Noah By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

I was walking in a sunny vale, chasing after yellow-golden butterflies. My feet felt as light as when I was a little boy: the breeze ruffled my hair (I, poor doddering graybeard that I am, have little or no hair),, I heard birds singing sweetly. And there, not too far-off, was a little mountain stream—perhaps I could take off my broken sandals, and bathe my poor, aching feet in it. Ah, what bliss! I …

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…

Shoftim By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

When you enter the land which the LORD your God is giving you…let no one be found among you who is a sorcerer, a soothsayer, a diviner, a magician, one who casts spells, or one who consults ghosts….”   –Deut. 18:9-11

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.

Behaalotecha by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Synopsis of Parsha: The Children of Israel grow tired of the manna, the heavenly bread which God sends daily, and implore Moses and God to send them meat. Once again, they invoke the memory of the fruits and vegetables which they ate a-plenty in Egypt—strange, because this is the Wilderness Generation, the Exodus Generation having died out, for the most part, following the Sin of the Golden Calf. Nevertheless, tribal memories persist, and stories exaggerate the truth. The people work themselves into an emotional state of grief and weeping, so great is their lust for meat.

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.

Shemini: The Deaths of Nadav & Avihu, Sons of Aaron By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

I am Avihu, the second son of Aaron, the High Priest; my elder brother is Nadav. This is our Big Day. Aaron—that is, Dad—is to dedicate the Mishkan, the Holy Sanctuary of the Wilderness, the Place where the One True God is to dwell. We will participate in the Ceremony of Dedication, too.

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.

Mishpatim by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

What is significant is that the laws in this parsha, Mishpatim, deal exclusively with civil matters—property rights, indentured servitude, working animals, road construction, etc. How can we find holiness in these mundane matters?