Water Wisdom

Water Wisdom

Swimming the fifty gates of understanding, water wisdom

At fifty, we will all be rewarded.
But for now we are swimming in our wisdom

As natural to us
As the sea to the fish –

The Exile to Egypt was an exile of language, said Blue.
This we bring down from the Zohar.
The limitations are the limitations in words.

“And he went down into Egypt (anoos al pi ha dibbur)
constrained by language.

“It’s all integration,” said Blue, “all our holy ceremonies are about
First the unity of the people, then the integration of the person,
then the
integration, as it were, within G*dliness. Our tools are always
language tools.”

After all, we have words. They should be the right words.

As Blue was talking, the companions came, they fell on their faces,
cried, and said,
“If we had come into the world only
to hear these words from your mouth,
it would have been enough.”

She is preparing
these seven weeks
to meet her lover.
The repairs will be made later.

Day of the wedding,
the supernal mother descends.

All the souls will be named by G*d,
blessed, the interpretations
entirely new.

The principles and the stories united in one seamless document

All told through radiating light.
The telling – a lightning of words.

jsg, usa

Children of Chaos

Kedoshim — you are holy [Lev.19]

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

love your friend as [you love]
Rashi’s grandson made sure I added the [you love]
his grandpa taught him that it only applied
to people who are worthy of your love.

There are limits
some people aren’t so worthy
you don’t have to pretend. [Rashi on Deut:13:19, Prov.3:30]

I’m confused.

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

Look to the context
the verse before:
you shall not hate your brother in your heart
you shall surely rebuke your neighbor
and not bear sin because of him

Unusual progression
you shall not hate your brother to
you shall surely rebuke your neighbor
not bear sin because of your neighbor —

You know something is wrong
you cannot participate in it
more – you have to rebuke
you have to do something
but you are not responsible —

it’s not your problem ultimately
it’s your friend’s problem
it’s your friend’s sin
still – you had to say something —
you had to do something.

Continue –
you shall not take vengeance
nor bear a grudge
you shall love your friend as yourself
I am G*d.

We rebuke but we don’t hate
nor do we bear the sin
we don’t get vengeful
we don’t bear a grudge
we don’t judge —

More —
we love our friend
because only out of love will the right action happen
only out of love will healing happen.

This the way of G*d.

That’s what it takes to be a force of right action
of healing in your friend’s life:
no responsibility shifting
no avoidance
no revenge
no judgment
only the truth and

Only love has that kind of power to heal.

We don’t lead with love
but we come to love —

We have moved through
don’t hate
surely rebuke
don’t bear sin
don’t take vengeance
don’t bear a grudge

love —

I am Hashem
the way of love
the only course of transformation
the only true healing.

jsg, usa

On The Heart Line of America

Another case for davenen

From the heartland, the heart line, the Omphalos, the belly button of America, St. Louis, Shabbat chol ha-moded Pesach, 5771

Thanks be to those who inquired about our shalom knowing from what remains of the news these days that a twister tornado hit during Kabbalat Shabbat last night, just at the time that we were escorting the Bride to her nuptials, the roof flew off the airport and without instruments but by estimation I may be the closest synagogue to the airport in our town. I just measured by GPS — I am the closest to the disaster at the airport — where a tornado blew off a roof off the airport.

We are well. Thanks for asking.

The night before, I had gone to the local Chabad to make maariv at the 9 PM minyan. I spent earlier that day making seder at the prison (read my blog for accounts of the privilege to serve the forgotten people), returned to the Omphalos where I live in time to run a meeting for recovering drug addicts at my synagogue (the courageous people) – no time to say the holy kaddish for a yahrzeit dear to me.

Made the 9 PM minyan to say the holy kaddish. This is a week of tender tender kaddishim at my synagogue so the next night Shabbat chol ha-mo-ed was extra dear. I arrived at the synagogue with ominous weather forming but the not-news is never that clear on these subjects as it depends mostly on tweets and eye-witness accounts of people foolish enough to drive around and send messages to the news gatherers. Hunters and gatherers: the not-news.

At the synagogue most everyone stayed home except the musicians and their sweethearts (this is why we became musicians). Soon others hungry for prayers came wandering in and though we started on time without minyan within a few minutes: minyan.

Outside the lights are going on and off like a kid playing the light switch (it was lightning) and sirens going off all around us. I confess I have never understood the esthetic of non-traditional prayer forms – you talk I talk, sit down stand up, sing not-sing, prayer language interrupted with self conscious non-prayer language, avoidance of authentic inwardliness — I can’t discern the esthetic and I am always uncomfortable at the outwardliness and infantilization. I am comfortable davenen and appreciate the personal space it creates in my personal and meta-personal prayer life.

At my synagogue we have evolved a hybrid form that I think is quite unusual – our prayers are more like our performances and our performances are more like our prayers, we call it “not show business, ceremony” but on this night with the weather roiling I holler over the rising thunder “let’s daven!” We were done in twenty minutes and as we drove home through the weather danger the not-news on the radio mentioned there were some cells around the airport moving fast fast towards my home. I moved faster and made it home. No one died in the storms that night — that was the most remarkable thing.

The next day the retro-news showed that at the very moments we were making the holy prayers in record time even for traditional standards the roof was flying off the airport a couple of miles away and leveling a neighborhood quite close to the synagogue.

I realize another case has been made for davenen. Flexibility. I love my musicians, they are so loyal, and their sweethearts – they make the holy prayers with me in the most sensitive way and then emerge into the generally narcotic heartline night to their various gigs – but I realize another case has been made for davenen not very theological more about efficiency and I am working, working on integrating music and words as languages of prayer, how to make that more beautiful more inward more sensitive more elevating – knowing again that the languages of prayer include davenen not only as a remnant of the past but through its own authenticity and challenge to what we think we have learned, what we think we know and what we don’t know.


jsg, usa


Life Daily

Counting counting
today is day __ of the Omer

From the second day of Passover
to the
fiftieth day –

Z’man transformation

the time of our transformation.

Levi Yitzchak asked me:
When does freedom begin?
We search our stories.

During the Omer period
we are preparing ourselves for the wedding
for the durable wisdom
the gift of a guidebook.

A barley offering –
nothing too lowly
too inflexible that cannot be moved
lifted and transformed —

Nothing too lowly that
cannot be moved towards G*d
by G*d.

Today I am a vessel
a working out of potencies
Elementals –

In particular
I am a daily ______
within a week of ______

Work me, O holy G*d
You have my atten-

jsg, usa

Free the Words

Missive to my Most Steadfast Friends
On Pesach, 5771,
The year of the ayin and alef
The eye
Ayin Iyyun Focus
And alef
Attentiveness attached to deep listening
Silent and whole –

I’ve been taught that we are transformed at the level of soul. I’ve been taught that we are broken most at the level of soul. At the level of soul is where we are most healed.

According to the Zohar, the exile to Egypt was an exile due to speech, as it says in the Haggadah “And he went down into Egypt — compelled by the speech, anus al pi ha-dibbur”).

When the secret that Moses had killed the Egyptian became known, Moses said “behold, the thing is known” and Rashi brings down a midrash that then and there the defilement of speech is clearly the cause for exile in Egypt. G*d demonstrates chesed, lovingkindness, particularly on this quality of our power of speech. Language — what a hurt what a healing that is.

That is why the Haggadah, the telling of the story, is the center of the Seder/Pesach, and the center of the Haggadah is the Maggid, the story, the tale, the words.

Pesach in mispar katan (a form of gematria known in D’etroit and other narrow places) is 22, the number of Hebrew letters. So — how did the Egyptians try to ruin us? Through our words. We are imprisoned by our words when our words have no lift. We entered an exile of words and likewise when we left we entered the redemption of words. Words are always foundational for us, words are the very mechanism of creation, as words are the creation of all mechanisms.

The letters of the Holy Tongue are engraved on the inner souls of Israel through Torah and prayer. That is our ultimate healing, the Holy letters engraved on our inner souls.

Use your words, I used to tell my kids — when you have words, you have it all.

A zissen Pesach
jsg, usa

Azazel, that Mystery Beast

Mystery of Azazel

I am writing this from memory sitting on a hill in a Wilderness somewhere in the United States of America.

I am a guest here, the Wilderness, that is clear to me. I asked the animals, the brush rangers, the bottom dwellers to allow me to squat on their ground, to sing the holy song to G*d in my heart. It was pretty, but it was not why I came.

On the fourth day, this day, I began to ask for forgiveness. I sank deeper into silence and an animal I cannot identify wandered by and nibbled from a loaf of bread I carried with me.

Then the animal spoke. “It’s about forgiveness, isn’t it. . .” the animal said. “Yes,” I said, “it’s about forgiveness.”

“Give me your burdens,” the animal said, “I am a load bearing animal, I am a yoked animal, I submit to the yoke of your burdens and I carry them gladly into the Wilderness.”

So I took my burdens, my self consciousness, my separation, my isolation, my flight, my self-fulness, my fear, especially my fear, everything that separates me from G*d and from all that I love the most, and I laid them on the shoulders of this animal, and I watched as the animal disappeared into the hills.

I lifted up my hands and I looked up and said, to the trees, to the sky, to the stones, to the dirt, to the dirt especially, to the mud:

“Is this the way it works?”

From far away I heard,

“Yes, this is precisely the way it works.”

jsg, usa

Leviticus 16:8-10: and Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, one lot for G*d and the other lot for Azazel. And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for G*d, and offer it as a sin offering; but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before G*d to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.


Why We Had To Leave Pharaoh

Begin with the locusts,
brought by an east wind
carried away by a west wind.

East wind — the silent heart of wisdom
unreflective, the seamless embrace before language
Aha * the heart’s deep wisdom.

West wind self conscious, inquisitive, conceptual.
East wind intuitive, lateral, mystical.
West wind conscious, linear, rational.

Both winds blow through our camp —
Through western branches
from eastern roots.

Now the integrating dream, every blessing
a prayer of cosmic union.
Set against this is Par’oh.

Par’oh — to rend to split
the separator, dis-integrator.

Every blessing a union, integration,
we separate from the Other Side

and that’s why we had to leave Pharaoh
— to become one with ourselves.

jsg, usa

My Neshamah Hurts

On the holy Neshamah
the Jewish concept of soul

I broke my neshamah one night
it fell out of my nostrils
and broke on the floor
humorless moment
— I had forgotten
my purpose.

I was
adrft in a rudderless boat
on a dangerous sea.
At Schnucks
aisle 4
AM 2:30
hidden among the hibiscus tea —

A reminder in memory
of my predecessors
the five petalled rose
on which I stand.

— Inspirations, influences
they accompany me at every one
of my prayers and gigs –

I was recalled home.

Known to me but long forgotten
the four
make that five
levels of soul
nefesh life force
ruach spirit
neshamah God breathed into me
chayah life

the elusive yechidah onli-est One

I mattered
in four
make that five
[at least]

measures of dignity.

jsg, usa

The Last of the Jewish Sufis

The Elevator

The door opens Seven times
Every 19 years
The elevator operator asks —

With whom
Would you like to learn

I will choose Bar Yochai
Or the prophet Elijah
Who taught the holy Ari

Or the holy Ari
Who learned with
Abraham Isaac and Jacob

Or Luzzatto the Italian
Who memorized all the teachings of the Ari
When Luzzatto was 14

Or the Baal Shem Tov
Who was tutored in secret by Baal Shems
Until he was 36

Or the 4th grade teacher who taught respect
And to create
Out of sadness

From the holy Ari
I will learn to read out
Foreheads and hands

To know faces
Especially when they

From the Baal Shem Tov
How to listen –
And prescribe remedies

From Bar Yochai
How to occupy myself
With the needs of others

How to be a good student for my teachers
A good teacher
For my students

From the prophet Elijah
I will learn
Readiness Eagerness

From Abraham Isaac and Jacob I will learn
To Pray at different times of

I might ask to spend a time
With the last of the
Jewish Sufis

He will teach me again
To be enchanted
By everything

jsg, usa

Sagi Nahor

Full of Light

Sagi nahor
full of light
we use for blindness,
we call the cemetery
beit chayim
house of life,

Lashon sagi nahor [Aramaic]
language full of light –

To be and not be
a certain way
something may be precisely what it seems not to be
not to be precisely what it is

the circle of meaning
when description on the continuum of the circle
meets each other

one version entering from the east
another from the west
not linear

where they meet
lashon sagi nahor

full of light we are
when we realize
the road we thought was straight

is round.

jsg, usa