Take Time To Ribbit

2013-axler-craig

“Frogs here, frogs there, frogs were jumping everywhere!” So go the lyrics to a truly infectious children’s song for Passover, which focuses comically on the plague of frogs, found in our Torah portion this Shabbat, Va’eira.  A close reading of the beginning of Exodus 8 will point out a linguistic anomaly. The threat made to… Read More

Challenging God

My bar mitzvah parsha is Shemot. Shemot is an action-packed parsha. Moses is rescued from the Nile as a baby. Then, he kills an Egyptian taskmaster. God appears to Moses through ancient Skype, a burning bush. Moses is called on by God to speak to Pharaoh on behalf of the slaves. From all of these… Read More

Preservation and Sacrifice

Last week, the world lost a great man, Nelson Mandela. One of my favorite Mandela stories happened to a friend of mine in Cape Town. She was standing under her chupa and felt a slight tug on her wedding dress. She looked around to see what was going on. Nelson Mandela was straightening out her… Read More

Forgiveness

The themes of reunification and forgiveness are reflected in this week’s Haftorah and parsha. The Haftorah features the prophet Ezekiel following God’s instructions — taking two sticks and carving the names of the kingdoms of Ephraim and Judah on each and raising them together as one stick before the people. Ezekiel’s act, as commanded by… Read More

The Case Of The Stolen Bicycle

I loved my brand new 10-speed bike, a shiny black Diamondback. I would ride around after school and visit my friends. When school started, a new kid, Adam, would come over and ask me all kinds of questions about it. “Where did you get it?” he would ask. “Where can I get one?” Sometimes his… Read More

What Is A Miracle?

Today is Chanukah. The holiday we know today first took place around 200 B.C.E. in Judea or what is known today as Israel. Antiochus III, Greek king of Syria, took over Judea and was fair to the Jews, allowing them to follow their traditions and their beliefs. But when his son, Antiochus IV, took over,… Read More

Learning From Dreams

The name of this week’s Torah portion is Vayeshev, which is in the Book of Genesis. It is a continuation of the story of Joseph. In Vayeshev, Joseph is now in Egypt. Sadly, at this point in the story, Joseph is in prison, where he encounters two new prisoners. One is Pharaoh’s cup bearer and… Read More

Taking Responsibility

2013-axler-craig

The iconic comic strip “Family Circus” has told the story of the Keane family (two exasperated parents with four exasperating children) for the last 53 years. My favorite character has always been the invisible, gremlin-like character named “Not Me.” Whenever anything is broken or messy, the child confronted with the question,”Who did this?” is likely… Read More

Human Value

It’s human nature to value everything. Being limited by space and time means that we have options, and inevitably we choose that which we value the most. Sometimes it truly is more valuable, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be fooled into thinking it is more valuable. Having come to America in my 30s allowed… Read More

Rebecca’s Greatness

This week’s parsha, toldot, focuses on the continuance of the Abrahamic line through the birth of Jacob and Esau. After a long period of childlessness, Isaac and Rebecca entreat God, and He grants Rebecca the capability to conceive. Rebecca endures a difficult pregnancy as, according to God, “Two nations are in [her] womb.” While Jacob… Read More