Posted by Emily Stern
there are words for things,
somethings, that in their coarse separation, like water, become a substance separate from the particle of dust that uplifts her or makes waves or storms. O when do we change from one whole matter of fact to a void whose absence is galaxies, A life up here. Laugh like the broken sounds of a shofar. Calling the world, the four corners to come. Bride, each his own echo, a ruffle in a dress that is coming off and being embroidered and the embroidery peels her skin and is only decadence. A decision to love you is made. Turn around and see her face, Yours.
Well, maybe for a moment a moon could write something.
There are words for things.
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May 10, 2011 | 1:51 pm
Posted by Emily Stern
(Translation of The Talmud Chullin 60b taken from kolel.org)
Rabbi Shim’on ben Pazi pitted one against another: “God made the two big lights” (Genesis 1:16a) and “the big light… and the small light” (Genesis 1:16b)!
The moon said before the Blessed Holiness: “Ruler of the World! Is it possible for two kings to make us of the same crown?”
He said to her: “Go and make yourself smaller!”
She said before Him: “Ruler of the World! Because I said something reasonable before You, I am to make myself smaller!?”
He said to her: “Go and rule by day and by night.”
She said to him: “What importance does that have? What use is a lamp in daylight?”
He said to her: “Go, and the Jewish people will reckon days and years by you.”
She said to Him: “It is impossible for them not to reckon seasons by Day also, since it is written, ‘And they will be for signs and for set times and for days and years’!” (Genesis 1:14)
“Go, and holy people will be named after you: Small Jacob [see Amos 7:2], Small Shmuel [a sage of the Talmud], Small David [see I Samuel 17:14].”
Seeing that she had not been appeased, the Blessed Holiness said [to the Jewish people]: “Bring an atonement sacrifice for Me, because I made the moon smaller.”
This agrees with what Rabbi Shim’on ben Lakish said: “Why is the goat of the New Moon distinguished, in that the Torah says about it, ‘For HaShem’? The Blessed Holiness said: ‘This goat will be an atonement sacrifice for Me, because I made the moon smaller.’”
you are a sweet friend,
‘honey is going to be there.’
do you need proof that i love you? if so, let this be it.
you are my stamina, my one i will not receive until all the world is whole. the whole one that i love i cannot even look at in the eye until the whole world is healed, is honored in you.
you are the only one i can look-
How still it sounds, song
To play if-then with the one who is there
I break all IF-then
And remember who
I look in the eye and said
This moment makes herself now.
I send you when light overwhelms
Me and I make choices like,
“Well, how can this really be real?”
And hope that if you pore love into yourself, You will find me here.
And then maybe when it’s all part one, It is I am loving everything
that tends to anywhere be. I was given choices in my mind,
Watched her come and was told it was okay. Clearly We can do that.
Will you finally look up to the sky and see me? Do not hold you down
to make it what you want it to be. Open us, And find one More than we. Inside I, Light. And I want to feel excited. I feel excited at the prospect of me exciting you even a little. Take me by letting me take you, And take me again, Somewhere else. We are healing the sun and moon. The sun also agreed to be. The moon turned gold,
And it didn’t make her the sun. She came back and told us how it all went
When ‘The whole world smiled at the exact same moment!’
Can we do our work together?
Or that concept of work will have to be so sorted out by then.
You are a sweet friend in “honey, i’m going to be there”
I just want to know that I have done everything I could do.
by emily stern
April 24, 2011 | 3:31 am
Posted by Emily Stern
My 14 year old friend would wake up every morning and do a hand washing ritual. She was so quickly termed with Obsessive Compulsive Behavior.
She was already in the “system” so to speak having been hospitalized with anorexia, working with it, since we were 10.
i remember the image of her chapped hands. During the drought this year in Israel, I remembered this. Our holy love for hand washing. and the two state instituted fast days to pray for rain.
i am curious as to what the world looks like without sound, story, maybe it is something other than limiting people into what we already know. Be not afraid to think about what is being enacted in your life.
enacted is Tikkun, is it not?
March 31, 2011 | 5:41 am
Posted by Emily Stern
By Emily Stern
For Alive I Dedicate to You.
If I were to trap you,
and change you and name you,
what could you ever blame me for doing?
How could I want you and make you forever the one I decorate myself with?
When Aaron told the people to bring gold, I think he was being called upon for a great big hoax.
Just as Betzalel received the plans for the Mishkan without going up the mountain with Moshe,
I think Aaron did too. (שמות לב:כד)
Betzalel knew he would build it.
Aaron knew he was to be a Kohain
and when his brother was still upon the mountain, he called
the people of Israel to begin.
Bring all your gold, he said.
And soon the trick was plated with gold, it melted and then made it’s own
masking behind something else.
and so it is an animal without muscle
Noah, who became in coming out of the Arc, praying.
and an animal’s skin was the very important thing that keeps everything warm within, שמות לה:ז
to know the voice,
so if i were to trap you, or to make you into an image,
if i were to think
a form you could be given,
who knew that when a calf arose,
the trick was now on you.
of course the rest followed Moshe it could not feel good to
trap an aimless animal,
it could not feel like anything like you.
and aaron’s poor sons who now knew this feeling, of revealing itself
when it was not time for revealing,
of course we will go with you.
did we have to learn this the hard way? by praying to something else in the wrong way?
come on, and trust us now again,
as you always have.
Gd always seems to want the
Yaakov who finds himself with broken limbs
nothing is true about being trapped
in the whole who wrestles with you
rises with sunlight to serve the king,
not knowing how you have been everything.
who just want to know you too.
bring the hyde. bring the animals. bring their fur, bring their winged ones,
we’re making an ark for the holy one,
for a life i dedicate to you.
and Noah had trapped all the animals
and when we are free,
Aaron made a garment for his son, just as he wants it,
skin of fur, like man made himself
בראשית, כב:ט and Gd made Adam
in a life I dedicate to you.
i would never begin to trap you, in a form, for that I leave you to do.
and here I build and give this offering,
Moses said to Betzalel, I want to build an ark for the torah first,
but Betezel knew what was really said, Build a mishkan a home first,
this is for the entire world.
and here we place our precious torah, to be in the face of love.
So as I stand knowing I don’t just want to bow to
just a golden image of You.
I also know that the whole is safe,
never trapped, and always new.
Oh, love, if I can’t look at you,
I may look down at the Torah given by you.
Seeing pure gold that I am seeing through
to the words
love, love love love.
do not trap yourself in believing you’re anything, I really think that this shows everything that you gave us
a plan and now this plan is true. all the gold is for you.
in a mishkan or in an earring, even this structure, although quite endearing, thank you for work, thank you for giving,
take me inside.
if i were a yoke upon my brother’s neck, through and through, please throw me off, place your faith in you.
something is truer than what you think you are,
a life I dedicate you to.
I say this to myself, now that I treasure you,
do not trap us, in any karmic ring, used to carry us, as if it were an earring that kept me in
a false “hood” of servitude
pulling me through,
pulling me everywhere because I’m alive, my earrings are yours.
Betzalel knew that life on the inside
needed a home, and didn’t want to hide
on top of the truth
with a body of gold,
but a life that I dedicate to you.
the tablets were broken, and still they were saved for you. each one a piece, each one a place
and you can now begin to bring us ever enduring
who will carry the four corners of the earth
or the chair at her wedding?
who will be the poles
that I place on this ring of you?
a lifelong friend,
just the beginning….
and we place on the table the grandest bread,
and say seven blessings,
and hopefully, this is what is freeing you,
nothing here in service in servitude,
we are in love,
this is what love is true,
sweet is my heart,
with endless offerings,
kruvim over heard
speaking of wisdom….
so if i were to invite two of everything,
I would alive be carrying Gd.
And so the world, ever spinning,
Breaking these tablets, and re-arranging
there seems to be a concept of servitude,
but this is His home,
We’re making the covering.
dripping with Torah
So he arrived at the tree alive
with the freedom to choose, to say this is yours AND yours, to know how if feeling the
one of thing
safe inside israel.
so the world is a table gloriously received,
on which the bread
have we tied the knowing
or the singing our song of grace,
what is the angel you’re welcoming?
with him lies a job, on whom he arrives with,
and all is his will, building demolishing,
on a cloudy day, we are just staying….
March 26, 2011 | 2:01 pm
Posted by Emily Stern
To Go There: Little Red Riding Hood
by Emily Stern
our conversations are cyclical that i would need a magnifying gladness of hindsight to see anything within this glass of water. it is swollen, my whole body, too much salt, or milk, or something. and what is everything being said about lions and lambs? Their natures do not seem so different. lambs and jellyfish… or stingrays, lionesses and fleas. so instead i pray in the midst of conversation in my mind, always wanting to escape and being glad to be here.
Jerusalem’s a lion they said. i didn’t even know Jerusalem. He asks me about archetypes. We speak about story. His stories bring more to the table. they are thickest milk. more complex than the point he makes, than the point. “do you enjoy yourself with me?” “Of course…” I say. He couldn’t tell. he described me exactly. Not quite sure to go there with you.
i am thinking of my husband, the one i married in my mind. and life combusts. We are in the alley way. talking about how we have been taught by stories like Little Red Riding Hood, learning forests are dangerous, about learning fear, but I think i was taught that wolves were kinda sweet. ... and so my mind talks a good prayer. it is a wishful thinking machine. it wants the best for all beyond ecstatic things for you. much love. I get you so much. You are made by Gd.
and I don’t get you. at all! in a very literary way, you are not mine because you’re unknowable, but also married. but even so, he seems not to get me either. understand me. I assume he knows the deeper meaning when he calls me royalty and I play along. I pray along with you. wanting me to be something. I try to give the lesson about how we are all one, i’m not what you think… I’m…. he says it’s a given, doesn’t need to be said. I already knew that too. and then he told me these moments matter
the first man i was ever with i said no to before I was with him. i said i want intimacy. and that is different than desire. i feel like I’m always in needah נידה, i said. not just single. i feel like an untouchable. Singing to King Saul. is it the same thing that always happens? that it’s harder for gd to keep lions and lambs from laying together than to keep them not? i’m so over the pay off. what are we supposed to do with foretold prophecy? just sit back and experience the process? Cry Love? step into the symbology?
i watched the light descend upon you. and i want to go there with you.
January 14, 2011 | 6:25 am
Posted by Emily Stern
Taste Of Holiness
by Emily Stern
I heard that in the garden there is a tree that grows challah.
She plays my heart and her song she prays.
living unravels me in a certain way.
What seeds are you planting?
The kind that grow deep into the ground.
The trees are bleached from growing in the sand here, or a little lightened by the sun.
He carried three hallot on the bus, in bags, under his arm.
and it was deeply ingrained in her, you see, the ability to say THANK YOU for letting a magnificent
blessed are You,
Who owns the ground,
for freeing the bread, for creating the fruit, and the Hachamim, the rachamim
I could smell him ten miles away.
it may be why i came here in the first place, so i could glow upon seeing you, with my eyelids,
with my arms. and she so easily gives fruit
i put “let there be light” at the very root of myself.
and i used to be in mother’s womb and listen to the very strange sounds of digestion, and Birchat Hamazon is not unfamiliar.
and maybe i am water that pushes you to rise. out of resistance, out of pressure.
because that part is laughing through it all—
light aware of it’s beginning.
Trees are bending towards the sand. Offering wheat. A tree who makes it through the winter.
Wise one who rests, I bless you with the sky in the sand of your body….
and just enough
If the fields could speak, they would say things like the voice has a place here with all creeping crawls,
and the mind with man,
and the ribs with the stars,
and the womb with expanse,
and the root with let there be light.
so if i even knew the fruits i offered,
maybe this is what they mean by “spread your wings”
like gills, in the heart. so easily it happens
in the midst of all living, is this space around the heart that the heart
opens into. These are the cupped hands for the wisest wine.
oh, heart of flesh, be cause to spread the fruit of this world.
Oceans growing beneath the trees saying “that way, this way” to the leaves, and they respond….
i am doing my job. baking bread in the sun.
There’s a certain light etched into you.
so simple like the pine cones, like the river’s braids, like choice.
like the trunk of the tree, like the strands of the muscles. that pump and pound.
oh, blessed and softened world, on shabbat we do not bleach,
we are your light.
January 11, 2011 | 1:37 pm
Posted by Emily Stern
“And the women dancing with their timbrels follow Miriam as she sang a song, Sing a song to the One whom we’ve exalted! Miriam and the women dance and dance the whole night long.” (Miriam’s Song, Debbie Friedman, From Beshallach 15.20)
Debbie Friedman has certainly perpetuated a kind of feminine knowing, devotion, and power that has walked with us since our revelation, and before.
The entire torah—torah she’bal peh—was clear to Moshe. Every single moment of realization, every future discovery that would be made, every layer that would be decoded, and realized in years to come, including now and your discoveries tomorrow, are said to have been fully realized in this moment. And how any torah discovery that is made today was foreseen as its revelation. It’s common to hear the concept that Israel is in fact waiting for your torah, the torah only you can bring.
And with the coming of these times, where jews are returning and returning and returning, calling themselves a Baal Tsuvah, it seems that, Be’zerat Hashem, this is something that will eventually gift our nation.
“Sing unto Gd, sing a new song, oh sing, praises to Gd, give thanks to Him with a song, Oh sing praises unto the Lord thy Gd. Rejoice with the Lord, all yee Righetous” (Sing Unto Gd, Debbie Friedman)
Between this week’s Torah and Haftoarah readings, Moshe, Miriam and Devorah Hanavia with Barak sing songs in their joy with community.
I hope that this shabbat, I find a way to sing Debbie Friedman’s “Women of the Well.”
In Moshe’s saying “Az Yashir” (the Az possibly rendering the future into the past) and “Ashira” (I will sing), we have the past of the splitting of the sea, and the future conquests covered. Could be that he is also referencing Miriam’s song, just one perek later? Miriam’s song, is the song of the present “Sheroo,” and also includes a far more distant past, an ancient past where Miriam was prophesizing to her parents as “Aaron’s sister”. some say the prophecy is about Moshe, but others about Love, the need to keep love alive, in order to bring about change. (i.e. moshe’s birth)
Just in hearing the torah revealed through her songs, Debbie Friedman “found a way to make (her) life a blessing” as she so beautifully prays for in her Misheberach, and to “bless Gd’s name” (Sing Unto Gd.) Just the structure of the first three notes of her Shema embody the essence of the blessing we make three times a day. Beginning low, raising it up, and ending just a little bit higher than we began, she taught through her music, the presence of the Divine.
“The old shall dream dreams and the youth shall see visions, and our hopes shall rise up to the sky! we must live for today, we must build for tomorrow. Give us time, give us strength, give us life!” (The Youth Shall See Visions, Debbie Friedman)
I am remembering looking at a piece of sheet music to a song I love singing. Probably “not by might, not by power, but by spirit alone shall we all live in peace!” She continues “Their tears may fall but we’ll hear them call, and another song will rise” This was over ten years ago, I see her name for the first time, and I connect the dots. It dawns on me just how many songs my temple’s teen and junior choir sing that Debbie Friedman has composed.
A profound woman, and prolific songwriter,
Debbie’s songs come from a place of freedom. They are simple. They are knowing.
December 28, 2010 | 11:10 am
Posted by Emily Stern
Written by Emily Stern 2010
after visiting Nishmat, a prospective Torah learning environment.
In Honor of Rebbe Akiva and the Concept of
ריבה ומיעט וריבה
Master of This one verse.
Who can create anything
my arms are raised to you.
my eyes being remade…
There’s a mountain out of a mole hill here. (I’m at a construction site.)
In Armaic, ari means argue, to make a case. and in other times, I hear Lion. It is only because of positivity.
Will you make the world big enough for you.
just make the world big enough for you.
Avram is promised what he doesn’t want to lose, says Rashi, a name that could have been great,
where there was nothing to lose,
i always thought why those things?
We are able to join you. Come, I am listening in perfection.
I joked that a good name of a drag queen would be Mechitzah.
Master of Return,
Master of making marks, and raising them, of rearranging.
of cats cleaving.
of cats leaping from dumpsters.
I break all bonds, politely, in the way you have been asked to be in this world
and the case
and how silly you are in my heart.
you are her name. Straying path after path.
lifting like a shovel any judgment i ever used to separate me.
I am a cloud, a clown.