#26 Shemini  (Maqam Hoseni)

Maqam - a set of notes, with traditions that define the relationship between them, their patterns and expression.  A musical mode.  The Maqamat (plural) are patient, inwardly drawn, they are roomy enough for poetry. We worked the concept of the give-and-take between poetry and music.


Small Alef Shemini

Building of the Mishkan completed

seven days of installation done

my brother presiding,


-- the Shekhinah

had not yet appeared        [Lev.R.11:6]

until I slipped into my robes.


God the King

My brother the King’s attendant

Israel the Queen

Myself the Queen’s attendant --


working from the lower world

up, so to speak.


Here I am lighting the candles 


take hold the flame

upward the fire flying.


See me standing on the limestone steps

raising high the flame I am

The flame of guardianship.


Tender of the flame

which is like the soul

the lamp of God like the soul

of a human being,         [Prov.20:27]


Tender of souls on fire 

I loved all creatures 

and drew them near --     [Avot 1:12]


so it was 

My brother knew it would be through me

that the Shekhinah would come to rest in our Sanctuary, 

saying --


my brother is more excellent than I

through his sacrifices

and his service

the Shekhinah will rest among you.     

[Rashi on Lev.9:4, JT, Yoma 1:1]


See the blue around the flame

the space that may --

may not be physically present


that slip of dark space

between wick and flame

the dark candle --


all light

all over ---


the blue that’s Shekhinah

sky blue

which is like lapis

like the color of the sea

which is like the sky


something like the color of the Throne of Glory –

like a vision.