26 04, 2017

Nachmanides’ strange understandings of demons, hell, souls, women’s period, rape, and other subjects

By |2017-04-26T04:07:07-07:00April 26th, 2017|Thoughts|

The following is a draft of a chapter from my forthcoming book "Nachmanides: An Unusual Thinker," which should be published sometime this year   The prior chapter examined Nachmanides’ mystical view of God. This chapter looks at his approach to other subjects. Did Nachmanides insist that midrashic tales are not parables, but true facts? Did [...]

22 11, 2015

Demons and Sympathetic Magic in the Passover Seder

By |2015-11-22T07:44:16-07:00November 22nd, 2015|Thoughts|

                                               Demons and Sympathetic Magic in the Passover Seder   We saw in the prior articles that the belief in demons, the power of sympathetic magic to conjure the appearance of the messiah, the use of an intercessor to obtain God’s attention, and the belief in the effectiveness of magic numbers to help accomplish [...]

8 11, 2015

The strange view about a lurking diabolical evil inclination

By |2015-11-08T07:02:11-07:00November 8th, 2015|Thoughts|

                                                 The strange view about a diabolical evil inclination   The belief in an evil inclination that is independent of the human body and that works to incite behavior that is detrimental to the body, like the similar concept of evil angels, is so widespread today among Jews and non-Jews that it is hard to [...]

19 10, 2015

The Non-Jewish – Indeed, Anti-Jewish – Origin of Kapparot

By |2015-10-19T03:57:24-07:00October 19th, 2015|Thoughts|

                                                                                 The Non-Jewish – Indeed, Anti-Jewish – Origin of Kapparot   While the shofar came to be seen as a rational and important part of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services, the same cannot be said of the kapparot and tashlich rites that are still celebrated by many Jews. Thus, while Maimonides included [...]

21 12, 2014

Do angels and demons exist?

By |2014-12-21T06:21:05-07:00December 21st, 2014|Thoughts|

  The following is based on what I wrote in my recent book “Unusual Bible Interpretations: Five Books of Moses.”                                                                                                                                                                Angels and demons   Did brilliant well-respected ancient thinkers of all religions have ideas that modern people should reject? Certainly. Aristotle, one of the greatest philosophers, had the despicable incorrect notion that women [...]

19 09, 2014

The Bizarre Belief in Evil Angels – part 2

By |2014-09-19T02:56:01-07:00September 19th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                               The Bizarre Belief in Evil Angels                                                                    Part 2   Medieval Jewish Bible Commentators Accept the Existence of Angelic Beings Many medieval Bible commentators were not affected by rational philosophy. Principal among them is Rabbi Solomon Yitzchaqi (Rashi), Moses ben Nachman (Nachmanides) and Abraham Saba (born 1407). These Bible commentators accepted the [...]

19 09, 2014

The Bizarre Belief in Evil Angels – part 1

By |2014-09-19T02:40:47-07:00September 19th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                     The Bizarre Belief in Evil Angels                                                                     Part one[1]   Since, as we saw in earlier essays that I wrote, demons and evil angels played such a large part in the lives of many Jews, it is advisable to explore the origin of the belief in some depth. The average Jew today is [...]

13 09, 2014

Bribing Satan: Part Two

By |2014-09-13T23:12:53-07:00September 13th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                     Bribing Satan: Part Two[1]   The Tashlich service was not the only High Holiday ceremony that the masses felt they must observe to avoid having Satan harm them. The eighth-century Midrash Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer is a rather unusual volume of biblical folk legends that many Jews insisted were true. The Pirkei author believed that [...]

13 09, 2014

The Tashlich Ceremony: Bribing Satan

By |2014-09-13T23:08:48-07:00September 13th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                         The Tashlich Ceremony: Bribing Satan[1]   Tashlich is a rite whose non-rational basis is obvious. It preserves a superstitious belief held by many people in ancient times concerning water and the divine beings that dwell in and around it. The rite has been reinterpreted over time, modified slightly and rationalized, but its original [...]

4 08, 2013

Lilith’s Cave

By |2013-08-04T07:27:23-07:00August 4th, 2013|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                       Review by Israel Drazin   Lilith’s Cave Jewish Tales of the Supernatural Selected and retold by Howard Schwartz Oxford University Press, 1988, 274 pages ISBN 978-0-506726-6   What is thought-provoking about this book, its fifty Jewish tales of demons and the supernatural, is that most of the demons are women. Yes, Satan appears, [...]

4 08, 2013

The Thrice-Told Tale of the Likeable and Loathsome Lilith

By |2013-08-04T04:20:17-07:00August 4th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                   By Israel Drazin[1]   Aside from the few astonishing legends about regal amazons who retained control over their spouses and men in general, world history has unfortunately continually assigned a submissive and subservient role to women in the home and in society. Since Judaism is not monolithic, Jewish literature contains both positive and negative [...]

19 07, 2013

Strange pre-New Year practice

By |2013-07-19T06:03:56-07:00July 19th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                         By Israel Drazin   Currently, announcements are made and prayers recited in synagogues on the Sabbath before a new month begins to inform congregants when the first sliver of the new moon will appear. This service commemorates the ancient practice, before a lunar calendar was established by Hillel II in the mid-fourth [...]

29 07, 2011

A book for people who want to learn the truth

By |2011-07-31T12:47:39-07:00July 29th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Maimonides’ Confrontation with Mysticism By Menachem Kellner Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2011, 343 pages   Anyone, of any religion, agnostic, or atheist, wanting to understand the truth about life, the ideas taught by the great philosopher Moses Maimonides (1138-1204), should read this splendid easily comprehensible book first published in 2006, reprinted because of its [...]

8 07, 2011

A portrayal of Maimonides’ controvertial views

By |2011-07-29T05:01:46-07:00July 8th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Maimonides the Rationalist By Herbert A. Davidson The Littman Library, 2011, 318 pages     Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) criticized most people in his monumental Guide of the Perplexed 3:51 when he wrote that “He who thinks about God and talks about him at length without scientific knowledge…does not truly talk about God and think about [...]