web analytics
September 20, 2014 / 25 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Home » Sections » Arts »

Divine Encounter and the Sacred Doorway


McBee-Richard

Returning to the text, one cannot avoid deeply disturbing questions. Why would God ask his beloved servant Avraham to sacrifice the son he had been promised for so many years?  How could Avraham have complied without an argument or objection?  What were the consequences of this test on Avraham and Yitzchak; and finally, how does Avraham’s test affect us today?

Akedah #52 (2008-2009) Mixed media on paper 9” x 8” by Robert Kirschbaum Courtesy the artist.

The merit of Avraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son is no less than the very foundation of the Jewish relationship to God.   While the liberation from Egyptian bondage and the subsequent acceptance of the Law at Mount Sinai are the operative mechanisms of Jewish belief and practice, it is the Binding of Yitzchak that sets the standards and expectations of faith.  In the flowering of Jewish visual arts following the destruction of the Second Temple seen in surviving synagogue mosaics, the Binding of Yitzchak is the only narrative depicted.   As the central motif in the liturgy of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is the central biblical episode that we celebrate and effectively present to God when we ask Him for forgiveness of our sins.  We confess our failures to properly keep God’s commandments, bemoan our inadequate merits and repeat over and over again that we only ask God to forgive us and grant us blessing in the year to come in the merit of Avraham’s faith and courage in being willing to sacrifice his son.  And even though the sacrifice was halted and never happened, we refer in the liturgy to the “Ashes of Yitzchak;” the willingness was equivalent to the act itself.  The heart of Jewish faith is deeply rooted in the Binding of Yitzchak.

For more than two thousand years religious thinkers have pondered the meaning of the Akedah.  Kirschbaum brilliantly suggests a radically different reading of the episode.  Through a ten-part process he narrates how the encounter with the Divine in the Akedah leads to a revelation, mystical disintegration and finally a possibility of entrance into another realm.

Akedah #39 (2008-2009) Mixed media on paper 9” x 8” by Robert Kirschbaum Courtesy the artist.

Kirschbaum’s Akedah images are sequentially numbered with gaps in the numbering representing images he has chosen not to exhibit.  Akedah #39 begins the narrative showing three ovals floating above the central space as an elemental rectangle emerges from the bottom center of the image.  It is the beginning of the construction of the altar built by Avraham in order to slaughter his son.  In the flurry of dark marks that come together in the center of the image, the first suggestions of encounter appear atop the altar.  In the next painting, #40, the altar is fully formed with a broad base and square top, silhouetted against a brooding sky.  Paradoxically for an abstract image, the altar’s depiction is so realistic that it casts a shadow.   In the next two paintings the altar, here thought of as the paradigmatic place of meeting between Avraham, Yitzchak and God, seems to take over the image. Foreboding traces of red and orange reflects the bloodletting commanded.

Suddenly the fifth painting is radically different, with ten squares appearing in a vaguely familiar regular pattern.  Each square is composed of nine smaller squares, the classic nine square grid.  According to the artist, it expresses a typical division of sacred space reflecting a realization of Yechezkel’s vision of the Third Temple in addition to the ancient expression of the golden rule of balance.  For him each is a self-contained universe.  Not accidentally the entire design of these floating squares depicts the ten sefirot of Kabbalah.

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 “Divine Encounter and the Sacred Doorway”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS executioner holding British aid worker Alan Henning as a hostage.
Muslims Plead with ISIS for Life of UK Aid Worker Alan Henning
Latest Sections Stories

Three sets of three-day Yomim Tovim can seem overwhelming – especially when we are trying to stay healthy.

Plotkin-092614

Is a missed opportunity to do a mitzvah considered a sin?

Teens-Twenties-logo

The sounds and scents of the kitchen are cozy, familiar, but loud in the silence.

Baim-092614-Plate

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

His entire life was dedicated to Torah and he became a pivotal figure in the transmittal of the Oral Torah to the next generation.

When you don’t have anyone else to turn to… that’s when you’re tied to Hashem the closest.

While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.

Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.

There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.

In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.

This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).

While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.

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/divine-encounter-and-the-sacred-doorway-2/2011/10/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: