three figs

fresh figs

The fig tree is a symbol of the Torah. How is that? Figs grow all year round in warm climates. Yet they don’t ripen all at the same time, rather clusters come forth a few days at a time. Hence to eat the yield from the fig tree you need to return daily. Rabbis stress the same practice ought to be how you learn the Torah — read fully to grasp its context, meditate on its meaning, and return for more to find a related teaching. Make connections of anything new with what you already know is trustworthy — that’s how you strengthen your understanding of wisdom.

“Whoever tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, whoever takes care of his master will be honored.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:18‬ ‭TLV‬‬

See also Proverbs 2, a chapter on wisdom.

menorah gimel (three)

Menorah
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A description of the menorah from Exodus 37:

18 There were six branches going out of the sides, three branches out of one side, and three branches out of the other. 19 Three cups made like almond blossoms were in one branch, a bulb within a flower, and three cups made like almond blossoms in the next branch, another bulb within a flower. It was just so for the six branches going out of the menorah20 Also within the menorah were four cups made like almond blossoms, bulbs and flowers,

peace of Shabbat

Wine, Shabbat candles, challah bread

Every Torah-following person – Jew or goyim – will recognize the three main rituals regarding sabbath observance: 

  1. Lighting the Sabbath candles
  2. Saying Kiddush over wine
  3. Reciting HaMotzi over challah bread

There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord.
‭Leviticus‬ ‭23:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

See Exodus 20:8 (and Deut 5:12 among many more places) where keeping the Sabbath (Hebrew ‘Shabbat’) is listed as the Fourth Commandment.

Growing up in the secular public schools of my generation I often wondered why we count off seven days, rather than ten days to a week. So one question led to many more questions about traditions, expectations, values, even philosophy (but I’ll defer those to another place).

look upon and remember

Hands grasping near the tzitzit of a tallit (prayer shawl)

“Speak to the people of Isra’el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread.”  Numbers 15:38‬ ‭
“For she kept saying to herself, “If only I touch His garment, I will be healed.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭9:21‬ ‭

dancing Hanukiah candelabra

Hanukkah is also known as festival of lights. The Hebrew word (also written in English as chanukah) means “dedication” and marks an eight day winter celebration that commemorates the re-dedication of the Second Temple after a small group of Jewish believers (Maccabees) defeated their enemies. More at this link.  A “hanukkiah” is basically a menorah with nine candle staff to distinguish it from the menorah’s seven. Why nine? that’s part of the miraculous story.

dancing hanukkiah and temple oil vase
Joyous dancing marks the re-dedication festival


menorah alight

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Menorah20

Then G-d said, “Let there be light!” and there was light.

“Speak to Aaron and say to him: When you erect the lamps, the seven lamps are to illuminate the area in front of the menorah.” Nbr 8:2

The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man. Jn 1:9

And out from the throne come flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder – and seven torches of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of G-d. Rev 4:5

menorah giving light

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Sometimes I try a different style, and do it quickly to see where it leads. Starting with the earlier idea of light being ethereal, this was done on rough paper using crayon to pull out the highlights before applying watercolor– a wax resist technique. I envisioned it through a water-soaked lens as the lights played on reflections. Eventually I gave it as a wedding gift for friends.

menorah and light

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Representing the traditional construction of a menorah


The menorah … “is to be made of sixty-six pounds of pure gold. See that you make them according to the design being shown you on the mountain.” Sh’mot (Exodus) 25:39-40.

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An organic view of the menorah


On one level the construction of the menorah is exact, and drawing an image of it is relatively easier than drawing light — for light is not static, it is a phenomena, its ethereal; it has an effect on what it shines on. Hence when we realize that the Shekinah of G-d — represented as the menorah’s light — is present, we cannot avoid it having a profound effect on us.

These two paintings were done in May-July 2015.