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 [...]

8 12, 2020

Ingratitude

By |2020-12-08T06:29:24-07:00December 8th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Howard Rubenstein’s play “Prometheus Bound” is based on the play “Prometheus Bound” attributed to the famed Greek playwright Aeschylus (c. 525 BCE - c. 456 BCE), called the father of tragedy, from which it was freely adapted, and based on the epic poem “Origin of the Gods” by the Greek didactic poet Hesiod (c. 750 [...]

6 12, 2020

Erroneous views about Hanukah

By |2020-12-06T05:21:10-07:00December 6th, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Many Jews, even those who do not observe any Jewish practice other than Yom Kippur and Passover, observe Hanukah, mostly because their children want gifts, but they have wrong ideas about the history relating to the holiday. Even most observant Jews have wrong ideas, as do many non-Jews. Dr. Howard Rubenstein published a fascinating [...]

1 12, 2020

A very good play about an ancient legend

By |2020-12-01T05:17:43-07:00December 1st, 2020|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Dr. Howard Rubenstein, who passed away a couple of months ago, was a physician, author, and a playwright. The Golem is one of his plays. It is an adaptation of a well-known rather disturbing, timeless, and exciting age-old Jewish myth based on the false allegation that Jews killed Christian children to use their blood in [...]

30 11, 2020

The Message of the Golem

By |2020-11-30T05:21:00-07:00November 30th, 2020|Thoughts|

It is possible that the legend of the Golem which is told in the Talmud, in many books, and even several films has a disturbing message. Let’s take a look at the recent 2019 film version.   The meaning of Golam The word Golem means an amorphous incompletely formed creation, usually thought to be made [...]

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 [...]