What We Learn When We Learn the Holy T
We began as always dedicating the first teaching to Zohar of blessed memory who added so much to our circle. I spoke the holy prayer the notion of studying for no benefit but the pure pleasure of it. We were a mighty group: the legendary Mississippi gentleman (you would fit nicely in Aberdeen Mississippi, he said by way of fashion acknowledgement; I was wearing a tasty seer sucker suit – made at Sears bought by suckers said one of the Covenant House jokesters last night — and a panama fedora, I think it’s not untoward to wear a nicely tailored suit two days in a row I will check on that), the prescient L who comes in and out now that she is seasonal, and D who is new with us and is eager to absorb and the rest the gang of regulars who show up and put their heads to the texts –- we go deep. Full table.
After the prayer in honor of our beloved Zohar I hatch a couple of new pieces from the poesying experiment I am engaged in accelerated by the internet driven possibilities — one of the ten things created between the suns we will get to that later — this:
Out of a world of chaos
The highest repair
Me and no one Else
No peace within
Every action Every thought
Called peace called light
Ocean of light
Eyn Sof Without End
The suffering dear
The soul spiced
The highest dwelling
Everyone stuck with glue
We talked about the language in these pieces; the vocabulary that I particularly love (of course the light imagery), the sense that some suffering is dear not precious and the language of smell as in the soul spiced with knowing, and the concept of being glued, attached, stuck in our holy language that finds its way into these poems and into directions on songs and into the spiritual sense of reach and finally the notion that yearning is as fundamental to the spiritual pursuit as accomplishment as arrival, that sense of spiritual life so often missing in the spiritualists these days who insist on certainty but here in these pieces there is the sacred hunger that eclipses certainty, more passion hunger thirst lust for what – for peace. Yeah.
A discussion might have followed here of what the best use of yeah is in pop songs of the last fifty years (it didn’t but I’m thinking about that as I recall the morning), I would be voting for the Young Rascals Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore, I only mention my opinion this is my piece.
We then turned to the text of the week. We began with the hidden moon of Tammuz that corresponded with Korach this year, tonight: the new moon of Tammuz called the hidden moon from the Sumerian shepherd-god Dmuzid or Dmuzi the Babylonian Tammuz the summer solstice making the transition from lengthening days to shortening days, the decline in daylight hours in the ancient middle east a time of mourning. We cited this from a Sumerian tablet:
She can make the lament for you, my Dumuzid,
The lament for you, the lament, the lamentation, reach the desert —
She can make it reach the house Arali
She can make it reach Bad-tibira
She make it reach dul-suba
She can make it reach the shepherding country
The sheepfold of Dumuzid. [Ni 4486 from Nippur]
We talked myth-mind for a moment and found our ancestors suspicious of the background mythos in the book of Ezekiel:
Then he brought me to the door of the gate of God’s house
which was toward the north
and behold there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
Then said he to me, Have you seen this, O ben-adam?
Turn you yet again, and you will see greater abominations
than these. [Ezekiel 8.14-15]
Why such an abomination? We discussed myth-mind and the ability inability to enter it as moderns, how difficult that is, we talked a little Freud and his assessment, we talked goddesses and gods and by the terminus of this thread I think we all came to Joseph Campbell’s realization that the latest incarnation of Oedipus is standing on the corner of Hanley and Wydown, waiting for the light to change.
We then told the stories of Korach and his challenge and the particular force of that challenge that cannot be easily dismissed. He might have made sense if it wasn’t for the detail that the argument was about him, the durability of self that separates the legitimate from the illegitimate controversy and I think we all came to the conclusion that the latest incarnation of Korach is sitting in the city council meeting waiting for the cameras to arrive.
We turned to Bar Bar Hannah telling his stories in the Talmud in this local version:
Once I was traveling in the Sinai when the mouth of the earth opened. One of the miracles created between the suns; the right time the right time out-spin the future. O maqam nahawand O hidden moon of Tammuz O Sumerian shepherd god she can make the lament for you she can make it reach the door of the holy Temple where the north wind blew through David’s singing harp in the palace of the King. O hidden moon of Tammuz concealing all the possibilities that could save one of us — or all of us — some day. We will assume: discovery.
The mouth of the earth that opened to us the discussion of technology, of the right time the right time and this version, local:
The mouth of the earth that opened
is one of ten miracles created bein hashemashot
between the suns at twilight
the end of Creation
outside of time so to speak
built into creation
at the end of the first day
before the Shabbes
created then for the world to catch up to
so to speak
like the mouth of the prophetic donkey
like Miriam’s well
the rainbow the manna the staff of Aaron
the shamir the writing and the pen and the tablets
some say the evil spirits
and the grave of Moses and the ram of Abraham
some also say the tongs
made from the tongs, [Avot 5:9]
like stem cells
like the saving of lives
in ways we cannot quite imagine
because the world is spinning fast fast
and what we know will in some dimly discerned future
out-spin the world
then we will know
what we could not know
at the right time
the right time —
It is the hidden moon of Tammuz tonight that hides the future this way; all the hidden possibilities that could save one of us — or all of us — some day.
We discussed other versions: the tzefat b’tzefat asuyah – the prongs made from prongs this wonderful word that my teacher took for his name hiding among the stacks having run away from the Germans, he’s a genius! And what he taught us about the Psalms and what his name teaches about invention: present but not discovered, tapping the mind of G*d as it were – the right time, the right time, and we had an inventor sitting among us:
Is that the way it is, discovery?
We all stand on the shoulders of others, he said.
We then went to work on that in-between period, between the suns we called it, given so much print in Berakhot, after the day ended before the night began. That between-two-worlds period not the six days of Creation not yet night, during which these ten things were created. The passageway between worlds, but in time. Of course I live there.
What’s the significance of this part of the tale: created but not present until they are needed, when it’s time when it’s time. We all pray that it’s the right time because we need these technologies these breakthroughs this science now. The well of Miriam, we needed it on that long trudge through the Wilderness. The mouth of that donkey, we needed that message to advance the story and receive the blessing when the prophet delivered it – the right time.
We left the implications of life saving cures in the background of the discussion (it is always present for me) I have lived this tale waiting for science or technology to out-spin the diagnosis and the supposed future; if you’re alive for the right time, you live, if not you perish.
The right time is code to stay alive long enough for the inventors the technologists the scientists the surgeons to tap the mind of God as it were or stand on the shoulders of the predecessors and it’s time it’s time and what we pray for saves some of us or all of us and we claim discovery.
We had a table full of people that morning, if we had more we might not have gone so deep, and if you were there this should make perfect sense to you, and if you were not there – this should make perfect sense to you.