Toledote: At Home with Isaac and Rebecca

(Night in the Desert. Isaac sits alone at a campfire. He drinks slowly from a cup of spiced wine, pokes at the embers of the dying fire, and soliloquizes.) Isaac: Father is dead—and how am I to continue his destiny? I have also heard the Voice of El-Shaddai, the Stander on the Mountain, telling me […]

Chayay Sarah with Apologies to Victorian Poet Robert Browning

Scene: A desert caravan, led by Eliezer, Avraham’s Chief Manservant. He addresses a fellow-traveler whom they met on the way. [With apologies to Victorian poet Robert Browning (1812-1889), “Fra Lippo Lippi” (1853)] I’m Avram’s servant, ‘Layzer, by your leave! You may not recognize my bearded face— But I am he whom Avram of Charan Sent […]

Avraham, Our Father: An Imagined Midrash-Soliloquy (Parsha Vayeira)

A day like all other days, here in this godforsaken desert! Or should I not say that, myself being the chosen one of the Invisible God, Maker of heaven and earth—or so He says, so He tells me. Imagine—commanding me, an old man, to perform that—that—covenantal-cutting on myself, and with a flint knife! How it […]

Avram The Great Man Sets Forth, Through the Words of His Friends & Family: Parsha Lech Lecha

Avram; or, The Great Man Sets Forth, Through the Words of His Friends & Family (Parsha Lech Lecha) By Rabbi David Hartley Mark Scene: The office of Tsuribal ben Merokam, a Hurrian Cattle-Dealer. It is early evening, almost closing time. Scrolls and small clay tablets lie strewn about a counter; in a corner stands an […]

The Kibbutznik from Carolina by David Hartley Mark

The Kibbutznik from Carolina By David Hartley Mark             It was totally accidental that I became friends with Billy Mirsky at all. I had first met his roommate, Phil Krome, during our freshman year at Hirsch College, the stately Orthodox Jewish university in Belvedere Heights in upper Manhattan. Those were the halcyon days for Hirsch, […]

The Daemon Yeshiva by David Hartley Mark

The sun was setting as I took my black-goat’s-leather briefcase and made for the door of our apartment, there on Spindle Street, on the Lower North Side of Kroy City. My mother was there to say goodby, as she always did: “Kiss the zamzumet with your left hand, and step out on your left, as […]

The Study Partner by David Hartley Mark

The Study Partner By David Hartley Mark The night wind howled outside Reb Layzer’s tavern, banging against the heavy shutters. His usual customers–drunken peasants, all of them– had gone home, stinking of the cheap brandy and cheaper vodka that Layzer sold them, along with the garlic and pickled herring that they had gulped down. It […]

Shelach Midrash by David Hartley Mark

Shelach A Leather Fragment, Inscribed with Hebrew Letters, Found in a Clay Jug, But Lately Dug Up on the Road to Hebron; Newly Translated by Rabbi David Mark— Wilderness of the Negev, 1440 BCE—I, Caleb ben Yefuneh, second-in-command to Joshua ben Nun, we who headed the twelve spies appointed by Moses to spy out the […]

Toledote: A Midrash by David Hartley Mark

Toldote Scene: Night. The wilderness encampment shared by Be’eri and Elon, princes of the Hittite Tribe. Esav ben Yitzchak v’Rivkah has just paid the mohar, the bride-price for Judith bat Beeri and Basemat bat Elon. He lies in a tent, drinking spiced wine and getting acquainted with his two new pagan brides.   Call me […]