Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Photograph God as Countdown to Sinai

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This week is the last of seven weeks of the countdown to Sinai (sefirat ha’omer) from when the Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery. In a holographic fashion, seven divine attributes (sefirot) – compassion, strength, beauty, success, splendor, foundation, and kingdom – exist within each of the same seven attributes. 7 x 7 = 49 days in the countdown to Sinai celebrated on the 50th day as the holiday of Shavuot.

This week the 7 sefirot exist within kingdom, our everyday world of time and space. Sunday is compassion in kingdom. Monday is strength in kingdom. Tuesday is beauty in kingdom, Wednesday is success in kingdom. Thursday is splendor in kingdom. Friday is foundation in kingdom. Shabbat is kingdom in kingdom. Sunday is Shavuot, the 50th day.

Below are the text and one photograph from the Torah Tweets project post “Photographing God. See the text with all six photos at our blog.

Photographing God: Emor/Say (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

“You shall count for yourselves 7 complete weeks after the day following the Passover holiday when you brought the omer as a wave offering, until the day after the seventh week you shall count 50 days.” (Leviticus 23:15-16)

“God is the compassion, the strength, the beauty, the success, the splendor, and the foundation of everything in heaven and earth.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

We count each of the 49 days from when we were freed from our enslavement in Egypt until we arrived at Mt. Sinai – from Passover to Shavuot.

Unlike slaves who live repeated days of drudgery, free people can feel and appreciate the unique character to each day.

As each of the 49 days is counted, it is given a different name integrating one of the 7 divine attributes into one of 7 divine attributes.

Hesed: Compassion/Largess/Loving All; Gevurah: Strength/Judgment/Setting Limits; Tifert: Beauty/Aesthetic Balance /Inner Elegance;

Netzakh: Success /Orchestration /Eternity; Hod: Splendor/Gracefulness/Magnificence; Yesod: Foundation/Integrating All/Gateway to Action;

Malkhut: the world of action in space and time.

Mel photographed a Greek fishing boat in Crete that brought to mind the gevurah of his great-grandfather Elhanan, a fisherman in Salonika.

Mel asked his students at Ariel University to photograph each of the 6 attributes of feeling realized in their everyday world of malkhut.

Keren saw hesed as an elderly man responding to feral cats hungry for love and food. He pets each one and portions out food for them.

Roni photographed the birth of a calf, an awesome event expressing tifert, deeply felt beauty of seeing new life coming into the world.

Esti’s father breeds parrots. She sees netzakh as a parrot chick succeeding in freeing itself from its egg continuing the cycle of life.

Yael sees hod as the glorious feeling of young lovers kissing. She photographed their shadow as the hed (echo) of the event.

Yesod is five generations. We celebrated our great-grandson Eliad’s first birthday and the 100th birthday of Miriam’s mother Anna Benjamin.

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.