10 11, 2021

The story of Noah and divine punishment

By |2021-11-10T10:04:51-07:00November 10th, 2021|Thoughts|

    The biblical story of the flood during the days of Noah raises many questions especially about divine punishments, and the answers help us to understand how to interpret biblical events. Some of the questions are: Why did divine punishments vary in delivery? Some examples are as follows: Cain’s banishment in Genesis 4:12 for the [...]

8 11, 2021

What do we know about Isaac, the second patriarch?

By |2021-11-08T04:58:39-07:00November 8th, 2021|Thoughts|

     Virtually all, if not all that we are told about Isaac is obscure, as with Abraham and Jacob. The Torah leaves out explanations for behaviors, leaving it to us to imagine what occurred and to derive meaning from our own ideas. The following are some examples of opaque events.   Is there meaning [...]

1 11, 2021

What do we know about Lot, Abraham’s nephew?

By |2021-11-01T13:52:16-07:00November 1st, 2021|Thoughts|

  A careful analysis of Abraham’s nephew Lot raises the question of whether or not he was a righteous man. What did he do to merit saving when the people among whom he lived died by fire?  We may think we know about him, but actually virtually everything the Torah tells us about him is [...]

18 10, 2021

The Life and Times of Rabbi Judah the Prince

By |2021-10-18T05:20:06-07:00October 18th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Using many sources, including hundreds of anecdotes, former US Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (1985-1987) and Under Secretary of Defense (2001-2004) Rabbi Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, author of Nehemiah: Statesman and Sage (Maggid Books, 2016), gives us a very informative and riveting, easy to read biography of one of the most important figures [...]

14 10, 2021

The Legacy of Hannah Senesh

By |2021-10-14T11:07:14-07:00October 14th, 2021|Thoughts|

I saw the film “Hannah’s War” about the heroine and martyr Hannah Senesh on TV. I feel that it is a film everyone should see. It is very moving. Hannah Senesh is one of Israel's most important heroines. She was born on July 17, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, and died on November 7, 1944 in [...]

13 10, 2021

Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Legacy

By |2021-10-13T06:10:57-07:00October 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    One of the most lamentable recent event was the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who was born in 1948 and died on November 7, 2020. He was a British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, award-winning author, an international religious leader, respected moral voice, and public figure. He served as the Chief Rabbi of [...]

12 10, 2021

Aldous Huxley’s idea of a utopia

By |2021-10-12T13:40:53-07:00October 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  After reading Aldous Huxley’s dystopian classic “Brave New World,” a book that described a nation which adopted behaviors that destroyed the freedom of its inhabitants by placing them under multiple controls and which hindered their opportunity to develop by engineering their births, and reading Huxley’s follow-up book “Brave New World Revisited” where he described [...]

8 10, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy

By |2021-10-08T07:12:14-07:00October 8th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                               Rabbi Dr, Michael Leo Samuel is one of the top world experts on Maimonides and Philo. His books on both philosophers are filled with easy to read information that will open the eyes and minds of readers. Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary to Deuteronomy is the final book of Rabbi Samuel’s series on Maimonides’ [...]

6 10, 2021

Noah, the second Adam

By |2021-10-06T12:45:04-07:00October 6th, 2021|Thoughts|

    There is a remarkable similarity between Noah and Adam that should prompt us to think and understand each of the two biblical figure in a deeper manner. The following are some of the similarities. Both were the fathers of all future generations. Their names indicated their character. Adam, which derives from the word [...]

3 10, 2021

An Analysis of Brave New World

By |2021-10-03T12:17:49-07:00October 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

After I reviewed Animal Farm and 1984, a friend wrote to me telling me his opinion that Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World was a better book than George Orwell’s 1984. I was surprised that I hadn’t read Brave New World. I got a copy of it along with Huxley’s Brave New World Revisited and found [...]

1 10, 2021

Years in Genesis

By |2021-10-01T07:03:08-07:00October 1st, 2021|Thoughts|

  Many Jews feel that biblical time frames and dating were never meant to be taken literally. The Bible is not a history book. It is designed to teach about the existence of God and proper behavior. The world may have been created over a very long period of time, humans may not have appeared [...]

26 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus

By |2021-09-26T04:43:21-07:00September 26th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                                Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel, author of Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary, Leviticus, has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing this beautiful book and bringing the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic, to his readers. Among many other sources, he focuses [...]

20 09, 2021

Are there anti-Orthodox views in Ecclesiastes?

By |2021-09-20T09:55:48-07:00September 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Kohelet, also spelt Qohelet, Ecclesiastes in Greek and now English, is read during the holiday of Sukkot. We do not know why this book was chosen from among the books of the Bible called The Writings. A popular explanation is that Sukkot is a happy holiday and Ecclesiastes is read to add a [...]

19 09, 2021

Questions about Sukkot

By |2021-09-19T14:34:48-07:00September 19th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of his book “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many Jewish practices, focusing on 27 holidays and events: synagogue, Shabbat, Rosh Hodesh, Yom Kippur, Passover, Shavuot, Tisha B’Av, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, marriage, birth, pidyin haben, bar mitzvah, tallit [...]

13 09, 2021

Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary

By |2021-09-13T05:56:53-07:00September 13th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “Maimonides’ Hidden Torah Commentary on Exodus 22-40” is a very informative book. Rabbi Dr. Michael Leo Samuel has made a significant contribution to posterity by writing it and bringing to his readers the thinking of Maimonides and many dozens of others, ancient and modern, Jewish and non-Jewish, rational and mystic. This volume follows his [...]

10 09, 2021

The rationale of Jewish customs and ceremonies of Yom Kippur

By |2021-09-10T09:42:55-07:00September 10th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Judaism has dozens of meaningful customs and ceremonies, but most people, even Jews, do not know all of them, their origins and rationale. Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Minhagim,” Hebrew for customs and ceremonies, a very readable discussion of many of these practices. He includes the views of famous Jewish sages [...]

6 09, 2021

The New Koren Tanakh

By |2021-09-06T08:01:11-07:00September 6th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Koren Publishers Jerusalem has just published an excellent single 2033 page volume of the entire Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, with the beautiful classic Koren Hebrew font and a new, modern, readable translation of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings by the recently deceased Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, and other scholars. Examples [...]

3 09, 2021

Animal Farm, 1984, and society today

By |2021-09-03T10:20:38-07:00September 3rd, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Some people maintain that there are striking similarities between George Orwell’s books Animal Farm and 1984 and American society today.   Animal Farm The farm in Animal Farm is a symbol of Russia and other totalitarian regimes. It was first published in 1945 by George Orwell (1903-1950) four years before he approached the [...]

30 08, 2021

Explanations of the 613 Biblical Commandments

By |2021-08-30T11:14:19-07:00August 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Rabbi Abraham Chill (1912-2004) gives readers of “The Mitzvot, The Commandments and their Rationale” a very readable listing of the commonly accepted list of biblical commands, presented in the order in which they appear in the Five Books of Moses, identifies the location of the command in the Bible, and gives the explanations [...]

29 08, 2021

Yom Kippur and the Holiday the Romans Destroyed

By |2021-08-29T07:58:09-07:00August 29th, 2021|Thoughts|

     Like Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur does not exist in the Bible. It replaces another day known as Yom Hakippurim. Yom Kippur is singular, “day of atonement,” while Yom Hakippurim is plural, “day of atonements.” The biblical Yom Hakippurim is mentioned in Leviticus 16:29–31, 23:27–32, and Numbers 29:7–11. No work was permitted on this [...]

20 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah practices are not biblical but are important

By |2021-08-20T05:02:56-07:00August 20th, 2021|Thoughts|

    None of the practices associated today with Rosh Hashanah are biblical. Yet they should be observed for they are very helpful.   Sin The concepts of sin and repentance as a religious experience are not in the Bible; they are post-biblical.   “Sin,” a prime element in Christian theology, is chet in Hebrew, [...]

15 08, 2021

Rosh Hashanah is not a Biblical Holiday

By |2021-08-15T10:52:15-07:00August 15th, 2021|Thoughts|

  Rosh Hashanah is not a biblical holiday, although it replaced a biblical one. It is notably different from the holiday it replaced. The biblical holiday, Yom Teruah, had a totally different purpose than Rosh Hashanah, which focuses on the onset of a new year, repentance, and commitment to live the next year properly. Yom [...]

12 08, 2021

A modern approach to the understanding of Judaism

By |2021-08-12T09:01:10-07:00August 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In 1953, the brilliant scholar Dr. Theodor H. Gaster published “Festivals of the Jewish Year: A Modern Interpretation and Guide.” It was updated in 1961. It is about the Jewish festivals and the Sabbath, their description, origin, and comparison to other ancient festivals. In six chapters of his 308 page book, Gaster discusses how [...]

27 07, 2021

An explanation of the famed book Tanya

By |2021-07-27T10:18:26-07:00July 27th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Maggid Books in association with Steinsaltz Center has published part of the text of one of the two famous books by the founder of Chabad Hasidim, also called Lubavitcher Hasidim, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812). Rabbi Zalman’s other famous book is “Shulchan Arukh Harav,” a book that only partially survived, which deals [...]

20 07, 2021

Rationalism verses Mysticism

By |2021-07-20T08:49:40-07:00July 20th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Many Jews would like to find an easy way to learn what Judaism teaches about various subjects. Rabbi Dr. Natan Slifkin, an Orthodox rabbi, gives them this information in his fact-filled book “Rationalism vs. Mysticism: Schisms in Traditional Jewish Thought,” with quotes from many sources and many learned footnotes, all easy to read.[1] [...]

12 07, 2021

A terrible 9 Av mistake

By |2021-07-12T04:28:43-07:00July 12th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Many years ago, Judeans, as Jews were called in the past, realized that they should do all that is reasonable to assure that all fellow Judeans are familiar with the contents of the three parts of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible: the Five Books of Moses, the Books of the Prophets, and the [...]

6 07, 2021

The connection of fast days to the numbers three and seven

By |2021-07-06T04:05:28-07:00July 6th, 2021|Thoughts|

      The numbers three and seven occur well over a hundred times in Judaism, as do their combination the number ten.[1] The fast day of Tisha b’Av, meaning the ninth day of the Hebrew month Av, seems to be an exception – but is it an exception?   The Number Seven Symbolized Completeness [...]

30 06, 2021

An excellent new commentary of the biblical book Samuel

By |2021-06-30T06:09:15-07:00June 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  “The Koren Tanakh of the Land of Israel – Samuel,” published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem in 2021, is one of the best Bible commentaries in English. I say this because of its massive easy to read scholarly material on many far-reaching subjects, contributions by twenty renowned scholars, and because I see the value of [...]

28 06, 2021

Jews in The Decameron

By |2021-06-28T04:23:00-07:00June 28th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

   Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375) authored the classic Decameron around 1348, a word meaning “ten days,” referring to the activities described in the book. The book’s subtitle Prencipe Galeotto refers to the legendary friend of Lancelot, an enemy of King Arthur. He helped Lancelot seduce and bed Arthur’s wife Guinevere. The subtitle catches the theme found [...]