Tzav, second portion

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Tzav
Maqam Nawa
C D E flat F sharp G

The Mishkan
sanctuary in the Wilderness
the fire shall not go out
from evening to morning
all night long the fire burning [Lev.6:2]

all night long
the fire burning.

The first act in the morning:
from yesterday’s ashes
terumat ha-deshen
lilfting up the ashes
putting out the ashes next to the altar.

Lift up the remains of yesterday
put them next to the holy altar
the fire shall not go out
we long for a pure act of worship. [Sefat Emet on Tzav]

The fire burning
throughout all
the camp moving
the fire shall not go out
the altar traveling [Jerusalem Talmud, Yoma 4:6]
the fire burning.

The altar traveling
the trans-national journey
the fire burning

more emphatic than speak
or say
repeat it constantly
be ruthlessly precise
the ashes from the ‘Olah
the offering
the burnt offering
nothing of the ‘Olah remains
only ashes
nothing of it can be eaten or sold or turned into
anything else
we long for a pure act of worship
lifted up
except for the hides
we might make a nice jacket out of the hides
ruthlessly precise
in the mystery ways
we are instructed.

The future – [Kiddushin 29a]
be reminded
be emphatic.

Leviticus, first portion

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Vayikra
Maqam Rast

C D E half-flat F

When You call me
speak louder than you did with Moses
I can’t hear the diminished alef

the sound of affection
that You used with him.

When you begin Vayikra [Lev.1:1]
And God called
you are calling with a silent and diminished
alef —

I am listening with everything I have
I am listening for the right word
the true story.

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
what they talked about

Children are pure
and our offerings are pure
we want proximity
we want to be close
so we offer ourselves up.

There have been disagreements about our offerings
We are weaning ourselves away from the animals and the idols
and the high places
(Rambam, twelfth century)
We are coming close
our secret language of applied spirituality
( Ramban, thirteenth century)

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
meet us in our holy place
before we became abstract,

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

jsg, usa


I meet with a group of Palestinians and Jews. It’s a non-theoretical exercise in peacemaking. It’s difficult, at the most difficult we need each other the most. This is what I wrote to read at the beginning and end of each of our meetings:


The Children of Abraham are dedicated to peacemaking between Palestinians and Jews, by listening without prejudice, by leading with respect, by opening ourselves to the possibilities of peacemaking, possibilities already imagined and those not yet imagined.

We believe that peace will rise from knowing each other. We believe that peace will come from talking with each other, from the kitchen, from sharing each other’s table, from knowing each other’s families. This is the true peace, an integrative peace. We begin by coming to know each other.

Let us make peace out of the pieces, let us share with each other our most compassionate teachings, inspirations, influences, all that makes us holy ourselves and to each other. Let us always begin and end with respect.

In this series, we will meet on: _________ .


We always close with gratitude for our meeting. We want to express our pain over the news of human suffering that we follow daily. But we want to end always with hope and optimism and respect.

Most of all, we want to express our experience of peacemaking.

We, mostly Palestinians and American Jews, have come to know each other and we have found an oasis of peace in the gathering conflicts.

We, the children of Abraham, are finding our way to each other’s tents in peace. If we can visit here, we can live here. We are praying for the peace of our brothers, sisters, cousins, here and everywhere.

Thank you for joining us.

The Last of Exodus

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Pekudei
Maqam Nawa C D E-flat F sharp

Nawa is a maqam associated with Pesach, also with the end of a book of the Torah.

More of the beloved Mishkan
the sanctuary in the Wilderness
in all its delightful details.

These are the Pekudei [Ex.38:21]
of the mishkan
there’s that word again
never will I forget your pekudim
for through them
You have given me
life. [Psalms 119:93]

God pakad Sara [Gen.21:1]
and she conceived Isaac

— thought of, remembered, visited
attended to —
these are the attended to details
of the Mishkan, the sanctuary.

Mishkan: the place of indwelling
Shekhinah, to dwell within
God comes and dwells within;
the place of two worlds uniting,

these are the pekudei of the Mishkan
the attention to details
as they were given according to the command
of Moses.

But Moses didn’t know what to do
he needed Betzalel
who was born with his wheels on
bearer of tools.

God imagined the design
all the aspects of the Upper World
were created in the Lower World
God showed it to Moses
who couldn’t see the pattern.
And see that you make them after their pattern,
God said,
which is being shown you in the mountain. [Ex.25:40].

Oh the pattern,
Moses said.

The Holy One took Moses by the hand
showed him every detail from the Upper form
after which Moses built it in the earthly form.

Moses was shown through a dark glass
as it were
a reflection of all the parts of the Mishkan
as they existed in the Highest form.
Moses was again confused
so God said,

trust your intuition.
Follow your inclinations here,
and I will follow Mine. [Zohar]

Moses, lured by perfectability
created the Mishkan out of all his humanly imperfections

This gave Moses the permission he needed
to make it imperfect but with the right supernal pattern in mind
the two Temples were destroyed
but the Mishkan always
so he built it
off a wooded area
someone carved a sign out of heavy wood
beads were strung to make an archway
for the Kallah, the Sabbath bride
music was brought in from North Africa
Alabama and Detroit,
and the empty spaces,

cakes and challahs were imported from
the tribe of superior people
over the River,

the mysterious thirty-six
were typically present
and they all showed up
whether well attended or not:

the Holy One always
his family
Betzalel always
the ancestors
the ancestors especially

and all the holy and pure ones
who shine like the highest shining of heaven
whose presence was acknowledged
at every meeting.

At the end of this particular parashah
which we called Pekudei
all the voices joined in
the very last sound
after silence:


be strong
be strong

and may we be strengthened.


Exodus, part 10

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Vayakhel
Maqam Hoseini
D E-flat F G

On the heels of the golden calf
the order is given to construct the sanctuary
Moses then gathered together
the entire community
vayakhel Moshe
the title of the portion. [Ex. 35:1]

Same root [Ex. 32:1]
we feared Moses was not coming down
from the mountain
we gathered against vaYiKaHel Aaron
and said to him
make us a god who shall go before us
for that man Moses
who brought us from the land of Egypt?
— we don’t know what happened to him.

And they made a golden calf
out of the rings they wore
in their ears.

The sanctuary comes as a sign of healing
we have been forgiven
our slip
with the golden calf.

Healing came to us through Betzalel
the artist
Betzalel healed the wound. [Ex.R.48:5]

And everyone who excelled in ability
and everyone whose spirit moved
came, bringing to God an offering
for the work of the Tent of Meeting
and for all its service. [Ex.35:21]

Terumah –
what is lifted up
if we are lifted up
anything is possible
craft and resources
there will be plenty of money
maybe too much.
There can be too much money.

at the beginning of the enterprise
we brought too much money.
The stuff we had was sufficient [Ex.36:7]
and Moses asked us not to bring any more.

There is always the temptation
even when doing the holy work
to bring too much stuff.

Enough, Moses said,
enough with stuff
— bring heart.

jsg, usa