Vayayshev by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

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: Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, in the Afterlife by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: The Afterlife, known as Sheol. Spirits flit about aimlessly: this is no Talmudic or Kabbalistic Heaven; that came later in Jewish History. We cannot see any of these spirits, but we can hear them.

Vayetzei: The Testimony of Laban, Jacob’s Father-in-Law by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

  Come in, come in, Stranger! Welcome to my humble tent. I am Laban, sheikh of this little tribe—look around my home tent! As you can see, I have daughters, a fine son-in-law, and grandchildren enough! Sit here, by the fire; it will stop your shivering—yes, our Aramean desert nights can get cold enough, I’ll tell you! Ha-ha! Here, Leah, my dear—fetch our guest a big bowl of that red-bean stew—that will warm your bones, I reckon!

Chayay Sarah: The Life of Keturah, Abraham’s Concubine by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“Abraham took another wife [after Sarah’s death], whose name was Keturah. She bore him [six sons]. Abraham willed all that he owned to Isaac; but to [his] sons by concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and he sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the Land of the East.” Gen. 25:1-6 (adapted)

Vayeira by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

My name is Metatron; perhaps you have heard of me, perhaps not. The mysteries of the Lord God’s heaven are not common knowledge. Know, Mortal Reader, that I am at once the most majestic and powerful of God’s angels; indeed, some Kabbalistic commentators place me secondary only to Him.

Of Mice and Sukkot by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

(Scene: A temple courtyard. Sara, a fifth-grade Hebrew School teacher, is working with her students to decorate their congregation’s Sukkah. She directs them to string popcorn on nylon thread, cut paper chains from construction paper, and use this year’s Rosh Hashanah cards to tape in the sukkah. A bag of fall apples sprawls in a corner, and the children alternate between munching and hanging the fruits from the sukkah’s roof.)

Nitzavim-Vayelech: Moses’s Death is Hard by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Following the skirmish with Amorite manna-raiders, General Joshua entered the Command Tent, and laid his battered wooden shield, hooped round with a bronze circlet, in a corner. On it, he carefully placed his brazen sword…

Kee Tavo: The Lament of the Shammes By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“But if you do not harken to the voice of the LORD your God to observe and perform all the commandments which I command you this day, then shall all of these curses come upon you and take effect: cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country. …The Lord will make disease cling to you, until He has utterly wiped you out from the land you are to possess….”
–Deut. 28:15-16, 21, The “List of Curses”

Re’eh – Two Young Sentries at War by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

“When you cross the Jordan River and settle in the Land into which the LORD your God is bequeathing to you, and He gives you rest from all your enemies round about, you [will] settle there in security.” –Deut. 12:10 (adapted)

Eikev: Datan and Aviram, Rebels Against God and Moses, Make Their Case from Hell by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: Sheol, the Torah version of Hell. No demons or pitchforks; no lakes of fire or forgetfulness. Rather, the Spirits of the Dead flit about silently—unless they are asked to speak. Datan and Aviram, the enemies of Moses, come forward to give their testimony.