2 min read
"Gathering," 2015, acrylic on canvas, 80 x 100 cm.
Moses assembled the entire community of the Children of Israel and said to them: "These are the things that God commanded for you to do. Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day must be kept holy, a day of complete rest to God." Moses spoke to the entire community of the Children of Israel, saying: "…Collect among yourselves an offering for God; every generous-hearted person shall bring an offering to God." (Exodus 35:1-4)
Forty days after the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses comes down from Mount Sinai and gathers the people to teach them about the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), prefaced by detailed instructions concerning the commandment to keep the Sabbath. One possible explanation for this juxtaposition is that the observance of Shabbat is considered a correction for the sin of idolatry and all the people keeping Shabbat together would bring them back to a place of unity and connection.
In the foreground of this abstract rendition, vertical strokes of paint in different colors suggest a vast throng of people. Despite the diversity of the colors, they all appear to be moving together into the depth of the painting, to a plateau of many candles (symbolizing Shabbat). The people themselves are lit up and look like candles. The mixture of earth tones mixed with celestial blues enhances the feeling of the unification of heaven and earth.
In the upper background, larger human figures loom indistinctly. Who are they? Perhaps these are the individuals who have come to make donations for the building of the holy Tabernacle. (Our sages say that only after the nation was united again by keeping Shabbat could each individual bring a donation to the Tabernacle.) Or perhaps they foreshadow the generations of people who will enjoy the lights of Shabbat throughout Jewish history.