I Invented Tea

I Invented Tea

I made the trip
Grueling as it was in those days
From India to China
For the Buddha
[I yearned for a pure act of worship].

When I arrived
I cut off my eyelids and buried them
To devote myself
In ceaseless contemplation.

My eyelids grew into the plant
When mixed with water
Produced tea
And the kind of alertness —

Mindfulness required.

That’s how I invented tea.


The Thirty Six Are Hidden

After a transportative gig tonight,
the trio extremely tasty
I post this poem-song
in honor of an ascendant

Remembering the Ari

The holy Ari’s yahrzeit is the fifth of Av
we visit his grave on that day
in Tzefat
the holy city where he lived
the last two and a half years of his life.

He was born in Jerusalem in 1534
he is known as the holy Ari
the acronym meaning Lion
made from Elohi the godly Rabbi Yitzchak
or Ashkenazi Rabbi Yitzchak
linking him with a long line of Ashkenazi Jews
in Jerusalem.

He said Where philosophy ends
kabbalah begins

His father died his mother moved with the family
to Egypt, she from the celebrated Francis family,
there he learned in the yeshivah of Rabbi David ibn Zimra
the Radbaz
in a small house along the Nile
where Eliyahu HaNavi Elijah the prophet
tutored him personally
taught him the deepest mysteries
known as the Sod.

When he slept, his soul rose to the highest realms
where it reached the metivta d’rekiya
the heavenly academy
at the door of the highest academy he was asked
with whom would you like to study today?

Sometimes he learned with R. Shimon Bar Yochai
sometimes he learned in the yeshivah of R. Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur
who had built the mishkan in the Wilderness
sometimes with Aharon Hakohen, Aaron himself.
He learned all the secrets of the mishkan
all their symbolical implications
all the implications concealed in the structure
the angel at the gate led him to the teacher of his choice.

Eliyahu HaNavi told him to return to Tzefat
where he would meet his student
R. Chaim Vital, to whom he would disclose the secrets.
In 1570, 36 years old, he went to Tzefat.
He would spend two and a half years there.
He raised up many disciples
he joined R. Moshe Cordovero, the Ramak, learned with him
who the Ari referred to as Moreinu – our teacher.

The Ari never wrote down anything
What he left: some piyyutim [poems]
and three important zemirot [songs]
one sung at each meal of the Shabbes
Azamer bish-va-chin
Asasder Lis’udata, and Benei Heichala
food elegies by which we deepen the holy Shabbes.
What we have of him was preserved by his student
Rabbi Chaim Vital.

Now if you don’t mind
I am going to become Chaim Vital for a moment
I will tell you about my teacher the holy Ari.

You might remember how effortless languages were for all of us
especially the holy Ari,
just observing him I learned many of the languages he knew
without a minute of formal teaching.

Moreinu, our teacher
Rabbi Yitzchak, the holy Ari,
was expert in the language of trees,
the language of birds, and the speech of angels.
He read faces in the manner described by the Zohar (2:74b)
he saw all that an individual had done,
and could see what they would do in the future.
He could read people’s thoughts.

He knew the deep mysteries of Gilgul, reincarnation,
who had been born previously and who was here for the first time.
He could look at a person and tell her how she was connected
to the first human being, the first Adam.
He could read out wondrous things about a person
in the light of a candle or in the flame of a fire.
He could read hands.
He saw the souls of the righteous, those who died recently
and those who had lived in ancient times.

He was very kind to animals, he refused to kill an insect even.
By a person’s scent he was able to know all that he had done,
an ability that the Zohar attributes to the holy Yenuka (child) (Zohar 3:188A)
All this we his students saw with our own eyes,
not things we heard from others. Believe me?

These are wondrous things
that had not been seen on the earth
since the time of R. Shimon bar Yochai
and were concealed away until recently.
None of this was magic.

None of this was magic, it was an earned gift
as a result of his saintliness and discipline,
after many years of study of both the ancient
and the later Kabbalistic texts.
He then increased his holiness and purity
until he reached the place where
Eliyahu HaNavi would reveal himself to him
speaking to him mouth to mouth, as it were,
teaching him the mysteries.

May the merit of the tzaddik, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria,
the Ari
protect us all, Amen.

Alma vida y Corazon

soul life and heart
this is what he left us.

jsg, usa

Mashpia is a spiritual influence

How the Baal Shem Tov Taught Teshuvah*

This way,
said Rabbi Rivkin,**
he shuffled into our meeting
introduced us to the teaching
he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov.
Exodus 3:3, Rabbi R said, God speaks to Moses
the bush burning but unconsumed.
Moses turns away,
I will turn away now
and see about this bush
how it remains unconsumed.
Turn away?
Check the Rashi.

Rabbi Rivkin became Rashi
I will turn away from here
and approach There.
Now Rav Rivkin became the Baal Shem Tov
that’s teshuvah, he said.
Now I know teshuvah, I said,
process not performance
journey not destination
not goal-taking



*Teshuvah – a transformative, days of awe preoccupation of inner life.
**On September 7, 1993, I was sitting sleepily at the Rabbinical Association meeting at the Brith Sholom Knesset Israel synagogue. The room was underground, though the walls were white, it was dark within. Rabbi Rivkin came in, gave us a short teaching that he brought down from the Baal Shem Tov, on teshuvah.

I didn’t know if it was day or night, whether I was awake or dreaming. The person sitting next to me said, if I had come into the world only to see hear these words, it would have been enough.

Mirror — sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy

Themselves In Espaclaria*

They were all explicators of the text.
They turned it and turned it
Believing everything was contained within.
A few of them were esoterics.

In places without sense
They made sense.

After a few generations
They left a legacy imprinted in their biology.
The kabbalists became vaudevillians,
Singers of songs and tellers
Of the miracle tale.
The dark receded.

They supposed no history,
Forgetting for a moment
The present is always a narrow bridge.
On the other side — what.

Only one of them
remembered everything.


*a mirror — sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy,
Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 97b

To David

To David, the Sweet Singer of Israel

To David a song
first the Shekhinah came and sat on his shoulder
then David played flat out on that axe of his

A song to David
first David started to scat
THEN the Shekhinah came and kissed his face

so sweetly he sang the secret bird
song of King Solomon
who knew the

Shekhinah would not descend
when there is laziness or sadness
silliness light talk but

when there is joy
the deep joy of the mitzvah
then WOW your mind Is BLOWN like

when the slow hand player came to play
the hand of God rested
UPON him and

a northern wind blew
through David’s singing
harp in the palace of the King

jsg, usa


Now these are the last words of David: The saying of David the son of Jesse, and the saying of the man raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet singer of Israel:
— 2 Samuel 23:1

Seven days shall you keep a feast unto Adonai your God in the place which Adonai shall choose, because Adonai your God shall bless you in all your increase, and in all the work of your hands, and you shall be altogether joyful.
— Deuteronomy 16:15

Sforno: altogether joyful ach sameach = sameach bilvad (happiness only) — don’t mix it with sadness.

“Then I commended joyfulness,” Kohelet 8:15, this is the joy of the mitzvah. . . the Shekhinah rests upon a person not through gloom, nor through laziness, nor through frivolity, nor through lightness, nor through talk, nor through idle chatter, but only through a matter of joy in connection with a mitzvah, as it is said, “but now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, that the hand of God came upon him.” (2 Kings 3:15)
— B.T. — Shabbat 30b

The formulation, leDavid mizmor [to David a song], shows that the Shekhinah rested upon him and then he uttered the song. [The formulation] mizmor leDavid [a song to David], shows that he lifted up his voice in song first, and then the Shekhinah descended upon him afterwards. This teaches that the Shekhinah rests upon a person neither when there is laziness, sadness, laughter, levity or idle talk, but where there is a thing of the joy of the mitzvah, for it is said, “but now bring me a minstrel. And it came to pass, when the minstrel played, the hand of G-d came upon him.” 2 Kings 3:15
— B.T. Pesachim 117a

A northern wind would blow on David’s harp and it would play
— B.T. Berakhot 3b

The northern wind ruach haTzeFoNit is the ruach haTzaFuN (the hidden spirit) in a person’s heart – this is the spirit of life.
— R. Nachman, Likkutei Moharan, #8

Tzafon is lacking
— B.T. Baba Batra 25b

God will give you what your heart lacks
— Psalms 20:4