24 09, 2019

A new book on Jewish philosophy

By |2019-09-24T21:13:30-07:00September 24th, 2019|Philosophy|

“Judaism Reclaimed: Philosophy and Theology in the Torah,” by Shmuel Phillips, a rabbi and lawyer with a law degree from the University of London, is a book filled with interesting information inspired by his understanding of the views of Maimonides and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. The book has thoughtful articles often prompted by all of [...]

28 10, 2018

Maimonides’ personality unknown by too many people

By |2018-10-28T04:57:49-07:00October 28th, 2018|Jewish Books|

                       Too many people, including rabbis and scholars, focus on just two of Maimonides’ books to help them decide Maimonides’ frame of mind: his philosophical Guide of the Perplexed and his code of law which he called Mishneh Torah, which means the Second Torah. Focusing [...]

17 10, 2018

Difficulties with the Akedah story explained

By |2018-10-17T04:01:41-07:00October 17th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

    The thrust of Soren Kierkegaard’s 1843 influential book “Fear and Trembling” is long reflections on Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son Isaac, a story told in Genesis 22.[1] Kierkegaard concludes from his analysis that Abraham represents the prototype of faith, for he showed faith when he was willing to obey God’s command to [...]

14 08, 2018

The solution is simple

By |2018-08-14T04:17:33-07:00August 14th, 2018|Thoughts|

                                                  In an exccelent and informative article, Professor Marty Lockshin of York University, a rabbi, examined the difficulty raised by Deuteronomy 13:2-4 and tells the solutions offered in a Midrash and by several medieval Jewish commentators.[1] I will add another solution. Deuteronomy states: “If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner – [...]

24 06, 2018

Are Divine Commands Rational?

By |2018-06-24T04:28:56-07:00June 24th, 2018|Thoughts|

  While there are Jews who are convinced that certain biblical commands are inscrutable and that even though we do not understand them, we must obey them, others like Maimonides and Abraham ibn Ezra were convinced that all the divine commands are rational and people can and indeed should understand them.[1] In his commentary to [...]

4 04, 2018

Maimonides said what Nietzsche said

By |2018-04-04T06:29:40-07:00April 4th, 2018|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) offers three main ideas in “The Gay Science,” written in 1882 with additions in 1887, a book called “one of his most beautiful, most idea rich books,”[1] whose title is also translated as “The Joyful Wisdom.” First, God is dead or, as I understand it, the reliance on God should cease. He [...]

28 01, 2018

Who was Maimonides?

By |2018-01-28T06:23:17-07:00January 28th, 2018|Thoughts|

Many Jews see Maimonides (1138-1204) as the greatest Jewish personality and sage since the biblical Moses, quoting the maxim “from (the biblical) Moses to Moses (Maimonides) there has been no one like Moses.” These people recognize that all of the rabbis, sages and philosophers who lived since the first Moses – including the writers of [...]

26 11, 2017

Maimonides’ methodology and prophecy

By |2017-11-26T05:33:03-07:00November 26th, 2017|Thoughts|

Maimonides (1138-1204) wrote his philosophical work Guide of the Perplexed in 1190 to disseminate truths as he saw them to fellow Jews who lacked his knowledge. He was particularly interested in demonstrating that the biblical and rabbinical writings are consistent with the rationalistic philosophy of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.). M. Friedlander, in his [...]

12 11, 2017

Did we sin?

By |2017-11-12T06:48:20-07:00November 12th, 2017|Thoughts|

  I bought a statue of the famed philosopher Aristotle. It is covered in heavy bronze. It is 14.25 inches tall. It looks great. I placed it next to the Maimonides books that I wrote because Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and Maimonides (1138-1204 CE) are my favorite philosophers. Both are rationalists. Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught [...]

26 10, 2017

We need to think about Maimonides

By |2017-10-26T05:28:22-07:00October 26th, 2017|Thoughts|

  It is good to be reminded of Maimonides, especially in this time when so many people are influenced by the idea that God wants people to have faith, that faith is all that is important, except, possibly, so some people contend, God created the world so that people can, indeed should, sit back and [...]

20 09, 2017

Nachmanides’ attempt to defend Judaism at Barcelona

By |2017-09-20T04:28:25-07:00September 20th, 2017|Book Reviews|

“The Disputation at Barcelona, by Ramban,” translated by Rabbi Dr. Charles B. Chavel, is a classic text composed by Nachmanides (1195-1270), also known as Ramban, of the formal dispute that Nachmanides had with Pablo Christiani in 1263 before the king of Aragon, James I. It is an interesting piece of Jewish history. There are two [...]

14 09, 2017

The curious views of Nahmanides

By |2017-09-14T04:58:49-07:00September 14th, 2017|Thoughts|

  Nachmanides was a famed Bible and Talmud commentator. His real name was Moses ben Nahman Gerondi. He is known in Hebrew as Ramban and in European languages as Nahmanides, also spelt Nachmanides (1194-1270). He was a mystic and had mystical ideas. What are some of his views? Among much else, Nahmanides believed that Jews [...]

30 08, 2017

Is the concept of “faith” sensible?

By |2017-08-30T06:45:30-07:00August 30th, 2017|Thoughts|

My answer is no. Ever since I was a child, I heard about faith and understood that it makes no sense. One day when I was still young my father Rabbi Dr. Nathan Drazin took me to hear a lecture by the famous Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Heschel said the faith is not a Jewish [...]

27 08, 2017

The Seven Noahide Commandments

By |2017-08-27T06:05:42-07:00August 27th, 2017|Thoughts|

  In 1986, the Lubavitcher Rebbe invited me to speak with him and requested that I, an American Army General, speak at Army bases around the world about the Seven Noahide Commandments. Although I try to think rationally and not mystically like the Rebbe, I did so, and this is a version of that speech.   [...]

26 07, 2017

Some people dislike paradise

By |2017-07-26T04:21:30-07:00July 26th, 2017|Book Reviews|

Lost Horizon By James Hilton   The philosopher Maimonides (1138-1204) considered the biblical story of the Garden of Eden as a parable, not an actual event, in his Guide of the Perplexed 1:2. He states that the Torah is speaking about morality. I think his interpretation is correct. I will not summarize it here, but [...]

18 07, 2017

Must a Jew Obey a Rabbinical Decision He knows is Wrong?

By |2017-07-18T04:30:26-07:00July 18th, 2017|Thoughts|

  There are various views about mistaken rabbinical decisions. Maimonides answers "no." Here is what I wrote in my book “Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind.” Rabbi Solomon Yitzchaqi (1040–1105), better known as Rashi, the acronym of his name, makes a rather remarkable and, in the mind of many, counterintuitive statement in his commentary to Deuteronomy 17:11. [...]

2 07, 2017

The Bible does not discuss ethics

By |2017-07-02T06:16:16-07:00July 2nd, 2017|Thoughts|

                                                                      The Bible does not discuss ethics   Ethics is a subject that people speak about often and most people think that the Torah must discuss [...]

28 06, 2017

The truth about Maimonides

By |2017-06-28T04:57:02-07:00June 28th, 2017|Thoughts|

                                                                                                               [...]

24 05, 2017

The current Shavuot is not a biblical holiday

By |2017-05-24T03:19:10-07:00May 24th, 2017|Thoughts|

The following essay is from my book "Mysteries of Judaism" in which I pointed out that all the biblical holidays were changed. In "Mysteries of Judaism II: How the Rabbis and Others Changed Judaism," I describe Maimonides' view that the Torah wanted the Israelites to change what is in the Torah. For example, he writes [...]

6 02, 2017

Were the Ten Plagues Miracles?

By |2017-02-06T06:48:47-07:00February 6th, 2017|Thoughts|

                The following essay is chapter 24 in my third book on Maimonides: Maimonides, Reason Above All.                                                               [...]

29 01, 2017

Who was Maimonides’ son?

By |2017-01-29T06:25:41-07:00January 29th, 2017|Thoughts|

                                           The following essay is chapter 5 in my book Maimonides: Reason Above All                                           [...]

22 01, 2017

Maimonides took most of his ideas from Aristotle

By |2017-01-22T05:27:01-07:00January 22nd, 2017|Thoughts|

The following is the second chapter from my third book on Maimonides called "Maimonides: Reason Above All." I gave my book this name because both he and Aristotle were convinced that the most important part of humans is their ability to reason, something most humans do not do.               [...]