Small alef; poetry Naso 2

Our dear Kohanic ancestors
with their really great clothes
that hat mitznefet
the breastplate
summer breastplate with aeration
winter breastplate to keep the heart line

Linen —
in a dry climate linen is fabulous
when it’s humid
it’s like wearing a wet towel.

The colors;
Deep crimson the color of a squashed worm.

Purple —
Is it on the reddish tint or the bluish tint
[they’re so different] —

Where’d you get those clothes?

The mystery blue –
the blue comes up once every seventy years
nowadays the blue is hidden —

a deceased mollusk
brought it up from the deep
where it gave birth
in salt

to the sea.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Naso
Maqam Saba

D E half-flat F G flat

Small alef; poetry Naso 1

O holy God of the three fold blessing
brought down by the truthful linguist on Sukkot
pores to spread out means to choose a partial
opening onto the whole
the individual as it opens onto the universal
the universal always sheleimut shalom
l’sem lekha shalom
to bring the blessing from the individual instance
to the universal application
the conduit from the one to the many.

Connecting blessing with wholeness with individuality
with blessing the power of the upper root descends
descends on the lower root on the individual on the instance
the upper root the anchoring above
roots above, so to speak.

The inner point of truth
this is shleimut shalom
the inner is experienced in the universal
wherever G*d dwells
there is blessing
wherever there is blessing
there is shalom.

The many crystalled net
each facet reflecting the whole
spread over us
the wild ride from the one to the Universal
the universal grasp of HaKol
the wild ride from here to There
Everything –

I hear Dr. Lehman dripping words
HaKol Pleroma the All
about that you can say too much —


jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Naso
Maqam Saba

D E half-flat F G flat

The Story of the First Tikkun Layl Shavuot

There is only one medieval text that mentions a tikkun leyl Shavuot
Zohar – book of Illumation — classic text of Jewish mysticism
Though it could be inferred from the yearning of the Shekhinah
For Tiferet for Hakadosh Barukh Hu
For Kenesset Yisrael, the people of Israel
The anticipated meeting
The longed-for betrothal of God and Israel
The integrating notion the marriage of Israel and God on Shavuot
The cosmic coupling of Shekhinah and her love
Tiferet and Malkhut
Shekhinah and HaKadosh Barukh Hu
Amen v’amen.

The first certain tikkun
the first all night session of study in honor of the holy integration
Has been preserved in a secret letter
Iggeret Alkabetz
The letter of Shlomo haLevi Alkabetz
Word merchant of Lekha Dodi
The wedding song welcoming Shekhinah
By the people of Israel
On the occasions when we allow ourselves to be

In the secret letter
Mid sixteenth century
Circulated around Europe
Written by Rabbi Shlomo HaLevi Alkabetz
Recalling a Shavuot night in 1533
Salonica [now called Thessaloniki]
In the polyglot Ottomon world
Conquered by the Sultan Murad II a century earlier [1430]
It would remain Muslim until 1912
And a good 1/5th Jewish until 1943
When its entire Jewish population was carried off to Auschwitz.

Between the World Wars
Salonica was the only port on the Mediterranean
Closed on Shabbat.
Living in Salonica in 1533 were Alkabetz
And his teacher Rabbi Yosef Caro
Who Alkabetz refers to as He-Chasid
The Pious one
Caro Spanish for dear the dear pious one
He was already known for his first halakhic work Beit Yosef
He came to Salonica in 1530 and indulged his fascination with Chen
Chokhmah nisteret, the hidden wisdom

Caro would be visited for over fifty years
By a maggid
A spirit a voice that spoke through him
He read Mishnahs
Mishnah an anagram for neshamah
And through his being spoke his maggid
It was an angel that spoke through him
Sometimes masculine
Sometimes feminine
Sometimes masculine and feminine.

The darshan the kol the dibbur
The mishnah the Ima the Shekhinah
He/she was called all these names
This from the compiler of the central text of organizational halakhah
Masculine halakhist
Feminine kabbalist
Yosef Caro.

When Yosef Caro spoke
The angels appeared in an invisible ring of fire around him.

Yosef Caro imagined himself as Moshe Rabbeinu
Alkabetz his Aharon.

This is Alkabetz speaking through me
Describing preparation for the first Tikkun Leil Shavuot:

We agreed the Hasid and I to stay awake
Three days before the holiday
We immersed in the mikveh
We purified ourselves properly to accompany the bride.

We agreed not to stop learning for even one second
Thank God we were successful.

I prepared verses from the Torah
We chanted aloud in a spirit of great awe
With melody and verve
What happened next will not be believed.

After all the verses
We recited out loud all the Mishnahs of Zeraim
The first of the Six Orders
And then we started again
Learning it in the way of true learning
We completed two tractates.
At midnight
The Creator graced us and we heard a voice coming from Rabbi Caro
Listen my beloved those who most glorify the Creator
My loved ones shalom aleikhem
Happy are you and happy those that bore you
Happy are you in this world
And happy you will be in the world to come
Because you took upon yourselves to crown Me on this night.
It has been many years since My crown has fallen
There has been no one to comfort Me
I have been cast to the dust embracing filth
But now
You have restored the crown.

Strengthen yourselves my dear ones
Forge ahead my beloved
Be joyous
Know that you are among the exalted
You approach the King’s palace
The voice of your Torah and breath of your mouths
Arose before God and pierced through the many firmaments
Until the messenger angels were quieted
And the fire angels hushed
And all God’s lofty retinue listened to your voices.

I am the Mishnah that advised humankind.
I have come to speak with you.
If only there were ten of you
You would have ascended even higher
Still you have elevated yourselves and those who bore you
I have been summoned this night through those gathered in this great city
You are not like those sleeping
You cleaved to the One and have pleased God
My children, strengthen yourselves and push forth in my love
My Torah
My awe.

With a loud voice as on Yom Kippur
Say with me
Barukh Shem Kevod Malchuto L’Olam Va’ed.
Sing it again in the melody of our Salonica
Sing it slowly
Close your eyes and sing it in a melody rescued from Our Salonica
Where I sit in 1533 with seven
Seven of the dear ones
Who sat and began the tikkun on this night 2,845 years since Sinai
The repair of our past
Take a deep breath and sing with me now
Barukh Shem Kevod Malchuto L’Olam Va’ed.

We recited verses until daybreak
In the morning we went to immerse ourselves
As we had on the two previous days
And at the mikveh we met the three others
Who we had been waiting for
We made the minyan
They promised to join us on the second night of the chag.

On night two we did the same as the night before
Except this time we were ten
And the voice did not wait to begin at midnight
As it had the night before
But it made itself heard immediately
And it began to teach:
Listen my dear ones, those most glorifying God, arise and raise those who are
lying in dust, through the mystical secret of the dust from Above.

Many matters of wisdom were taught
And afterwards the Voice said
Happy are you my dear ones that raise me
How high you have been elevated now that you are ten
As is proper in all matters of holiness.
If permission were granted, your eyes would behold the fire
Surrounding this house.
Strengthen yourselves and do not break the bond with Above
Say aloud with me
Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokeinu Hashem Echad.
Barukh Shem Kevod Malchuto L’olam Va-ed.

After another half an hour, we returned to studying the secrets of Torah
Exactly at midnight the Voice returned a second time
Teaching for over an hour and a half
It praised the learning and said
See and hear this voice speaking?
Ask your elders and know that for hundreds of years
You are the only ones to merit such an experience
Be alert to help each other and to strengthen the weak
Hold yourselves as leaders
For you are the princes of the King’s palace
And you have merited to enter the hallway
Now come into the inner chamber
But do not forsake the entry
For one who leaves the gate
His blood is on his head.

Behold the day is coming when men and women will abandon the Exile
And their silver and worldly pleasures their gods of gold and desires of wealth
And they will travel to the Holy Land
It is possible
You have merited what others
For many generations
Have not.

Alkabetz wrote that the following Shabbat
The Voice again came to Rabbi Caro
He again gathered the ten together
Urging them to enter the inner place
They agreed to set aside every desire
To refrain from meat and wine
And mourn the Exile of the Shekhinah.

They held the tikkun leyl Shavuot the next year — 1534
A few months later plague broke out
Yosef Caro lost his wife, two sons, and a daughter
The angel stopped speaking from his mouth
At the end of the year of mourning
He remarried and moved to Nikopol
On the banks of the Danube in Bulgaria.

Caro became ill
By 1536 he had declined so that Alkabetz came from Salonica
To say goodbye.

When he arrived, Rabbi Yosef Caro revived.
The voice from heaven returned
On a Sabbath in February, 1536
The angel appeared in Alkabetz’s presence
And asked that the two keep their oath.
Alkabetz then wrote his famous letter
Recording the events of the Tikkun Leyl Shavuot in Salonica
That had taken place almost three years earlier.

In 1536, during the Hebrew month Elul,
They sailed from the port of Constantinople
Ten days later they landed in Eretz Yisrael.
They set up residence in Safed
Rabbi Caro became the chief rabbi of Safed from 1546
To his death in 1575
Safed — In the north
The holy city on the hill
So began the golden age of Kabbalah in Safed
The ascendance of the imaginative circle
Who gathered around the holy Ari
Alkabetz would create Lecha Dodi
Become a teacher to his brother-in-law Cordovero.

Rabbi Yosef Caro and those in his circle
Honored the Voice of his maggid the rest of his years
His spirit would move through his ancestors
The Ari speaking through Mrs. K
You have the holy Ari within you, I said to her,

I feel the poets of the Diaspora speaking through me now
The halakhists and the kabbalists
The Caros and the Alkabetzes
All the dear pious ones –

Who is it speaking through you
Whose voice do you hear
When you open your mouth
And you speak a ribbon
of fire.


The Elevator

The Elevator

The door opens
Every 19 years
The elevator operator
With whom
Would you like to learn

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 other Baal Shems
Until he was 36

Or Miss Mill
The 4th grade teacher
Who taught respect
And to create
Out of sadness

From the holy Ari
Learn to read out
And hands
To know faces
Especially when they

From the Baal Shem Tov
How to make sense –
And prescribe remedies

From Bar Yochai
How to occupy yourself
With the needs of others
How to be a good student
For your teachers
A good teacher
For your

From the prophet Elijah
Learn Readiness

From Abraham
Isaac and Jacob
Learn to pray at different
Times of Day

To spend a time
With Harry
Who will teach again
To be enchanted
By everything



O holy men and women of flesh and bone

If [Im] you follow my laws (Bechukotai)
Hkk the root
The kind of laws that are beyond nature so to speak
These are the laws of God
The consequences for not walking by them?
That’s the verb — walking — [Leviticus 26:3]
The consequences for not walking by them
Are worldly catastrophic
The rains will not fall in their seasons
The earth will crack
It will get hot everywhere
The poles will melt
And we may not be saved —

Because we violated the
Secret Hidden Contract
Between human being-li-ness
And God-li-ness
The world broke apart
And we had been warned.

But if we do
If [Im]
If we honor and walk and keep and protect
Then nature will respond with order
We will be grateful for keeping this mysterious law of God
Familiar to everyone on the planet
Though none of us can say just What
That law is.

We all know the world is Cracked
But we don’t know

Maqam Saba or Nawa
Saba: D E half-flat F G flat

Nawa: C D E flat F sharp G

jsg, usa

Address to the Class of 2012

To the class of 2012
Be A Writer

Thank you for the opportunity to address the graduating class of 2012. It is a privilege to be the guest speaker after having spent so many years sitting in the audiences of my own children’s graduations. Every parent is proud of the accomplishments of their children, but every parent is also a citizen with an eye to the future entrusted to the next generation, hopeful for good citizens, good leadership.

I have listened to dozens of these addresses over the years, not only my own children’s graduations but the graduations of friends and family, all eager to witness their seedlings grow into the sprouted and rooted plantings we dream of when preparing them for the future.

Generally the message at these events is basic in a variety of forms and styles: begin with an anecdote, a joke, the best a personal remembrance, follow with the charge which is either change the world or be good human beings in consonance with other human beings, world peace, etc. I am most partial to the change the world scripts.

Graduates of 2012, you probably won’t change the world much. Forget that Margaret Mead quote, it’s prosaic and will one day be disheartening. My generation thought we would change the world too. Save yourselves. Do something honest, gather up a nest egg of money and don’t let the news depress you. All the expressly powerful and most of the famous are nincompoops. Do not pay any attention to them, don’t pay any attention to them at all.

If you must distinguish yourself, become a good criminal. An old school criminal. The criminals nowadays are generally faceless, nameless, and now untraceable.

Our elections are in the pockets of the secret donors who have planned their future security around the takeover of our beloved political process through privately financed groups, mystery backers — generally the corporations motivated by power and profits and idiot self preservationist fringe philosophies — protected by tax-code provisions that do not require disclosure of donors. Now that our Supreme Court has opened the door to the unabashed manipulation of the democracy through anonymous — that is, secret – funding, our crooks are mostly hidden. That is where we have arrived in our noble country: welcome to your future.

Class of 2012, save yourselves. I want to make a case for a return to honest crime. The kind of crime I grew up with. Now those guys were criminals. They smoked cigars and they insulated themselves with payoffs and graft and they barely bothered to hide it. They enjoyed their work.

Smuggle goods over borders, intimidate business persons to buy your protection, surround yourself with strong, secure, ruthless people. Protect your community from a storefront that serves great espresso, do favors for people for favors in return. Create a parallel world where your word rules. Never forget a good turn or don’t miss the opportunities for revenge. Be a good criminal. Let people know what you stand for. Do it publicly and without guile. Smoke a cigar now and again.

Infiltrate honestly. Be a citizen and make the expressed and unexpressed powers answer to you. Don’t let the politicians become so important. They’re the phoniest of all, cowards too fragile to value truth over re-election. Don’t respect their secrecy.

Most of your co-students will become corporate cogs. They will eat well and be completely co-opted by a system everyone knows is driven by self sustenance and self aggrandizement. Let the corporations know you are not afraid of them. Speak truth to power, as we used to say. Be bold. Reclaim optimism through crime. It will be a great gift.

If you can’t be a crook, be a writer. There’s so much inspiration these days as our culture has slid into irrelevance, consumerism, greed, and cyncisim. Everyone is so ridiculous you won’t have to make up a thing.

Thank you, and congratulations to the class of 2012.

james stone goodman, united states of america

Metaphor Regressing

The Metaphor is Regressing

The metaphor is regressible
into more general and more general principles
from application to principle
induction to deduction
myth to tenor,

referent of the referent,
Ani HaShem [I am the Name]
Concealed of the Concealed [Zohar]
Ayin (Nothing) –-

referent of the referent
the most we can say about Something –-
is Nothing.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry Behar
Maqam Saba or Nawa
Saba: D E half-flat F G flat
Nawa: C D E flat F sharp G

What Your Mom Knows

What Only Mom Knows

Rabbi Akiva told Bar Yochai, the paradigm, his student —
this, from the Jerusalem Talmud:

it is enough that myself, your mother, and
know your excellence.

First, it’s enough, his teacher says,
I know, your mother knows, God of course.

In a different version, from the Babylonian Talmud:
it is enough that myself, another person
and God know your excellence.

It is uncertain who the other person is —
it could be your sweetheart, your friend,
maybe your father even
— since he is not working the Exile in those times
and spends most of his days tending a garden
studying the holy texts in the sunshine
learning to play an oud-like instrument popular in Babylonia
— yearning to return home to the Land,

but in the Jerusalem Talmud
it is your mother
she is speaking Hebrew
she is totally devoted to your physical and spiritual nature
she knows what you need
you need two — she tells you — but only two
two who know you
other than God
and the two are Akiva
great teacher, brave antagonist, nice to his children

and me
— your Mom.

james stone goodman



Through the losses
One after another

What we love
Is taken from us

Sitting here on the shores of the great sea

Our inexorable Search
For what we have Loved

Brachiating over the waters
From the distance – Memory

I enclose a picture of your two

I am the one
Holding on

jsg, usa