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Vayeira: The Trial of Lot


by Rabbi David Hartley Mark


The Lord said, “The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah has reached unto Me, for their sins are great. I will descend now, and see if their actions match the wailing that has come unto Me.”

--Gen. 18:20-21

Scene: The High Court of the Municipality of Sodom. It is Moonday, the first day of the week, and the docket is full. The Supreme Justice takes the Throne of Judgment.

Court Clerk: Oyez! Oyez! The Supreme Court of Sodom, place of adjudication for the Worst Crimes and Misdemeanors, is in session. His Honor the Noble Sir Avayra ben Hevel, is presiding. Let all who have lawsuits and legal disputes come forth and be heard. Oyez!

(A Traveler comes forward, carrying a Samsonite suitcase, manufactured by Samson himself.)

Clerk What is your name, Stranger? Whither are you going? Where do you dwell? What is your case for this Honorable Court? Answer the Court directly.

Sub-clerk: Aye, and briefly.

Sub-sub-clerk: Aye, and wisely.

Clerk: Aye, and truly, you were best—although people almost always lie in this court. After all, this is Sodom, not Jerusalem.

Traveler: May it please the Court, I am Nosaya ben Tiyul, and I am a traveling salesman, a Hittite. I have come to your charming and exceptional town to sell my goods.


(The Justice picks his teeth with the edge of a legal brief and looks bored.)

High Justice: Describe your merchandise, Peddler, and keep it short.


Traveler: Bronze. I sell small notions of bronze—whether ladies’ looking-mirrors, napkin rings, hair-combs, and more—all that I have is of bronze.

Clerk (sotto voce to Justice): Your Grace, if we find this rascal guilty, we can confiscate his goods, and share them between us.

Justice: Hm. (To the peddler) Do you have a license to sell your goods within the jurisdiction of Sodom? If you do, such a license will allow you to retain fully 20% of your profit; the municipality gets the rest.

Traveler: That is—exorbitant, Your Honor, but I do wish to do business. I am happy to purchase this license, if only you will tell me how and where.... (Takes out his purse)

Justice: Ha! It is too late. Off to jail with you!

Traveler: Why, what have I done? What is my crime? I can pay for the license straightaway.

Justice: Fear not, swindler! My ruling in this case finds you guilty of seeking to subvert and undermine the economic structure of Sodom.

Traveler (amazed): But, Your Honor, I did no such thing. I cry you mercy—I am an honest man!

Justice: Silence! Honest men have no place in Sodom. Furthermore, in my capacity as Chief Legislator, I forthwith pass a law that, henceforth, our town boundaries be closed to all but our native-born merchants. Take him away to prison for his crime. (Bangs the gavel) Next case!

(The Guards remove the peddler, while he cries, “I’m innocent—where is the Hittite Embassy?)

Clerk: Your Honor, I call before the Court one Lot ben Haran. He is charged with the crime of showing hospitality to strangers. (Lot enters the docket)

Lot: I protest, Your Honor!

Justice: So soon? What, do you deny having shown this—what is it?—hospitality to people you did not know, who were not members of your family, and who are not Sodomites?

Lot: I admit it freely. I was copying the example of my venerated uncle, Abraham ben Terach.

Clerk: Is this—Abraham?—here present in this court?

Lot: No: but I bear his image in my heart, and strive to emulate him all of my days.

Justice: Very nice. This Court finds you guilty. Next case!

Lot: Your Honor, I continue to protest. You have made a summary judgment, with no witnesses or evidence.

Justice: Evidence? Witnesses? These things are necessary only if I say they are. I am both judge and jury. And you, the accused, are guilty. Take him away!

(Rumbling noises are heard outside. A Guard whispers in the Clerk’s ear.)


Clerk: Your Honor, we will have to dismiss the Court.

Justice: Why? I’m keen to go all day. Why are we ending so soon?

Clerk: Can you not hear, Your Honor? The gods are angry: outside are earthquakes, a meteor shower, and a volcanic eruption—all at once. This is the downfall of our corrupt rule.

Justice: Oh! That’s different. Well, it was only a matter of time. Court is dismissed. All of you: run for your lives—and don’t look back!


(All exit, in a panic.)

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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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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.

Tue, November 19 2019 21 Cheshvan 5780