The Baal-Teshuvah

By Yakov Azriel

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man — that they are vanity.” (Psalm 94:11)

I thought I’d have to put aside my eyes

In order to believe, and put aside

My brain, because belief in God had died

I thought, when hearing helmsmen eulogize

Its recent death or imminent demise.

The sea of faith was shrinking and its tide

Had surely turned, so I felt justified

Surmising that its shallows swarmed with lies.


Or so I thought.  For I was full of pride,

Self-confident the human mind was wise

Enough to analyze the brine of life.

Oh what a fool I was, HaShem, to hide

Behind this mask and wear this cheap disguise,

While stabbing oceans with a pocket-knife.

Yakov Azriel has published four books of poetry based on the first four books of the Torah. Threads from a Coat of Many Colors: Poems on Genesis (Time Being Books, 2005), In the Shadow of a Burning Bush: Poems on Exodus (Time Being Books, 2008), Beads for the Messiah’s Bride: Poems on Leviticus (Time Being Books, 2009) and Swimming in Moses’ Well: Poems of Numbers (Time Being Books, 2011). His upcoming collection, based on Deuteronomy, will be released in 2013. Over 200 of his poems have appeared in journals and magazines in the US, the UK and Israel. In addition, he has won fifteen poetry awards and has taught in Israeli yeshivah high schools, as well as in Bar Ilan University, the Hebrew University and Herzog College. Azriel lives and teaches at a yeshivah high school in Efrat, Israel, where he lives with his family. His books of poetry are available at http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.timebeing.com/.