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, [...]

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. [...]