Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

From Selfies to Spirituality: A Blog as a Torah Art Form

The Torah portion read in synagogues worldwide on 1 July 2015/16 Av 5775 is Va’ethanan/ Implored (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11).

Read creative explorations of this week’s Torah portion in my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com.

I created the Torah Tweets blogart project with my wife Miriam 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.

You can access it with all six photographs at the blog post: http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/leviticus-9-photographing-god.html.

A Blog as a Torah Art Form

 6

The Jewish thing to do is make art to eat. My wife Miriam and I made a banana cake for Shabbat. Miriam measured out the ingredients while I mashed the bananas. Our art is a tasty version of Internet images of the surface of Mars.    

Va’ethanan /Implored (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)

Do not make yourself a carved form or static image of that which is in the heaven above or on the earth below or in the water beneath the earth. (Deuteronomy 5:8)

The second of the Ten Commandments, not exclusively addressed to artists, asks us not to transform living processes into inert forms.

YHVH is a verb, not a noun. It combines the words for was, is and will be, linking past and present to redemptive future.

Do not freeze the process of creation and historical process into fixed images that limit our experience of an infinite God.

A blog is an ideal Torah art form, a log of a living process in a networked world, rather than still life entombed in a golden frame.

Sunday, 7 Av: Our youngest grandchild, Avraham Matityahu, is playing in our living room. He is named for Mel’s father and uncle.

Monday, 8 Av: Mel was at Ariel University to send papers documenting his life to Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian in Washington.

Tuesday, 9 Av: We mourn the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem resulting from the lack of love for each other despite differences.

Our family bar mitzvah: Black hatted Lubavich Hasidim dance with Belz Hasidim with fur striemels and religious Zionists with knitted kipot.

Wednesday, 10 Av: Every year, we light a memorial candle honoring Mel’s father, Avraham ben Mordecai, who passed away on the 10th of Av.

He always made people happy. In his death, he extended the day of national mourning rather than disrupt the flow of mourners’ lives.

Thursday, 11 Av: It’s our granddaughter Tali’s 18th birthday. She’s a counselor at Camp Ramah and will be serving in the IDF in the fall.

Friday, 12 Av: Don’t make a carved form or static image. The Jewish thing to do is make art to eat. We made a banana cake for Shabbat.

Miriam measured out the ingredients while Mel mashed the bananas. Our art is a tasty version of Internet images of the surface of Mars.

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.
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