O holy Shabbes Inspiration Yitro
Maqam Hoseini, Phrygian mode on the note A

A B flat C D
D E flat F G

Every Shabbat is associated with a musical figure called a *maqam,
Arabic cognate to Hebrew maqom, Place.

The Philosopher Avicenna (d. 1037)
Identified 12 principal modes
Or maqamat
Singular maqam
From “place” (Arabic) Hebrew cognate Maqom.

Ethical and cosmological implications
Planets
Signs of zodiac
Times of day and night
Elements
Poetry
Poetic meter
Healings and treatments,

Each Torah portion is associated with a musical figure —

Maqam.

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 direct 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.

jsg, usa

Song at the Sea

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

Every Shabbat is associated with a musical figure called a *maqam,
Arabic cognate to Hebrew maqom, Place.

The Philosopher Avicenna (d. 1037)
Identified 12 principal modes
Or maqamat
Singular maqam
From “place” (Arabic) Hebrew cognate Maqom.

Ethical and cosmological implications
Planets
Signs of zodiac
Times of day and night
Elements
Poetry
Poetic meter
Healings and treatments,

Each Torah portion is associated with a musical figure —

Maqam.

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.
Mah 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
quail
manna.

Manna, fine and flaky,
as fine as frost on the ground. [16:14]
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 –
nothing.

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.

jsg, usa

Standing Next To Me

Standing Next To Me

It’s not so much forgiveness
I long for
It’s not teshuvah
Transformation
It’s relationship

It’s standing with –

Great is teshuvah
because it brings
healing to the world
– Resh Lakish

I asked Resh Lakish
What is it
I am yearning for
right now?

It’s not teshuvah
transformation
it’s standing next to me

Standing next to me
it’s nextism
withism
in the sacred tongue
ee-tee
with-oot
ee-toot
[Exodus 33:21]

Next to me
wrapped in a prayer of fringes
wrapped in a shawl of light –

Healing said Resh Lakish
that’s what you’re yearning for

Don’t
let that become
a cliché.

Ninth Night Tales

On the ninth night
A messenger came to me in the form of the dope man.
He told a story about a score who came to buy —
the dope man wouldn’t let him in.

He makes me nervous, said the discerning dope man.

Why are you telling us this story
and why on the ninth night? I asked.

You thought there were eight nights, said the dope man.
This year you will celebrate nine.
You assumed ten energies
there are eleven.
You learned four ways of reading —
there are five
— four levels of the soul
there’s a fifth.

What kind of dope are you selling
dope man?

The kind you live for, he said —
everything that issues from the mouth of God

— the kind you can’t do without.

On the ninth night
A messenger stopped me by the
Bus stop:

I am singular, the messenger said
Singular and plural

We are all of us
Singular and
Plural
This is your aspiration too –

I want you
All of you
And I want
To be wanted by you

I am you
And I want you
To be
Me

We Are Standing

We are standing

From Nitzavim
On ML King jr. Day
For Jews United for Justice

Moses gathered them before the Holy One
on the day of Moshe’s death
to bring them into the covenant. — Rashi

We are standing today
all of us
the big shots
the chumps
the children
wives and sweethearts,
and the stranger
that is within
all of us,
before Hashem
the Name
— God
from the hewers of wood
to the carriers of water,
all of us
every busy one of us,
Today.

To cut a deal
with You
so that You will remember the deal
You cut with our ancestors,
good people
eager
covenant cutters.

But not for us alone
do You keep this agreement
not for us who are here today
but for those of us
who are not here today:
Your children
who shall rise up after you
and strangers
everyone.

For this deal that I set before you
this day
you know which one I mean
it is not too far from you
that you should say:
Who shall go for us.

Nor is it too hard for you
that you should say:
Who will do this for us.
It is not in heaven
and it is not hidden
it is not distant
but right here
under your nose,
it is in your mouth
and in your heart.

It is sitting next to you on the bench
waiting with you for the bus.
It is standing on the corner
in front of the coffee house
waiting for the light to change.
Close,
that you should do it.

Look,
see,
look see
I have placed before you
the life and the good
and the death and the evil.

So love Hashem
God
walk like God
do the right things
the simple things and the complex things
figure out what you can for yourself
and be wise together
then you will multiply
and God will grow you
and bless you.

But if you don’t listen
and fly away,
I tell you
I surely tell you
I know that you will be lost
and your days will not be lengthened
on the land.

So I call heaven and earth together
to witness for you and against you
I have placed life and death before you
blessing and curse.
Choose life
choose blessing
love God
glue yourself to God
for God is your life
and the length of your days.

God promised your ancestors.
God promised them
I swear.

james stone goodman
united states of america

Prayer for Haiti

Haiti: a Prayer

Taino Indians
Of the South American
Arawaks
You called the western third
Of the Island
Ayiti
Mountainous land

Europeans arrived —
Columbus landed on your
Island
December, 1492

You are the only
Free country
In our time
Created from slave
Revolt

And the world’s first
Independent
Black republic

You have been long time
Crushed
Your land saturated with blood
Spoiled by your own
Leadership

And others

Abandoned you were
Long ago

Now —
You are tragic

If we believe in justice
It is a double course justice

If we believe in compassion
There is no stranger

Or we are all strangers
Not just then
But always

If we believe in people
There is no one outside the camp
Tonight
Who cannot be brought
Within

If we believe in good
Then there is good
And only good

If we believe in wholeness
There is no broken
No partial
No incomplete

No land too ruined
To be repaired

O G-d —
You are endlessly patient
Compassionate

When will You abandon us?

Never

james stone goodman
united states of america