What We Do On Shabbat

What We Do on Shabbes, part 1
Shabbat Mishpatim
Feb. 2, 2008

First we sing.

When we arrive at Psalm 150
the girls Sarah and Miranda
arise and I teach them how to dance
like Temptations
while they are chanting behind me
Hal-le-lu-yah.

Brit arises and she wails
Hal-le-lu-hu
another layer for good measure
in honor of the classic arrangements from Memphis
[Tennessee]

and as I chant the holy instruments of the Temple
Praise God with the sound of the shofar
with the harp and the oud
with the tambourine and dancing
with strings and pipes
with cymbals sounding
with cymbals loud and clashing

every thing that breathes thanks and praises God
Hal-le-lu-yah.

Then we read from the holy Torah
the portion that week
the end of Mishpatim
when Moses goes up the mountain:

And God says to Moses,
Come up to me into the mountain, and be there
and I will give you tablets of stone
and the Torah
and commandments which I have written
that you may teach them.

And Moses arises and his side-kick Joshua
and Moses goes up into the mountain of God.

And he says to the elders,
Wait here for us, until we come again to you
and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you
if any man have any matters, let him come to them.

And Moses goes up into the mountain
and a cloud covers the mountain.
And the glory of God settles upon Mount Sinai
and the cloud covers it six days
and the seventh day God calls to Moses from the midst of the cloud.

And the appearance of the presence of God is
like devouring fire on the top of the mountain
in the eyes of the people of Israel.

And Moses goes into the midst of the cloud
and goes up into the mountain
and Moses is on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

We then finish praying
and we take big pillows and lay them on the floor
we move the Moroccan copper table away
and we all lie down with our heads to the center
and our legs stretched out like spokes of a wheel.

At the center of the wheel
our minds.

We lie that way all of us staring up
the tops of our heads
dumping our ideas into the shared
receptacle that we create
with our contiguous
consciousness.

Then we count off:
number one
two!
three!
four!
I am number five.

We then discuss
what Moses sees
says
hears
at the top of the mountain.

What happens
during the forty days and forty nights.

We dump all our ideas into the mind
pot
sometimes the ideas slip between
our brains
Hey! I say to number three,
that’s my idea!

No, it isn’t
I thought of it.

We dream the top of Mt. Sinai
all our ideas begin to rise
too lofty to remain in the pot
I say —
put your hands out and hold the ideas
so they don’t all float away.

We all put our arms out and hold our ideas
so we can run to the table and
preserve them on paper.

Before we leave for the tables
Moses calls
so does Rashi
and Rambam
and Ibn Ezra from the eleventh century
and Ibn Gavirol the poet
and the Baal Shem Tov

but we are too preoccupied with our ideas
and the only call we take is from

Margaret Thatcher.
How she got into this story

I cannot imagine.

jsg, usa