Vaera by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Synopsis: Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh—which one? Ramsses II, Thutmose III, perhaps even Hatshepsut, the Woman Pharaoh—the actual identity is not important to the Torah Narrative, which never gives more details than are considered necessary to tell the Story. The Theme is Clash of the Titans, in this case between Adon-i, God of the Israelites, vs. Pharaoh, god of the Egyptians. Here are some of the Actors, both Major and Minor:

Shemot by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Let me tell You the whole story, God of my fathers—though I am certain that You know it all, for You have read my mind about this, and You see all that happens on this earth, from Your abode in the skies, and You laugh at us: You hold us in derision, as my father, Amram, used to tell me, before the Pharaoh’s police came, to arrest him for working for our freedom, and he had to run away, and was never seen again….

Vayechi By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: A Receiving Room in Pharaoh Seti I’s Palace, 19th Dynasty, 1291-1278 BCE. The Meeting between the Pharaoh and Jacob. Note that Seti uses the Royal “We” when speaking, since He represents all of Egypt, is Himself a Demigod, and that Native Egyptians did not think highly of Canaanites.

Vayishlach By David Hartley Mark

Night on Mount Seir, the tribal portion of Esau, also called Edom (Hebrew, “red”) for his red hair, beard, and freckled complexion. He is chieftain of a large clan, intermingled with Canaanite sub-clans; we will never learn the time or place of his death, or his age at his passing. Even the genealogical lists in Gen. Chap. 36 stress his wives’ side of the Edomite Family, not his own. The Author(s) of Genesis clearly found Esau’s life and destiny to be inconsequential to the remainder of our Genesis Story, which will next focus on Joseph ben Jacob, who will bring his brothers down to Egypt, there to become the Children of Israel.

Toldot by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Father is dead; his chief steward, Eliezer, is also dead. I am alone. Alone as a stone. Just me and this—this wineskin (drinks; the cattle low, moo, meh, and baa) Oh, silence, you—you—woolly fools! Fine company you are, for a master shepherd like me…. Where was I?

Vayera by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

All have heard, I am sure, of the Sacrifice of Isaac, how the Lord God demanded that Abraham take and sacrifice his son, his only son, whom he loved, that is, Isaac. Abraham was commanded to take his son—the younger, not the elder; Ishmael was, by this time, bending his bow in the wilderness of Paran, and seeking a bride from Egypt—and sacrifice him upon Mount Moriah, which may or may not have been the Temple Mount, in centuries to come.

The Aftermath of Noah’s Flood by David Hartley Mark

Following the devastations of the Flood, after the Mighty Vessel had come to rest on Mount Ararat, Captain Noah wished to learn if the flood-waters had receded, for God had become silent. He opened the Ark-window and sent forth a Raven, well-known as a Messenger between Heaven and Earth, though often a Portent of Warfare—for God had warred on Humanity for its alleged sins, and Humanity had lost, before the Power of God.

Beraysheet By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

  Bereshit (בראשית) Torah: Genesis 1:1 – 6:8 Haftarah Ashkenazim: Isaiah 42:5 – 43:10 Haftarah Sephardim: Isaiah 42:5 – 42:21   Scene: The Post-Edenic World. We see a humble Cabin built of clay and wattles, the dwelling-place of our First Parents, Adam and Eve. The door opens, and Eve enters, carrying the toddler Abel. She looks […]

Haazinu, Revisited By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Haazinu (האזינו) Torah: Deut 32:1 – 32:52 Haftarah: II Samuel 22:1 – 22:51 Hear me, O’ Cosmos, when I declaim, Let the Firmament absorb my words. May my thoughts descend like acid rain, Sizzling into the suffering earth, Soaked with generations of blood and strife Roiled with rivenings of man against man. The Name of my Lord […]

I, Gershom ben Moses by David Hartley Mark

Vayeilech (וילך) Torah: Deut 31:1 – 31:30 Haftarah: Isaiah 55:6 – 56:8 Call me Gershom. Or not. You may have never heard of me, but I am the firstborn of the “First Prophet of Israel, Chief of the Prophets, both of those who preceded, and those who followed him, who spoke with the Lord God face-to-face,” as […]