Today, I’ve posted a detail from the illustrations for this week’s parashah Va’EtChannan. I particularly enjoyed my research for this image as it involved the study of costume history and different ethnic archetypes to create the figures nestled within the tree.
The Shema above the tree in Prayer Is The Crown Of The Heart is the central tenet of monotheistic Judaism. Through it we proclaim our belief in the One God and express our love for Him as we rise above the animal soul of our baser natures. The mezuzah amulet beside the prayer is of a type affixed to the doorposts of observant Jews. Traditionally, it must contain a tiny sheet of parchment called a ‘klaf’ on which a ‘sofer’ or scribe has written the Shema. This mezuzah is my original design employing the pomegranate motif. It is surmounted by a ‘chamsa’ or hand for an additional measure of protection and insight. The tree, brought forward from the chapter cover of Devarim/Deuteronomy now supports a collection of Jews from various eras and cultures illustrating their unity through Torah. Notably, the figures of the man holding the Hebrew letter ‘yud’ and the woman clasping the oil carafe represent two essential concepts in Kabbalah. The ‘yud’ is the first letter of the word ‘yesod’, one of the ten attributes or lights through which God reveals Himself. It also corresponds to the ‘Nitzotz Ha-Yehudi’, the spark of light in each of us through which we connect with God. The oil in the woman’s carafe sheds further illumination on this ‘spark’ because it corresponds to the flask of oil in the Temple that was sealed with the sign of the High Priest and stored in the Holy of Holies. As such, no one else was permitted to handle it. So the oil in the carafe is akin to the ‘spark’ of purity hidden deep within us reminding us of who we are and to what we must aspire.
The full illustration and commentary for this parashah may be found in Between Heaven & Earth: An Illuminated Torah Commentary on pages 113 and 179 respectively. If you would like a signed copy, you may email me at: email@example.com. The book is also available worldwide from most online booksellers as well as at these links:
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? All are welcome.