My wife Miriam and I celebrated our 52nd year of marriage by collaborating on “TorahTweets: A Postdigital Biblical Commentary as a Blogart Narrative,” an art project for the networked world. During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted six photographs reflecting our life together with a Torah Tweet text that relates the weekly Torah reading to our lives.
Since we were married on motzei Simchat Torah when the Torah is rewound to the begging, we began our blog posts from Genesis. To view the 52 posts in chronological order with all six photographs, see: http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com.
The success of the “Torah Tweets” blogart project gave birth to the book PHOTOGRAPH GOD: CREATE A SPIRITUAL BLOG OF YOUR LIFE was published in time for us to celebrate our 57th year together. See http://photographgod.com.
The book explores the interface between the biblical narrative, the wisdom of kabbalah, and digital technologies. It teaches readers how to create a blog by photographing God revealed in everyday life while crafting a dialogue between their stories and the biblical story.
Below are the two portions that bring the annual cycle of Torah readings to a close followed by reviews of my new book. My next Times of Israel blog post will be for Shabbat Parshat Bereshit when synagogues worldwide begin reading the Torah from “In the beginning.” I plan to follow it with weekly posts on the Torah portion for the next 52 weeks.
THIS IS THE BLESSING
Vezot Haberakhah/And This is the Blessing (Deuteronomy 33:1-34:12)
And this is the blessing…. before the eyes of all Israel. (Deuteronomy 33:1 and 34:12)
From generation to generation, they will dwell in the Land of Israel where the wilderness will rejoice over them, the desert will be glad and blossom like a lily. Her wilderness will be made like Eden and her desert like a Divine garden. Joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music. (Isaiah 35:1, 50:3)
Our Torah Tweets blogart project draws to a close as we celebrate our wedding anniversary and begin our 53rd year together.
On the Simhat Torah holiday, we rewind the Torah scroll reading the end followed by the beginning and dance with the Torah singing.
When the holiday ended, dancing and singing continued into the night 52 years ago to celebrate our wedding, prolonging joy and gladness.
As we rewind the Torah scroll to begin a new year, we link its last word YisraeL (Israel) to its first word Bereshit (In the beginning).
The last letter Lamed followed by the first letter Bet spells “heart” Lamed Bet. At the heart of the Torah, our blessings are renewed.
The last Torah portion is Vezot habrakha/And this is the blessing. We are blessed with wonderful children: Iyrit, Ari, Ron, and Moshe Yehuda.
Moshe Yehuda & Carmit with their children: Elianne, Avraham and Nadav.
Ron & Miri with their children: Or, Yahel, Shirel, Meitav, Tagel, Razel.
Ari & Julie with their children: Elan and Talia.
Iyrit’s children: Yishai, Rachelle, Inbal, Renana.
Iyrit with her grandchildren, our great-grandchildren: Eliad and Tehila, the children of Inbal and Moshe Peretz.
THE EIGHTH DAY
Ha’azinu/Give ear (Deuteronomy 32:1-52)
Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, O earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop like rain, may my words flow like dew, like downpours upon plant leaves and like raindrops on blades of grass. (Deuteronomy 32:1-2)
Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for God has spoken. (Isaiah 1:2)
Yesterday, we were blessed by the first rain after Israel’s dry summer that invites fresh growth to sprout from the wet earth.
Moses gave us Torah, spiritual drops from heaven that create wellsprings that nourish the material blessings of daily life.
Moses could only see the Land of Israel from a distant mountain top. Isaiah lived in the midst of the complexities of life in the Land.
Isaiah’s vision of bringing spirituality down into all aspects of everyday life reaches a higher level than Moses’ view from above.
Ha’azinu summarizes the Torah for the Israelites as they are about to enter the Land of Israel.
We repeat here one image from each of the Five Books of Moses that summarize our life in Israel today.
Genesis. We photographed all the days of Creation within ten steps of our front door. The red leaves are the creation of the third day.
Exodus. Our granddaughter plays at welcoming Shabbat when we tune out, turn off, unplug, and rest from our creating to honor God’s.
Leviticus. All torah is in a potato if we reveal it by carving out letters that have no separate existence from the potato itself.
Numbers. Hamas charter: “Jews hide behind trees that cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him.”
Deuteronomy. Bringing the blue of sky down into the red (adom) of earth (adamah) lowers spirituality into the earth-bound world of physical reality.
We return to Genesis as we rewind the Torah scroll and begin again. On the eighth day, we become the partners of God in the continuing creation.
Miriam recycled our Sukkot etrog (citron) by pressing cloves into it, creating a refreshing scent at the conclusion of Shabbat every week.
(The photo for this Times of Israel post is on the cover of my new book. It shows Miriam pressing cloves into an etrog.)
PRAISE FOR PHOTOGRAPH GOD; CREATING A SPIRITUAL BLOG OF YOUR LIFE
“Photograph God is one of art’s most complete and compelling integrations of the sacred and profane. It reads like a swift and soulful breeze. – Dr. Shaun McNiff, author of Earth Angels: Engaging the Sacred in Everyday Things, University Professor, Lesley University, Cambridge, MA
“This is one of those books that other thinkers will wish they had somehow thought about how to write, and to which readers of diverse sorts will simply respond by saying: wow!” – Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, author of Tradition and Transformation, Professorial Lecturer, Georgetown University, former Director, National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC
“The book’s wonderful synthesis between spirituality and technology, heaven and earth, is exciting and thought-provoking. Photograph God is a practical demonstration of Solomon’s wisdom: “Acknowledge God in all your paths.” – Rabbi Chanan Morrison, Gold from the Land of Israel
“Mel Alexenberg offers a scintillating experiment in creativity. His work is an invitation to deepen your spiritual sensibilities as you extend your imagination.” – Jan Phillips, author of God Is at Eye Level: Photography as a Healing Art
“Using the metaphor of the camera, he provides interesting and surprising intersections between new-media culture and theological issues.” – Dr. Yael Eylat Van-Essen, author of Digital Culture: Virtuality, Society and Information, Senior Lecturer, Tel Aviv University
“A mystical computer program for spiritual seeing.” – Rabbi Dr. Shimon Cowen, Director, Institute for Judaism and Civilization, Australia
“There are many parallels in Christian thought and deed that should allow this excellent book to resonate with many people of faith.” – Bob Weil, co-author of The Art of iPhone Photography