6 07, 2016

What is the origin of the name “Jew”?

By |2016-07-06T04:44:59-07:00July 6th, 2016|Thoughts|

I received an email asking what is the origin of the name Jew. Here is my response. Shalom, When the Israelites broke into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom was called Israel, after the ancestor Jacob, who was also called Israel because he wrestled with men and even with God. He was not afraid to question [...]

12 04, 2015

Should highly intelligent people observe Judaism?

By |2015-04-12T07:40:35-07:00April 12th, 2015|Thoughts|

                                       Should highly intelligent people observe Judaism?   I have been saying that the Torah recognized that its laws must change and that Maimonides articulated this idea clearly in his Guide of the Perplexed 3:32. I said also that Maimonides taught that the Torah has three goals: to teach some truths and to help people [...]

11 08, 2014

One of the best biographies I read in years

By |2014-08-11T06:23:33-07:00August 11th, 2014|Book Reviews|

The Terrible Beauty of the Evil Man By Finis Leavell Beauchamp Finis Coronat Opus, 2014, 395 pages ISBN 978-0692237885 Cost $12.49   This is one of the best biographies I read in years. Finis’ experiences are unusual, even bizarre, but fascinating and thought-provoking. The book is written in language that reminded me of William Faulkner [...]

6 04, 2014

ACHAREI MOT – Judaism changed radically

By |2014-04-06T07:05:32-07:00April 6th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                                   ACHAREI MOT                                                                           (Chapters 16:1–18:30)                                                                      Judaism changed radically   Leviticus 16 deals with the elaborate Tabernacle rituals of atonement performed by the High Priest on Yom Hakippurim—a plural name, Day of Atonements. The priest brought sacrifices to atone for misdeeds that he, his family, and Israelites did; hence the plural form. As [...]

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

One approach to understanding Maimonides

By |2012-01-01T11:46:15-07:00January 1st, 2012|Book Reviews|

Maimonides Essential Teachings on Jewish Faith & Ethics The Book of Knowledge & the Thirteen Principles of Faith Annotated & Explained By Rabbi Marc D. Angel, PhD Skylight Illuminations, 2012, 177 pages There are many divergent interpretations of the great sage Moses Maimonides (1138-1204). Some scholars, such as Leo Strauss of the University of Chicago [...]

25 12, 2011

The role of customs and traditions in Judaism

By |2011-12-25T13:54:16-07:00December 25th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   Rabbis who offer legal decisions frequently say that customs that have been practiced for some time have the same power as laws, but actually some do and some don’t. Traditions are a twin sister to customs. Generally customs refer to behaviors and traditions to ideas, but people use the terms interchangeably. [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

12 09, 2011

Did Rabbi Soloveitchik understand Judaism?

By |2011-10-25T04:56:18-07:00September 12th, 2011|Book Reviews|

Love and Terror in the God Encounter The Theological Legacy of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik By David Hartman Jewish Lights Publishing, 2001, 219 pages   Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903-1993) was and still is the leading rabbinical figure of Modern Orthodox Judaism. He was the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva University, the senior lecturer on Talmud. [...]

7 01, 2011

Prayers and women

By |2011-03-15T09:44:31-07:00January 7th, 2011|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

On Changes in Jewish Liturgy Options and Limitations By Daniel Sperber Urim Publications, 2010, 221 pages   Reviewed by Israel Drazin             This is the second recent volume where Daniel Sperber, professor, rabbi, author of thirty books and more than four hundred articles, a leading expert on Jewish laws and customs, addresses what many consider [...]

7 01, 2011

Discrimination against women

By |2011-03-15T09:48:15-07:00January 7th, 2011|Book Reviews, Jewish Books, Thoughts|

Women and Men in Communal Prayer Halakhic Perspectives Edited by Chaim Trachtman, MD Ktav Publishing House, 2010, 418 pages   Reviewed by Israel Drazin             One of the great world tragedies is the systematic exclusion of women from many activities and positions, making them, in essence, only partial citizens, reminiscent of blacks being considered only three-fifths [...]