web analytics
May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Home » Sections » Arts »

Bezalel’s Legacy Commentary on Jewish Craft and Art: Shabbos Parah: Ki Sisa; Exodus 30:11 – 34:35


Spice Box for Havdalah (1998) by Malka Kohavi
Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

Spice Box for Havdalah (1998) by Malka Kohavi Courtesy Yeshiva University Museum

Nonetheless, there is much to be learned from our parsha about Jewish Art.  The ideal ethical and spiritual qualities of Jewish Art and Jewish Craft are identical because we hope for equal refinement and intention in our ritual objects and in our art.  We want the best whether the purpose is to worship or study.  Since the Torah knows this, why should it juxtapose the elevated mission of Bezalel with the most grievous sin of the Golden Calf?  There’s the rub.

The warning that Ki Sisa presents is about the nature of objects, ritual objects that we invest with too much meaning, in fact fall in love with and forget the ultimate incorporeal reality of our God.

God Passes By (2006) by Richard McBeeCourtesy Private Collection

God Passes By (2006) by Richard McBee
Courtesy Private Collection

When we doubt the verity of Divine promise and command, we second-guess the existence of our Creator.  And the first thing we make is an alternative ritual object as a way to serve the transcendental God concretely.  Our desire for God to be manifest became an idol in the form of the Golden Calf.  We fashioned it as a way to certainty.  And looking for an assurance of faith, a comfort of that which is substantive, we erred in fact, we sinned.  It becomes Bezalel perverted. It is the sin of the object.

As Rashi tells us (Exodus 31:18), there is no necessary chronology in the Torah, and actually the incident of the Golden Calf preceded the work of the Tabernacle done by Bezalel.  Therefore God’s command to Bezalel can be seen as a response to our deep need for some kind of objective certainty.  God tells us to make ritual objects that will be used to serve Him.  That is permitted.  But when our doubt and fear about the absent God and his servant Moshe provoked the creation of the Golden Calf,God gave us the tools to do teshuvah in the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.  Each attribute is a revelation into the mysterious nature of the unseen God.  Even here Jewish Art can provide insight.  Right before this, Moses boldly asks to see God’s Glory and God places him in a cleft of the rock as He passes by.  My 2006 painting God Passes By captures the moment after the miraculous event.  While Moses could not have survived seeing God’s Glory, a glimpse of His “Back” was sufficient to inspire him for the rest of his life.  Our God demands faith and yet provides us with precious concrete hints as how to serve Him and how to know Him.  Jewish Craft and Jewish Art have a hand in both.

About the Author: Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Contact him at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Bezalel’s Legacy Commentary on Jewish Craft and Art: Shabbos Parah: Ki Sisa; Exodus 30:11 – 34:35

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Israel Envisions Regional Cooperation with Arab Nations
Latest Sections Stories

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Road sign in Russian and Yiddish greeting visitors on the road just outside Birobidzhan. (photo by Ben G. Frank)

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

Ayelet Shaked

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

Two weeks of intense learning in the classroom about Israel culminated with Yom Ha’Atzmaut. Students attended sessions with their teachers and learned about history, culture, military power, advocacy, slang, cooking, and more.

The nations of the world left the vessel to sit rotting in the water during one of the coldest winters in decades and with its starving and freezing passengers abandoned.

More Articles from Richard McBee
Jerusalem to Jericho Road: photograph by Chanan Getraide
“Chanan Getraide Photographs”: 2004 exhibition at Hebrew Union College Museum

“We are living in a Golden Age of Jewish Art, but don’t know it.”

McBee-062014-Outside

He refuses to flinch from our painful history, perhaps finding a kind of solace in the consistency of irrational enmity directed against us.

“Vidduy: The Musical” breaks through the formidable barrier of repetitive confession to allow us to begin to understand what is at the heart of this fundamental religious act.

A fascinating glimpse into the rich complexity of medieval Jewish life and its contemporary relevance had intriguingly emerged.

Silverstein’s work has long concerned itself with the intersection between the personal and Jewish Biblical narrative, significantly explored in this column in “Brighton Beach Bible” (July 27, 2009).

Not surprisingly the guardians of synagogue tradition is male dominated in both Moses Abraham, Cantor and Mohel and Synagogue Lamp Lighters.

Neither helpless victims nor able to escape the killer’s clutches, the leaders had to make impossible choices on a daily basis in a never-ending dance with the devil.

Bradford has opted to fully exploit the diverse possibilities of the physical surface by concentrating on the three-dimensional application of paint (impasto) and other material.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/arts/bezalels-legacy-commentary-on-jewish-craft-and-art-shabbos-parah-ki-sisa-exodus-3011-3435/2013/03/01/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: