Chidush in Art and in Avodat Hashem

Chidush in Art and in Avodat Hashem

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The very essence of what I understand art, in its positive sense, to be, is a creative process of exposing content and form together. This is art—not merely an expression of content within traditional and accepted forms, rather the creation of new forms which are needed to express content which is new*. This, I believe is also the essence of Torah, whose purpose is not the acquisition of knowledge, even Divine knowledge within the man as he is, but rather the transformation of man through his internalization of Divine knowledge (Torah) the creation of a new self. Thus it is apt to express Torahis art-making, where the creation of the art and the art piece itself are the actualization of the self, the creation of a new self in consort with the teaching  of the Holy Torah.

*There is much to be written about the subject of the “new”, chidush, in Art and in Avodat Hashem in general; here I will suffice with brief topic headings. The Torah exhorts us in several places about the importance of one’s learning and performance of the mitzvoth that it be fresh and new at all times, that one approach each day and each hour as if it is his first encounter with Torah and its mitzvoth, and not as something that has been rehearsed and preformed countless times. One can understand this requirement in light of the reality that we are taught that the entire universe is recreated at every moment; that not one moment follows by nature automatically from the preceding moment, rather only through the constantly renewed good will of the Blessed Creator does the world continue to exist, indeed it comes into existence entirely anew at each moment. Yet man, who is given free will, can exert himself to behold this awesome reality or he can slumber and see the illusion of the world proceeding through its course. It is indeed a very great and important Avodah to not allow one’s mind relax into a rote way of encountering reality, for indeed reality is in constant flux, and no day is similar to the preceding, indeed the service required for today is unique. The creation of artworks parallels this reality. One can live a life of slumber and create images similar to what he or someone else produced earlier, seeking to reproduce a successful product. Or one can awaken to the awesome power of creation that The Holy One exhibits every moment, and awaken in himself a similar power of renewal and expend vigorous energy to manifest of the new life, thought and feeling with which The Holy One endows him anew at each moment, to express in joy his thankfulness for another moment and hour and day of life in which to serve his Creator. There is obviously no comparison between the two alternatives.

Why was I recreated this morning? Certainly, that the Blessed Creator, so to speak, troubled Himself to recreate me, certainly it must be for an exalted reason. Certainly not to re-perform some actions I performed yesterday. This matter of renewal can be said to have as its source the belief of the Creation of the World, yesh m’yain. Our belief in this postulate requires us to internalize the constant awareness that our days are numbered; just as the world has a beginning and also an end, thus too, our lives. Our Holy Sages have taught that man (in general) lives in this world as if he has a thousand years to live, in other words, without cognizance of the finite nature of his life which requires him to exert himself to utilize every moment in maximal effort to serve his Creator.

נלענ”ד דאפשר למצוא רמז לעניו התחדשות בפרק ב’ של תהילים פסוקי ז’ וח’: אספרה אל חק הוי’ אמר אלי בני אתה אני היום ילדתיך. שאל ממני, ואתנה וגו’. אספרה, דהיינו הגעת למדרגה של הוצאת הכיסופים ורצונות טובות לפועל, שלא רק בלב מתגעגע להשגות הרוחניים אלא גם בפועל, אספר, משמע שהדיבור גם מחושב ומעורך כמו סיפור וספירת דברים, שכל כך ברור ומשונן הכיסופים שהם מסודרים היטב ויכול לספור ולספר אותם. אל חק הוי’, היינו שאינו מתעסק בעיקר במשפטי התורה שהם נגלים כאן למטה והם קרובים לשכל אנושי, אלא בחוקי התורה שטעמם נסתרים, ומי שזוכה לספר בחוקי התורה הוא חי במדרגת אמונה ודבקות להשם, שאינו צריך הוכחות על פי השכל. כשזוכה לזה זוכה להתחדשות, שהוא בעצם מתנת שמים: אמר אלי בני אתה היום ילדתיך. היינו שהקב”ה שמח אתו וקרא לו בן, שאינו רק עבד השם שמשועבד ע”י שכלו לעבודת השם, אלא כבן שעושה נחת לאביו, כי הוא כירך אביו ממש, לכן זוכה להכרה שהוא למעלה מן הזמן ומקום, שהוא מקור התחדשות, וכל יום וכל רגע ילדתיך. וממילא עם קירבה כזה זוכה להתמלאות כל משאלות לבו, שאל ממני, אפילו עד אפסי ארץ