14 02, 2016

Biblical prophecy does not predict what will be

By |2016-02-14T06:21:01-07:00February 14th, 2016|Thoughts|

                                           Biblical prophecy does not predict what will be   Most people read the Bible literally without much thought. When the Bible has a prophet say that something will occur, they understand this as a vision from God of what will occur. However, the rabbis, or at least some of them, examined the Bible [...]

25 03, 2015

How to read the Bible

By |2015-03-25T11:12:50-07:00March 25th, 2015|Thoughts|

                                                                                How to read the Bible   I have been asked to explain the mystery of the half shekel: why were the Israelites in the desert during the days of Moses required to give a half shekel to be used in counting the number of males from and to certain ages, men who [...]

21 11, 2014

A very strange assessment of the Torah

By |2014-11-21T09:09:09-07:00November 21st, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                            A very strange assessment of the Torah   When Mordecai told Ether that Haman planned to murder all Judeans, Esther requested that Mordecai arrange that all Judeans fast for three days. The book of Esther does not reveal when the fast began. However there is an opinion in the Babylonian Talmud[1] that the [...]

11 11, 2014

Scholarly studies on the book of Esther

By |2014-11-11T04:41:15-07:00November 11th, 2014|Book Reviews|

                                                          Scholarly studies on the book of Esther   Carey A. Moore, the author of the highly praised Anchor Bible commentary on the biblical book Esther collected 37 scholarly articles on Esther which he placed in this book, many of which would not otherwise be available.[1] He includes his own 81 page Prolegomenon with notes [...]

19 08, 2014

You Don’t Understand the Bible because you are Christian

By |2014-08-19T11:58:02-07:00August 19th, 2014|Book Reviews|

                                                                          Review by Israel Drazin                                                                     You Don’t Understand the Bible because you are Christian By Richard Gist Friesen Press, 2014, 176 pages ISBN 978-1-4602-4271-7 Cost: $13.99   I enjoyed this book; it is intelligent, informative, and thought-provoking. It is not a Christian book, and not even religious, at least not in the usual [...]

18 08, 2014

The Obligation to learn Hebrew

By |2014-08-18T11:44:43-07:00August 18th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                      The Obligation to learn Hebrew   Should Jews and non-Jews learn Hebrew? Rabbi Evan Hoffman of Congregation Anshe Shalom in his always learned weekly column emphasizes the values of learning Hebrew and decries the view of Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum (1887-1979), the Grand Rabbi of the Satmar Hasidic sect who was the foremost ultra-Orthodox [...]

18 12, 2013

The Torah doesn’t expect people to obey its laws

By |2013-12-19T15:21:28-07:00December 18th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                                         The Torah doesn’t expect people to obey its laws                                                                             By Israel Drazin   I encourage everyone to read Professor Berman’s very informative, thought-provoking article “What is This Thing Called Law? The Jewish legal tradition and discontents.” It is found at http://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/2013/12/what-is-this-thing-called-law/   Professor Berman offers readers a well-documented discussion on the [...]

15 12, 2013

Shemot – The Bible is filled with obscurities

By |2013-12-15T16:07:55-07:00December 15th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                                       SHEMOT                                                         (Chapters 1:1–6:1)                                               The Bible is filled with obscurities   I am not going to explain a biblical section or supply answers this week as I usually do. Instead, I want to alert you to a biblical phenomenon: contrary to what most people think, the Bible is filled with obscure passages; [...]

29 09, 2013

Noach – The biblical story of a flood raises questions

By |2013-09-29T07:02:06-07:00September 29th, 2013|Thoughts|

  The following is a brief version of an excerpt from “Beyond the Bible Text” by Rabbi Dr. Stanley Wagner and me that was published in September 2013. We usually put three articles for each biblical portion, generally discussing thought-provoking subjects that people will not find elsewhere. This week’s essay is from Noach (Genesis 6:9 [...]

4 08, 2013

Shoftim – Unusual Interpretations 48

By |2013-08-04T08:36:55-07:00August 4th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                      By Israel Drazin   There are many phrasings in this portion (16:18-21:9) that allows us to examine the biblical writing style: obscure and ambiguous texts, apparently unnecessary word, God’s view of non-Israelites, and which people should guide us.   Obscurities and ambiguities             I mentioned previously that all good literature contains obscurities and ambiguities [...]

4 08, 2013

More on women in the Bible

By |2013-08-04T05:53:47-07:00August 4th, 2013|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                                       By Israel Drazin   Dr. Naomi Harris Rosenblatt examines the biblical report of the lives and activities of seventeen biblical women in her well-researched, insight-filled, and frequently innovative reading of biblical tales in her 2005 book After the Apple. The women lived as second-class citizens under the authority and control of men: fathers, [...]

2 08, 2013

Women’s Lives in Biblical Times

By |2013-08-02T08:02:40-07:00August 2nd, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                      By Israel Drazin   Many people recognize that women have still not entirely succeeded in participating in society as they should. How were women portrayed in the Hebrew Bible? Professor Jennie R. Eberling answers this question in her very readable and informative 2010 book Women’s Lives in Biblical Times where she analyses biblical [...]

11 06, 2013

A biblical holiday that was replaced

By |2013-06-11T03:48:54-07:00June 11th, 2013|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin                         No biblical holiday is practiced today as mandated in the Bible. The rabbis changed all of the holidays. The major but not only reason for the alterations is that many biblical holy days focused on sacrifices which ceased to exist when the temple was destroyed in 70 CE.[1] One biblical holiday [...]

12 03, 2013

The biblical books of the prophets

By |2013-03-12T06:41:13-07:00March 12th, 2013|Book Reviews|

Review by Israel Drazin   Vision from the Prophet and Counsel from the Elders By Rabbi Hayyim Angel OU Press, 2013, 368 pages   This scholarly, very readable, and informative book by a teacher of rabbinical students and advanced undergraduates at Yeshiva University is a superb book for anyone of any religion who wants to [...]

28 02, 2013

Unusual Biblical Interpretations 16 – Ki Tisa

By |2013-03-01T10:55:21-07:00February 28th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                   By Israel Drazin   The Jewish iconoclast Arnold B. Ehrlich (1848-1919) offered unusual thought-provoking, sometimes disturbing, Bible interpretations on Exodus 30-33 in his book Mikra Ki-Pheshuto (The Bible According to its Literal Meaning). He attempts to show here that the ancient Israelites were very superstitious and that at least certain parts [...]

27 06, 2012

The Secret of Shavuot

By |2012-08-03T05:43:02-07:00June 27th, 2012|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                                                                     By Israel Drazin   No Jewish holiday is practiced today as the Bible mandates. Shavuot, called Pentecost in English, is a good example. The current observance of the holiday has no relationship to its biblical ancestor and doesn’t even occur at the same time.[1] Very few people know the truth about [...]

26 06, 2012

The Secret of the Book of Esther

By |2012-06-26T06:35:23-07:00June 26th, 2012|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                                                             By Israel Drazin   The Book of Esther is one of the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible. Curiously, God is not mentioned in this volume of Scripture and there is no indication that God was involved in any way in helping Esther and Mordecai save the Jews of Persia from [...]

1 01, 2012

The Treatise on Resurrection is a Forgery

By |2012-05-02T16:06:42-07:00January 1st, 2012|Book Reviews|

Moses Maimonides’ Treatise on Resurrection An Inquiry into its Authenticity By Lea Naomi Goldfeld Ktav Publishing House, 1986, 167 pages     Maimonides made it very clear in his work called Chelek that he felt that the intellect goes to the world to come as soon as a person dies and remains there for eternity. He states [...]

12 12, 2011

Is this biblical book hedonistic?

By |2011-12-13T06:09:09-07:00December 12th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Kohelet A Modern Commentary on Ecclesiastes By Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky UAHC Press, 2003, 132 pages     Kohelet, its Hebrew name, Ecclesiastes in English, is one of the twenty-four books of the Hebrew Bible. Both names mean “assembly” or “assembler.” The book’s author states that he was the son of King [...]

7 12, 2011

Do religious laws benefit God?

By |2011-12-07T07:58:10-07:00December 7th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   It is certainly true that most Jews today, including most rabbis, see a distinction between ritual and social laws. The first focuses on God and the second on people. In the Ten Commandments, for example, the laws forbidding idols and those requiring rest on the Sabbath are seen by most Jews [...]

5 12, 2011

Missunderstanding rabbinic literature

By |2011-12-05T05:15:47-07:00December 5th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   I think that the greatest difficulty that people have in understanding rabbinic literature is that it is hard for them to see what prompted the rabbi to say what he said. I’ll focus on one point.   Very soon after the Five Books of Moses was canonized, probably during the time [...]

15 11, 2011

Tolstoy did not respect women

By |2011-11-15T04:54:55-07:00November 15th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Tolstoy A Russian Life By Rosamund Bartlett Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011, 544 pages    Rosamund Bartlett, an authority on Russian culture, describes Lev Tolstoy, as she calls him, the greatest Russian writer, probably a genius, but a failure as a man. When he was young, he drank too much, gambled, and was over amorous with [...]

14 11, 2011

Reincarnation

By |2011-11-14T07:47:26-07:00November 14th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   Many scholars are convinced that no book of the Hebrew Bible, with the possible exception of the biblical book Daniel 12:2-3, speaks about life after death, and feel certain that the various ideas about the after-life were taken from pagan notions.  Daniel states that “those who sleep in the dust will [...]

9 11, 2011

What is the Messiah?

By |2011-11-09T05:17:44-07:00November 9th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin I think that the messianic age is not a miraculous affair and the messiah is not a supernatural figure. There will be a gradual evolutionary and educative process that will improve people and encourage everyone, or nearly everyone, to live in harmony and work together to improve every individual and society. I [...]

7 11, 2011

What is the Soul?

By |2011-11-07T06:49:06-07:00November 7th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   I don’t think that people need to believe that a soul exists.   The currently-used Hebrew word for soul is nefesh. Nefesh is in the Torah, but it does not mean soul in Scripture. It means “a person” or “life force.” Thus when Leviticus 2:1 speaks of a nefesh bringing an [...]

7 11, 2011

A revolution in Bible study

By |2011-11-07T05:42:48-07:00November 7th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Bringing the Prophets to Life By Neil N. Winkler Gefen Publishing House, 2011, 193 pages   Many Jews consider the Bible to be the sacred text revealed by God to the Israelites trough Moses. Multiple commentaries were composed on the Torah. Some emphasized the Torah’s literal meaning, such as the commentaries of Rashbam, David Kinchi, [...]

21 10, 2011

Sermonizing vs. The Truth

By |2011-10-21T10:41:20-07:00October 21st, 2011|Book Reviews|

The First Ten Days By Rabbi Yaacov Haber Torah Lab, 2010, 88 pages There are essentially four different ways that people use to try to learn the truth about the world: religion, mysticism, philosophy and science, and a mixture of two or three of the previous methods. All should be lauded, for people should try [...]

25 08, 2011

An irreverent version about Cain

By |2011-08-25T13:51:50-07:00August 25th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Jose Saramago’s (1922-2010) last book Cain is a delightful, frequently funny, heretical, mocking, feverishly anti-God, retelling of the early books of the Hebrew Bible. He is the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Adam and Eve’s son Cain kills his bother Abel after God accepted the latter’s sacrifice and ignored Cain’s, despite Cain’s [...]