  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, [...]

8 03, 2021

Was Thomas Jefferson a heretic and anti-Semite?

By |2021-03-08T05:21:50-07:00March 8th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

      Often when I hear people wanting to destroy statues of historical figures and burn books of authors who mentioned something they considered wrong, even though these men and women also did good things and are part of our history, I wonder what they would do with the Hebrew Bible if they found [...]

26 02, 2021

A new excellent Torah commentary for Va’era

By |2021-02-26T07:11:13-07:00February 26th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rather than following the usual practice of writing a single book on one or more volumes of the Five Books of Moses with the authors ideas supplemented by up to about a dozen commentaries from other sources, Koren Publishers Jerusalem has launch a huge project that will benefit many Jews and non-Jews. This new series [...]

23 02, 2021

A set of jokes

By |2021-02-23T05:18:50-07:00February 23rd, 2021|Thoughts|

This set was sent to me by Judy Rubenstein. I hope that you like them as I did.   "If the rich could hire other people to die for them, the poor could make a wonderful living." Yiddish Proverb   “The wise man, even when he holds his tongue, says more than the fool when [...]

21 02, 2021

What is the book of Esther really about?

By |2021-02-21T09:11:38-07:00February 21st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid books 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. She [...]

16 02, 2021

Not Everyone Liked Rashi

By |2021-02-16T13:57:30-07:00February 16th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Rashi (1040-1105) is the most popular Bible and Talmud commentator. Children attending Hebrew Schools are taught the Torah with Rashi’s commentary. Yet, many rabbis and scholars recognize that Rashi generally does not give his readers the true meaning of the biblical verses. Instead, Rashi all too often simply repeats what he sees in ancient [...]

10 02, 2021

An excellent new extensive Bible commentary

By |2021-02-19T10:07:20-07:00February 10th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Koren Publishers Jerusalem has launch a huge project that will benefit many Jews and non-Jews. While most books containing commentaries on the bible either focus on all five books of the Torah or just one of the five books, and then gives only the commentaries of about a dozen commentators as well as that [...]

5 02, 2021

The moving history of God Bless America

By |2021-02-05T05:23:59-07:00February 5th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

This is the very moving history of God Bless America sent to me by Judith Rubenstein. Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that when he and a million other guys first heard her sing "God Bless America" on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes [...]

1 02, 2021

One of the great plays

By |2021-02-01T05:26:27-07:00February 1st, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Dr. Howard Rubenstein’s translation of the famed Greek playwright Aeschylus’ play “Agamemnon” is a brilliant work. It is the first modern, very readable, very interesting and educational translation of an important classic with a wealth of explanatory information. The problem with former translations is that its English is outdated, stilted, and often hard to understand. [...]

31 01, 2021

Two great songs

By |2021-01-31T11:47:59-07:00January 31st, 2021|Thoughts|

Hessel Meilech sent me Rabbi Sacks' outstanding interpretation of Leonard Cohen's song. I enjoyed Rabbi Sack's explanation and then listened to the song which I liked. Then, I looked on the right side You-Tube and clicked on Halleluyah which is superb. I listened to it more than once.   I think you will like it [...]

28 01, 2021

The best English commentary on the Torah

By |2021-02-19T10:09:55-07:00January 28th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

While most books containing commentaries on the bible either focus on all five books of the Torah or just one of the five books, and then gives only the commentaries of about a dozen commentators as well as that of the author of the volume, Koren Press Mikraot Hadorot offers much more. It is part [...]

15 01, 2021

An interesting and very thoughtful film

By |2021-01-15T07:40:39-07:00January 15th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

I have seen many films made in the 1930s and I feel that “As the Earth Turns” is the best of the lot. Edmund Hartman produced the restored 45 minute film and composed the dramatic music for this silent sci-fi film. It was made in 1937 and he arranged for its distribution in 2020. The [...]

13 01, 2021

Esther in America

By |2021-01-13T06:37:27-07:00January 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The biblical book Esther made a significant impact upon Americans, Jews and non-Jews, as seen in the new book "Esther in America." As I described in detail in my book “Ruth, Esther, and Judith,” the biblical book Esther is in no way similar to what many think the book contains. Most noteworthy is that it [...]

12 01, 2021

Lessons from Buddhists

By |2021-01-12T07:32:29-07:00January 12th, 2021|Thoughts|

   While I am an Orthodox Jew, I recognize that I as well as all people of all religions can learn much from Buddhists and others. The greatest Jewish philosopher, the rational thinker Maimonides, reminded us that the truth is the truth no matter what its source. Not only rational philosophers, but even mystics stressed [...]

28 12, 2020

A good joke

By |2020-12-28T05:54:19-07:00December 28th, 2020|Thoughts|

Dr. Judith Rubenstein sent me this joke. It is said to have appeared in French churches in French.   It is possible that on entering this church, you may hear the Call of God. On the other hand, it is unlikely that He will contact you by phone. Thank you for turning off your phone. [...]

28 12, 2020

Why do bad things happen to good people?

By |2020-12-28T05:25:50-07:00December 28th, 2020|Thoughts|

In the first of my series of “Mysteries of Judaism,” I pointed out that all of the biblical holidays, such as Passover, and rabbinical Jewish holidays, as Chanukah and Purim, were changed over the years. Some, as Passover on Nissan 14, even disappeared even though mandated in the Torah. Some, like Rosh Hashanah and Yom [...]

13 12, 2020

Hanukah does not disparage Greek culture

By |2020-12-13T06:08:10-07:00December 13th, 2020|Thoughts|

                  Many people are mistakenly convinced that the Jewish holiday of Hanukah 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 [...]