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.

Vaetchanan: Moses Climbs Mt. Sinai By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Vaetchanan (ואתחנן) Torah: Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11 Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1 – 40:26 “The day you stood before the LORD your GOD at Mt. Horeb, He said to me, ‘Gather the people to Me, that they may hear My words.’ …The mountain burned with flames to the skies, and was dark with storm clouds. The Lord […]

Devarim: Moses’s Worrisome Speech by Rabbi David Hartely Mark

Joshua, gray-haired and gray-bearded, a man in his sixties—veteran of many a military campaign as his people marched, complaining, through the trackless Wilderness—entered the black goatskin tent. The air was foul—as though it had not been ventilated sufficiently for a long time. While he unbuckled his sword-belt and carefully stood his battered shield against a tent-pole, he squinted around the interior—

Sh’lach – The Testimony of Caleb ben Yefunneh by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Welcome to the hospitality of my tent, Stranger! I am Brother Caleb, son of Yefunneh, by your leave! It is now twice-ten years since Rabbi Moses ben Amram sent us, twelve spies altogether, over Jordan River (River? Pah! It was but a rivulet, a trickle even, in spots, except during rainy season), and into the Promised Land.

Bamidbar by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: Open Wilderness—nothing but sand, rocks, and thornbushes, a harsh, burning desert expanse. Vultures circle overhead. We behold a long, undulating line of people—men, women, children—old, young, middle-aged—gathered around a tall rock, from which a bony, aged, bearded elder, obviously the leader, barks orders. He is Moshe ben Amram, Leader and Rabbi of Israel. Because of his age, and the possible strain on his voice, his words are repeated on all four sides by Tribal Chieftains, who use arm-signals and ram’s-horns to try to organize the multitude into a semblance of marching order.

Behar-Bechukotai by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

It is true that Your wisdom is infinite, and that our mortal wisdom is lacking and incomplete,
But I have studied Your Laws to the best of my ability
Limited though it may be
And I have some disagreements, if You will forgive me.