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

Naso By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

I, Scribe Kotev ben Chibur, do set down these proceedings of our Holy Family Court, exactly as I witnessed it on the Day of the Ordeal of Suspected Wife-Adultery. [I have not, I admit, been to many of these. Nor did I know the wife well; how could I, a priest devoted to service of G-d, spend time among strange women? I did, however, know the husband—an idle, drinking sot. He claimed to be a cobbler, but I admit that neither I nor any of my Levite friends ever saw him holding a sandal in his hand, unless it was his own.]

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.

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.

Tzav (Shabbat HaGadol) by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

This Shabbat is known at Shabbat HaGadol, the “Great Shabbat,” for various reasons: it immediately precedes Pesach, and its famous haftorah concludes with the Elijah prophecy foretelling the Messianic Age: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (Malachi 3:24). Since most Jews, from childhood on, know Elijah only as the well-traveled fellow who visits every Jewish home during the Pesach Seder to quaff a beaker of wine, they never identify him with the short-tempered prophet and enemy of Ahab and Jezebel (I Kings 16-21) who defends the Jewish God against overwhelming odds—but it makes for exciting reading.

Vayikra by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Call me the Tempter. Most Jews know me as the Yetzer Ha-Ra, the Evil Inclination. Who am I? I am the Voice of Evil whispering in your ear; I am the soft urge which bids you to look where you know you should not. I push you to steal, to lie, to gossip, backbite, change a number in an accounting book. I inspire bored people to commit adultery. I am, perhaps, the single cause of more evil in the world since Time began; I am a perpetual troubler. I am the hair in your soup, the driver who steals your parking spot, the false friend who proposes to the Girl of Your Dreams, a second before you get up your nerve.

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?

Beshalach By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Scene: c. 1338 BCE. A Desert campfire, shortly after the Splitting of the Reed Sea. Three men sit around, sharing a flask of honey-mead liquor: one, a Stranger; Elazar, a Hebrew, and son of Moses; Hotep, an Egyptian. Elazar the Hebrew speaks.

Parsha Bo By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

In this Parsha/Torah Portion, God continues to mete out His wrath against Pharaoh and the Egyptian People for oppressing the Israelites.

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.