Or Yashar direct light; small alef Yitro 1

From the Outsider

He’s an add-on
As if we could not receive the teaching
until he had joined us.

How we brought him in is an us-and-them problem;

What he taught —
how to bring it down
its implications and inferences;

Outside becoming inside.

From some outsiders we received only tsouris
from other outsiders
wisdom beyond measure.

jsg, usa

Small alef; poetry
Maqam Hoseini
D E flat F G

Yitro; small alef poetry 2

When did he come?

Did he come after he heard about the attack
did he come when he heard about the splitting of the Sea
did he come when he heard the Ten Sayings?

Did he come because of opposition
did he come because of miracles
did he come because of wisdom —

So the giving of the teaching
Is given in his portion —

As if we could not receive it
Until he had joined us.

He knew why he came.

jsg, usa
small alef; poetry Yitro 2
Maqam Hoseini
Phrygian on the note A

30-second sermon

Great is the Turning
Because it brings sauce to the world

I mean the perfect red sauce
the superiority of red to white sauce
(white sauce an inherently flawed concept)
the perfect red sauce
that elevation of the lowly tomato to holy consequence
the interpenetration of spices, herbs, flavors, tomatoes
the sauce the identity of its ingredients but the ingredients not
the identity of the sauce –
as if there is something that makes it sauce that is larger
more consequential than its constituent ingredients.

The perfect red sauce, when it’s made right,
you cannot pick out the individual tastes,
unless it’s a wrong sauce
then you know there’s too much basil
or it’s too heavy with oregano, or bay leaf, too sweet,
or too olive oily
but when the sauce is right
it’s a perfect blend
and it just is, not this or that
it just is
the perfect red sauce.

It is many and it is one
many ingredients one perfect taste
not a combination of independent tastes
but one glorious irrefractable, irreducible taste.

The perfect red sauce.

jsg, usa

What you Can Learn from a Marching Band

What you Can Learn From a Marching Band

You might learn to be a woman warrior
You could learn some crafty little dance moves
You could shake a trumpet
You could reflect the light of the sun in a trombone
You can reflect the light;

You can throw your sticks up into the air
You could throw them so high
They don’t come down;

You could learn to make a mighty sound
You could do the snake walk
And blow a bone flute at the same time;

You could learn when to lay out;

You could learn not to make excuses
Learn to practice
Work hard be prepared
Trust in God;

You could learn how to shine your shoes
How to tie your tie
How to make sure your leggings stay free of shoe polish;

You can learn how to flip a flag up into the air;

You could learn to march
To sing while you march
To jam the march
Dance and march;

When you’re tired out —
You could march;
You could learn to be tired and march
To be done
And march;

You could learn to march
March anyway;

Then you could teach march;

Give it over to your students
What it felt like when you learned it;

When you learned it and what it felt like
The day you did something
You didn’t learn;

What that felt like

What that felt like

What it ratta-tat-tat felt like.

jsg, usa
monday, january 21, 2013
inaugural parade

Prayer for the day 2

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and may the earth hear the words of my mouth.

Listen, O earth, to these wounds:
We have been pounded on the peaks
elevated and alone.
Who ascends these holy mountains,
and why?

We have bled all over our back packs
descended at the penultimate moment.
Snatched away from the precipice
we descended into the valley
where we sat quietly with our eyes closed
waiting for a bus, nothing loftier

and we would have remained there
if not sitting next to us was the prophet Amos
watching for the light to change.

His skepticism, as always,
was an inspiration —
justice rolling down like water
and righteousness like a mighty stream.

All that was holy entered through our wounds —
the last place we expected.

Listen to the wounds, O earth
pay attention to the bleeding sky
brother elements, sister flesh
pay a little attention will you —

at least give ear to these words.

These wounds.

rabbi james stone goodman, united states of america

We Are Standing Today

We are standing today

We are standing today
all of us
the big shots
the chumps
the children
wives and sweethearts,

and the stranger
that is within
all of us,

before Hashem the Name
— God

from the hewers of wood
to the carriers of water,
all of us
every busy one of us,

To cut a deal
with You
so that You will remember the deal
You cut with our ancestors,
good people
eager covenant cutters.

But not for us alone
do You keep this agreement
nah —
not for us who are here today
but for those of us
who are not here today:

Your children who shall rise up after you

For this deal that I set before you this day
you know which one I mean
it is not too far from you
that you should say:
Who shall go for us.

Nor is it too hard for you
that you should say:
Who will do this for us.

It is not in heaven
and it is not hidden
it is not distant
but right here
under your nose,

it is in your mouth
and in your heart
it is sitting next to you on the bench
waiting with you for the bus.

It is standing on the corner
in front of Starbuck’s
waiting for the light to change.

that you should do it.

look see
I have placed before you
the life and the good
and the death and the evil.

So love Hashem
walk like God
do the right things
the simple things and the complex things
figure out what you can for yourself
and be wise together
then you will multiply

and God will grow you
and bless you.

But if you don’t listen
and fly away,
I tell you
I surely tell you
I know that you will be lost
and your days will not be lengthened
on the land.

So I call heaven and earth together
to witness for you and against you
I have placed life and death before you
blessing and curse.

Choose life
choose blessing
love God
glue yourself to God
for God is your life
and the length of your days.

God promised your ancestors.
God promised them
I swear.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman
St. Louis

First Things on Heschel and King

First things

A Narrative on the occasion of the Hillula
Praise of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.
and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

It begins with language
in the beginning
the Holy One engraved the world
with 32 hidden paths of wisdom,
the 22 holy letters
and ten principles.
The ten fundamentals —
about these, we will disagree
but the 22 creative tools
the building blocks
the essentials
on this we can agree:
The world we create out of language;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel
what drew them together: love of justice
the pursuit of justice.
On King’s grave these words from Micah
What does God require of you but
to do justice, to love kindness
and to walk humbly with your God [Micah 6:8].
These are the texts they cited:
the Prophets, but as for me, I am filled with authority,
justice and courage [Micah 3:8]
the source of the doing also the source of the don’t.
More primary the Exodus story,
the movement given shape in the liberation story of Exodus,
that and the visionary resistance of the prophets;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

We might think it begins with right action
the serious resistance
the organizing idea
we might think it begins
with the intentional act of defiance,
it begins with language,
the power of blessing
that integrates the worlds at the heart.

From the lectern of the Ebeneezer church
the beginning is in language,
the right text to inspire the right action,
to inspire with intention.
Careful words, understood by masters of Kabbalah
and jazzmen who work the depth with their saxophones
pulling from the word pool
spin words into ideas
to save lives, save civilizations, save the country;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

They met in January 1963
at a Chicago conference on religion and race.
With Heschel’s involvement in the civil rights struggle
they came closer,
the Prophets and the Exodus story as text for the struggle —
even closer.
In 1965, the march on Selma,
Heschel welcomed into the front row with Dr. King,
Ralph Bunche, Ralph Abernathy;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Just before the march began
in a small chapel, Heschel read Psalm 27,
God is my light and my salvation, who shall I fear? [27:1]
Dr. King brought down a teaching on threes
the children of Israel in the Wilderness
the rootedness in the text of the liberation story
as told in the Hebrew Bible,
it was Exodus, it was the Prophets
that drew them down into the source;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

About Selma, King wrote to Heschel: I cannot tell you
how much your presence means to us,
About Selma, Dr. King said, this was the greatest day
in my life, the most important [of all]
the civil rights demonstrations.
About Selma, Heschel wrote: I felt as if I was praying
with my feet;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Bless us all in our holy places
the meeting of two worlds
like a city joined together.
O holy God of all the worlds,
the spirit of inwardliness that authenticates
all movement all absence of movement,
enter this struggle and all struggles with holy intent,
the blessed, the holy, let it descend here, this space,
let the occupants carry it like a blessing.
Let the blessings we carry be received
with our eyes closed,

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Let us dream ourselves blessed,
true to the peaks
loyal to the fields
let all valleys be known as high places
concealing the deep story;

Bless these words/ Bless these words/
Bless these words/ Bless these words

Bless this street, this city
the moon out the back window,
the forest,
the dream of peace that is trapped in a small box within.
Bless us in our going out and our coming in;

Bless these words
Bless these people
bless us among the huts
and other holy places;

Bless these words
Bless these words
Bless these words
Bless these words


james stone goodman
united states of america

Small alef; Bo 1

East Wind West Wind

The wind blows both east and west for us;
East wind; unreflective, the seamless embrace

West wind: self conscious, spirit of inquiry

West: conscious, linear, rational.

East: intuitive, lateral, mystical.

Both winds blow through our camp.

jsg, usa
maqam sigah