7 03, 2022

The Hidden Saint

By |2022-03-07T14:22:31-07:00March 7th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

           The popular best-selling author Jonathan Kellerman is right to call “The Hidden Saint,” “ingenious” and “compelling.” Many ancient Jews and non-Jews, as well as many modern people are convinced that the world is filled with evil-producing demons of many types. The most acclaimed Bible and Talmud commentator, whose commentaries on [...]

2 03, 2022

A scholarly rabbi comments on the book of Esther and more

By |2022-03-02T15:32:43-07:00March 2nd, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

      Urim Publications in Jerusalem and New York has just published “Faith Fulfilled, Megillat Esther and The Maariv Evening Service for Purim with Commentary from the Writings of Rabbi Eliezer Berkovits.” It is compiled and edited by Rabbi Dr. Reuven Mohl. The book is excellent. Rabbi Berkovits’s comments are very thoughtful, well-worth reading and [...]

28 02, 2022

Forged

By |2022-02-28T06:18:32-07:00February 28th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Bart C. Ehrman is a highly respected historian who was once a protestant clergyman who became an agnostic when he saw what biblical scholars consider the numerous errors, inconsistencies, forgeries, and deceits in the New Testament. He offers readers in “Forged” a view of the conclusion of biblical scholars that none of the New [...]

22 02, 2022

Israel’s First Ethiopian Rabbi Speaks to Us

By |2022-02-22T10:11:42-07:00February 22nd, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Rabbi Dr. Sharon Zewde Shalom, the author of the very thoughtful book Dialogues of Love and Fear is without doubt what the late Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks wrote about him, “a shining light of not only Ethiopian Jewry but of the Jewish people as a whole.” He is an Orthodox rabbi, trained at [...]

15 02, 2022

Different Sephardic practices from Ashkenazic ones

By |2022-02-15T07:12:22-07:00February 15th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    Haim Jachter, the rabbi of a Sephardic synagogue for more than twenty years who is of Ashkenazic descent and trained in Ashkenazic yeshivot tells readers about more than 100 differences in the religious practices between Ashkenazim and Sephardim. Ashkenazim are Jews of eastern European descent. Sephardic Jews are from lands around the Mediterranean [...]

10 02, 2022

The unexpected successes of Satmar Hasidim

By |2022-02-10T06:32:06-07:00February 10th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    “American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, A Hasidic Village in Upstate New York” is a brilliant, eye-opening, thought provoking, easy to read and enjoyable book by two university scholars, Nomi M. Stolzenberg of the University of Southern California, Gould School of Law who has written widely on law and religion, and David [...]

4 02, 2022

Dr. Bart Ehrman lists many inconsistencies in the New Testament

By |2022-02-04T09:55:59-07:00February 4th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Many Christians are convinced that God dictated the New Testament, that it has no errors and no contradiction, and that it contains the true facts concerning Jesus and the beginning of Christianity. In contrast, many scholars in America and Europe for at least several hundred years are certain that the New Testament is the [...]

31 01, 2022

Why is there suffering in the world?

By |2022-01-31T10:28:41-07:00January 31st, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  Bart Denton Ehrman, born on 10/5/55, a PhD American New Testament scholar and author or editor of several dozen very popular, fascinating, and informative books, began life as a fundamentalist Christian, became a minister, and preached in churches. But he gave up Christianity and became an agnostic because of his disgust over the inexplicable [...]

30 01, 2022

Did Mamonides believe that God Produces Miracles?

By |2022-01-30T11:04:24-07:00January 30th, 2022|Thoughts|

      I was requested to write on the question “Did Maimonides believe that God produces miracles?” This question has been debated for centuries. I will give the ideas held by those who state that Maimonides contended that God does not perform miracles. To understand this view, one needs to understand three things.   [...]

24 01, 2022

Did the prophet Elijah act properly?

By |2022-01-24T07:15:40-07:00January 24th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The biblical story of the prophet Elijah is interesting, but it is subject to radically different interpretations. A literal reading of scripture, without imagining acts that are not explicit in the verses, yield a negative interpretation of Elijah's behavior with God being dissatisfied with him, criticizing him, and even killing him. In contrast, [...]

20 01, 2022

Maimonides view on the proper way to worship God

By |2022-01-20T06:45:28-07:00January 20th, 2022|Thoughts|

    In his Guide for the Perplexed, book 3, chapter 51, in the easy to read translation by M. Friedlander, Maimonides (1138-1204) tells readers: “The present chapter does not contain any additional matter that has not been treated in the [previous] chapters of this treatise. It is a kind of conclusion, and at the [...]

18 01, 2022

Why do we light Shabbat candles

By |2022-01-18T05:56:38-07:00January 18th, 2022|Thoughts|

Being Jewish, my wife and I light Shabbat candles on Friday evening before the Sabbath begins. This is a long-standing Jewish practice, usually understood to be over 2,000 years old. The usual explanation for the custom is based on a dispute between the Sadducees and Pharisees. The dispute is based on the general philosophy of [...]

11 01, 2022

Addressing why good people suffer

By |2022-01-11T13:40:01-07:00January 11th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dovid Sapirman, the author of Tranquility and Travail, is a Haredi rabbi. Many Haredi Jews are very conservative and have more fundamental ideas than other Jews. One of Rabbi Sapirman’s views, which many non-Haredi Jews do accept is that God is involved with matters here on earth, and that God knows the details of [...]

10 01, 2022

How Jesus Became God

By |2022-01-11T13:42:20-07:00January 10th, 2022|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  How Jesus became God by Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is an excellent, comprehensive, easy to read history about the begining of Christianity by a man who was once a very conservative Christian, who is now an agnostic, but who offers readers a non-dogmatic, respectful, historical examination of early Christianity. His ultimate goal in this [...]

27 12, 2021

What we don’t know about Judah – Part Two

By |2021-12-27T07:17:23-07:00December 27th, 2021|Thoughts|

      In Part One, we mentioned the question why Judah’s family merited according to tradition having the messiah come from them and obscurities in the Torah in Genesis 37 and 38. This is a continuation.   Chapter 39 resumes the Joseph story after telling us about Judah in chapter 38. Briefly told, he becomes [...]

26 12, 2021

What we don’t know about Judah – Part One

By |2021-12-26T12:58:37-07:00December 26th, 2021|Thoughts|

    The unclear stories about Judah are significant because Jewish and Christian theology contend that the messiah will be a descendant of this fourth son of Jacob. What if anything did Judah do to merit this distinction? We will address this question and point out many obscurities in Genesis 37 and 38. We will [...]

2 12, 2021

What we don’t know about God’s behavior

By |2021-12-02T13:14:42-07:00December 2nd, 2021|Thoughts|

    Many people, if not most of them, are convinced that they know quite a lot about God and the people mentioned in the Bible. They would be surprised and some even angry to discover that most if not all that the Bible states about them is obscure. It clearly wants us to think [...]

1 12, 2021

What we don’t know about God’s names

By |2021-12-01T07:12:02-07:00December 1st, 2021|Thoughts|

  Most people do not attempt to define words, even words they use daily, such as religion, spirituality, and the various words used to describe God. As a result, they usually have only misconceptions about God. The following are some words used to describe God in Judaism.   God: The origin of the modern English [...]

30 11, 2021

The Cain v. Abel Trial

By |2021-11-30T10:01:38-07:00November 30th, 2021|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Rabbi Dr. Dan Ornstein has just written an easy to read Jewish courtroom drama “Cain v. Abel” that is interesting, thoughtful, eye-opening, and thought-provoking based on the rather short close to two dozen biblical sentences in Genesis 4 that report the fraternal murder of Abel by his brother Cain. He includes the rather exiting imaginative [...]

22 11, 2021

What we don’t know about Adam and Eve

By |2021-11-22T08:38:06-07:00November 22nd, 2021|Thoughts|

    The very introduction to the Bible is obscure. We would have expected the introduction to tell us why God created the world and what God expects from humans, a problem that bothered the famous Bible commentator Rashi (1040-1105), but instead chapters 1 and 2 and other parts of the Bible are obscure, as [...]

18 11, 2021

What we don’t know about Rebekah, Isaac’s wife

By |2021-11-18T15:48:52-07:00November 18th, 2021|Thoughts|

    As with all of the prior men and women mentioned in the Bible, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, patriarchs whom we might expect that the Torah would give us plenty of information about them, there is nothing about Isaac’s wife Rebekah that is crystal clear. Every fact and every event is obscure. The [...]

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 [...]