O holy Shabbes Inspiration Yitro
Maqam Hoseini

We listened to Yitro
Yitro listened to us.

Moses stuttered
Yitro [Jethro] spoke another language entirely
Yitro began by listening
he had heard all that happened
— God and Israel and Egypt
the people
Jethro listened to the whole story
and it moved him.

He brought Tzipporah
the wife of Moses and their two sons
to Israel’s camp.

When did he come? [Talmud, Zevachim 116a]
Did he come after he heard about the attack of Amalek
did he come when he heard about the splitting off the Sea
did he come when he heard about the Ten Commandments?

Did he come because of the opposition
did he come because of miracles
did he come because of wisdom

he knew why he came.

Thus is the giving of the Torah in this parashah
yet the portion is entitled Jethro,

as if we could not receive the holy Torah
until Yitro had joined us. [Zohar]

How we received Yitro is an us-and-them problem
he gave us something additional
something unexpected
his name was Yeter [additional]
he brought additional wisdom
something from outside.

Once we integrated his wisdom
he became Yitro
he earned a vuv
a direct connection with the Holy One
straight up and down
the Or Yashar
the straight light.

His wisdom was from the outside
what is additional is what he taught Moses
how to bring down the wisdom from the outside
in its applications
the implications and inferences
what we would draw for ourselves.

Outside becomes inside.

From the outsider Amalek we received only grief
from the outsider Yitro
wisdom beyond measure.

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After The Song at the Sea

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Beshallach
Maqam Ajam B flat C D E flat

After the Sea of Reeds
for the first time in a long time
the Egyptians are no longer a threat.
Ahead of us, the Wilderness,
many hurdles to cross
and on the way to the mountain
four more crises.

Three days into the wilderness of Shur
no water. [15:22 ff.]
We came to Marah, cannot drink the water, bitter.
Ma Nishteh — what do we drink?
Moses turned around and cried out
God showed him a piece of wood
it is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it
Moses threw the piece of wood into the water
and the water turned sweet.
God reminded us
I am Hashem, your healer
drink me.

Six weeks after leaving Egypt
no food. [16:3 ff.]
If only we had died in Egypt
fleshpots and bread, so good.

Hashem provides, we don’t have to ask
bread — each day just enough
on the sixth day a double portion

Manna, fine and flaky,
as fine as frost on the ground. [16:14 ff.]
What is this stuff?
It’s from God, Moses said,
you will always gather just what you need.

Third problem –
we camped at Rephidim, no water. [17:1 ff.]
quarreling with Moses.
We are close now,
this the last stop.
Why did you bring us out from there, to die here?
We couldn’t die there?

Massah and Meribah,
we quarreled and we rebelled,
Is Hashem here among us, or

Last problem: Amalek. [17:8 ff.]
Different kind of enemy
our problems are both inner and outer.
The first — the Egyptians
the last — Amalek.
We will come to wish all our problems were so outer.

In the interior is ourselves
— the water, the food, attitude —
we have met the inner enemy, it is us.
Our problems are lucky to have us
our devotion to them is endless.


Third Portion Exodus

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Bo
Maqam Sigah E half-flat F G

The portion begins with the eighth plague
locusts — arbeh
brought in by an east wind [Ex.10:13]
carried away by a west wind [10:19].

The wind blows both east and west
for the children of Israel.

East wind –
intuitive, lateral, mystical.

West wind –
conscious, linear, rational.

Chokhmah and binah
chokhmah – unself-conscious heart of wisdom
the seamless embrace before language –
the heart’s deep wisdom.

Binah –
self-conscious inquiry

the right and left sides
thirty two paths of wisdom
the hidden God
engraved during the Emanation.

Both winds blow through our camp
east – west people
perched on western branches
eastern roots.

Our goal
union – shleimut – shalom
every blessing a union
all the terrible twos of existence
folded into One.

Set against this is Par’oh
the dis-integrator
peh resh ayin – to separate, rend, split
Par’oh the great separator,

and that’s why we had to leave Pharaoh –
to become one

with ourselves.

jsg, usa

Second session Exodus

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Va-era
Maqam Bayat/Nawa

Bayat: D E half-flat F G
Nawa: C D Eflat Fsharp

Moses demands Pharaoh release us
Pharaoh responds by pushing harder [Ex.5:1-21]
God appears to Moses again
sends him to confront Pharaoh [6:10-11]
Moses responds by repeating
I am not a gifted speaker
I have stones in my mouth
my lips are covered
you know
[4:10, 6:12]

How is Moses to lead?

See Rashi the poet [on 6:13]
lead with gentleness
be patient
and to Pharaoh
speak with respect.

Balance —
the qualities of strength confidence and courage
what we call gevurah
on the left side
add patience
what we call chesed
on the right side.

To the quality of stick-to-it-tiveness
what we call netzach
on the right side
add gentleness and compassion
what we call hod
on the left side.

Draw a line down the middle of your body with your thumb
move your hand up and down that line
your heart line
there is your balance
between the left side and the right side
your strength.

Lead with patience and understanding
speak with respect
even to your detractors.

I heard your groan
returned to your story

first your pain
then your freedom

I will free you
I will deliver you
I will redeem you
I will take you to Me

I will bring you into the Land
which I swore to Abraham,

but don’t be a schmoozer,
God said to Moses,
you know how I hate to be schmoozed.

jsg, usa


O holy Shabbes Inspiration Shemot
Maqam Rast C D E half-flat F

I give you my soul
when I turn from my complacency
stuck as I am in the mud of my own life
I turn out and I give you my soul
mesirat nefesh
(we call it).

I give you my soul
when I turn away from my equanimity
what I think I know
I turn away and give you my soul
mesirat nefesh.

An old God departed our story
who was no longer known.
At the beginning of Exodus absent
during the great decline into Slavery
— a new King arose over Egypt who knew not Joseph [Ex.1:8]
the Egyptians made us suffer so.

Not until Moses was grown
he went out to his brothers
saw into their suffering [2:11]
and he gave himself away
I give you my soul
he said, in the manner of brothers,

God returned to the story just then [S.R.H. on Ex.2:22-24]
because you turned aside from your life
shared in the suffering
like brothers
so I will leave the ones above and the ones below
and will speak with you.

I heard their groaning,
God said,
and remembered the Covenant with Abraham
with Isaac, and with Jacob
and I, too, saw the children of Israel
and I knew their affliction.

From the bush, God returns all the way [3:3]
Moshe, Moshe
Moshe turns aside
turns aside from here and comes close There [Rashi on 3:3]

I am a turning soul, Moses says
I have no face
no body
nothing really
all I have is a soul to give up
I give it to you
Here I am with my soul
it’s all I have
mesirat nefesh
I give you my soul
and that always saves me.

God says,

don’t worry yourselves
I give you my soul
I will be with you for the whole story
restore you
take you out from here
save you forever.
I give you my soul.

We are saving each other with nothing
giving up our separate senses of self
giving our souls to each other
the only enduring offering

the only salvation we have.

jsg, usa