Weighty To Take A Vow

Weighty to take a vow to stay away from something that is permitted I take a vow to stay away from meat from saturated fats potato chips how I love potato chips or to take on something I think is right but is not required of me elevating the act to mitzvah status I vow to drive every single person who asks me to the airport any time they want.

Vows are a fence around separation [Avot 3:17] I take a vow in order to help separate from a problem distance or in our lingo abstinence you love those Little Debbie treats? Can’t eat just one? You’re hiding vodka around the house? Cruising the dark streets for white powder? Special problems require special strategies separation willing to go to any lengths with the vow in order to make a fence around the problem separate from it.

It’s serious this vow-taking Maimonides recommends we don’t do it at all let your yes be true and your no be true [Baba Metzia 49a] we are expected to do what we promise if we have to resort to vows something is wrong.

In conversation we say bli neder without a vow used in the sense of without a doubt if I have to take a vow I’m not good on my intention I need a vow to get something done? Do it.

Moving Through

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 Aaron and Miryam
with a kiss.

Inhaled into G*d’s breath through the Divine kiss
n’shikat Hashem
sensual death
from G*d’s perspective they were 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 with this holy kiss
returned to one being with G*d?

Death of Miryam on the heels
of the mystery rule of the guidebook —
mystery paradox of the ritual of purification
the very preparation defiles;

Followed by the death of Miryam
the removal of the well that followed us
forty years Wilderness wandering;

As she was inhaled into the mouth of G*d
how to mourn sustenance now?
The water that followed us
the well that accompanied us —
And the Wilderness.

We are moving over the threshold without sustenance
with intimacy
with sensuality
the symmetry of the stories that settle —

Intimacy sensually

They may converge
they may not —

Recoverable wisdom
a future
at night you understand them you do.

The elders all of them
they may return to us someday

assisting assisting

so we remember them —

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

jsg, usa

O holy Shabbes 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.

Mystery Rule; small aleph Chukkat

Mystery Rule

Mystery rule of Torah
as if it were understood
we might understand
it all —

The little red cow:
how what purifies can corrupt
what corrupts might purify.

We came to rest
at redemption through learning
suggested by the Sefas Emes —

Every soul has a portion
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 whole.

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.

Korach: the world is spinning fast fast

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
technology where there is no technology
stem cells
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
outspin 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

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

jsg, usa

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.

Begin with Sadness; small alef

We Have to Begin With Sadness

We have to begin with sadness
in the maqam
always reserved for sad stories*

There’s plenty to be unhappy about

But what —

I grabbed on to a hook
Dropped mercifully from the

It settled just above my head
High enough that if I hadn’t looked

I could have missed it

I had the good sense [for once]

To grab hold of it
It was maqam hijaz

Sent to lift me up
And out

One eye laughing
One eye crying

jsg, usa
Acharei Mot; small alef poetry
Maqam Hijaz

Maqam Hijaz* D E-flat F# G

Major Rule

Rabbi Akiva told me
this is a major rule in the Torah —

love your friend as [you love]
yourself [Lev.19:18]

Re’acha – your friend –
it’s a close relation.

And there’s an extra lamed attached to re’acha
we expected et the common call to the accusative

Ramban told me it was exaggerated language [haflaga]
impossible to love someone else as you love

yourself –

be real.

jsg, usa

Maqam Saba
D E half-flat F G flat

The Pure

Let the pure come and occupy themselves with the pure
so said the wondrous Rav Assi [Lev.R.7:3]
in the 3rd – 4th century;

Student of Rav Shmuel in Nehardea (Babylonia)
companion of Rav Ammi;

Assi Ammi Assi Ammi;

What they talked about —


Small alef; poetry Vayikra
Maqam Rast

Small alef; Vayikra 6

Let the future forgive us

For knowing
when we brought our offerings on these altars

With smoke and incense
burning flesh, oil mixed with meal;

When we invited God to sit at our table
before we became abstract,

Let the future forgive us
for knowing what we were doing.

Maqam Rast

Small alef; pekudei

Our Teacher Lured by Perfectability

Our teacher, lured by perfectability
created it out of all his imperfections –

God, as they say, gave him permission [that’s all he needed]
to make it imperfect
but with the right supernal pattern in mind.

The other Houses were destroyed
but Sanctuary always Endures.

small alef; poetry Pekudei 4
Maqam Nawa C D E-flat F sharp