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Miketz

 

by Rabbi David Hartley Mark

 

Midnight in Heliopolis, Egypt, during the reign of Seti I (1291-1278 BCE). The darkened throne room of the Pharaoh. We behold the Cup-Bearer, lately freed from prison, sprawled on the King’s royal throne, normally a capital offense, but His Majesty is safely in bed. The Cup-Bearer, Semnet, speaks:

 

Who’s there, ha? (drunkenly) Is that you, Stranger? The Royal Soothsayer told me that you would be paying me a visit. Come in, come in, and we will drink your health!

 

(Waves his winecup around, spilling some of its contents—it is the Pharaoh’s Own Cup, another act of sacrilege, for the Pharaoh is a god, and mere mortals may not use his personal items.)

 

Woe! Ha! Have I spilt some of the king’s wine onto the king’s throne? Oh, I am undone, surely—if anyone should discover my trespass and theft, I will die—hanging, drawing and quartering will be my fate, certainly!

 

(He gives a bitter laugh.)

 

Well, yes, Stranger, I admit that my crimes are both daring and foolhardy—but I have cause to risk my life, cause enough. I do not fear death, nor being escorted into the Afterlife by Anubis and his lot. (Drinks deeply) I fear not death, because my life is done, in any case. Ever since I was imprisoned for failing to strain His Majesty’s wine sufficiently—by my neglectful actions, King Seti caught a wine-seed in his teeth! Ha! Can you imagine a worse act of negligence on my part? For his Royal Teeth to catch a common grapeseed! But what of it? The Royal Teeth are blackened and rotten, as any one concubines will tell you—for that crime, he threw me into prison!

 

(He drinks, only to find the cup empty. He looks around, examines the many wine bottles he has emptied, and is disappointed.)

 

The wine is gone—into my commoner’s belly, I’ll warrant you! Stolen from the King’s Own Wine-Cellar, too. And drinking from his cup! O, I am a dead man, and no mistake.

 

But Stranger, I will confide in you—I know that you will not tell His Majesty of my sins against the Sacred Personage of Pharaoh. Oho, why am I drunk and seated on the Royal Throne? Because of that accursed Hebrew, that Joseph….

 

(He sits in silence for a bit, brooding.)

 

…because I can tell that he will be the end of us all, we native-born Egyptians. I have heard already of his becoming Minister of Agriculture, Vice-Pharaoh, and Minister Plenipotentiary—that weaselly Hebrew! Soon, he will bring the rest of his tribe down here, with their cattle and One-God-isms—why could he not remain in Canaan, where he belongs? Our garrisons in Sinai would have crushed him; but no.

 

No, you are correct, Stranger: the Hebrews have not yet arrived. But just today, I put my ear to the keyhole of Joseph’s private chambers, and heard him berating his—his—fellow tribesmen. Can you imagine, I heard a rumor that that rabble of sack-hauling, grain-seeking desert Bedouin Israelites are his brothers? No good will come of this, surely—

 

And more news, Stranger: the Hyksos tribesmen, who ride in chariots and we have none, are approaching our gates. They will be here (so my scouts tell me) in but a week’s time. Between the Hyksos and the Hebrews, where are we native Egyptians to go?

 

Oh, Stranger! Were I the Pharaoh, I promise you, I would be mustering my troops to drive out the Hebrews, and kill Joseph first. I would send three battalions of the Royal Army to thrash the Hyksos, and drive them away! If only, if only….

 

(Sounds of marching boots coming towards the throne room. The Cup-Bearer throws down Pharaoh’s winecup, and hides behind the throne, whispering fearfully: )

 

Who’s there, ha? Holy Osiris shield me! If I am caught in here, I am dead, for certain—

 

(The door crashes open, and a platoon of Royal Guardsmen enters, led by Captain Mendis. The captain calls out: )

 

I heard noises coming from this room—Guards! Go and search—I hope that there are no trespassers in the Throne Room of our Holy Pharaoh!

 

(The Guards search the room thoroughly, and bring forth the Cup-Bearer, who is trembling in fear for his life. They drag him before the captain.)

 

Explain yourself, Cup-Bearer! What led you to take such liberties in the Sacred Chamber of our God-King Pharaoh Seti I, who shines like the sun and reflects like the moon?

 

(The Cup-Bearer is shaking with fear, but he answers boldly: )

 

Do you not fear the double threat of the Hebrews led by Joseph, and the Hyksos, who are fast approaching? Or are you naïve and trusting, like our oaf of a Pharaoh?

 

(The Captain replies: )

 

Silence, blasphemer against His Majesty! As long as I bear a sword and shield to defend my Pharaoh and commander, I fear nothing. Pah! You worry for nothing—and now, your life is forfeit. Take him away!

 

(The Guards drag out the cup-bearer, who is crying and protesting. As they haul  him through the double doors of the Throne Room, we hear his final scream.)

 

 

 

 

MEET OUR CLERGY

OUR RABBI - David Hartley Mark

WATCH RABBI MARK , To Life, L'Chaim #217 - Rabbi David Mark (You Tube)

Rabbi David Hartley Mark

Rabbi David Hartley Mark was born in New York City, and grew up on the Lower East Side, that legendary Jewish immigrant neighborhood, attending Hebrew Day School. He was first from his school, the East Side Torah Center, to attend Yeshiva University High School for Boys—Manhattan. David attended Yeshiva University, where he attained a BA in English Literature, a BS in Bible and Jewish Education, and a Hebrew Teacher’s Diploma (HTD). He spent his third year of college at Bar Ilan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel, where he developed a fluency in Hebrew, and toured around the country. He has also attained a Certificate in Advanced Jewish School Administration from the Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.

David attended the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he earned an MA degree from Queens College, as well as an M.Phil. degree, majoring in 17th Century English, specializing in the work of John Milton, as well as the Romantic Poets. A year teaching Hebrew School in a Reform temple in Brooklyn convinced him of his great love of Judaism, and he began attending the Academy for Jewish Religion, Yonkers, NY, where he was ordained a rabbi in 1980.

 

He met Anbeth, who was hired as temple secretary the same day he was hired to teach. They were married in 1978. They have two grown children, Tyler and Jordan, as well as a grandson, Aidan.

 

Rabbi Mark served pulpits in Warren, NJ, Fayetteville, NC, and Portsmouth, NH, in which last pulpit he spent 22 years, a record for that state. Seeking warmer climes, as well as closer family members, he and Anbeth took the pulpit of Temple Sholom in 2009. He also fulfilled a lifetime dream of teaching English at Keiser University in Ft. Lauderdale.  

 

OUR CANTOR - Javier Smolarz

Cantor Javier Smolarz

Cantor Smolarz comes to us originally from Argentina and via Congregations in various U.S. localities, joining Temple Sholom in September of 2018, where he has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Congregation.  His strong beautiful singing voice is coupled with a great sense of presence and decorum, but with a warm welcoming demeanor - all of which enhances our morning minyans and shabbat and holiday services.

 

 

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Our Czech Torah - Holocaust Memorial Scroll

The Torah was shipped in 1989 following a request from Malcolm Black who was the President at that time. The Torah is about 200 years old and comes from Mlada Boleslav, a town in the Czech Republic.

Wed, December 1 2021 27 Kislev 5782