Loyb du mikh un ikh vel loybn dikh- Beyde Zenen Mir Fun Eyn Tsekh- Praise me and I praise you; We belong to the same union ( Yiddish proverb)
9/11 revealed many things to the American public. Surrounded by all of the physical securities- wealth, army, political leanings, we walked the streets confidently. We went to work at the most glamorous places . We felt safe. 9/11 hit, and reminded us that no physical luxury can safeguard against spiritual evil. Against terror.
9/11 is also a wake up call to the American Jew. A Jew can dress in all of the physical costumes he desires- a suit, a tie. He may be physically indistinguishable from the rest of his society. Yet, 9/11 hits and it reminds him of that something deep within, as his tie and suit begin to unravel.
As Daniel Pearl infamously declared before he was beheaded- “ "I am a Jew. My mother is a Jew..."
No tower, no suit can take that away from us. If we try to hide it, the world will, not always so kindly, remind us of our place, our identity in this world. Our mission is in our minds. Our body is the vehicle,not the driver.
This painting was made with the verse “ I will give rain in its proper time” in mind. The verse is found in the second paragraph of the Shema prayer.
Gd says in the passage that if we follow his ways we will benefit and get rain in its proper time. But how could this be with the Holtzbergs? This was their plot of land, their rain, their blessings? Said Moses when he was shown a vision of the Romans slowly torturing the great sage Rabbi Akiva to death- Zot haTorah v’zot ha’schar? This is the Torah and this is the reward?
November 26, 2008.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were Chabad emissaries sent to Mumbai, India to settle down there for the rest of their lives and make their home the center of Jewish life in the area. Running a hostel, offering weekly meals to the community, managing a synagogue, mikvah…Complete dedication and sacrifice.
November 26, 2008 -
Pakistani Islamic terrorists surround their building and take them hostage. They are found murdered two days later, their 2 year old son Moshe escapes alive.
Zot haTorah v’zot ha’schar? This is the Torah and this is its reward?
As humans, we search for meaning. We demand the rain we deserve for our efforts, we get bothered as we look at our neighbors’ plot of land, and we search for evidence of the divine plan, design in what appears as random chaos. Even though the colors appear chaotic and random, the grid creates a definite order, subtly proclaiming the master plan behind their lives and existence.
The Holtzbergs are depicted in this painting as outlined figures, with the shadow of their existence, imprints and effects of their life in this world. They stand proudly, fighting the spiritual battle that demands acknowledgement of the order and design of the Great Architect. It is what they are meant as imprints in this world to teach us,to mold us. Through understanding our own plot of land, we prepare ourselves for receiving the rain that will come not when we want it, but in its proper time, in this world and the World to Come.
The right hand of the body= the attribute of Chesed, loving-kindness
The left hand of the body = Gevurah, strength, withholding boundaries
In the middle= tiferes, a synthesis of the two, beauty.
With ones hands, comes the power of life and death, action and restraint. The Talmud states- A person should always draw people closer by means of his right hand, and push them aside with his left hand. (Sotah 47)
This painting looks at the scales as the Jew tries to navigate the right balance between the two, though unsuccessful in his calculations. It is a Jew’s nature to want to give, but he must also know when to withhold. Rabin, and the Oslo Accords, does not bring peace to the Middle East. Rabin is later assassinated by a Jewish Israeli.
After this idyllic moment, the image shatters, the darker truth emerges. This painting serves as a living testament to the miscalculations of the past, and a plea for the creation of a new, stronger image.