About this book
if you have an idea of god
it is not god
god negates your idea.
So begins this book of heretical prayers, Dharma aphorisms, neo-Hasidic koans, and unorthodox blessings for unexpected occasions. Is asks the question of what it means to live as a human in a world infused by the sacred, the profane, and the magical.
“Yaakov Moshe offers a sacred, lyrical gift to those who push beyond paradox to the truth beyond words and those who to want offer up the fruits of their pleasures to the One who is beyond prohibition. Read this collection and be elevated out of the constraints of everyday dichotomies.”
—Rabbi Jacob J. Staub, Professor of Jewish Philosophy and Spirituality, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
“What if Rumi or Hafiz were to walk into a poetry workshop? And who (besides God) would be qualified to judge their works? These heretical poems and blessings are succinct and paradoxical, full of laughs and surprises, restoring spiritual wisdom (and foolishness!) to an empty art.”
—Timothy Liu, author of Kingdom Come: A Fantasia and Burnt Offerings
“The best mystical poets tell it like it really is. Funny, touching, sobering, and uplifting, the poems of is remind us that we are an oh-so-ephemeral part of the cosmic nothing, barely glimpsing the nature of reality under our own skins. Yet these poems also remind us of our deepest experiences of being alive as individual embodied beings. is invites us into stillness and emptiness, but also into laughter and love.”
—Rabbi Dr. Jill Hammer, author of The Hebrew Priestess
“Is is a very compelling book, full of Judaic Zen-like koans and whispers that invite the reader to ponder what is, what isn’t, and what might yet be. I am sure I will return to this book again and again, each time going deeper and deeper into myself. Yaakov Moshe’s intelligence, insight, curiosity and wit bless every single page.”
—Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies and A Letter to Harvey Milk
“Finally, Torah that speaks to and through the lives we are actually living: expanding the tent of holiness to embrace what has been cast out, elevating what has been kept down, advancing what has been held back, reveling in questions, revealing contradictions, resurrecting Whitman’s erotic sense of ‘exquisite complications.’ This is what happens when a lawyer puts himself on trial, when a journalist throws ‘objectivity’ out the window, when a rabbi eats mushrooms and lets himself dance like David with the Ark of the Covenant.”
— Eden Pearlstein, aka eprhyme
“Yaakov Moshe has, to paraphrase the words of Sefer Yetzira, transformed some-things into kaleidoscopic no-things, then some-things again, pointed and pointless, penetrating and passionate. These so-Jewish and so-Zennish poems are perfect prayers for the holy congregation of postmodern exiles.” — Avraham Leader, founder, The Leader Minyan
“If I were to write poetry this is the poetry I would write.”
The sense of the sacred is as real, and strong,
as the sense of the beautiful, or of love.
We may suppose that the sacred is to be interrogated,
as a statement of fact.
But I only mean to describe the sense.
What is it to doubt that a thing is beautiful?
Or to suspect that love is false?
On taking leave of my lover
On taking leave of my lover
“When disciples of the wise part from their wives,
supernal coupling couples with them,
so they become male and female.”
As I take my leave of you,
I seek the shelter of Her wings,
and ask that it be the will of the Holy One
that He cleave to me as you do,
as above, so below,
as before, so after.
My skin remembers your embrace,
the weight of your body,
its motions as it breathes.
O righteous one, foundation,
remember me so I remember:
As the supernal coupling above
reminds the One of its duality,
so may these joinings below.
arrive in this absence with presence:
join me in the doubling of sames.