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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘panel’

Get Me Out of Here!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The black fly was steadily crawling up and down my kitchen window screen. It was desperately − but methodically − seeking an escape, to get beyond the imprisoning panel of the screen, into the wide, open world.

It could smell the refreshing air. It could sense the gust of cool wind blowing across its long transparent wings and short stubby legs. This taste of freedom motivated the industrious fly to continue its painstaking pursuit to reach into that thrilling liberty.

Watching the fly, I realized that unless I provide some assistance, I’d be hearing it buzzing in my ears and disturbing my sleep at night. So I pushed the screen wide open; its escape now made easily attainable.

“Go on, just fly a little to the left and you’ll be free,” I said aloud, as my four-year-old and I sat at our kitchen table, closely observing it.

Inexplicably, though, the fly continued its regimented climb, on the same thread of the screen. Unaware of the open gap, it persisted fruitlessly in its stubborn search for a small hole to make its exit.

I’m told that wild animals that have been confined for a long time react similarly when the lock on their cage is finally released. They continue their nervous, circular pace around the parameters of their prison home, before finally venturing through the open door into their sought after freedom.

And, if you think about it, human beings do the same thing.

How often have you tried to break out of an old and irritating habit or an unhealthy outlook, only to be held back, caged in by the parameters of your imprisoning addiction?

How often have you wished for the freedom of change? How often have you wished for a change in a negative pattern of thinking; a change in an automatic, emotionally triggered response; a change in your habits or routines; a change from the confining, “in your box” way of thinking or acting?

But, like the fly on my window screen, imprisoned by our routines, fenced in by our comfort zones, captured by the familiarity of what we know −  rather than what we’d like to be − most of us, too, are unable to take the plunge and experience the much dreamed-of exhilaration of reaching our uninhibited, full potential.

“An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free,” say our Sages.

In such situations, perhaps only the listening ear of a close friend or mentor can lend us the much needed courage, assistance and direction to forge into a better, emancipated reality.

Eventually, that fly did make its way out. But, it flew away only after my daughter and I repeatedly “pushed” it towards the open screen − and towards its freedom.

Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.

Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Souland Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

Get Me Out of Here!

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

The black fly was steadily crawling up and down my kitchen window screen. It was desperately − but methodically − seeking an escape, to get beyond the imprisoning panel of the screen, into the wide, open world.


It could smell the refreshing air. It could sense the gust of cool wind blowing across its long transparent wings and short stubby legs. This taste of freedom motivated the industrious fly to continue its painstaking pursuit to reach into that thrilling liberty.


Watching the fly, I realized that unless I provide some assistance, I’d be hearing it buzzing in my ears and disturbing my sleep at night. So I pushed the screen wide open; its escape now made easily attainable.


“Go on, just fly a little to the left and you’ll be free,” I said aloud, as my four-year-old and I sat at our kitchen table, closely observing it.


Inexplicably, though, the fly continued its regimented climb, on the same thread of the screen. Unaware of the open gap, it persisted fruitlessly in its stubborn search for a small hole to make its exit.


I’m told that wild animals that have been confined for a long time react similarly when the lock on their cage is finally released. They continue their nervous, circular pace around the parameters of their prison home, before finally venturing through the open door into their sought after freedom.


And, if you think about it, human beings do the same thing.


How often have you tried to break out of an old and irritating habit or an unhealthy outlook, only to be held back, caged in by the parameters of your imprisoning addiction?


How often have you wished for the freedom of change? How often have you wished for a change in a negative pattern of thinking; a change in an automatic, emotionally triggered response; a change in your habits or routines; a change from the confining, “in your box” way of thinking or acting?


But, like the fly on my window screen, imprisoned by our routines, fenced in by our comfort zones, captured by the familiarity of what we know −  rather than what we’d like to be − most of us, too, are unable to take the plunge and experience the much dreamed-of exhilaration of reaching our uninhibited, full potential.


“An imprisoned individual cannot set himself free,” say our Sages.


In such situations, perhaps only the listening ear of a close friend or mentor can lend us the much needed courage, assistance and direction to forge into a better, emancipated reality.


Eventually, that fly did make its way out. But, it flew away only after my daughter and I repeatedly “pushed” it towards the open screen − and towards its freedom.


Watch Chana Weisberg’s two-minute videocast on www.chabad.org/intouch for your dose of weekly inspiration.


Chana Weisberg is the author of several books, including Divine Whispers − Stories that Speak to the Heart and Souland Tending the Garden: The Unique Gifts of the Jewish Woman.She is an international inspirational lecturer on a wide array of topics and an editor at chabad.org. She can be reached at chanaw@gmail.com.

Athens To Jerusalem: Ghiberti’s Masterpiece

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

         The Gates of Paradise have arrived in New York, and anyone interested in experiencing one of the great masterpieces of the Early Italian Renaissance cannot afford to miss this current exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The works represent a crowning achievement of Western civilization in their beauty, excellence of execution and meaningful subjects. And while deeply influenced in style by the Renaissance notion of Greek ideal beauty and form, the themes of the ten original panels are firmly rooted in the Jewish Bible. The subject of the panels here, “The Creation of Adam and Eve,” “David Beheading Goliath” and especially “Isaac and Esau,” present a complex and nuanced rendering of the narratives that, upon closer reading, yield an especially interesting understanding of the text; picking out a uniquely feminine narrative within the nominally male account.


 


         Lorenzo Ghiberti created these massive bronze doors between 1425 and 1452, finishing them when he was 75. This project began almost immediately after he had successfully finished a first set of 28 bronze doors on themes from the Christian Bible. That project had taken him 23 years. The next set of doors on the Hebrew Bible described in great detail the following subjects: Creation, Cain and Able, Noah’s Drunkenness, Abraham and Isaac, Isaac and Esau, Joseph – Viceroy of Egypt and his brothers, Moses at Sinai, Joshua crossing the Jordan, David and Goliath and finally King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. These ten narrative panels, each 31 inches square, were sculpted in wax, cast in bronze, laboriously chased, filed and finished in all their myriad detail and finally, fire-gilded with gold. Set into the portal of the Baptistery opposite the Duomo in Florence, the massive 17-foot high doors weigh more than 30 tons each and were allegedly dubbed by Michelangelo as “The Gates of Paradise.”

 

 


Isaac and Esau by Lorenzo Ghiberti, gilt bronze, 1425-1452 (31 ½ ” X 31 ½ “) – Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence. Antonio Quattrone, photographer

 

 

         Ghiberti’s doors were so successful that the guild that commissioned them immediately had them placed in the position of greatest honor directly facing the Duomo, the principle church of Florence, and moving Ghiberti’s earlier work to the north side of the Baptistery. Their exquisite craftsmanship, subtle evocation of grace and beauty in the figures, use of perspective to depict three dimensional space and narrative power guaranteed their influence on generations of artists and greatly shaped the unfolding pictorial agenda of the Renaissance.

 

         And there they sat in Florence for over 500 years, beloved, admired, then finally ignored as a thick crust of grime obscured their beauty and golden glow. Finally in the late 1940′s, they were restored but within 20 years tragedy struck in the 1966 flood of the Arno River, damaging the doors, and instituting another bout of restoration. In 1990 they were removed from their original site and have since been undergoing intensive restoration for atmospheric pollution and centuries of neglect. The restoration work is almost complete and these three panels are on a limited, four-city tour at the conclusion of which they will return to Florence, be reassembled with the rest of the panels and door structure, never to leave Florence again.

 

 


Isaac commands Esau (detail) by Lorenzo Ghiberti – Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence. Antonio Quattrone, photographer.

 

 

         The three panels now in New York are breathtakingly beautiful. The Creation depicts God (depicted as a kindly old man) awakening Adam as he brings him to life in a gentle gesture of blessing. In the center of the panel, Eve is seen gracefully arising from the side of the sleeping Adam while on the right, the shocked but graceful Primal Couple are expelled from the garden by a stern angel.

 

         Each scene is attended by intensely curious angels, deeply concerned about the newly minted human beings. Throughout the panels Ghiberti employs a technique known as continuous narrative in which multiple scenes are conflated to be seen simultaneously within the same frame, thereby compressing time and space to evoke the unfolding Biblical story.

 

         The David and Goliath panel is similarly direct in depicting David decapitating the fallen giant Goliath in the foreground. In the middle ground the assembled troops look on in wonder as some continue the battle on the right. The hapless King Saul attempts to lead the charge but, of course, the battle has already been won by the fearless David. In the background, the head of Goliath is paraded into the city of Jerusalem, here depicted as a typical, Italian fortified town, possibly Florence.

 

 


The Stolen Blessing (detail) by Lorenzo Ghiberti – Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence. Antonio Quattrone, photographer.

 

 

         Every detail is attended to; every costume and human emotion lovingly specified so as to move the viewer through the narrative in a convincing and emotional way. Interestingly, the panel depicting Isaac and Esau, though the most striking in its use of perspective and high relief sculpture, is radically different in a number of ways.

 

         The narrative begins on the upper right with Rebecca imploring God about the twins struggling within her. Rebecca is seen again in the left middle ground on the birthing bed, dramatically framed in the arches of the palace rendered in perfect perspective. Next the scene shifts to the middle center where Esau frantically approaches Jacob, willing to sell his birthright for a bowl of porridge.

 

         Then the narrative moves to the center foreground where the aged Isaac, standing, commands his son Esau, accompanied by two hunting dogs, to go hunt some of that fine game that he loves to eat so much. The story continues in the right middle ground where Rebecca instructs Jacob to fetch two kids from the flock to trick Isaac into thinking that he is actually Esau. Along the right front edge we see Jacob receiving his brother’s blessing kneeling in front of the seated Isaac as the watchful Rebecca oversees the deception. Finally, on the other side, the narrative concludes with a group of four women standing prominently in the left foreground.

 

 


Rebecca and Esau’s Wives (detail) by Lorenzo Ghiberti – Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Florence. Antonio Quattrone, photographer.

 

 

         A number of problems now become apparent. First of all, why does the narrative seem to wander about the surface with little apparent rhyme or reason? Secondly, the old man instructing the younger man in the center, identified as Isaac commanding Esau, seems to run counter to the main thrust of the narrative as most would understand it, i.e. a story of how the Abrahamic legacy is passed on from Isaac to Jacob, irrespective of Esau’s place as first born. In Ghiberti’s treatment, Esau is the primary subject. Finally, what is the meaning of these four women – gracefully dramatic figures depicted in the highest relief.

 

         The issue of the wandering narrative is endemic to the continuous narrative methodology, according to James Draper, curator at the Metropolitan and the one responsible for this exhibition. Furthermore, Ghiberti’s concerns were frequently decorative so the placement of the various episodes did not have to conform to a strict narrative logic.

 

         The surprising emphasis on Esau is another matter since it would seem to betray some type of ideological bias against Jacob. Ghiberti’s autobiography may, in fact, indicate this as he describes the panel: “Esau and Jacob are born, the former is sent out hunting and their mother, led by Jacob, brings him the kid, whose skin she lays over his shoulders” Of course the Biblical text says something quite different, placing the burden of the conspiracy on Rebecca and not Jacob. Indeed, this particular narrative has always vexed our commentators.

 

 


The Baptistery, Florence, Italy, showing the east doors, The Gates of Paradise.

 

 

         The spectacle of our forefather Jacob along with his mother conspiring to wrest the sacred blessing from its legal owner, has generated endless explanations of the inherently evil nature of Esau. And yet the 15th century Florentine Catholic Ghiberti depicts Esau as a charming, graceful youth, sculpted in high relief, eager to do his aged father’s will. One could conjecture that Ghiberti is acutely aware of Esau’s pain and the injustice done because, at least according to Jewish commentators, Esau is representative of Edom, almost always identified with Rome. While I have no documentary evidence to support this theory, it does explain the unusual emphasis on “the brother not chosen” – Esau.

 

         Finally, what about those women? They are a visual tone poem of drapery and soft gestures, producing the most beautiful group of figures in all the ten panels. Three are bareheaded and seem to be distinct from the woman on the left who carries some kind of covered basket on her head. She is also set apart in her costume that bears a fair resemblance to the four other depictions of Rebecca. In fact some commentators (Goldscheider) see her as Rebecca with her maidens. (Of course there are no maidens to be found in the text.) Another expert (Krautheimer) identifies them as visiting women who are, in fact, in a certain proximity to Rebecca giving birth. However, this does not explain their enormous visual significance.

 

        Nonetheless, once the woman on the left with the bundle on her head is identified as Rebecca, the narrative Ghiberti is trying to convey immediately falls into place. If she is Rebecca then the others must be Esau’s three wives that the Torah mentions no less than four times (Gen. 26:34; Gen. 27:46; Gen. 28:9; Gen. 36:1-3). Remember, this panel is predominately about the travails of Esau and therefore it would be perfectly logical to represent his wives. In fact, reassessing the narrative, Ghiberti now shows that his primary interest is in the role Rebecca plays in subverting Esau’s rightful blessing. This explains why her image circulates through the panel, uniting the disparate episodes. She has become the adversary. Of all the characters depicted, she predominates with five appearances. (Jacob appears three times, Esau three times and Isaac two times). And since she has sinned in Ghiberti’s eyes, defrauding the innocent Esau of what was rightfully his, she deserves a punishment that the Torah itself provides, being burdened with three odious daughter-in-laws – pagans who make her life miserable.

 

         With this interpretation in hand we can now fully appreciate Ghiberti’s genius. Through his inclination to see the story of the bartered birthright and stolen blessing as a tragic tale of Esau, he has focused our attention on the Torah’s emphasis on Esau’s wives and the effect they have on Rebecca. Whether we see this as simply the consequences of her son’s inconsiderate behavior or punishment for her hostility against one of her sons, his beautiful depictions have explored an under-appreciated passage in our Torah. It is especially remarkable to find this type of Biblical reassessment in the heart of one of the greatest works of art in Western civilization.

 

         Richard McBee is a painter and writer on Jewish Art. Please feel free to contact him with comments at rmcbee@nyc.rr.com.

The Jewish Week And Allegations Of Abuse

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Jewish Press’ continuing coverage, in our Family Matters section, of students’ claims of abuse at the hands of unidentified teachers in our yeshivos, attests to the significance we attach to the problem. Yet we are constrained to note our serious reservations about how the issue has been treated in The Jewish Week.

For the past two weeks, that publication has carried extraordinarily long stories, beginning on its front page, concerning allegations against a prominent Rosh Yeshiva which are being brought before a rabbinic panel that will determine whether a full-blown Beth Din should be convened. Although at this point there have been no findings, both stories treat the accusations as fact and contain the grossest of descriptive language and salacious imagery.

The stories are strikingly similar in content – along the lines of: this is what will transpire at the panel meeting/this is what did take place. They also contain, as a central theme, the idea that nobody is doing anything about the problem.

Given their repetitiveness and patently gratuitous graphic descriptions, one suspects that a conscious effort is being made to sensationalize and, yes, to bash, in addition to merely informing the public.

Moreover, fact that The Jewish Week was reporting on the convening of the investigative rabbinic panel concerning the assertions, surely belies the notion that nobody is interested in dealing with the issue of abuse.

It seems to us that there is reason enough to pursue possible abuse of our young by those in sensitive positions and able to do great harm without, at the same time, seeking to further a separate agenda. Indeed, as we have pointed out in the past, The Jewish Week regularly has given short shrift to even admitted adultery and proven murder when committed by non-Orthodox leaders, who were not even so identified.

Sights, Smells And Tastes Of Kosherfest 2002

Friday, December 13th, 2002

This past week, our kosher food panel had the pleasure of spending two days in Secaucus, New Jersey at Kosherfest 2002. As always, we were amazed not only at the number of new kosher food products but also at the array of countries from which they are imported.

We tasted cheeses from Denamrk and Italy and sauces from Mexico, China and the Carribean. There were wines from Argentina, France, and Australia. There was a pavillion of products from Israel ? cheeses, snacks, wines, varieties of olives and sauces, soy puddings and cheeses, meats and much more. We tasted a smoked salmon from Quebec and pate from France

Of course, there were many items made here in the USA. Soy ice cream from Turtle Mountain; jelly beans from Maccabeans who, legend has it, sustained the famous Judah and his followers in days of old; pretzels from Smackin' Good that taste just like a bagel; and brownies from Kitchen Whippers that are is just as good as anything your grandmother ever made. We tried Nature's Own apple juice in a pouch and the Jel-Serts jello in a tube. Two new items stand out ? Soda-Club USA sells a “Jet Home soda maker” that allows you to make your own flavored soda at home, and the Chocolate Printing Company was showing a product that allows you to print a photo in edible ink right onto a chocolate novelty.

We had the chance to visit with some old favorites ? soybeans from Eat Your Heart Out, chips from Glenny's, mozzerella sticks from Macabee Foods, a new flavored wrap from Wrapole and much more.

Over the next few months, we hope to bring you reviews of many of the products we saw and tasted. This week we will end with a review on a new product from Israel. Healthy Gourmet Plus imports a line of soy yogurts and cheeses from a company called Tzuriel. As someone who spends a lot of time tasting kosher soy products, I can tell you that they are without compare in the kosher market. The soy puddings come in three varieties ? regular (3%) fat, diet and light. Among the flavors you need to try are apple-pear, rosemarie chocolate, mocha and caramel. They have a smoked soy cheese that is great in a bagel and a full line of tofu based spreads. The products are being distributed in the New York area by Quality Kosher, and can be found in your local kosher grocery.

See ya' next month.

Unfortunate Kosher Food Decision

Friday, June 28th, 2002

As The Jewish Press reported last week, a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit sitting in Manhattan has thrown out provisions of New York’s Agricultural and Markets Law which since 1915 has prohibited the fraudulent selling of food as kosher. The court’s reasoning was essentially that inasmuch as the definition of “kosher” was defined in the law as meeting “Orthodox Hebrew requirements,” enforcement by state authorities would cause “excessive entanglement” between government and religion in violation of the First Amendment.

It is a sad state of affairs that as it now stands, anyone can sell even pork meat as kosher and there isn’t anything anyone can do about it. The irony of the court’s decision is that it belies the reality of what enforcement really entailed. While it is true that the origin of the standards were religious legal codes, state inspectors followed a totally secular protocol. That is, there was never any day-to-day resort to the ancient tomes or to rabbinic authority, only to a long-settled menu of objective things to look for.

Nor is there any real merit to the court’s concern that the definition of kosher in terms of “Orthodox Hebrew requirements” elevates Orthodox standards over non-Orthodox standards, again involving the state in doctrinal matters. If the word “kosher” standing alone is not to be a misleading standard, it must imply the highest standard of all groups. That is, an Orthodox Jew is misled by the designation “kosher” if Orthodox standards are not met. On the other hand, a Conservative Jew is not misled if Orthodox standards are met. Once again at bottom this is a practical, rather than a religious issue.

Attorneys involved in the case say that an attempt will be made to get the full court of appeals to reconsider the decision of the three judges. Failing that, an appeal to the United States Supreme Court is likely. We would hope that ultimately, there will be a restoration of protections for the kosher consumer. It seems inconceivable that because of a wooden, strained view of church-state separation, from now on commercial opportunists can with impunity trick kosher consumers into paying premium prices for something that is falsely labelled as such.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/unfortunate-kosher-food-decision/2002/06/28/

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