Days of Awe

Knots, for Slichot

Images of Teshuvah and Change
Distance and Connection
In 4 [5] Images As Derived From Zohar, Chassidut
and other Sources of Abstract Truth

First image: teshuvah is becoming unstuck

How the Baal Shem Tov Taught Teshuvah*

This way,
said Rabbi R,**
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.

The Rav became Rashi
I will turn away from here
and approach There.

Now the Rav 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 R 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.

Justice Justice

O holy Shabbes Inspiration Shoftim

Maqam Ajam begins with a Ajam trichord on the first note and another Ajam trichord on the 5th note (the dominant), so for example:

On B flat

B flat C D E flat F G A B flat

Every Shabbat is associated with a musical figure called a *maqam, Arabic cognate to Hebrew maqom, Place.

This is the portion of justice
tzedek tzedek tirdof
righteousness righteousness
mentioned twice
you shall pursue it [Deut. 16:20]
what follows:
the bride of God
you shall not plant an asherah [Deut.16:21]
some sort of Canaanite goddess
a cult tree
planted near the altar of God.

It took so long to separate
God and his bride
That their return to each other seems unlikely –

Not for us.
The bride of God will be reunited with her consort
Every Sabbath
we are talking about justice here too
the myth of return.

the holy Shabbes
the King and his consort
the goddess and her beloved
the Queen and her lover

will be re-united and it feels good
good the symmetry of return
rectifying something broken
separated so long ago –

they are love-making.


What Matters

Inspired by the Republican National Convention

What Matters

Nachman turned to the Prince and said
I have seen in my visions
the wheat will be tainted this year.

Whoever eats of it
will go insane.
What should we do?

Let’s grow something else
said Prince
we’ll only eat from the new crop.

Then we’ll be the only sane ones,
I don’t think I could live
like that, said Nachman.

How about this —
said Prince
we’ll each make a mark on our foreheads.

Then after we eat
we’ll look at each other
and know we’re crazy.

But we won’t know, said Nachman,
then it won’t matter,
said Prince.

No, it matters, said Nachman
it matters
even if we don’t know it.

jsg, usa