Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

All the Torah in a Potato (Parshat Behukotai)

behukotai 018 For all photographs for the Torah Tweet text below and all Torah portions, see:

Behukotai/In my statues (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)

If you will walk in my statutes…I will keep my sanctuary in your midst. (Leviticus 26:3, 11)

Behukotai, the final chapter of Leviticus, sums up both the 3rd book of the Bible and the entire vision of our Torah Tweets blogart project.

This blog begins with the Torah quote that sets its direction: For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp. (Deuteronomy 23:15).

The first Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that the word hok (statute) is derived from the same root as engraving, hewing or carving out.

An engraved letter does not exist as a distinct entity independent of the material out of which it is carved.

Hok suggests that Torah study should be like carving letters out of everyday life so that Torah and our lives are integrally one.

This mode of Torah study is a deeper level than study from hand-written or printed letters that join ink and paper – two separate things.

The Talmud invites us to read HaLakHaH (Jewish law) as HaLikHaH (walking).

Walk in my statutes teaches that we best come to know through movement in Torah spaces creatively carved out of our lives.

If we integrate Torah with our life story, we will be rewarded with material blessings of bountiful crops and abundant fruit.

All the Torah is in a potato if we reveal it by carving out Hebrew letters that have no separate existence from the potato itself.

The blessings in the opening verses of Behukotai begin with alef (in im/if) and end with tav (in komemiyut/upright in verse 13).

Alef to tav is the entire alphabet, alef the 1st letter and tav the last. The letter lamed in the word teLekhu/walk means to learn.

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.