Gate of Compassion


Shaar HaRachamim/Gate of Compassion

It’s two gates
The gate of compassion next to the gate of teshuvah*
Teshuvah a turning-return-response
Both gates are bricked up
If we open onto teshuvah*
We might push through the gate of compassion
We might have to open it up that way.

With Rav that’s the way to open the gates
Everyone will have to make the Changes
With Sam
We will have to stand in our suffering
Cry the world well
I’m crying every day all day
In the silent inner way I have cultivated.

The gate of teshuvah* is on the north side
Where the wind blew
Through David’s singing harp
In the palace of the King.

Make the Changes delight in the north wind
When the north wind is slight.

Standing with my beloveds
At the Gate of Compassion
Shaar HaRachamim
Bricked up since the 15th century
We’re fixing to storm that gate –

Make the changes
Sing it open
Swing it open
Weep it open.


A northern wind blew on David’s harp and it played
— BT Berakhot 3b
The northern wind Ruach HaTzeFoNit is the ruach haTzaFuN (the hidden spirit) in a person’s heart – this is the ruach/wind/spirit of life.
— R. Nachman, Likkutei Moharan, #8
Tzafon [North] is lacking
— BT Baba Batra 25b

Rav said, all the ends have passed, and the matter depends only on teshuvah* and good deeds.

But Shmuel says, it is enough for the mourner to stand in mourning.
– BT Sanhedrin 97b

Hidden And Full


— Couple watching lunar eclipse, Brooklyn, NY. Photo Todd Weinstein

Hidden to Full

Make a tekia on the moon with the shofar
when it [the moon] is hidden/bakesse
toward the day of our chag [full moon Sukkot] — Psalm 81:4

The moon is the image
growth arc this time of year.

Begin with Rosh Hashanah
new moon of Tishrei
barely discerned –
we draw down
every Rosh Hashanah
something entirely new.

hidden on Rosh Hashanah
until Sukkot moon
fully plumped —

Supernal Mother
the higher light
drawn down.

When the moon is full
tell me what you’ve learned
this year* how you’ve learned.


*5776 super moon lunar eclipse


The verse is re-figured, I think the holy Zohar reads it this way. Bakesse the word here it is taken to mean hidden, like the new moon. [ed. Through the agency of teshuvah and sound of the shofar does the moon shine and it does not shine until the tenth day]. The tenth day is Yom Kippur. On that day the Supernal Mother gives its light to the moon. Yom Kippurim (pl.) two lights illuminating, the higher lighting up the lower. The higher spiritual light, the Supernal mother, not the sun. – Maxwell

The moon is the growth-image. On the new moon, what is new that is drawn into the world remains hidden (like the moon). By Yom Kippur, what I am learning begins to articulate, on Yom Kippur it is revealed in the higher realms. On the full moon of Sukkot, it is at the level of makif, a kind of surrounding wisdom but not internalized, not digested so to speak. Only at the end, the eighth day, Shmini Atzeres, does it enter the inner realm, penimi, it burrows itself into my kishkes. I heard this from my Grandfather of blessed memory who brought it down from the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe I think. – Perle

It’s the light and soul of the whole year! This is how the light is drawn down from Ein Sof to ignite the other worlds. – Billie

For me it hangs on the preposition – l’yom in the Psalm verse – the sense of movement toward the holiday, that sense of awareness plumping with the moon, from hidden to revealed. – Gracie

Where did you learn this? – Fred

A northern wind came and blew through David’s singing harp in the palace of the King. – ed.

Sweet. — Fred

For Zalman at 89

The Kabbalah of Age
At Eighty Nine*

For Zalman

*[Eighty is pei, Nine is tet]

Pei is mouth
Pei follows ayin, 70, the eye,
The Kabbalistics of Sage-ing.

The mouth follows the eye
at eighty we have earned with watchfulness
the words we parse the world.

The pei eighty oral Torah
illimitable wisdom
we are Oral Torah
we are commentary on the text of G*dliness.

Tet is nine
nine months of gestation
giving birth to something — New.

Articulate the hidden
from G*d’s mouth to the future
the power of speech
the thirty two paths of wisdom
twenty two letters plus ten energies.

Blessed is the One who spoke
and the world came into Being —

also blessed the quiet and sure
need not be spoken.

jsg, usa

Morning Kook

We call these pieces Morning Kook. They were inspired by material I have been learning from the notebooks of Rav Kook. The notebooks are short entries, often with imagery that is startling and evocative to me. While we learn, I am writing poetry. Some of the imagery from the notebooks appears in my poetry.

I took the poetry and made simple musical accompaniment, enhanced by my friends Brothers Lazaroff, who fleshed out the melodies to accompany the poems.

We then took the images of my friend Todd Weinstein and we put them into short video pieces, to honor the sources, to lift up the inspiration of Source and Collaboration.

Here is the first piece: I hope you enjoy. We will be posting them throughout the week.

Wedding Blessing from the Iowa Ceremonies

Wedding Blessing
For the Iowa Ceremonies

You look at each other and say
I love you
When you are sick I love you
I will care for you
When I make decisions
You cannot make
I love you
When you will need me
I love you
I might need you in the same way
I love you.

We will share a house
A family
I love you
I love you
When we are old
I love you.

Why marriage?

I love you
Why not marriage —

Maybe children
And a home together
Why not marry?

Family and children and marriage
And pancakes
I love you
Every day
We will marry each other.

I will be holy to you
You will be holy to me
All the minutes of our lives.

We will make toast for each other
Why marriage?
I love you,

Pancakes and toast
Children and a home

Why not marriage?

We can be entirely happy
As lovers and friends —

Like the first creations
In the garden of Eden
In the beginning.


From the Iowa Ceremonies

The Politics of Marriage

It was toast that brought us together
And without the toast
We were finished.

We disagreed on everything
Including toast.
Make one more piece of toast that way
And I’m leaving you.

All I wanted really was toast
The same toast that everybody else had
Or didn’t have
Fought over
The toast that brought us together
And the toast that drove us apart.

Toast, you said,
Is that what you really want?
Yes, toast.

Do you promise to love and cherish
Play scrabble
Make toast
Tart up now and again?

Clean the seeds out of your teeth
The detritus from the front yard
Make toast?
Are you going to make that ****-ing toast?

When marriage is trivial
When marriage is not trivial –
It is trivial when you have it
When you don’t it is of the highest consequence.

You want toast?
Marry me.
I married you for your toast.

Why not, marriage isn’t political
It’s love.

Plodding away we are through toast
And leaving our socks around the room
Empty toothpaste tubes
Not enough aspirin for the headaches you’ve given me –

Someone to curl up with on Sunday night
These lowly blessings of life
Passed up passion ages ago
As the enduring legacies of marriage,

Keep the politics in your pajamas
I will –
Toast please
Not burnt
All the toast I want
Whenever I want it.

jsg, usa

O Hidden Moon of Tammuz

O Hidden Moon
let me see with the unclear mirror the dark images
let me see the moon in the darkness
the images that are discerned at night
by moonlight.

God of the light and the dark
release me from distractions
bind me with invisible fibers to the deep story –
the dark story the hidden story
the right words not the simple words
not the easy ones not even the sweet words
I want the true ones.

Don’t sweet talk me —
draw me into the deep.
Sling me like a satchel
over your shoulder.
Let the truth plump like the moon
the dark moon the dark candle
the candle at the hearth with all its shadows,

it’s the moon, it’s the moon, the dark candle,
the reflected dark dark dark —

jsg, usa

from prayer on the hidden moon of Tammuz

Interlude or Why I Hate Death

I Hate Death

I hate death
you spend 30 – 35 years
40 years maybe 50 years
coming to know someone
you become heart to heart
soul to soul with someone
it takes 25 years for that —

When you know someone 25 years
you begin to melt into each other
you become like them
they become like you
we often call this love —
it’s melting;
I melt into you
you melt into me.

When you know someone for thirty years
it’s soul to soul.
When you know someone for 30 years
it’s more than melting
your souls begin to converge
we call this
We become one
something different from each of us
we become one somebody else —
this happens at thirty years.

That’s why I hate death;
After melting into each other
becoming one with each other —
I hate death because after that
someone dies
then you have to wait
thresholding we call it;
we wait on the threshold for each other.

I hate death because someone dies
then we wait on the threshold
until we are together again.

This is called God;
we all wait on the threshold
for our beloveds
they wait for us;

That’s why I hate death
it’s the waiting
until we join each other;
this is God.

This is what we mean when we say
we are waiting for God;
God is waiting for us;
it’s code for —
we are God waiting for each other.

We wait:
this is the source of all
our God hunger.

Heart to heart
soul to soul
becoming one
25 years
30 years
40, 50 years
waiting at the threshold —


jsg, usa

Ten pieces ten days no.2

O Heavens O Earth

Give ear O heavens
And I will speak
Listen earth
To the words of my mouth

I stood on a rock
With You
You were wrapped
In a tallit of light
And there I was given forgiveness
For all of us

When I came down the mountain
My face was fire
And on that fire
A mask

If we believe in justice
It is a double course justice
If we believe compassion
There is no stranger
Or we are all strangers
Not just then
But always

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

You are endlessly forgiving
When will You abandon us –

jsg, usa

We were debating how to bring everyone into the camp
when Blue said, there is no one outside the camp tonight,
there is no other, no them, only us – all of us – within.

I Came To Understand How Time

I Came To Understand How Time

I saw her walking;
She was pushing a baby in a stroller —
Her grandchild I guess.

Of all the pictures I have in my mind at this turning
I will recall this image:
She is pushing a baby

Because at the seams of our lives
More enduring
Than what we call endings
Are what we call beginnings —

They are all seams;
But what I hold closest
Are what we call

–posted on this seam
the turning of 5773
Since the creation of the world
As we reckon time,

james stone goodman
united states of america