22 10, 2017

Did Moses write the entire Torah?

By |2017-10-22T06:27:40-07:00October 22nd, 2017|Thoughts|

 Ibn Ezra’s “Secret of the Twelve”   Did Moses write the entire Torah? Do traditional Jewish commentators differ on the subject?   Who wrote the story of the death of Moses? The twelve verses of Deuteronomy chapter 34 tell the story of the death of Moses. The introductory four verses narrate how God told Moses [...]

9 07, 2017

Questions about the Torah that bothered scholars for centuries

By |2017-07-09T04:27:15-07:00July 9th, 2017|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

  In “Inconsistency in the Torah,” Rabbi Dr. Joshua A. Berman, addresses questions that have bothered scholars and clergy for centuries—the many seeming contradictions that are found in the Torah, in both its narrative and legal portions. He offers a solution that they ignored, a solution that makes sense. He suggests that many of the [...]

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 [...]

3 03, 2016

More on the Post-Moses Era Possibly Not Knowing about Moses’ Torah

By |2016-03-03T03:47:57-07:00March 3rd, 2016|Thoughts|

                               More on the Post-Moses Era Possibly Not Knowing about Moses' Torah    As I previously stated,[1] scholars insist that there is no indication in the biblical books that the Israelites knew about Moses’s Torah or observed the laws contained in it until the time of King Josiah (641–609 BCE). An example is the Mishkan [...]

21 02, 2016

Did the Generations of Post-Moses Israelites Know about the Torah?

By |2016-02-21T07:30:22-07:00February 21st, 2016|Thoughts|

                          Did the Generations of Post-Moses Israelites Know about the Torah?   Scholars reject the traditional teaching and suggest that the ancient Israelites knew nothing about the Torah until the time of King Josiah (649–609 BCE).[1] Among much else, it is significant that none of the biblical books before this time mention Moses’s [...]

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 [...]

27 09, 2014

Ibn Ezra’s “Secret of the Twelve”

By |2014-09-27T22:18:25-07:00September 27th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                         Ibn Ezra’s “Secret of the Twelve”[1]   The Torah’s final chapter presents a serious theological dilemma. The following is a brief history of how some scholars handled this dilemma.   Questions Did Moses write the entire Torah? Do traditional Jewish commentators differ on the subject?   Who wrote the story of the death of [...]

1 07, 2014

How to read the Bible

By |2014-07-01T07:52:52-07:00July 1st, 2014|Book Reviews|

                                                         This book shows us how to read the Bible   Peshat Isn’t so Simple By Rabbi Hayyim Angel Kodesh Press, 2014, 311 pages   For over two millennia most Jewish Bible commentators did not explain the Bible’s plain meaning, called “peshat” in Hebrew, but used the biblical verses and events as sources for [...]

11 02, 2014

A Synagogue Companion

By |2014-02-11T08:43:40-07:00February 11th, 2014|Book Reviews|

                                                             Review by Israel Drazin                                  A Synagogue Companion By Rabbi Hayyim Angel Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, 2014, 351 pages   Rabbi Hayyim Angel is a scholar who writes very readable, interesting, and informative books. He presents “a vision of the Torah that is authentic, passionate, reasonable, and embracing [...]

30 01, 2014

Still more on pre-King Josiah Israelites not knowing about the Torah – Joshua 22

By |2014-01-30T07:42:05-07:00January 30th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                              Chapter 22                                                                                Part two                                                      The curious near civil war over an altar   Seven years of battles to defeat and control Canaan ended followed, according to a tradition, with seven additional years[1] during which the priest, Joshua, and elders divided the land among the nine and a half tribes who settled in [...]

26 01, 2014

More on the possibility that the post-Moses-era Israelites knew nothing about the Torah – Joshua 22

By |2014-01-26T05:12:06-07:00January 26th, 2014|Thoughts|

  More on the possibility that the post-Moses-era Israelites knew nothing about the Torah                                                                         Joshua 22   As previously stated,[1] there seems to be no indication in the biblical books describing life after the days of Moses until the time of King Josiah (641-609) that the Israelites knew about Moses’ Torah or observed the [...]

23 01, 2014

Did the post-Moses-era Israelites know about the Torah? – Joshua 20

By |2014-01-23T07:26:01-07:00January 23rd, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                       Chapter 20                                 Did the post-Moses-era Israelites know about the Torah? We have seen what appears to be evidence in the prior chapters that the book of Joshua was composed centuries after the events about which it reports, in the kingdom of Judea, after the days of King David, that it shows a [...]

20 01, 2014

Mishpatim – Was the entire Torah revealed at Sinai?

By |2014-01-20T09:19:50-07:00January 20th, 2014|Thoughts|

                                                                  MISHPATIM                                                       (Chapters 21:1–24:18)                                           Was the entire Torah revealed at Sinai?   In the Torah portion of Mishpatim, we find the beginning of the unfolding of an intricate and complex set of social regulations called civil laws in most societies. Civil laws place God outside of the public arena and replaces divine [...]

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 09, 2013

A Startling Reevaluation of Three Rabbinical Tales

By |2013-09-15T23:03:27-07:00September 15th, 2013|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin                                       This essay is adapted from my book Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind.   Maimonides[1] describes how one should understand rabbinical tales and Midrashim,[2] and declares that most people do not deal with rabbinic Midrashim[3] correctly. According to Maimonides, three clusters of people exist, each taking a radically different approach to [...]

1 08, 2013

Some Chassidic Mystical Notions

By |2013-08-01T04:33:54-07:00August 1st, 2013|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

                                                                                                 Review by Israel Drazin                        The two volume series Speaking Torah by Arthur Green collects generally mystical comments and commentaries from over forty Chassidic rabbis who lived during the first three generation of the Chasidic Movement, from 1740 to 1815. I described the history of the Chassidim during this early period [...]

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

Sin and repentance are not Torah concepts

By |2013-07-26T06:00:35-07:00July 26th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                           By Israel Drazin                                      Neither sin nor repentance is mentioned in the Torah.   Sin “Sin,” a prime element in Christian theology, is chet in Hebrew, and chet means nothing more than “missing the mark.” The Bible speaks of three categories of wrongs that are not synonyms. There is chet, the [...]

17 02, 2013

Did Abraham observe the Torah before it was revealed?

By |2013-02-17T06:01:04-07:00February 17th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                         By Israel Drazin     In Genesis 26:4 and 5, God tells the patriarch Isaac that he will give him many descendants and the land of Canaan, and that people will bless them “because Abraham listened to my voice and kept my charge, commandments, statutes, and laws.” Leaving aside the issue of [...]

25 01, 2013

Unusual Biblical Interpretations 12

By |2013-01-25T09:45:10-07:00January 25th, 2013|Thoughts|

                                                                                By Israel Drazin     We have been offering some controversial and conventional Jewish Bible interpretations by the iconoclast Arnold B. Ehrlich (1848-1919) from his book Mikra Ki-Pheshuto (The Bible According to its Literal Meaning), the Orthodox Jewish thinker Baruch Epstein (1860-1919) from his commentary Torah Temimah (The Perfect Torah), homiletical views [...]

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 [...]

1 12, 2011

Why listen to clergy?

By |2011-12-01T03:59:06-07:00December 1st, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin   Why do people feel that they should listen to their clergy? There is nothing in the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, or Koran that says that its adherents must obey rabbis, priests, and imams. In fact, Judaism didn’t have rabbis until around the year 70 of the Common Era, after the second [...]

25 11, 2011

Religious people do not follow their Bibles

By |2011-11-25T05:06:52-07:00November 25th, 2011|Thoughts|

By Israel Drazin There is no religion today where its adherents do exactly what is in their Bible. Let's look at Judaism as an example.                                           Ask many Orthodox and Conservative Jews about the origin of the oral law and they will tell you that God revealed both the written and oral Torah to the [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

15 03, 2011

An Orthodox rabbi challenges Jews to develop the Oral Law and address modern problems

By |2011-03-15T09:19:32-07:00March 15th, 2011|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

The Sages Character, Context & Creativity Volume 1: The Second Temple Period Translated by Michael Prawer By Rabbi Binyamin Lau Maggid Books, 2010, 383 pages   Reviewed by Israel Drazin   There is a tradition that God commanded the Oral Law at Sinai. Some Jews take the statement literally. Others understand that it says that [...]

10 02, 2011

Should religious Jews avoid secular studies?

By |2011-03-15T09:27:54-07:00February 10th, 2011|Book Reviews, Thoughts|

Torah Umaddah By Rabbi Norman Lamm Maggid Books, 2010, 247 pages   Reviewed by Israel Drazin   Should religious people shun everything secular, even science? This question bothered many religious people for centuries. Some solved it by living in isolation, wearing clothes that distinguish them and keep them apart, and insisting that their children not [...]

Go to Top