<span lang='en'>Is it possible to consider the making of art a proper Jewish pastime?</span>

Is it possible to consider the making of art a proper Jewish pastime?

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 Art-making, in it’s most positive light, seems to derive from an inner compulsion to picture, to bring into focus, and to establish in the world, that which is searched out by the mind and heart to know; to reveal what was previously unrevealed, to give form to that which was previously not seen; to bring that was previously unimagined into imagination and from there into physical form…

I can understand ‘Judaica’: one begins with the love of the holy, of the words of the Torah, one wishes to give expression to that love in creating physical objects which can beautify the words of Torah; it seems to be a pure and holy pastime, without blemish…

but art-making, which doesn’t start from the words of Torah, rather from the thoughts of man…

 It seems, that although the potential for art-making to descend into the realm of the unholy, the profane, etc. is very high, for the unbridled spirit of man is…evil from his youth…nevertheless, if one is persistent and wise in his efforts to wrestle his creation from his lower desires and fix his gaze upon all that is elevated and worthy and sublime in man, then the potential for art-making as a Jewish pastime is very good.

For Judaica can remain, unfortunately, somewhat superficial. Even though the words of Torah remain unfathomably deep and eternally profound; and, true, the creation of a physical object, the bringing into the world, an object containing words of Torah, with even the slightest intention towards bringing the words of E-kim Chaim into the world, is an awesomely powerful act; nevertheless one is required to try and beautify and present the words of Torah in a form that will cause others to see their beauty and goodness and be moved towards Divine Service through them. If they are not given the proper honor, Heaven forbid, a disgrace can also come form this, May Hashem guard us!

 If one makes certain that this honor is assured, fortunate is he, for he has done good and he will know only good from it. Yet, it is possible that this creator of Judaica has not added much significant light upon the words of Torah, rather merely have brought them out of a book and laid them on the shelf or hung them on the wall. As has been said, this is also a great thing, for anything that adds honor to Hashem and increase recognition of Him in the world, this goodness cannot be measured…

It is known: how great is the portion of those who learn the Torah and faithfully observe it’s teachings; yet the measure of those who have reached the level of mechadash b”Torah, of adding novel insights, this measure had no comparison to the first.

It seems that art-making, when directed inwards towards the Holy, holds this potential of chidush, of bringing into the world an entirely new reality, a true creation of ‘something from nothing’, similar, so to speak, to the work of his Creator, blessed is He.

featured image:

אתה נגלת בענן כבודך על עם קדשך לדבר עמם. מן השמים השמעתם קולך ונגלית עליהם בערפלי טהר. גם כל העולם כלו חל מפניך, ובריות בראשית חרדו ממך, בהגלותך מלכנו על הר סיני, ללמד לעמך תורה ומצוות, ותשמיעם את הוד קולך, ודברות קדשך מלהבות אש. בקלת וברקים עליהם נגלית, ובקול שפר עליהם הופעת

([מתוך תפילת ראש השנה [שופרות)

You were revealed in Your cloud of glory to Your holy people to speak to them. From the heavens You made them hear your voice and revealed Yourself to them in thick clouds of purity. Moreover, the entire universe shuddered before You and the creatures of creation trembled before You during Your revelation, our King, on Mount Sinai to teach your people Torah and commandments. You made them hear the majesty of Your voice and Your holy utterances from fiery flames. Amid thunder and lightning, You were revealed to them and with the sound of shofar, You appeared to them.

(from the Rosh Hashanah prayer, Mussaf – Shofros)

Oil on canvas

ציור שמן על קנבס

תשס”ט

100 cm. x 70 cm.

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