I feel obligated to speak about a certain subject.
I am sometimes asked about the choice of my colors, and also in connection with the Kaballah, as my works suggest that I know something of Kaballah, and there is much Torah on the subject of colors in Pardes Rimonim of the R’mak and in other places. My answer to these questions is that I know very little on this subject from these texts. This is a little surprising, even to myself, since this is one of the main focal points of my life…nevertheless, the truth is that I do not feel that it is the most pressing matter to familiarize myself with these texts before other matters in Avodas Hashem. This is because, even though I hold, strongly, that every Jew must involve himself with all four levels of Pardes to the greatest extant that he can, and not push off the deeper levels for later, until he has ‘mastered the peshat’, for if so, that later often never comes; rather he must strive to work in the whole orchard his whole life…(much needs to said about this, but here is not the place); in any case, one must know very well, where he is truly holding, and not fool himself, as to his true level. This is true always, but in ‘higher’ places this is especially true, as a small error in a higher place can cause much damage, Heaven forbid.
Therefore I understand in myself that my use of color is not something which I can successfully subjugate to my learning of the meaning of colors according to the Kaballah, as I do not know how what is written in Kaballah about the colors relates to our world, much less to the places in my own heart and imagination from which my choices and uses of color emanate from. The most important thing is that the choices that the artist make do not deviate from his true self, wherever he may be; from there he must try, with all his might, to make true choices, and not try to jump to a place which he knows is truth but which he himself will have no footing there. He can only fall, whether he knows it or not, Heaven forbid.
Would it only be that I was on such a level to understand, in reality, how my choices in color relate to the upper worlds; May Hashem, in His awesome mercy grant me this, soon; but until then, the advice is definitely not to have my wisdom exceed my deeds.
If one asks; if so, then what do you do pictures of sections of the Zohar, and even diagrams of the spherot, etc., which you admit that you don’t understand?
The answer is that it is important for me to attach myself to all the Torah, at whatever level that I can. If I do a painting of a ‘simple’ statement of our sages such as, for example, : Hillel said: If I am not for myself who will be for me..”; can I say that I really understand this? I understand what I understand, but the greater depth of the Torah is always beyond me. Thus so, I permit myself, even encourage myself to grapple with the deeper aspects of the Torah; even if all that I understood of them was how the shapes of the letters appear to my eyes, it would be worthwhil to paint these subjects, for I am attaching myself to Kedushah.
The point here is that it forbidden to lie to oneself about his level.
Another important related point: “You saw no image” (Devarim 4, 15); the Torah warns us over and over that spirituality is not something that can be pictured, and furthermore, to picture spirituality is to enter into the realm of idolatry. I have approached this subject many times, it perhaps being the central issue of these essays. Here I wish to restate that, especially in the deeper aspects of the Torah it is essential for the artist, not to, even in the slightest, think that he can picture spiritual realities. It may be difficult to describe what the artist is allowed to do in trying to make truly spiritual works (which he is obligated to do, in my opinion). But what is forbidden is clear to me, it is forbidden to pictorialize spiritual realities. That is, he must know that it is impossible to do, and therefore he should have no fantasies about doing it. If Hashem gives me the strength, this subject requires still much greater treatment, although it is sad that it even be mentioned. I enter into all this because I see, that in artist’s enthusiasm to paint truly spiritual paintings, that is, based on the Torah and the true Massoret, and to have their works reach eager eyes, they use available representational means. In my opinion, the deeper the subject the more one must avoid all pictorialization. In my opinion, only non-representational art is appropriate for a Jew; and with that he must still avoid countless stumbling blocks. May Hashem give me the strength for elaborating and clarifying these points, for would it be that I was born only for elucidating this matter it would be enough.
אמרות ד’ אמרות טהורות כסף צרוף בעליל לארץ מזוקק שבעתיים
(תהילים י”ב’: ז)
The words of Hashem are pure words, as silver tried in a crucible, they shall indeed come to the earth, seven times refined.
Oil on canvas
ציור שמן על קנבס
60 cm. x 50 cm.