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!

Lech-Lecha: Avram’s Divine Madness By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

  I am Lote ben Haran. You may have heard of me—and, perhaps, not in a good way. Yes: that I fled Sodom and Gomorrah, lost my wife, and had an—unfortunate occurrence—with—um—family members. But that is not the way I would have chosen to be remembered throughout all time, in the Holy Books, in the Torah. No. Think of me, rather, as a founder—co-founder, at least—of Abraham’s Religion. Yes. That would be nice. Abie and I—we went through a lot, together.

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”

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.

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 […]

Acharay Mote-Kedoshim By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

I am Aaron, brother of Moses. I am honored to be Kohen Gadol, the High Priest of Israel. Do not believe that my job or my life are easy. On the long-past Coronation Day of the Mishkan, God’s Sanctuary among His people, I recall how the cattle for sacrifice, the incense and grain-offerings were all made ready.