Sixth Portion of Leviticus

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Acharei Mot
Maqam Hijaz* D E-flat F# G

*a maqam is a musical figure, a partial scale, a modal form, cognate of the Hebrew makom, or place, used this week to mark sad occasions, on this, the death of Aaron’s sons Nadav and Avihu

We have to begin with sadness I suppose
in the maqam
the hijaz
it’s always reserved for sad stories
the death of Sara
Abraham
Joseph
Jacob
the shame of the golden calf
the spies and their failure to understand
the Sabbath before Tisha B’Av (first portion of Deuteronomy)
the saddest day of the Jewish year
all maqam hijaz.

There’s plenty to be unhappy about
consider the mother of the pitiful Nadav and Avihu
who die too close to the Source
with their strange fire
they brought something unfamiliar
in another generation they would be kings for it
their mother is not mentioned
Elisheva bat Aminadav
everyone in her family has ascended
her brother in law Moses like a king
her brother Nachshon like a prince
her husband to high priest
her sons —
we have no sense that
loss of our loved ones is God’s gain
we have no sense that this is consolation
we are hollering for our beloveds
whenever they leave us

Elisheva bat Aminadav is not happy

She chooses silence. [Lev. R]

Get up I tell her.
Rend your clothes then howl out of your silence
throw up your disgust into the dust
let everyone know how you feel
some with words some without

let them know what you think of their successes
the positions they hold
their responsibilities

Elisheva bat Aminadav
is howling for all the mothers
and the fathers who are mothers
who love no crown more than the crown
of motherhood

tell them you are not getting on with it
until the muscle of this sadness is gone from your hands
and the music gone from your mouth
all sound gone from your ears

only when there is no memory
of loss

will your loss be quieted.

jsg, usa