the Ramban, pt. 2

He wrote often to his children —
May God bless you, my son Nachman,
and may you see the good city of Jerusalem,
and may you see your children’s children.
And may your table be as the table
of our father Abraham and our mother Sarah.

He spent three years in Jerusalem before he died.
Though he wrote his son that he was leaving for Hevron
to prepare a grave for himself in the place of his ancestors —
the precise place of his burial is not known.
Some say Aco, some Jerusalem,
some Hevron, some Tiberias.

Before he left Spain
one of his students asked him —
how will we know when you have departed this earth?

On the day of my death, a crack will appear in the stone
over the grave of my mother, of blessed memory.
This will be the sign that I have passed away.

Four years after his death, his students noticed such a crack
and it was not until that day

did they mourn the death of their teacher.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Chukkat 3

Sacred Load

The mystery rule of the guidebook –
paradox of purification
the very preparation defiles —

Then the death of Miryam
the removal of the well that followed us
forty years Wilderness wandering
Miryam inhaled into the mouth of G*d
do we mourn the absence of sustenance now?
The water that followed us the well that accompanied us
And the Wilderness —

We are moving over the thresholds with sustenance
With sensual intimacy
the stories that settle —

They may converge
they may not –

At night you know
you understand them you do —

We are always waiting
for sustenance
the righteous ones all of them
they may return to us someday —

Manage the sacred load we carry
assist anyway
they purify
so we remember them
the bearers of recoverable wisdom —

Sustaining like Miryam’s well of water
like the water
like Miryam herself.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Chukkat 3

Maqam Hoseini
D [1/2] E flat [1] F [1] G

Every portion has a musical figure,
A maqam
Arabic cognate to maqom
Signifying Place.

Small alef; poetry Chukkat 1a

Mystery Rule

We were discussing the mystery rule of Torah
as if –
when it was understood
we might understand
it all —

The chok of the little red cow –
how what purifies can corrupt
what corrupts might purify.

We came to rest in a place none of us imagined before
a sense of redemption through learning
through guidebook Torah in a way suggested by
the Sefas Emes —

Every soul has a portion
in the Torah
a dot
or a point
that is
incorruptable.

At that moment we had become a letter of the guidebook
a dot a vowel a dia-critical a mark on the page
we became a letter of the text –

we arrived at partial
opening onto the whole.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Chukkat
Maqam Hoseini
D [1/2] E flat [1] F [1] G

Every portion has a musical figure,
A maqam
Arabic cognate to maqom
Signifying Place.

Kiss

We Came to the Death of Miryam

We came to the death of Miryam
how she died –
by the kiss of G*d
G*d inhaled her soul so to speak
Moses and Miryam both
with a kiss.

They died sensually
inhaled into G*d’s breath through Divine kiss
n’shikat Hashem
taken like a sweetheart.

What can we make now of the frustrations of their lives
or our lives for that matter?
At the end to have been
loved into death this way —

G*d exhaled soul into Adam [Gen.2:7]
G*d inhaled Miryam’s soul.

What’s not integrated, what’s left undone in the story now
from G*d’s perspective
how could they have passed with more intimacy and gentleness
than this holy kiss
when they return to one being with G*d.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Chukkat 2
Maqam Hoseini
D [1/2] E flat [1] F [1] G

Every portion has a musical figure,
A maqam
Arabic cognate to maqom
Signifying Place.

Small alef; poetry 2 Korach

The Right Time

Joseph hid three treasures in Egypt
one was revealed to Korach
one revealed to Antoninus son of Asviros
and one hidden away for the righteous
in the world to come.
[BT, Pesachim 119a]

I showed this to my friend the surgeon
Science
technology where there is no technology
stem cells
transplantation
the arc of discovery that we follow with hope
the saving of lives in ways we cannot quite yet imagine

The world is spinning fast fast
and what we know will catch up
out-spin the world in the future
then we will know what we could not know
the right time the right time –
the mouth of the earth will open
and we will assume
discovery.

Soon — the hidden moon
concealing the future
all the hidden possibilities that could save one of us
or all of us
some day.

Small alef; poetry Korach

Maqam Nahawand
C [1] D [1/2] E flat [1] F
Every Shabbat is characterized by a maqam
A musical figure
Hebrew cognate maqom
Signifying Place.

Small alef; poetry 3 Korach

You Have Taken Too Much Upon

You have taken too much upon yourselves
the entire congregation is holy —
We will see, said our teacher.

The earth opened her mouth and swallowed them
Korach and all of them
his challenge was personal
not principled.

O holy God of Shabbes inspiration Korach
Grant me the presence of mind
To discern a legitimate argument
From an illegitimate argument

When to insist when not to insist

When to resist –

When to wait.

Amen.

Small alef; poetry Korach
Maqam Nahawand
C D E flat F

Every Shabbat is characterized by a maqam
A musical figure
Hebrew cognate maqom
Signifying Place.

Numbers 16:3, 5, 31
Avot 5:9