2 05, 2018

An atheist’s humorous irreverent interpretation of the Bible

By |2018-05-02T04:13:49-07:00May 2nd, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

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. According to Saramago’s book, no snake spoke to Eve in Eden and persuaded her to eat the forbidden apple; snakes [...]

11 11, 2015

The Wisdom of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

By |2015-11-11T05:44:36-07:00November 11th, 2015|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                       The Wisdom of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks   Change is necessary Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks published “Lessons in Leadership” in 2015. Professor Ronald Heifetz who wrote the Forward points out that the rabbi is stressing that people of all religions and cultures should not sit passively and rely on the decisions of authorities [...]

7 06, 2015

Ancients, including Jews, believed their god functions only in their territory

By |2015-06-07T04:57:09-07:00June 7th, 2015|Thoughts|

                         Ancients, including Jews, believed their god functions only in their territory   Many scholars contend that in the ancient Near East people believed that there were many gods, the power and presence of a god was localized in the territory inhabited by the worshiper, and did not know that all lands belong to [...]

24 11, 2014

Does God Control and Manipulate Us?

By |2014-11-24T06:54:23-07:00November 24th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                                Does God Control and Manipulate Us?   Since the beginning of time, since people believed that God exists, men and women of every religion asked whether God is involved in their lives and, if so, how? The Hebrew Bible does not answer this question. So individuals developed their own views. Those with a [...]

21 07, 2014

An extremely significant view of religion

By |2014-07-21T06:01:59-07:00July 21st, 2014|Book Reviews|

  On the Relationship of Mitzvot between Man and his Neighbor and Man and his Maker By Daniel Sperber Urim Publications, 2014, 221 pages ISBN 978-965-524-145-7   The winner of Israel’s prestigious Israel Prize, Professor Daniel Sperber, a rabbi and Dean of the Faculty of Jewish Studies at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, published an extremely significant [...]

8 06, 2014

Why did Moses send spies if God was helping the Israelites?

By |2014-06-08T07:58:42-07:00June 8th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                           Why did Moses send spies if God was helping the Israelites?                                                                                                Shelach (Chapters 13:1–15:41)     The plain reading of the Torah text reveals a discrepancy. There are two different accounts concerning the dispatching of spies to reconnoiter Canaan in advance of the impending military offensive to conquer the land during [...]

3 04, 2014

Judges 7 – Does God help?

By |2014-04-03T07:26:17-07:00April 3rd, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                        Chapter 7                                                                             Gideon and the 300   This chapter is a work of art. The author presents a story containing several themes: the number three, the consequences of fear, and the question, is God involved in what we do?  A careful reading of the Bible reveals that despite it apparently [...]

12 03, 2014

Does God know us?

By |2014-03-12T05:59:52-07:00March 12th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                                          Does God know us?                                                        The views of some Jewish philosophers   Many Jews are convinced that Jews are judged by their behavior not by their beliefs. They can believe what they want as long as they harm no one.[1] Thus it is not surprising that there were famous Jewish [...]

2 03, 2014

VAYIKRA – Can we bewitch God with sacrifices and prayers?

By |2014-03-02T08:14:33-07:00March 2nd, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                 VAYIKRA                                                                      (Chapter 1:1–5:26)                                                                                                          Can we bewitch God with sacrifices and prayers?[1]   The biblical book Leviticus describes elaborate ceremonies of sacrifices. Although the rabbis maintained that the sacrifices were accompanied by prayers, most people do not realize that prayer is not explicitly mentioned in the Pentateuch, the five books [...]

26 01, 2014

Terumah – Why do we have a “House of God”?

By |2014-01-26T08:10:45-07:00January 26th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                                                                    TERUMAH                                                              (Chapters 25:1–27:19)                                         The ancient Sanctuary was not built for God[1]   This section of the Torah commands the building of a Sanctuary, a tent in which sacrifices were offered to God. Commentators dispute whether the command was issued before or after the episode of the golden calf which is [...]

4 10, 2013

God, divine laws, and suffering

By |2013-10-04T06:32:17-07:00October 4th, 2013|Book Reviews|

                                                                      Review by Israel Drazin                                    Believing and its Tensions By Rabbi Dr. Neil Gillman Jewish Lights Publishing, 2013, 113 pages   After teaching religion at The Jewish Theological Seminary for some fifty years, and serving as chair of its Department of Jewish Philosophy, Dr. Gillman retired and summarized his views on [...]

15 09, 2013

Did God create the world from nothing?

By |2013-09-15T01:52:40-07:00September 15th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                            By Israel Drazin                              Two views As startlingly as it may appear to many people today, the fact is that many intelligent religious people did not believe that God created the world out of nothing.[1] In fact, they are convinced that the Bible itself states that God formed the world out of preexisting [...]

10 08, 2013

Why Mistreat the Canaanites?

By |2013-08-10T23:10:38-07:00August 10th, 2013|Thoughts|

                Why does the Bible require Israelites to treat Canaanites brutally?                                             By Israel Drazin     The Torah appears to lack respect for Canaanites and seems to order that they be mistreated. In Deuteronomy 7:2, for example, the Torah states: “You must smite them, utterly destroy them; make no covenant with them, and [...]

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 [...]

31 07, 2013

Sinai revelation?

By |2013-07-31T08:54:18-07:00July 31st, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                             By Israel Drazin     In my essay “Divine revelation continues today,” I discussed the views of Rabbi Kook, Maimonides, Aristotle, Ba’al Shem Tov’s grandson, and others who stated that divine revelation continues today. I showed that these thinkers felt that modern people can and should seek God’s revelation in history [...]

26 07, 2013

Three apparently non-rational holiday practices

By |2013-07-26T07:55:15-07:00July 26th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                 By Israel Drazin   Thirteen divine attributes A central part of many Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur synagogue services is the recital of the thirteen divine attributes mentioned in Exodus 34:6 and 7, which Jews repeats often each day.[1] The Jewish Publication Society translates these verses describing God’s mercy: “The Lord, the Lord, [...]

17 07, 2013

Va’etchanan – Unusual Interpretations 45

By |2013-07-17T09:36:43-07:00July 17th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                  By Israel Drazin    We will use the portion of Va’etchanan (3:23-7:11) to explore the nuances, deeper significances, and lessons missed in translations from Hebrew to English, and we will examine some verses that say something rabbis rejected.   Unusual word             This portion begins with the idiomatic va’etchanan, which is in the Hebrew [...]

11 07, 2013

The true definition of God

By |2013-07-11T07:41:57-07:00July 11th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                     By Israel Drazin                       Most people do not try to understand the definition of words, have wrong ideas of their intent, and are kept from knowing what they should know. “God” is a good example. People don’t try to know what the word means, and since they don’t know what it means, it conjures [...]

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 [...]

23 12, 2011

Race, angels, and evil

By |2011-12-23T07:03:50-07:00December 23rd, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   A reader of this website sent me three questions. Here are the questions and my responses.   (1)   I note your pure blue eyes and wonder: how do some Jews have such?  Do these features prove that Jews were breeding with non- Jews way back in history?   I THINK THAT [...]

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 [...]

23 11, 2011

Should we have faith?

By |2011-11-23T05:15:16-07:00November 23rd, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   The humorist Ambrose Bierce wrote in his The Devil’s Dictionary that faith is: “Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel.” Unlike most people, I agree with Bierce. I am convinced that religion should be based on reason, not faith. People should [...]

30 10, 2011

On prophets and miracles

By |2011-10-30T07:20:37-07:00October 30th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   As I wrote in my discussion about the origin of evil, I am convinced that God created the world out of nothing or formed it out of preexisting and eternal matter, set the laws of nature in it, and then stopped being involved in the earth and its people. God is [...]

30 10, 2011

What is the source of evil?

By |2011-10-30T07:07:51-07:00October 30th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   Contrary to the belief and hopes of most people, but consistent with the thinking of people such as Maimonides and Yeshayahu Leibowitz (1903-1994), I don’t think there is a personal God. I am convinced that God is transcendent: God created the world out of nothing or formed it out of preexisting [...]

27 10, 2011

Does it Matter Whether God Exists?

By |2011-10-27T08:52:07-07:00October 27th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   I dislike and reject the notion of “faith,” which is the acceptance that an idea is true even though the idea is clearly shown to be false by science, the use of our five senses, or reasoning. I accept as true only facts that are rational. I am not an atheist [...]

24 10, 2011

Rabbis have abandoned the Bible to fundamentalist Christians

By |2011-10-25T04:52:52-07:00October 24th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   Many rabbis have, in effect, abandoned Bible study to fundamentalist Christians. Very few of their books that ostensibly address the Torah actually do so. Instead, usually without disclosing the fact, the rabbis who composed these volumes and the rabbis who deliver synagogue sermons focus on the midrashic versions of the biblical [...]

21 10, 2011

Some Thoughts about God

By |2011-10-21T04:06:04-07:00October 21st, 2011|Thoughts|

Some Thoughts about God By Israel Drazin   The popular view that God is ever present and meticulously involved, such as making detailed decisions about and controlling every raindrop and every falling leaf, and counting and recording the good and bad deeds that humans perform, is so well known that it doesn’t bear repeating. So [...]

21 10, 2011

What are we expected to know about God?

By |2011-10-21T03:57:22-07:00October 21st, 2011|Thoughts|

What are we Expected to Know about God?  By Israel Drazin   I am more inclined to accept the Maimonidean position.   The term “tradition” is used frequently in discussions about Jewish values and practices. Maimonides warns us to be skeptical of traditions, no matter what their source and no matter how many people insist [...]