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Vaetchanan: “In justice shall you judge your fellow man and woman”


by Rabbi David Hartley Mark


Adapted from: Joseph Telushkin, Ed. (2006). A Code of Jewish Ethics, Vol. I: You shall be holy. Bell Tower.


            How can it possible to love our neighbor as ourselves? In a world where disease has and may continue to force us to remain apart from our fellow human beings, where even a hug or kiss can spread a deadly disease, what does the Torah counsel us to do?

            The Baal Shem Tov, 18th-Century founder of Chasidism, was also a student of human nature and behavior. He taught that, just as we love ourselves (or should) despite our faults, so too should we love others despite their faults. This cannot, of course, include rank evildoers, who have committed so many sins that they cover over their divinely-given, golden neshamote (souls) with a crust of filthy evil.

            To learn not to judge others who may not be perfect, but, who, like us, strive to behave in a civilized fashion, we should think of some wrong that we ourselves have committed. Perhaps we neglect to give sufficent charity than we should, considering how many worthy charities and houses of worship there are. Do we therefore conclude that we are hardhearted and stingy? Certainly not: we often rationalize our actions: “I am so busy with my business affairs, that I have no time to work out my obligations to the holy community.” At the same time, we resolve to work out our obligations as soon as possible. When judging our fellow human beings therefore, let us grant them the same leeway to excuse their behavior as we do for our own.

            If we have judged a fellow fairly in the past, but occasionally see them engaging in wrong behaviors, we should not assume that that person is hypocritical in all of their actions. There may be a perfectly rational explanation for the person’s “evil” behavior. For example, a number of years ago, a newspaper ran a photograph of a group of new senators raising their hands in order to take the oath of office as US legislators.

            A few days later, the newspaper received a biting letter complaining that “the Senator from Hawaii doesn’t know his right hand from his left.” It was true; the Senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye (1924-2012), recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in World War II combat, had lost his right hand (as well as receiving internal injuries and a wounded leg) in fighting for his country. A Japanese-American, Inouye had enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor.

            A person who had trained himself to judge fairly would have asked, “Why did that senator raise his left hand instead of his right?” and, in answering that question, would have learned about the life and career of the highest-ranking Asian-American to serve in the US Congress thus far.

            Here is an anonymous prayer which teaches us to judge fairly and charitably:


Dear God,


Help us to remember that the reckless driver who cut us off in traffic today may be a single mother who works nine hours that day for very little money. She is now rushing home to cook dinner, review her children’s activities, feed the cat, and spend a few precious minutes with her spouse.

Remind us that the pierced, tattooed, seemingly disinterested young girl who couldn’t make correct change in the grocery today is a worried nineteen-year-old who is concerned that she may not have passed her final exams, thereby endangering her getting a student loan for next semester’s college. And please, God, make sure she can get a job on graduation, in order to make a living, and be able to repay those loans.

And witness to us that the elderly couple walking ever-so-slowly through the aisle ahead of us, blocking our progress, are savoring this precious moment, because they learned that, based on the biopsy report the wife got back yesterday, this may be the last year they go shopping together.


Amen. Come and join our temple activities online and in person.


And may God bless you all.




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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At Temple Sholom, congregants join together to celebrate our faith in a warm, comfortable and supportive environment, where all are welcome.

    We are a modern, egalitarian congregation, and encourage full participation by women in synagogue life, as well as offer full access to Jewish worship and religious experience for all of our members. At the same time, we cherish our Jewish traditions, and work to preserve them as a precious legacy for ourselves and our children.

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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.

Sat, July 24 2021 15 Av 5781