Vayayshev by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Vayayshev (וישב) Torah: Genesis 37:1 – 40:23 Haftarah: Amos 2:6 – 3:8 Scene: Sheol, the Afterlife. A small metal table, such as one would find in an old-fashioned café in Paris, perhaps, or Greenwich Village. Two uncomfortable-looking but necessary metal chairs with curved metal backs, suitable for two ladies of fashion to sit and chat. […]

Vayishlach By David Hartley Mark

Night on Mount Seir, the tribal portion of Esau, also called Edom (Hebrew, “red”) for his red hair, beard, and freckled complexion. He is chieftain of a large clan, intermingled with Canaanite sub-clans; we will never learn the time or place of his death, or his age at his passing. Even the genealogical lists in Gen. Chap. 36 stress his wives’ side of the Edomite Family, not his own. The Author(s) of Genesis clearly found Esau’s life and destiny to be inconsequential to the remainder of our Genesis Story, which will next focus on Joseph ben Jacob, who will bring his brothers down to Egypt, there to become the Children of Israel.

Chanukah: Laws, Customs, and Trivia by Rabbi Hartley David Mark

 Plus, My Personal Take on the History of this Wonderful Little Festival What we American Jews call a “menorah” is called a “chanukiyyah” in Israel. In modern Hebrew, a menorah is a light bulb. I wandered around B’nai B’rak, a very Chasidic town in Israel, going nuts looking for a menorah. They kept sending me […]

Toldot by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Father is dead; his chief steward, Eliezer, is also dead. I am alone. Alone as a stone. Just me and this—this wineskin (drinks; the cattle low, moo, meh, and baa) Oh, silence, you—you—woolly fools! Fine company you are, for a master shepherd like me…. Where was I?

Chayay Sarah by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: c. 1400 BCE, give or take a century. The interior of a stucco’d, mud-brick house in Kiryat-Arba, a suburb of the town of Hebron, a Hittite city. It is dusk; Rebecca, a young bride, daughter of Bethuel of Aram-Naharaim, the newlywed bride of Isaac ben Abraham v’Sarah—that is, the late Sarah, who is buried in the field of Ephron the Hittite, called Machpelah—is lighting an oil lamp.

Vayera by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

All have heard, I am sure, of the Sacrifice of Isaac, how the Lord God demanded that Abraham take and sacrifice his son, his only son, whom he loved, that is, Isaac. Abraham was commanded to take his son—the younger, not the elder; Ishmael was, by this time, bending his bow in the wilderness of Paran, and seeking a bride from Egypt—and sacrifice him upon Mount Moriah, which may or may not have been the Temple Mount, in centuries to come.

The Testimony of Sarai bat Haran, Wife of Abram, Co-Founder of the People Israel By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

In the first place, Abram, my now-famous husband, never even thought to ask me if I was willing to set out on this massive journey from my home town, Ur of the Chaldees, the foremost City of our day—why, it was so big that people never called it Ur-Kasdim, they simply called it “The City,” that’s how well-known it was. Of course, back in our day, men ruled, no question; we women were expected to keep quiet, cook, clean, and have babies—though we did manage to have our own—well, I suppose you would call them spheres of influence; yes, that’s what we had, at least, among ourselves.

The Aftermath of Noah’s Flood by David Hartley Mark

Following the devastations of the Flood, after the Mighty Vessel had come to rest on Mount Ararat, Captain Noah wished to learn if the flood-waters had receded, for God had become silent. He opened the Ark-window and sent forth a Raven, well-known as a Messenger between Heaven and Earth, though often a Portent of Warfare—for God had warred on Humanity for its alleged sins, and Humanity had lost, before the Power of God.

Beraysheet By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

  Bereshit (בראשית) Torah: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8 Haftarah Ashkenazim: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10 Haftarah Sephardim: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21   Scene: The Post-Edenic World. We see a humble Cabin built of clay and wattles, the dwelling-place of our First Parents, Adam and Eve. The door opens, and Eve enters, carrying the toddler Abel. She looks […]

Haazinu, Revisited By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Haazinu (האזינו) Torah: Deut 32:1 – 32:52 Haftarah: II Samuel 22:1 – 22:51 Hear me, O’ Cosmos, when I declaim, Let the Firmament absorb my words. May my thoughts descend like acid rain, Sizzling into the suffering earth, Soaked with generations of blood and strife Roiled with rivenings of man against man. The Name of my Lord […]