The Heart of the Matter

As the Jewish people worldwide make our way toward the conclusion of the fourth book of the Torah, we approach with the Israelites the end of our time together “in the wilderness.” Unfortunately, the material and agenda of the final two portions of the Book of Numbers are difficult to reconcile given our modern sensibilities…. Read More

Piety and Learning, Not Power, Is Eternal

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Take for yourself Joshua the son of Nun, an individual who has spirit within him, and lay your hand upon him. Stand him up before Elazar the Priest and before the entire congregation, and command him before their eyes. And give of your glory upon him in order that… Read More

In the Footsteps of Abraham

Except for the saints among us, we all boast. Sometimes, we boast about our own natural endowments, our good looks or our athletic prowess. Often, we boast about our achievements, social or professional. There is one type of boasting that seems to be unique to the traditional Jewish community. That is boasting not about oneself,… Read More

A Promise to Protect Us

Even though he led the Jewish people through great adversity, Moshe, a man so righteous that he spoke mouth to mouth with G-d, never set foot in Israel. What sin could be so great as to not permit such a holy leader like Moshe to enter Eretz Yisroel? This week’s parshah provides commentaries with potential… Read More

The Importance Of A Visual Sign

2013-axler-craig

There’s a small scar on my left index finger where the digit meets the hand. There since early childhood, it serves as a reminder of the time I decided to slice a frozen bagel by myself with a sharp knife. A little more force, a slip here or there, and I would have been one… Read More

Are we really connecting?

I had a fascinating conversation with a few students over Shavuot. We discussed what people nowadays are really looking for. The phrase “connection” came up. People want to connect with others in a real way and never want to feel alone. The Facebook and Snapchat phenomenon of sharing everything, including what you ate for breakfast… Read More

Rabbis: Our Ambassadors to the World

This week’s biblical portion of Beha’alotecha contains an important insight into the necessary qualities and major functions of our rabbis. The week’s reading begins with the kindling of the menorah, the seven candlestick branches made of pure gold, each culminating in a golden flower with three branches emanating from either side of the central tree-like… Read More

Finding Balance in Life

At first Parshat Naso seems nothing more than a disassociated combination of random laws. The adulterous sotah must drink before the Beit Din, while the spiritual nazir must refrain from shaving and drinking wine. The laws of the sotah, an accused adulterer, and the laws for a nazir, one who seeks to live an ascetic… Read More

No Matter Your ‘Position,’ it’s Probably for the Best

Baseball season arrived, and we stood on the dirt field at Little League practice. I held my glove between my elbow and ribs while I fixed the brim on my baseball cap. Today, we would be given our positions, and Sunday we would play the Red Sox. “I’m gonna land shortstop, watch and see!” I… Read More

A ‘Marriage’ Unbroken

In the Torah reading for Parshat Bamidbar, Moshe is instructed by G-d to count the people. As G-d led His people out of Egypt from slavery, He asked for everyone to be counted, even people who were not priests or landowners. Each person was to be counted by name and to be oriented by tribe…. Read More