There are people who have difficulties with abstract art. They claim that they don’t understand the works, and it seems that this is true.

I wish to try to offer some insight into the value of abstraction, and perhaps this will help inspire motivation also to seek to understand more about art.

Every Jew deep-down sincerely desires to serve Hashem Yisborach with all his being, and for many this is their main dedication in life, Baruch Hashem. We all understand that if our service to Hashem is less than truthful, then the essential part is missing, and we direly need a solution to our problem. One of the main reasons for lack of truthful service is that we are all born with imperfect characters which need much correction. As a result of our character imperfections we are blind to our true selves and motivations and thus true service of Hashem eludes us. If we could see the truth of ourselves we could gain great closeness to Hashem.

In his great kindness, Hashem Yisborach has provided us with an awesome tool to gain insight as to our true situation: hashgacha pratit. By nature, a person, so to speak, dresses himself up for himself in the finest garments; that is, he sees himself as only the best. However when it comes to others he is not so blind to faults; one is often quite keen to other’s failings.
All of Hashem’s ways are middah c’neged middah and with Hashgacha pratit; thus all that a person encounters, in every moment of his life, is a message from Hashem to help the person see the way of truth. One should see the behavior of others around him in this light, as messages from Hashem which are designed to enlighten him of his own true standing. Hashem stands up the world in front of person as a mirror; offering the person a glimpse of his true self which is otherwise hidden from him. One who witnesses another behaving improperly should take heart that Hashem has brought before him this mirror image for him to take notice.
Yet, even those who are already quite attuned to this reality face a problem. The Hashgacha which we encounter requires a proper reading for the person to utilize it correctly. For example, if one sees another behaving truly poorly he may say to himself: “I understand that this is being shown to me as a mirror, but I don’t behave like that!” He is stuck.

He is stuck because he is reading the situation literaly. He has in his mind a fixed image of what he witnessed with all the particular details intact. Therefore he cannot see himself in the reflection, so to speak.

The solution is to learn to look at the “Hashgachic images” abstractly.

To look abstractly is to avert one’s glance away from the surface details of the image and to grasp the essential forms alone. After one is strongly convinced that what he is facing each moment is a divine message given with such special care for his eternal benefit, then one will exert himself until he has abstracted the essential features of the divinely projected image, seeing that which is truly pertinent to him. Truly fortunate are those who merit such insight—the power of abstraction.

featured image:

pencil on paper 30.5 cm. x 22.9 cm.