For Torah is to correct the person. There is learning Torah and there is practicing Torah, and our Sages of blessed memory have already taught us: learing is not the essential matter rather the performance (of the Torah).

So here is an awesome new hidush. Art of Torah. What is art of Torah. Art of Torah is taking the words of Torah, the learning of Torah, and practicing them upon oneself. How so? One simply takes a coloring utensil such as a pencil or paintbrush and a surface upon which to make his artwork and he begins to think of Divrei Torah and he begins to draw or paint. What happens? What happens is that it is inherent in the process of “art-making” that that which a persons puts down on the surface in lines and colors then reverberates with what is inside of him, within the recesses of his consciousness, his subconscious, and in the differing levels of his soul. He sees in front of him an image of that which he feels or senses deeply within himself. It is like a picture of a certain level of his spiritual self. That which comes from even deep-within projects itself in front of him: saying as it were: recognize me! Understand this well.

So if he keeps his mind on the Torah and continues to meditate on Torah subjects and think about himself with relations to the Torah principles that he knows; surely he considers the question as to how is he fulfilling these precepts, if has he acquired, how well has he acquired, how deeply and permanently that he has acquired these precepts. This is the work of mussar and chassidus, methods to “lay the Torah on one’s heart”; because it is simple and known to all that to learn a piece of Torah; for example: “one shall love Hashem with all one’s heart”– so to say and think about this concept is essential, and the first step, but one must then acquire it until it becomes his true character. So if he repeats this statement often to himself, with each repetition it becomes more a part of his true self; and there are many other methods that one can employ to acquire this and all the precepts of the Torah…and one must try to acquire the whole Torah, at least all the Torah that he has merited to learn, he must strive to acquire all this Torah as a permanent acquisition; for this is the purpose for which it was given, as quoted above: the learning is not the essential matter rather the doing (and the doing must stem from a true inner compulsion to serve Hashem; it is not at all sufficient that he perform the Torah from exterior motives. Therefore the Torah must be acquired as an acquisition of his innermost being, until it is a true part of him and he and the Torah are one, without any opposition of any aspect of his being to his performing of the Torah. Thus it is clear: it is not sufficient for him to learn it rather he must internalize it and make of himself a living Torah, alive in every fiber of his being with all the Torah he has learned.

So this Torah-art is a method of acquiring Torah into one’s being for as he thinks of himself and the Torah that he wishes to encompass and internalize and he sketches…as he proceeds he can learn to see what is in front of him as a picture of his true level, as a picture of his spiritual self; in this way he can move from thought to thought and try to discover more truth about his true spiritual state.

Because it can be that if one, say, is on the wonderful level of writing Torah novella; and he writes and writes, yet it still is not necessarily the case that he is touching very deeply his true spiritual state with respect to these words of Torah. It is possible that, Heaven forbid, the Torah that he is writing could be almost entirely external to his true spiritual state, Heaven forbid, and he may not even be aware of it because he doesn’t know his true spiritual state, Heaven forbid, because he doesn’t concern himself with the truth, Heaven forbid, rather he is impressed that he knows in his mind much Torah, but hasn’t worked much on internalizing it, Heaven forbid.

So one can use art-making very well to penetrate the interior because, as has been stated above: the bare lines on a page reveal much about a person’s inner self, if he is willing to look. It can reveal awesome depths of his true spiritual self if he is willing to plunge, and truly desires to know the truth of himself and his condition with respect to the world around him and his position in it,and where he really stands in avodas Hashem and to try to truly serve the Creator b”h.

Especially the use of color helps much in this because a person must be full of Torah at all levels of his being. And the psyche is complex. And a person, for example, may live at a great level of emunah most all of the time; but in certain situations he does not operate so, because that zone of his personality has not absorbed the emunah like more external regions of his personality. And the emunah and the Torah must reach to all the levels of his being so he behaves according to the Torah at all times and in all situations.

So color can reveal where, at what level, of his personality he is holding. For example a person may be thinking very exalted thoughts, and be thinking that he is holding at such a exalted level of service of Hashem and that he has perfected his personality and character to a very fine degree and he is very thrilled with his thoughts of himself, and he could be in a completely repetitious mode of thinking this way about himself….. but if he is practicing this kind of art-making; while he is thinking of the Torah and himself in the above way, he can see suddenly, by using some color or another, that suddenly all of his exalted level sort of gives way so to speak to some very childish emotions that are still very strong in him; for the color illuminates that emotion inside of him and if he is following himself and his thought he will see that all of a sudden his very exalted image of himself is really, so to speak, built on a foundation of very childish emotions which he has not yet corrected because he has spent so much time traversing on the outer levels of his personality and not delving deeper to find out and see the foundations on which which all this exalted Torah is built. But if he wants to plunge the depths he can certainly do so and this art-making is a very wonderful tool as I have explained for it reveals is like an x-ray of one’s true inner self if one wishes to see it, may it be.

featured image:

pencil on paper

2 Responses

  1. Childish emotions emanate from the wounded parts of ourselves- your art method can help reveal them to the adult conscious mind but those splintered parts can only be healed by acknowledging them and giving them space to be expressed appropriately and hence released –

  2. Thank you, Robin, for your comment. I think you are entirely correct. But I think the the art-making method can also be used for healing (rather I didn’t really address this in this essay.) For the art-making is not limited to revealing to oneself an inner picture, rather it is also a process of ongoing dialogue with oneself. The artist creates and the picture reveals an inner aspect of his creation. The artist responds by adding to/changing the picture. Then the picture is now speaking something new, etc. And it is not simply a dialogue, but also a process of change. Just as it is simple that the picture becomes something different as the artist continues to work on it, just so, the artist, himself, grows and changes in the process. (All this–on the condition the the artist becomes aware of this potential in his work; to merit such awareness is, itself, no small matter.)
    Therefore, this kind of art-making can certainly become a process of self-healing. With (much) practice the artist can learn how to enter into (even all) the various chambers of his psyche and being, and with sensitivity, patience, endurance, and most of all emunah and prayer, learn how to heal and correct and elevate himself, b”H.

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