22 11, 2020

Was Chaucer an anti-Semite?

By |2020-11-22T05:16:52-07:00November 22nd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Jews have suffered much by being persecuted by people who hated them. Were these people anti-Semites? Or was there something else that caused the hatred? Let’s look at one example. One of the tales that is told in Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” is the controversial story told by a prioress called “The Prioress’s Tale.” [...]

19 11, 2020

A treasure of information

By |2020-11-19T07:15:41-07:00November 19th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Many readers of the Bible have mistaken ideas about the places mentioned in the Bible. The book "Places in the Parasha" is a very good book, with chapters for each of the more than fifty Torah readings in synagogues on the Shabbat as well as the special readings on holidays. It identifies the location of [...]

9 11, 2020

The Wisdom of Gersonides

By |2020-11-09T09:23:37-07:00November 9th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

It is tragic even bizarre that most rabbis today sermonize by quoting Midrashim as if what the Midrash states, despite being contrary to nature, actually occurred. They also quote the views of mystics, but not rational thinkers such as Maimonides other than to quote a legal view of his that parallels those of mystics, leading [...]

8 11, 2020

A radical view about “truth”

By |2020-11-08T07:39:49-07:00November 8th, 2020|Thoughts|

I read some books and essays recently focusing on the “truths” that people of different religions have that differ with the “truths” held by people of other religions. The object of the books and essays is to find how we can improve interfaith relations when the lives of different people are based on ideas that [...]

27 10, 2020

The religious and Literary ideas of Nachmanides

By |2020-10-27T07:19:19-07:00October 27th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  The highly respected scholar Dr. Isadore Twersky (1930-1997) was a professor at Harvard University, a rabbi, the Chasidic Tainer Rebbe of Boston, and the son-in-law of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik. His works on Maimonides and other writings achieved high praise. In 1983, Harvard University Press published his book “Rabbi Moses Nahmanides (Ramban): Explorations [...]

25 10, 2020

Examining Jesus as a human

By |2020-10-25T08:06:52-07:00October 25th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

“According to James” is an interesting and thoughtful book. Whether readers are Christians, Jews, Muslims, or something else, and even if they strongly disagree with the story Howard Rubenstein tells about James, an older brother of Jesus, they will find that the story prompts them to think about many aspects of religion. The story is [...]

20 10, 2020

Abraham ibn Ezra’s explanations of the Biblical Laws

By |2020-10-20T04:00:08-07:00October 20th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In Abraham ibn Ezra’s masterpiece, the twelve chapters of “Sefer Yesod Mora Ve-Sod Ha-Torah,” Treatise on the Foundation of Awe and The Secret of the Torah, ibn Ezra gave some of his explanations of the biblical commandments. He felt that each command, without exception was rational. The following are some of his other ideas. [...]

18 10, 2020

More Biblical Obscurities

By |2020-10-18T10:07:55-07:00October 18th, 2020|Thoughts|

When I posted the article containing a long list of obscure items in the Tanakh on my website www.booksnthoughts.com, I heard from many readers who found the list interesting and thoughtful. Some even offered their own interpretation of the obscure item. In view of the interest. I am listing some more of the hundreds of [...]

14 10, 2020

The Brilliant Ideas of Abraham ibn Ezra

By |2020-10-14T04:59:38-07:00October 14th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

One of the most brilliant ancient Jewish thinkers was Abraham ibn Ezra (1089 or 1092-1164). Being human, he, like all other people including the best of humans, without exception, made mistakes in his thinking, such as his belief that astrology is a true science. But overall. He ranks among the foremost thinkers of Judaism. His [...]

30 09, 2020

An excellent very engaging novel

By |2020-09-30T06:15:58-07:00September 30th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Avraham Azrieli’s “The Elixirist” is excellent, so full of exciting events that it will make a wonderful motion picture. It is the story of a young boy of 16, Sall, who lived in the biblical time of the judges, before the Israel tribes united, when they sometimes engaged in war with one another, when Israelite [...]

23 09, 2020

Orthodox Jewish Burial Laws and Justice Ginsburg

By |2020-09-23T09:56:34-07:00September 23rd, 2020|Thoughts|

Is the delaying of the burial of Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Ruth Bader Ginsburg by placing her in State for some days rather than burying her as soon as possible a violation of Orthodox Jewish law? It is not a violation. There is no biblical requirement regarding burial in the Torah. The practices [...]

22 09, 2020

A very good mystery

By |2020-09-22T06:31:09-07:00September 22nd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Ken Farmer’s “Three Creeks” is delightful. I read all of Ken Farmer’s books cover to cover, usually without the ability to put them down but needing to read them in a single day, and I enjoyed them all. I think that this one is his best. As I read it, I thought it compared very [...]

16 09, 2020

A book filled with knowledge

By |2020-09-16T03:53:50-07:00September 16th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is a world-wide respected religious leader, the former chief rabbi of the English Commonwealth, the author of more than thirty books, and the winner of numerous prizes. His new book "Judaism's Life-Changing Ideas," with a Foreword '"The Secret of Our Staying Power" by Bari Weiss, the award-winning author and op-ed editor [...]

15 09, 2020

Obscure biblical statements explained

By |2020-09-15T03:48:05-07:00September 15th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi David Fohrman published a book called “Genesis: A Parsha Companion.” In his book, he points out obscure and questionable matters in each of the twelve portions in Genesis and offers his view of what the lesson is that underlies the verse or event. The interpretations are usually based on his own ideas or ancient [...]

9 09, 2020

The Shofar Scares Satan, Keeping Him at Arm’s Length

By |2020-09-09T04:09:09-07:00September 9th, 2020|Thoughts|

It is absolutely certain that both the spiritual leaders of Jewry and the masses of uneducated Jews (or at least the majority of these) before, during and after the talmudic period believed that the shofar, the ram’s horn, was blown on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah in order to scare Satan and his demonic cohorts. [...]

1 09, 2020

More Obscure Items in the Torah

By |2020-09-01T04:16:14-07:00September 1st, 2020|Thoughts|

When I posted the article containing a long list of obscure items in the Tanakh, I heard from many readers who found the list interesting and thoughtful. Some even offered their own interpretation of the obscure item. In view of the interest. I am listing some more of the hundreds of obscure words and events [...]

24 08, 2020

The Bible is Generally Unclear

By |2020-08-24T04:29:50-07:00August 24th, 2020|Thoughts|

Listening to the clergy, priest, minister, rabbi or other religious leader, and hearing the interpretation they give of biblical events and verses, congregants become convinced that what they are hearing is exactly what the Bible is saying, not an imaginative interpretation of the clergy. The sermon, for example, may stress that the Bible states that [...]

17 08, 2020

The Use of Two in the Joseph Drama

By |2020-08-17T04:12:27-07:00August 17th, 2020|Thoughts|

  Many people who read or even carefully study the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, fail to pay attention to details and as a result they miss much that is in the Bible, the brilliant way that it is written, its poetry, its references to other incidences, its use of metaphor, and much more. The drama [...]

11 08, 2020

Science and Religion are not Similar

By |2020-08-11T06:09:37-07:00August 11th, 2020|Thoughts|

I read an article by a professor who wanted to show that science and religion are similar. I think that the support he offers for his view is simplistic and, worse, it is wrong.   The professor’s view The professor argued that both science and religion have the same outlook and are therefore alike. Both, [...]

5 08, 2020

Should a Rabbi Make Lenient decisions?

By |2020-08-05T08:12:21-07:00August 5th, 2020|Book Reviews, Jewish Books, Thoughts|

  Rabbi Professor Dr. Daniel Sperber is a leading scholar of Jewish law and customs and the author of many books on these subjects. Citing many fascinating examples and the rulings of highly respected rabbis that often read like short stories, he shows that the view of ultra-Orthodox Jews that an ideal rabbi is a man [...]

30 07, 2020

Fasting for Events That Occurred on Unverifiable Days

By |2020-07-30T05:55:13-07:00July 30th, 2020|Thoughts|

The Jewish calendar contains a mourning period during the summer months. It begins and ends with fast days, whose precise dates are not based on verifiable facts. The mourning period chiefly commemorates the destruction of the first and second temples, and serves to remind Jews of their history and their connection to the land and [...]

23 07, 2020

God and the Pandemic

By |2020-07-23T04:39:42-07:00July 23rd, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel, the author of ten books, has made a fascinating, enlightening, and much needed contribution to our understanding of the Corona Virus pandemic and Jewish and other views on the subject in his book “God and the Pandemic.” He gives readers a thorough very readable analysis of the many pandemics, earthquakes, [...]

19 07, 2020

A nice inspiring story

By |2020-07-19T06:23:40-07:00July 19th, 2020|Thoughts|

The following story was sent to me by Hessel Meilech.   A very religious Rebbetzin loved cleaning her silver candlesticks every week. She also helped her friend out in a small business in the Shetel. One day she returned home and the candlesticks were stolen. Her friend said tomorrow we will visit all the homes to find [...]

17 07, 2020

Was the Torah revealed from Heaven?

By |2020-07-17T06:23:41-07:00July 17th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The doctrine of Torah Min Ha-Shamayim, “The Torah is from Heaven,” is a fundamental teaching of Orthodox Judaism. Rabbis say it means that God dictated the Five Books of Moses to Moses. But even rabbis who strongly defend this doctrine do not know how God communicated the Torah to Moses or how much of it. [...]

10 07, 2020

The judges in the biblical book Judges did not judge

By |2020-07-10T04:37:16-07:00July 10th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

People may think that they know about the biblical book Judges and that they understand what Michael Hattin’s new book “Judges”contains. Hattin’s Judges is 207-page book with 19 chapters which devotes one or more of the 19 chapters to the 21 chapters in the biblical book. “Judges,” is part of a series of Maggid Books, [...]

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.  [...]