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.

Tazria-Metzora By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

I am Kevudah, the “honored one,” wife of Eleazar, Aaron’s third son—but his eldest, now that Nadav and Avihu are dead, killed by the hand of God—the flames of God, I mean. They offered “strange fire”—some mistake in preparing the incense, we believe, as well as guilty of taking a drop of mead prior to the service—we will never know for sure, since the two young men—boys, really—were totally immolated by God’s fire. Just as they were about to wave their incense-pans, too. Horrible, horrible way to die, at the hands of the God we are commanded to love. And Who loves us. I wonder.

The Passover Seder of Mottke the Coachman By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

In 1797, the richest and most ornate of Chasidic rebbes was born: Rebbe Yisroel of Rizhin, known as the Rizhiner. Unlike other rebbes, who lived in outright poverty, he loved wealth and to be surrounded by beautiful objects. His Chasidim, who were mostly poor, did their best to satisfy his wants, since the Rizhiner claimed direct descent from King David, and believed that he ought to imitate the lifestyle of his notable ancestor—not in personal behavior, but in his surroundings.

Tetzaveh by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Call me Aaron ben Amram v’Yocheved. The Kohen Gadol? Yes, I am; I admit it; I am the High Priest. But, before that, I was the middle child, born following Miriam, my sister, the Bechorah, the First-Born, the Passed-Over One, the Dancer-and-Singer, the Poet-Prophetess.