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Swimming in Moses' Well

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Swimming in Moses' Well

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Swimming in Moses' Well
Poems on Numbers
By Yakov Azriel
Time Being Books, 2011, 113 pages
ISBN: 978-156809-144-0

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - December 5, 2011

This is a beautiful and thought provoking book of poetry that is easy to read and understand, unlike many poetic books that are filled with obscure illusions to Greek and Roman fables and other literature that most people don't know. Yaakov Azriel is an Israeli, born in America, who studied in Israel and has a doctorate in Judaica. His poems have won twelve prizes in international competitions. This is his fourth book of sonnets in which he cites biblical verses and draws striking and thoughtful poems from them, which links the past with the present, and offers readers powerful thoughts with modern relevance.

In the second half of his poem "The Well in the Desert," based on Numbers 21:18, for example, he writes about faith:

Azriel draws on the story of Balaam's donkey in Numbers 22:25. The Bible states that she could see "the angel of the Lord," while the visionary Balaam, despite his ability to prophesy, could not see the angel. In the first and last of four stanzas, he writes:

A final example of these fine poems is one called "Email," based on Numbers 36:13. Azriel begins by saying:

He goes on to describe the email. Then, in the middle of the poem, he writes:

These fragments of whole poems show that Azriel's language is accessible and that his images are novel and powerful, so that readers will enjoy this book.


Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of eighteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah and on www.yutorah@yutorah.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.
The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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