You Are Standing

On Nitzavim You Are Standing
the sedra of 9/11/2001

We are standing today
all of us
the big shots
wives and sweethearts
–and the stranger
that is within
all of us
before Hashem The Name
–from the hewers of wood
to the carriers of water
all of us

To cut a deal with You
So — 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
not for us who are here
but for those of us
who are not here

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
and 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 for the bus
it is standing on the corner
in front of Starbuck’s
watching for the light to change.

that you should do it.

look see:
I have placed before you
the life and the good
the death and the not-good.

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
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.

jsg, usa

March on Washington August 28 1963

Tell ’em about the dream
Tell ’em about the dream

Mahalia Jackson yelling at Dr King

That moment he pushed the prepared text away

Took up the language of a speech he had given at Cobo Hall


These people don’t know it, said
Clarence B. Jones

They’re about to go to church.

— March on Washington
August 28 1963

I was the rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin under the Hitler regime.
The most important thing I learned in my life is that bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problems,
the most urgent the most disgraceful and the most tragic problem is silence.

–Rabbi Joachim Prinz, preceded Dr. King
March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963

Intentions 5774

I took my burdens — my self consciousness, my separation, my isolation, my flight, fear, especially my fear — everything that separates me from G*d and all I love the most, and I laid them on the shoulders of the animal. On the back of the beautiful yoked beast I gave up my fear, and I watched as the animal disappeared into the hills.

I lifted up my hands 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 a distance I heard, Yes, this is precisely the way it works.


For Zalman at 89

The Kabbalah of Age
At Eighty Nine*

For Zalman

*[Eighty is pei, Nine is tet]

Pei is mouth
Pei follows ayin, 70, the eye,
The Kabbalistics of Sage-ing.

The mouth follows the eye
at eighty we have earned with watchfulness
the words we parse the world.

The pei eighty oral Torah
illimitable wisdom
we are Oral Torah
we are commentary on the text of G*dliness.

Tet is nine
nine months of gestation
giving birth to something — New.

Articulate the hidden
from G*d’s mouth to the future
the power of speech
the thirty two paths of wisdom
twenty two letters plus ten energies.

Blessed is the One who spoke
and the world came into Being —

also blessed the quiet and sure
need not be spoken.

jsg, usa

5774 a day at a time

The year 5774 A Day At A Time

Every day I get up and say you‘re the master of the Universe
Thank you
Now give me the strength to do the right thing
Answer this —
What’s new this passage this Rosh Hashanah.

Every day I get up and present
I take three small steps and place myself in front of you
What’s my assignment
Make me a vessel of your will
Help me do the right thing
Plant within me the strength to be the person you intended me to be
Let me be grateful for all the days I have been given —
A day at a time.

I am I say
I am You say
Let us be I am for each other.

Every day I get up and I listen for the voice of clarity
There is small clarity
Not much certainty
I am listening I promise you
There is posturing
There is a move here and there
The best is a good move but it’s a move
It’s rehearsed and it’s a practiced move
I am looking for the spontaneous move of deep sincerity
Basketball moves
That kind of move.

I have been rehearsing for that move
When it’s time to produce
It will seem unrehearsed
It will surprise me most of all
That kind of move —
It may inspire you.

To my community
Your moves inspire me
Because you’ve gotten up every morning and said
Master of the Universe
Into Your hands I entrust my spirit
At the time I lie down and the time I rise up
And with my spirit my body too
You are with me
I will not fear —
Give me the good move
I need it now I think.

I begin with the kabbalah of repair
The instrument when it is broken and repaired
Is stronger more beautiful than if never broken at all
I love the broken, the wounded, the partial, the incomplete
Because it integrates and even if not, it is whole.

The partial is the All
In the individual is the One
There is something in each individual version
That recapitulates the Whole
There is no broken no incomplete
The wounded the broken a sense of Everything.

The transformative days of awe preoccupation
I will turn away from here and approach There [Rashi]
Teshuvah – to be unstuck.
Not arrival but journey
Not destination but pathway
Not there but here
Movement —

The story is told with the daily transformation in the
Night sky
The moon is the image [Zohar Emor and Kuntres Uma’ayan Ma’amar 18]
The growth arc this time of year
The moon when it’s hidden at the beginning of the month.

Go outside and watch the dim image of the new moon Tishrei
We draw something new into the world
Something entirely new
On Rosh Hashanah it’s hidden
Like the moon
And not revealed fully understood
Until the full moon of Sukkot the 15th of the month,

Make a tekiah with the shofar awakening something new [Ps.81:4]
What it is — might not clarify right away
Each day it reveals more
Like the moon
From the first to the fifteenth of the month
This is the time of all time
To pay attention
The growth arc this time of year.

This year is the year of the good intention
May it be the year of Iyyun
The year of Ayin and dalet
Iyyun – focus
Ayin for seventy faces of the Torah (Numbers R. 13:15)
This year: the focus on the elusive dalet
The fourth letter
Dalet the door the passageway
The movement toward to not arrival

Let all the signs
The stars too
All the angels and energies totems and intentions
Conspire to be the year of the good intention
The focused action
May it be the year —

It is supposed to be.

Ever year a prayer for the future.

We meet the challenge of the future
With more than a wish —
With more than happy new year.

I give to you a gift, an intention, an understanding between us
We are trying to know something
Beautiful sustaining —
The transformational images
We share these Days of Awe,
5774 since the creation of the world
A day at a time.

Ayin and dalet
Iyyun that dalet
Focus focus
Less preoccupations this year
More depth
When less is more —

And the elusive dalet
Your doorway
Passageway to
Openng onto —

This is the time
The season
Let’s get at it.


james stone goodman
united states of america