Saturday, October 22, 2016

Beraysheet: Adam, Eve, God, and the Serpent: A New Narrative for a New Age


By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

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 up at the Heavens, and addresses the silent Deity.

Eve:  Thank you, Lord God, for creating me second, on the Sixth and Final Day of Your Creation. The Man whom You have given me is headstrong, often to the point of muddleheadedness—he would lead us, but to what end? Still, I do love him, for trying. He insists on being in charge, whether we are naming animals or struggling to raise the two men-children with whom You have blessed us.

I will tell you freely, Lord: since our eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, our lives have grown more difficult. I do miss those halcyon days when we lived like children in Your Garden, eating of fruits we did not grow, splashing in Your river, and basking in Your sun. Still, I do value our free will. And our World beyond the fences of Eden is great, and green, and open. I pray that we will be worthy to tenant it for You.

Adam:  Before You brought me the Woman, Lord, I was lonely; there now, I admit it. True, my life was lazy and fun, and there was little to do; I lay around all day, nibbling fruit and trying to gnaw at the various grains You provided, but fruit by itself is a cloying diet, indeed.

Did the Woman tempt me, as the Serpent tempted her? Perhaps, but this results from being human, I realize now. We used to chat often, You, Lord, and I, but You have faded from my view. I must understand this new arrangement: You are God, we are mortal, and I will have to get used to it. Never mind; it’s time to go and tend the crops….

Eve:  Husband! Before you go out to our fields, can you not help me with the boys? Cain wants to come along with you. He admires you; you are his model. Baby Abel will stay behind; he is my pet, my mama’s boy, and I do love him. Abel keeps chasing after the goats and sheep—do you like what I named them? I just chose the names ‘goats’ and ‘sheep’ out of my mind. Abel keeps pretending that he can shepherd them about, using a long stick. The silly beasts don’t mind him; they seem to take after him. But Cain is his father’s boy, and will plow and dig and till the soil, as you do.

Adam:  Well, let Cain come along. Just be sure to give him a hat and shirt, against the springtime heat. With the serpent’s curse, came a change in weather. We must adapt, my sweetest Eve.

Eve:  It does give me a—warm feeling, when you call me that. Have we discovered love?

Adam:  Companionship more, I would call it—a sort of shared—obligation, to one another. Yes. That’s it (Looking around). Have you seen my shovel?

Eve (upset): How do you manage to always say the wrong thing, when I do so much to try and bring us closer? Oh, you make me so angry, so sad—

Adam (ever the Rationalist): Woman! The lot of man is endless labor. To plow the earth will be my burden.
            To raise our children is your function. Everyone to their work; it is our God’s will,
And, since you brought on us Creator’s Curse, I would hesitate to call emotions into our couplehood.
            I for God, and you for God in me, and all will go according to God’s plan.

(He shoulders his shovel, and goes out whistling, leaving her seething.)

Eve:     I cannot, will not, must not, subdue my selfhood,
            To any petty lordling’s willful arbitration;
            Did I disobey God? Perhaps; but we’re not robots,
            And free will planted in our minds by our Creator
            Is something real, and a feeling true and earnest,
            Which I manifested—not you, foolish creature!
            As I create new life, so I created
            New lives for us, which, though more difficult,
            Will, in the end, prove richer and more fruitful
            Than ever your Lord God’s original Eden.

(She exits; enter the Serpent, crawling on his belly, but looking self-satisfied at having accomplished his purpose. In the Jewish interpretation, of course, it is merely a serpent.)

The Serpent:

Now all awaits. Now here begins the Struggle
            Between our Original Parents and their descendants’ obligations
            Subduing Earth, and Sea, and Sky—but, more!
            Subduing both their passions
            To serve one another,
            Love one another,
            And the image
            Of God in him,
            Of God in her,
            And, eventually—
            God in all Humanity.
Did I do well, Lord God?
            Did I carry out Your will?
            O tell me!

The Lord:

I cannot tell: indeed, I must be silent
‘Til Time will riddle out My intertwining:
God’s will, free male- and female-will, and Fate.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kohelet/Ecclesiastes: A Midtown Bar Near Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan: What is the True Purpose of Life?


By David Hartley Mark

Scene: Midtown Bar near Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan. Jukebox Music. Noise. Post-5 pm, the after-work crowd. Mostly twenty-and thirty-somethings, in no hurry to catch the subway home to Brooklyn or Queens or the train to Long Island. A sixtyish man, hair dyed fashionably, temples graying, turns to the man at his side. He is lonely, in a lonely, faceless City, wanting only someone to talk to.

            Can I buy you another, Stranger? That John at the bar is a friend of mine—

“John! Can you get this guy another drink? What’s that, my friend? Stoli rocks? OK, John? Thanks, Buddy….”

My name? Ben. Ben Kohelet. Strange name, no? It’s Greek, I think; maybe Turkish. From the Middle East. Big mess out there, these days (drinks deeply). Mm…. John! Get me another Glenlivet, would you? Water side. (To the Stranger:) Single malt. The only way to go. Go in style. Yes.

What do I do? A little of this, a little of that—stocks, mostly. Hedge funds. That, and some day trading. “Have to be nimble,” as my Old Man told me. My Old Man? I doubt you’ve heard of him, but he did very well. Solomon Koenig was his name. Zalman, really, originally. A refugee, from Germany. Got out, just in time. Made it to this country, thank God; went back in the US Army, and fought in Europe. After the war, started with nothing, but, I suppose, his God was with him. You never know (drinks); you just never know.

Myself, I took what he left me, and I built on it. I was lucky; many were not. Lucky and smart. My generation, first beatniks, then hippies, wanted to seek the Higher Truth; I wanted something else, but I didn’t know what. I took my father’s legacy—it was mostly stocks, the usual stuff, and more than a few good ones—but, more than that. He was a survivor, in more ways than one. He had, despite my tendency toward bookishness and inwardness, given me a very, very practical education. He sent me to the finest universities and business schools. I was a good son; I listened; I didn’t rebel; I just went.

What is that song from the box, that they’re playing now? “Love for Sale”? Yes: in this world, I suppose that everything, including Love, can be a commodity….

But I digress. Because I was able to take my inheritance and add to it, I decided to conduct a sort of experiment. What is really important in Life? I asked myself. Just that day, back in the 1980s, in midtown Manhattan, there at the wheel of my Porsche—I could well afford a chauffeur, mind you, and did not mind using a service when I was en route to a business meeting, but I considered it to be something daring and sporting in driving myself through the concrete canyons of my native city—ha! Well, that must be the scotch talking—I found myself stuck in traffic, behind a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit—I did love them, and owned a few, in my time. But then I saw it, all the gimcrack idealism of the 20th Century, on display on a bumper sticker, on the back of the Rolls-Royce, like a little, cosmic whisper from the Universe:

He Who Dies with the Most Toys, Wins.

--so I decided to see whether that was true, or not. I set out, the next day, which was Saturday—my Old Man’s holiest day of all—how odd that, in spite of his having been persecuted, hounded, and almost killed for his faith, he nonetheless kept the traditions, the best he could! I don’t mean Orthodox, but—well, Conservative, I suppose. Never mind: where was I?

I got up early and traveled to far-off Connecticut, having deliberately looked for a town with a history of anti-Semitism—I found one, called Grover’s Corners. With my exotic name, I had no trouble finding a realtor, convincing them I was descended from some European minor royalty, and buying a country estate of considerable acreage. Over the next year, I bulldozed the ancient mansion there standing, and hired the same landscape architect whose great-great-grandfather had designed Central Park. On his recommendation, I hired another to design my country manse, a veritable palace which I christened (ha!) “The Retreat.”

This was my House of Merriment. I held parties galore; one who does business with many inevitably attracts both acquaintances (I had no true friends) and toadies. My music played into the night. I had matinees and soirees. I did forbid the use of drugs, but there were legal intoxicants, certainly. This went on for months. Months stretched into years.

But, in the end, I said of property, “What is that?” And of all those parties, “What do I need them for?” So I rehired the expensive interior designer, and ripped out the billiards room—I was never any good at it; I was no pool player. I put in a rich, dark-mahogany-paneled library instead—I like to feel and smell a book in my hands.

I bought Philosophy and Religion and Skepticism and Doubt. I read up on Stephen Hawking and the atheist Richard Dawkins and Maimonides, Rabbis Soloveitchik, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and all the Jewish denominations. It didn’t make me any more religious, though there was this little Reconformative—so they called themselves, or “Just Jewish,” though they were left-wing; how could they be anything else?—temple in Grover’s Corners. How they got there decades before, what with all that snooty local social racism, I have no idea, but the temple was established after the war, when America was feeling existentially guilty about the Jews. I met with the rabbi—a lovely young lady named Rebekah Noviss—several times. She was young and idealistic, and, even though I knew more than she did about several subjects—after all, I could have been her father. Still, her enthusiasm won me over. I started attending a few times a month.

Can I refresh your drink? No? Oh, you have to be going? And you have a question for me? “What’s the purpose of life?” Oh, that’s a big one….

Well, Friend Stranger—funny, I never got your name, but what does it matter? Let me think—

I know a lot of people. I’ve shaken a lot of hands. And now, I’ve read a lot of books, and even learned a few prayers, but also renewed my acquaintance with some prayers that my Old Man tried to teach me, years ago. My Old Man (sighs)—no; let me call him my Poppa, because that’s what I called him, years ago: Old Solly, Solly Koenig, Shlomo ben Duvid oo’Bas-Sheva, his name was—funny, how I remembered it, the first time that Rabbi Noviss called me up to the Torah in that little shul in Grover’s Corners! Ha! Go figure—and my name is Binyomin. Yes. Binyomin. “Son of my father’s right hand.” Yes. Good.

And what I’ve learned, Stranger, is that the rich and the poor, well—they may not all live the same, but they all die the same. And the only thing that makes a difference is the amount of good and bad that they—we—do in this world. The money we make—well, it’s all good, if we use it to do good. Sure, it’s good to help one’s family, and to ensure that one’s kids and grandkids are well-fixed (I don’t have any; I was too busy to find a wife, though I’ve had plenty of—well, never mind). But, in the end, it’s all—what did Poppa, and then Rabbi Noviss, call it? Mitzvote. Poppa called them Mitzvahs. Good deeds. Things to make you, and God, and the world, happier, or better.

Yes: better. The world is in bad shape; it’s broken. Make it better. One more sip, and then, off to home? Well, raise your glass once more, Stranger: L’chaim—To Life!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

"Wind in the Willows," Revised and Updated (Fragment, a New Beginning)

It was a lovely May morning. Hearing a knock, Ratty put down his teacup and hastened to open his door. It was Mole, blinking in the spring sun. A brown leaf was sticking to his tweed jacket elbow, and the Rat was all too happy to pluck it off his myopic friend's professorial blazer.

"What cheer this bright and blossoming morning, Dear Friend Mole?" asked the Rat.

"It's Toad again," said Mole, gloomily. "He's gotten hold of a Tesla automobile, and kidnapped a lovely young Lady Tadpole, much against the wishes of her family. He has her locked up in Toad Hall, and is plying her with Cherry Brandy and Imported Opium. High Sheriff Badger is off to arrest him, and the Weasels are planning a Necktie Party. What shall we do, Ratty?"

"No time to waste!" cried Ratty, "To my cigarette boat!"

Hastily tossing some claret, dried sausage, and bananas into a wicker basket, the two friends hastened to the dock. While Mole threw off the ropes, Ratty fired up the Excalibur XX-294 Cadmium Engines.

They were off in a flash.

Two Rabbits stuck their noses out of their burrow.

"Some animals make a great deal of fuss over Nothing," said the Elder Bunny.

"Yass," said the Other.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Haazinu, Revisited: A New Rendering.

Haazinu, Revisited

By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

                                                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 will I shout to the skies:
                                                Glory to God in the Highest….

                                                I cannot fathom the ways of Adonai Elohim,
                                                Even granted my limited mortal mentality;
                                                Considering that He is perfect, I not,
                                                And that all His ways are inscrutable.

                                                Technology, Science, Advanced War-Machines—All
                                                Have attempted to raise us mortals to His status:
                                                Some succeeded, some failed;
                                                Some healed, some killed, and will go on killing.
God spoke, or was silent;
                                                We went on in our struggles.

                                                Do not say, “The past was better,”
                                                But say, “We were younger,
                                                More hopeful—“ for Hope
                                                Remains God’s greatest treasure.
                                                It is easy to complain,
                                                To be cynical,
To smirk at Dreamers and Idealists,
Or to be silent, the greatest Friend to Evil.
                                                Satan may or may not exist,
                                                But his helpers run rampant
                                                Around the globe,
                                                And the Yetzer Ha-Ra,
                                                The Evil Inclination,
                                                Flourishes on TV, computers, our cellphones,
                                                And in our minds.
"If it feels good,
                                                Do it" is not the best advice
                                                For establishing a Moral Civilization.

                                                From the time of our youth,
As we grow and mature,
                                                We face blessings and burdens.
                                                The manner we take on
                                                All of Life’s happenstances
                                                Stiffens our backbone
                                                And tests our courage.

                                                Will God suffer with you?
                                                Is your God all-perfect?
                                                Is it all your perception?
                                                Are you standing in judgment?
                                                Or do you judge Adonai?
                                                If I had the answers,
                                                O suffering children—
                                                I would not be a human,
                                                But godlike my own self!

                                                Our mission in Spirit
                                                Is coming together
                                                In godly congregations
                                                To help one another,
                                                To suffer our burdens,
                                                To quest personal answers,
                                                To seek faith unending—
We sinners and doubters,
                                                We cynics and skeptics,
                                                We children of heroes,
                                                Those who went before us—

                                                And God, somewhere in us—
O God of the Cosmos!


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vayelech: I, Gershom ben Moses, the Forgotten Firstborn Son.

I, Gershom ben Moses

By David Hartley Mark

            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 easily as I am speaking to you, now.

            And yet, you have never heard of me, Stranger. Well, why not? Poppa never had much of a home life—oh, but Momma loved him so much!—Zipporah was her name; it meant “Little Bird,” and she was, indeed, his little bird, always flitting and twittering around the mighty oak he represented, his being the strong terebinth of a monument to his One True God, in a world of idolatry, tyranny, slavery, and worse—

Oh, he could tell us stories, and did!

—When he was home, that is. Was. Rarely, I mean.

            And why? Well, you see—and I could, perhaps, forgive him now, now that he is dying—he was always, always, leading Israel—Israelites, I mean; he never made it into the Land of Israel; some testiness on the Almighty’s part about his having struck a rock, rather than speaking to it….Petty? I daresay. Small-minded? How dare you utter such blasphemy, such insults, against my God? Though I doubt whether He was, is, was ever, truly, MY God—He it was, Who stole away my father, my only role model, away from me, me and my only brother, Elazar, poor fellow….

            And Elazar—“God has helped”—Ha! What sort of name is that, for a little lost boy, a Lost Boy such as Elazar? He is gone; dead, probably, gone, without a trace. I, at least, go on. How do I survive? By my wits; I work as a camel driver here, for a day or so; in another place, as shepherd; move to a third, in time to help gather in a harvest of flax—I get by. I am always on the move. If I can snare a couple of coins, I am happy. If I can cajole Milady Housewife into giving me a crust of baked bread, or something more, I am ecstatic. That is my life: to wander.

The original Wandering Jew, though I have not sinned.

            Well, what could possibly be my sin? To be the Son of Moses? Here, listen to me: on the Awesome Day on which the Holy One granted the Torah to all of Israel, I was—where? Off at the “Claws of Horus” Sinai Chariot Regiment, hard at work polishing an Egyptian cavalry captain’s boot-sandals—yes; I do remember that.

I also remember spying a cloud of black smoke boiling off the top of a distant mountain—Sinai, it must have been, for the smoke-pillar moved to leeward, and I heard the sound of a shofar blowing, getting louder and louder. Later, I abruptly left the Egyptians’ employ, lighting out at midnight with the ruby that adorned his sword-haft tucked into my rucksack—it would serve me better than him; he was a rich man, and I a poor one, in need of bread and drink.

            Today, I have finally caught up with my People, but it is a sad day: my father is dying—there, near the Sanctuary-tent. I still have not introduced myself to, or spoken with him: he just goes on babbling his last-minute instructions to that Joshua fellow.

Joshua! That upstart—who died and made him the next leader? Still, I will content myself—I am a mere mortal, and hardly fit to counter the designs and plans of the Most High. There they are, together: Poppa lies on a litter on the ground; Joshua, his sword and shield resting against a nearby tree—an oak, again, of course, the plant of leadership—are whispering, back-and-forth, of the instructions which God has sent—to Joshua, this time. The Old Man is too aged and feeble to receive proper prophecy.

            I will content me with visiting my mother—

(Gershom stops a woman who is passing by, in the camp)

I beg your pardon, Madame: do you know my dear mother, Mistress Zipporah bat Jethro? She is the wife of your leader, our Moses.

            Why do I ask?

            Well, this might seem strange—but they are my parents, and Zipporah is my mother.

            Why does a tear come to your eye? I know she is very dear to all the women who know her—

            What is that you are saying? Dead? My mother dead?

            O my mother—dead? O Moses! How could you neglect her for all of these years, and callously bury her without ceremony or eulogy, without even sending messengers to attempt to seek out my brother Elazar, and me—have we not been shadowing this mighty people, for all these years?

My father! My father! You, who will soon ride heavenward in the chariots of Israel….

Where have you been for our mother, for Zipporah who loved only you, O Moses?

            He still speaks to Joshua; he does not hear me.

            The rest is silence….

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nitzavim: The Talmud Society of Galaxy Andromeda M31


By Rabbi David Hartley Mark

You stand this day, all of you, before the LORD your GOD—every man and woman of Israel…from the woodcutters to the water-drawers—to enter into the Covenant with the LORD your GOD…. And not with you alone do I enact this Covenant, with those who are standing with us this day, but also with those [future and past generations of Israelites] who are not standing with us this day…to study this Torah, and to perform it.
                                                    --Deut. 29:9-14 (translation mine)

A Report from Warsaw, Poland, during World War I:

There were a great many wagons and coaches parked, but with no drivers in sight. …A young Jewish boy showed me…to the shtibl (prayerhouse) of the Jewish wagon-drivers (Yiddish, balagoolas). [There were] two rooms: one filled with Talmud volumes, the other a room for prayer. All the drivers were engaged in fervent study and religious discussion…I found out…that all professions, the bakers, the butchers, the shoemakers, etc., have their own shtibl in the Jewish district, and every free moment [they can take] off from their work is given to the study of the Torah. And when they get together in intimate groups, one urges the other: ‘Zog mir ah shtickl Torah—Tell me a little Torah.’

Chabad House at Stanford University, Retrieved from

The Talmud-Study Society of Galaxy Andromeda M31

Sept. 25, 2736—22 Elul, 6502

            As NASA Space Flight Engineer Mordechai Kahn eased through the passway of USS Space Cruiser Ticonderoga IV, its airlock doors hissed behind him. He was careful to touch and kiss the mezuzah that NASA Space Regulations (Section XXIII, Subset 432, Lines 6-9) required of all Jewish Personnel Religio-Chambers. Unlike earthly mezuzote, this one was permanently sealed in plastilex; it might not have been acceptable to the extremely religious, but it was necessary in space, so as not to allow alien microbes to find a host amid the parchment and vegetable-based ink.

            As the only Jewish member of the Interstellar Expedition to Starform AA Epsilon 4943, and Conservadox at that, Mordechai could not let a day go by without performing the mitzvah-commandment of daily Torah study b’chavruta—with his study partners. As the only Jew on the Ticonderoga, he could not do this face-to-face, but StarShipCommand on SolSystem’s Moon (in the System containing OldEarth, which centuries of pollution and global warming had rendered uninhabitable; hence, all these expeditions to find new planets for humanity to colonize) had handily supplied him with a handy list of other practicing Jews who wished to study SpaceTalmud. This enabled him to fulfill the mitzvah.

            Mordechai knew also that there were interested gentiles—a Catholic monk and plant geneticist, Father William Mendel, on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, would often participate when his schedule permitted, and a Buddhist, George Freeh, on leave from writing a Romulan-English lexicon on distant Pluto, would “relax his mind,” as he put it, by chiming in, occasionally.

            Mordechai enjoyed their insights, but he was happiest when he could effect an Einsteinian Hologram Linkup with Eliezer Bokospeichik, the youngest son of Grand Rabbi Menachem Mendel Bokospeichik, who was head of the Maldemer Chasidim, a sect that, after early sensing the ensuing destruction of OldEarth, had contracted with an Israeli aerospace firm to build a SpaceArk large enough to float them to Mars, where they were engaged in attempting to convert the Martians, marry them Jewishly, and raise their children in the faith. They were, sadly, finding it difficult to do so, according to Jewish Law—the Martians had three genders.

            Back over Epsilon, Mordechai eased into his Study Seat and belted himself in, put on his kipah-skullcap and pulled its elasto-band under his chin. To create the sensation of complete engagement with his study partners, his personal rebbe, Moshe Rochev-Kochav, who had semicha (rabbinical ordination) from Yeshiva ahl Shem Otto Lilienthal—had ruled that he must learn under conditions of Deep Space; hence, no gravity could be present. Mordechai put on his Virtual Helmet and adjusted its ViewScreen to allow for the holograms of his study partners to appear. He was also praying to the Jewish God of all the Cosmos that his other chavruta-partner, Charlie Levine, a navigator on StarShip Bellanca VII, be available—Charlie had promised to alter his work schedule to allow time for Torah.

            Flicking at the panel of switches and dials before him, and noting the position of the brightest star in his corner of Galaxy Andromeda M31, Mordechai sent out a homing signal to the two. There was a soft humming, and then, a slight ringing noise as he made contact, first, with Eliezer—Mordechai muttered a soft prayer; Eliezer’s insights were really, well, insightful.

            As for Charlie? Hmm—no luck, today. But, wait! Yes—no—the homing signal flashed into space, and found no receiver. Shoot. Oh, well.

            “Eliezer, do you read me? Prepare for hologram-transmission,” said Mordechai.

            “Up and running, Chaver (Friend, Study Partner) Mordechai,” came Eliezer’s voice.

            “Coordinates two-two-zero-fourteen.”

            “I read,” said Eliezer.

            “And lock.”

            The image of his chavruta-partner, Eliezer, appeared in Mordechai’s VirtualHelmet viewfinder. Eliezer smiled: he was seeing Mordechai, as well.

            “Shalom Aleichem!”

            “Aleichem Shalom!”

            “Nu, vos macht ah Yid? (How’s a Jew doing?)”

            “Shall we begin?”

            “Yes!—I’m on Talmud Kiddushin Chalal, the Tractate of Space-Marriage, Daf Bet, Amud Alef—Folio 2, Side One. I will read and translate, from the Sparamaic:

            “’The 23rd Century Mishnah states: “A Venusian female organism may be acquired in five ways: via money—that is, Martian drachmae; a contract—etched only on the leaf of a Boddhi-tree; or coimplantment—by one other Venusian, male, monoplant-choosing. There are also the choices implanted via thought-processes: implant-mental-chip, General Zdrryhnian issue; Freedom of Will from the Creator. And she acquires herself back in two ways.
            “The 24th Century Gemara explains: “Via money—that is, according to Plutonian Rabbi Lychus: a Plutonian drachma. According to Jupiterian Rabbi Hyle: a Jupiterian dinar. And she acquires herself back in two ways: through a writ of divorce, as enacted in a SpaceCommand Jewish Bet Din Law Court, or through the Departure-from-Life-Form of her Male Counterpart.”

            “Wow!” breathed Mordechai, “What an amazing piece of Talmud this is! What does NewRashi say?”

            NewRashi was the commentary of one Rabbi Shinar ben Yisrael, a Mercurian Jew-by-Choice who, stranded on Pluto’s moon Styx after his exploratory voyage crashed there back in 2527, wrote an extensive commentary on the entire SpaceTalmud, storing it on a LogoDrive which was later discovered; it had become the Universal SpaceTalmud Commentary, noted both for its ease of usage and depth of knowledge. Rabbi Shinar, known by the acronym NewRashi, was regarded as the 26th Century’s Prince of Commentators.

            “Well, let’s see,” said Eliezer, “how much time for Torah-study have you got?”

            “At least five parsec-lengths,” said Mordechai.

            “That should give us time to get up to the mental-chip section,” said Eliezer.

            “I love this!” said Mordechai.

            “Hey, what does God say about Torah?” laughed Eliezer, far-off in the deep reaches of Space, “’It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go off, and fetch it for us?”

            “’Nor is it in the depths of the sea!’” Mordechai joined in, “’It is as near as the nearest hologram-transmitter!’”

            And the universe spun on….

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Plea for Our Broken Country

A Plea for Our Broken Country

By David Hartley Mark

                                                            Orange Man is screaming,
                                                            “What have you got to lose?”
I walk into the university,
                                                            Look at all the students
                                                            Wearing smocks of blue and white
                                                            Learning means of healing
                                                            Shutting our doors, so we
                                                            Can’t hear all his screaming

                                                            Black man’s hands up, walking
                                                            Slowly towards his auto
                                                            Cops are shooting him down
                                                            Dog upon the highway

                                                            Fire flames and blood

                                                            Orange man is screaming
Students busy learning
                                                            I am teaching English
                                                            Students healing us

                                                            Dog upon the highway
                                                            How long O God how long?
                                                            People full of anger
                                                            Healing must begin

                                                            Students raising hands up
                                                            Studying how to heal us
                                                            Learning what they need to know
                                                            For healing our world

                                                            Working at computers
                                                            Studying their textbooks
                                                            My dad would have loved them
                                                            He also went to school
                                                            Like them, first in family
                                                            This is what he told me,
                                                            And what I say to them:

                                                            “Get that piece of paper:
                                                            “Work for your diploma—
                                                            “Once the learning’s in your head,
                                                            “No one can take it away.”

                                                            Orange man will fade to smoke.
                                                            The Arc will sail toward justice—
                                                            God please hold us all in
                                                            The palm of Your mighty hand:

                                                            Reach out to my students
                                                            They will start the healing
                                                            Raise up all this country
                                                            Walk us toward the Light.