Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Biblical Charge to be a Purple People (SeGoL/SeGuLah)

Learn about the challenge of the Jewish People to be a Purple People in a creative exploration of this week’s Torah portion Re’eh in the excerpt below from my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life

The book describes the Torah Tweets blogart project that my wife Miriam and I created to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage. During each of the 52 weeks of our 52nd year, we posted six photographs reflecting our life together with a text of tweets that relates the weekly Torah reading to our lives.

See all six purple photographs and Torah tweets for Re’eh at



Re’eh/See (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17)

“See, I present before you today a blessing and a curse…. God has chosen you from all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a special people.” (Deuteronomy 11:26, 14:2)

In Hebrew, am segulah, a special people, is related to am segol, a purple people.

The Jewish People is assigned a special role to teach what every artist knows – that purple emerges from mixing blue with red.

Bringing the blue of sky down into the red (adom) of earth (adamah) lowers spirituality into the earth-bound world of physical reality.

Those who see spiritual sparks emerging from all aspects of their lives are blessed. It is a curse to not to be able to see these sparks.

The biblical charge to be a purple people is followed by rules for kosher eating, a spiritual practice rooted in daily mundane choices.

It teaches that spirituality mixed into ordinary material experiences can transform them into moments of extraordinary significance.

We lived above a shopping center in Petah Tikva where purple jumps out at us in every shop:

Purple plums in greengrocer Avi’s store. A purple vessel for ritual hand washing before meals in Shimon’s mezuzah and tefillin store.

Purple shirts in Batya’s menswear store. Tinkerbelles in purple boxes in Yosi’s toy store.

Hamsters in purple cages in Liat’s pet shop. And stamps with purple flowers in the post office.

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.