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, [...]

5 08, 2018

Why the “Merchant of Venice” is nonsensical

By |2018-08-05T04:45:01-07:00August 5th, 2018|Thoughts|

The 1596 Merchant of Venice play seems to me to be nonsensical, filled with actions that make no sense, and it is extremely anti-Semitic. Contrary to what most people think, that it is only Shylock's demand that the merchant of Venice, Antonio, fulfills his vow that he made to give Shylock a pound of his [...]

2 08, 2018

Some things are hard if not impossible to understand

By |2018-08-02T13:27:14-07:00August 2nd, 2018|Thoughts|

Some things are hard if not impossible to understand unless a person has a good background of knowledge about the subject. One would not expect a person to understand the philosophy of Aristotle or Maimonides if the individual never took a course in philosophy, even if he or she spends twelve hours a day “learning” [...]

29 07, 2018

Does the Bible contain humor?

By |2018-07-29T04:44:17-07:00July 29th, 2018|Thoughts|

   In his sixth “Young People’s Concert: Humor in Music,” Leonard Bernstein tells viewers that many very good pleasant pieces of music contain humor. He proves this by examining parts of musical compositions by Haydn, Mahler, Mozart, and Shostakovich.  He tells us what it is in music that can make it funny. He tells us [...]

25 07, 2018

Why we see and hear what we do not see and hear

By |2018-07-25T04:46:01-07:00July 25th, 2018|Thoughts|

Leonard Bernstein's Young People's Concerts was one of the best things on TV. He introduced people, not only young but even older people, to music, what it is, what does it means, and how to enjoy it. In the 1958 hour-long film, the first in the series, he focused on What Does Music Mean? While [...]

22 07, 2018

Tisha B’Av is not the date temples were destroyed

By |2018-07-22T09:55:23-07:00July 22nd, 2018|Thoughts|

Today, July 22, 2018, 10 Av according to the Jewish calendar, many Jews fast. The fast this year is not on 9 Av because 9 Av, Tisha B’Av in Hebrew, occurs on Shabbat when it is inappropriate to fast, so the fast is delayed until the next day.[1] Tradition states that the ninth of Av [...]

18 07, 2018

The Tragedies of King David

By |2018-07-18T03:53:28-07:00July 18th, 2018|Thoughts|

In my previous blog, I stressed that most people read what people say is in the Bible even though the Bible does not say what they are told it says. Frequently, the Bible actually says the opposite of what rabbis, priests, and ministers say is in the text. I gave examples from my book “Who [...]

16 07, 2018

Who really was the Biblical David

By |2018-07-16T05:55:23-07:00July 16th, 2018|Thoughts|

Most people read what people say is in the Bible even though the Bible does not say what they are told it says. Frequently, the Bible actually says the opposite of what rabbis, priests, and ministers say is in the text. For example, in “Who Really Was the Biblical David?” I examined I Samuel 16-31, [...]

9 07, 2018

The Truth About The Ark Of God

By |2018-07-09T13:24:22-07:00July 9th, 2018|Thoughts|

I was watching the movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and thought most people know little about the Ark. So I decided to repeat here what I wrote in my book on the prophet Samuel. The ark, in Hebrew “aron,” is mentioned 201 times in the Hebrew Bible, including once where the Torah states Joseph’s [...]

3 07, 2018

American Independence Day is not July 4

By |2018-07-03T09:23:53-07:00July 3rd, 2018|Thoughts|

Americans celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the document that declared that the United States is henceforth independent from Britain, on July 4. It is a good day to celebrate this historic event despite it not being the date when the declaration was made. Thomas Jefferson wrote the first draft of the Declaration, [...]

2 07, 2018

The case of Two Prostitutes

By |2018-07-02T07:18:01-07:00July 2nd, 2018|Thoughts|

The story of Solomon demonstrating unusual wisdom in the litigation of two prostitutes by means of a clever trick does not show that Solomon was wise. The story is similar to fables found in many countries. Scholars have identified 22 parallel fables in many countries.[1] The following is from my recent book “The Authentic King [...]

28 06, 2018

Midrashim on the Goliath Story

By |2018-06-28T05:07:39-07:00June 28th, 2018|Thoughts|

Maimonides wrote in his essay called Chelek that people who think that what midrashim say is true are fools, those who reject them out of hand because they are not true are also fools; people need to realize that the rabbis wrote midrashim as teaching tools, as parables to teach Jews how to behave. The [...]

24 06, 2018

Are Divine Commands Rational?

By |2018-06-24T04:28:56-07:00June 24th, 2018|Thoughts|

  While there are Jews who are convinced that certain biblical commands are inscrutable and that even though we do not understand them, we must obey them, others like Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra were convinced that all the divine commands are rational and people can and indeed should understand them.[1] In his commentary to [...]

19 06, 2018

An extremely important book

By |2018-06-19T07:18:42-07:00June 19th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

In "21 Lessons for the 21st Century," Yuval Noah Harari gives us an extremely important book. He has a Ph.D. in history from the University of Oxford. He has a deep understanding of human behavior and states his views clearly and vividly. His prior two books on the past and future of humanity, Sapiens: A Brief [...]

12 06, 2018

The Spiritual Revolution of Rav Kook

By |2018-06-12T04:34:50-07:00June 12th, 2018|Jewish Books, Thoughts|

Even rationalists like me can read, enjoy, and learn from the writings of mystics. We do not have to accept everything they say as being true, but there are things they say which are true. Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook was born in Latvia in 1865 and died in Jerusalem in 1935. His father was [...]

11 06, 2018

People don’t know what’s in the Ten Commandments

By |2018-06-11T04:58:45-07:00June 11th, 2018|Thoughts|

  Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews are convinced that while they do not know much about their religion, they do know about the “Ten Commandments.” This is not true, as the following examples show:[1] There are not ten commandments. The oft-used term “Ten Commandments” is incorrect. Scholars and clerics know there are more than ten [...]