I was surprised to find that I have four illuminations related to the Earth. But then, The Earth---it's our most foundational/grounded/tangible/concrete reality, isn't it? There are many aspects of the Earth represented here: How we cannot own it, how it is medium that makes us part of the life cycle, how it is alive, and sustains everything living, and how it needs our loving care, and a rest. Scroll down to see these these paintings, and learn the story behind each one.
This image portrays some humans somewhere engaged in a Talmudic argument from Pirke Avot 5:13, clarifying what is legitimately "mine," and "yours..." Meanwhile, Leviticus 25:23 responds in Eternal words reminding us that we are but "sojourners and settlers" on God's Earth. Click here for more.
Both birth and death are found in this page styled like a page of Talmud, with the central text in the center. Texts from both Torah, and a contemporary Catholic poet, Donna Henderson, round out the human relationship to the Earth. Read more about it here.
How DOES a funny looking little seed become a juicy, beautifully colored, delectable vegetable? This illumination reminds us that everything is transforming all the time, quietly, magnificently, whether we notice it or not. Click here for more information.
And finally, a wisdom known to all ancient traditions, that as a living entity, we must nurture not merely exploit the land. "But the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord; your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune." Leviticus 25:4 Click here for more.
But Passover seder doesn't just leave us with the story. It also instructs us as to how we are to orient ourselves as a result: with identification with the oppressed.Read More
On the evening of April 10, all over the world, Jews will sit together, eat ritual foods, and retell our story of freedom and self determination. The Passover story, along with the receiving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, is a foundational pillar of Judaism. We are enjoined to teach the story of the Exodus to our children, so I would like to celebrate with you with the following two gifts.
My first gift for you is this depiction of Miriam, Moses' older sister, watching him in his little ark that his mother Yocheved carefully made for him, on the Nile. Look at the picture for a few seconds, and see where your eye is drawn. What else matches that shape in the picture? How do we know that this is Miriam and not Pharaoh's daughter? Click here to download the PDF. Print it out and laminate it to make a Passover placemat.
This second image depicts the ritual foods that remind us of the story of Pesach. Color them in, and look in the Haggadah to find the symbolic meaning of each item. For those with Hebrew skills, match the Hebrew name with the item. Click here to download.
To Celebrate Women's Day, on March 8 this year,
I am bringing two examples of the "feminine" for you from my art prints: Everywoman, and Sowing the Seeds of Creation. These visual reminders of the feminine spirit make great gifts for the women in your life, including yourself.
"Awake, Awake for your light has come! Rise up! Sing a song!
The glory of God upon you is revealed!"
I couldn't stop singing these words from Lecha Dodi, in the Shabbat evening service as I was working on this image. I had volunteered to paint a commemoration for a special "Women Rabbis of Northern California" Retreat. I decided to use a medieval device of superimposing the sephirot, the mystical emanantions of God, upon the human body. However this time, uniquely, these sephirot would not be upon the body of a man, but a woman! Rethinking the meanings of the qualities of the sephirot in this context was exhilarating. Click HERE to find out what I learned.
SOWING THE SEEDS OF CREATION
"The Great Light is sowing seeds for God's glory." Zohar
The feminine ability to carry life into a new generation is mysterious and wondrous and the way we come closest to experiencing the Master of Creativity, the Holy One. The lowest sephirah of the lower seven is titled Malchut, or Shechinah. This is the portal between Heaven and Earth. In this image, the seeds from the world above are being sown into our world, the only place where they have the possibility to come into bloom. Click here for more information.
I have completed the Tu bi-Shvat seder! Here is a sample.
It is Illustrated throughhout, with a Four Worlds spiritual focus.
For now, it is a digital download only, for a mere $7.00.
The tree has so many metaphors for our imaginations to go in many directions.
I wanted to focus this seder in the Kabbalistic fashion of "theurgy," the belief that what we do here on earth actually has the power to make waves in heaven! We can restrain the Divine Flow, or make it more abundant. That is what this seder is about. The artwork carries thematically from page to page, like a forest of trees. I hope you enjoy it. And write me your thoughts!
In our secular New Year, we "start over," looking forward to fresh beginnings.
That theme also runs in the holiday of Tu b'Shvat, the "birthday of the trees" that we celebrate on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Shvat, which, this year, occurs on the evening of Feb. 10.
The days are lengthening, and soon the sap will run freely in the trees again. This holiday has a deep symbolism of the returning of Spring after winter, and also a renewal of the Divine flow of the life force, or "shefa" from Heaven.
And from the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden….and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Gen 2:9
To the Kabbalists, that tree in the center of the garden of Eden was a tree "with its roots in Heaven," the emanations of God in the symbols of the Sephirot. Critical to Kabbalistic thinking is that what we do here as humans on earth can stimulate or impede the Divine flow. When we do mitzvoth, with careful awareness as to what we are doing, God rejoices--overflows, as it were, and the Divine flow runs freely.
I am working on a Tu b'Shvat seder, hoping I will have a 'beta' copy for this year. In the meantime, you might want to enhance your seder with giclee prints or fabric banners of this "Tree with its Roots in Heaven," or its companion, "The Four Worlds."
You can order "Roots in Heaven" here
You can order the "Four Worlds" (see below) here
As we move through the Autumn season, passing through Sukkot, we enter a time of peace, dormancy & restoration for the land. All of life it seems has a rhythm of pulsing outward with energy, and back again in repose. The Torah tells us of a great Utopian plan, of a sabbath for the land every seven years.
"But the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. Your field you shall not sow, and your vineyard you shall not prune." Lev 25: 4.
The earth was seen as a living entity, the source of our blessings of plenty. In those ancient times, we were required to give rest to our slaves, to our animals, and to the land, all of whom worked for us. The "dominion over the earth" mentioned in Genesis 1:26 includes the responsibility to nourish and respect the land, requiring a rest every seven years. We were allowed to eat of the harvest that ripened and fell of its own accord, but we were not to plant nor reap, not to demand anything from the Earth for that year.
This new painting shows the land in its Sabbath year, with its natural produce of figs and olives, grapes and pomegranates, with the little foxes and hinds and turtledoves described in the Song of Songs. It is an image of calm and peace, and a reminder of how we must care for the Earth that cares so well for us.