Tuesday, December 1st 2020   |

Ted Roberts – The Scribbler on the Roof (In Memoriam)

THEODORE “TED” ROBERTS was a humorist and writer, who lived in the Deep South of Huntsville, Alabama and wove stories based on his lifelong love of Judaism. Roberts’ collection of columns that ran in the CCJN with his sobriquet “The Scribbler on the Roof,” are archived here in the hopes that reading his homespun brand of Talmud will bring you continued joy and love of Jewish learning and culture. Roberts, 89,  died on March 2, 2020 and was buried in his hometown of Memphis.

The original Succot celebration

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

Succot, like perfect sweet and sour cabbage soup, has two flavors. A single holiday with two themes.  We celebrate the bounty of the grape and olive harvest in the Promised Land; also we commemorate 40 hungry years of wanderings in that huge sand pile – the Sinai Peninsula – a garden that can only grow rocks.

The Chumash commands us to relive...

The Mask

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

My friend, Herb, likes to get an early start. On the golf course, he stands 20 feet in front of the tee. When he eats out, he brings a drink from home so he doesn’t have to wait for a turtle-speed server to bring one. And as the months slip by before the High Holidays, he uses a similar philosophy.

Why wait...

The Baal Shem Tov’s Midnight Visitor

(Editor’s note: In only one instance did Ted get one by this editor. This column originally ran in April of 2018 under a slightly different title.)

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

The followers of the Baal Shem Tov love to tell of his courage in facing up to his opponents.  The holy man, they used to say, could walk among wolves without drawing a deep...

A Homemade Midrash

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

It was the oldest of Midrashim. In fact it was the first Midrash – whether you believe they came from the Presence who spoke atop Sinai – or,  depending on your beliefs,  who later inspired Holy men to reveal them to the people. It concerned the human heart and the contents thereof.

The Lord had called together all the angels to insure...

A Prayer for Springtime

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

You can learn a lot from your rabbi – you can also learn a lot from nature. To watch a mama cat handle its young may be as informative as a chapter in Genesis. The “wired care” and affection she exhibits is as strong a proof of a supreme Creator as Genesis.

She is a prime exhibit of the proof that somewhere,...

The Missing Gift: Love

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

It had been a busy time for the King of the Universe.  The earth and all its contents – well, that was accomplishment enough. But the galaxies and the rules governing their orbit – sun, moon, and stars and that concept of infinite space: he was particularly proud of that. 

Just imagine!  The garden and its two occupants on planet...

An earthquake in Iran?

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

Our G-d is a jealous god, as He repeats many times in his book and I intend not to denigrate his feelings. Don’t argue with me – argue with Moses, who wrote Exodus 20:5 and a long list of similar declarations.

And he is a god of punishment. You wanta debate me? Don’t waste your time. Go read Isaiah 13:11 if you...

Culinary Jews – People of the Kitchen

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

We Jews are often called the “People of the Book”. But our detractors call us the People of the Kitchen. I consider that a compliment. Even our courting habits are affected. “Hey, can you cook?” asks the potential groom. This was not a frivolous question. “You oughta taste my matzoh balls,” replies the hopeful bride.

When I first married, my mama would...

A bris in Passaic

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

“And I will establish my covenant between me and you and I will multiply you exceedingly. . . and I will make you exceedingly fruitful.”  So spoke G-d to Abraham.  “What Covenant?” thinks a bewildered Abraham, who likes the “fruitful” idea, but wonders about the meaning behind “covenant”.  And as though to answer the unasked question our Creator answers;...

Fathers, You Must Mark the Trail

By TED ROBERTS, the SCRIBBLER ON THE ROOF

“If Oedipus Rex had taken that kid to the ballgame more often, we wouldn’t have had all that trouble.”

                           — Ancient Greek Historian

OK, so my good friend, Herb, and his two sons go down to Florida every year for Spring training. Big deal. I just know they spend...