Archive for the ‘other’ Category

Bible Translation, the Ten Commandments, and the Next Generation

September 27, 2011 1 comment

I’m pleased to announce that my TEDx presentation on Bible translation, the Ten Commandments, and the next generation is on-line on and YouTube, as well as on my Exploring the Bible Videos site. Enjoy!

Categories: Bible, Judaism, other

A Spate of Shortsightedness

July 11, 2011 3 comments

I’m concerned by what I see as a spate of shortsightedness in this country.

Here are two examples.

Toner Cartridges

Last October, apparently, a terrorist group experimented with shipping explosives in toner-cartridge packages as a way of bringing down cargo aircraft. In response, the US government, through the TSA, “restricted the transport of printer and toner cartridges.”

To me, this kind of response is like seeing someone drive up to a government building with explosives in his Chevy and reacting by making it illegal to approach government buildings in a Chevy. It misses the broader point.

Even though the toner cartridges offered certain benefits, they were not central to the malicious plan. Yet four months of government work produced an inane, short-sighted response that focused on printer and toner cartridges, rather than on the real issues.

Nuclear Power Plants

What is it about our political and social systems that, apparently, makes it so difficult to react rationally?In March, an earthquake-induced tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan along with many of the auxiliary systems that were supposed to mitigate the impact from any potential damage. The result was partial reactor meltdowns, thousands of square miles of contaminated land, billions of dollars in damage, and as-yet unknown health consequences.

In response, officials here in the US looked at the degree to which nuclear reactors can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, variously noting that those two events are unlikely in the areas where certain reactors are built, and that other reactors can withstand any likely earthquake.

But, again, the problem isn’t earthquakes or tsunamis per se. The problem is unexpected conditions. And it only took until last month for new unexpected conditions to surface. A fire broke out in Arizona that threatened the nuclear facility in Los Alimos. And floods forced the shutdown of two other nuclear power plants across the nation. Just last week, reports were published about jellyfish blocking the intake valves of cooling systems at some nuclear power plants.


It seems to me that what these decisions — and many more like them — have in common is shortsightedness. They are instances of reacting to a specific example of a broader problem by focusing on the example instead of the problem.

By and large, high-ranking policy advisers and nuclear engineers are not stupid. Surely they can see the folly of these decisions.

So I’m left wondering. What is it about our political and social systems that, apparently, makes it so difficult to react rationally?

Categories: other

Teaching in London and Amsterdam

June 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to London and Amsterdam, where I taught in a variety in venues, including lecturing about And God Said, taking part in Limmud NL, and teaching children.

I posted fairly frequent updates on the official And God Said blog, and I won’t repost them all here.

Some of my favorite posts include:

  • The Eurostar Biathlon, about how I just barely managed not to miss my train;
  • Reflections on London;
  • London, which includes photos of Hampton Court Palace and more; and
  • Coming Home to JFK, which isn’t really a favorite, but I hope maybe someone will take notice and start to fix the airport, which — at the risk of offending the Third World — I call “an island of the Third World right here in the middle of the First.”


Categories: other

Exploring the Bible Videos

April 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m thrilled to announce the beta version of my latest project: Exploring the Bible videos. The site is a growing collection of short text-based videos about the Bible, frequently focusing on translation issues.


The first three videos (also available on YouTube) are:

Longer than a soundbite and (much) shorter than a lecture, each video presents a single idea in two or three minutes

These first three videos mirror blog posts I’ve written on God Didn’t Say That (here, here, and here).

My hope is that these videos will be an effective way of discussing the text of the Bible, because the medium of video makes it possible to display the text as I talk about it.

Please let me know what you think.


Categories: Bible, other

Life and a Little Liturgy: Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, PhD, has a blog!

April 15, 2011 1 comment

I’m thrilled to announce that my father, Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D., has just started a blog: Life and a Little Liturgy. The author of three dozen books, Rabbi Hoffman — “Dad,” to me — is a preeminent Jewish liturgist (it’s a niche market, I know, but he’s got it cornered) and leading modern Jewish philosopher. Here’s part of his latest post:

I do not usually admit this right off the bat — it is definitely a conversation stopper — but here it is: I am a liturgist. “Liturgy” is a common enough word among Christians, but it does not flow trippingly off Jewish tongues, and I am not only Jewish but a rabbi to boot. The word comes from the Greek, leitourgia, “public service,” which is how Greek civilization thought of service to the gods. The Jewish equivalent is the Temple cult of antiquity — in Hebrew, avodah, which meant the same thing, the work of serving God. That eventually morphed into what people do in church and synagogue. Christians call it liturgy; Jews call it “services.”
Keep reading…

Categories: other

On Experience and Politics

October 25, 2010 1 comment

“I’m not a trained pilot. But I’m sick and tired of turbulence when I fly. Is it okay if I fly the plane text time?”

This is what I think of when I hear candidates proclaim that their lack of political experience will make them better politicians.

Governing isn’t easy. There’s skill involved. And, as with many things, experience probably helps.

So what do you think? Is lack of experience a good thing in a political candidate?

Categories: other

Two Thoughts on Global Warming

April 27, 2010 2 comments

Two thoughts on global warming:

1. Wind Energy. Wind turbines, which convert wind into energy, are hailed as a way of generating energy without harming the environment.

But I think we need that wind. I’m afraid we’re going to discover in ten or twenty or fifty years that the wind was part of the global ecosystem.

After putting a massive wind farm in, say, one of the plain states, will we have rain systems that no longer make their way across the country and instead stay put, causing massive flooding in the middle of the country and drought in the east?

2. Energy and Heat. Two of the biggest challenges facing us seem to be (a) not enough energy, and (b) the warming of the planet.

But heat is energy.

Can’t we solve both of these problems at the same time by using the extra heat on the planet for energy?

Categories: other

And God Said Goes On Sale Today

February 2, 2010 1 comment

I’m thrilled to announce that my latest book, And God Said: How Translations Conceal the Bible’s Original Meaning, goes on sale today.

More information about the book is available here. I’ve also set up a blog for the book, and you can even find it on Facebook. (“Won’t you be my friend?” the book wants to know.)

It took me four months and fifteen years to write. I hope you enjoy it.


“A wise and important book.” -Rabbi Harold Kushner

“Hoffman’s work is the best gift for a careful reader of [the Bible].” -Dr. Walter Brueggemann

“Retrieves what the Bible really was.” -The Very Reverend Dr. James A. Kowalski

Categories: other

Haviv Rettig Gur on Israel and America

September 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Haviv Rettig Gur has an essay in the Jerusalem Post in which claims:

Here’s a theory: Israeli society has a profoundly different and deeply moving way of defining the very notion of Jewishness. [read the essay…]

The essay sets the stage for his theory and expands on it. It’s well worth reading.

Categories: other

Video of 3,700-Year-Old Jerusalem Wall

September 5, 2009 Leave a comment

CNN has a video of the wall that’s well worth watching. (You have to put up with a brief commercial.)

Categories: other