Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Sight & Insight: Torah Tweets for Pinhas

The Torah portion read in synagogues worldwide on Shabbat, 11 July 2015/24 Tamuz 5775, is Pinhas (Numbers 25:10-30:1).

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. 3

The photo shown here is our great-grandson, Eliad Peretz, playing in a park in Petah Tikva, Israel, where he lives with his mother, our granddaughter Inbal, his father Moshe, and his sister Tehila.

You can access all the photographs and the Torah Tweet text at “Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life” http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/numbers-8-sight-and-insight.html.

You can read creative explorations of each week’s blog entries in my new book Photograph God at http://photographgod.com.

Numbers 8: Sight and Insight

Pinhas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

God said to Moses, “Go up to this mountain of Avarim and see the Land that I have given to the Children of Israel.  You shall see it.” (Numbers 27:12)

And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing. (Zekhariah 8:5)

God said to Abram, “Go for yourself from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land that you will come to see.” (Genesis 12:1)

Why is “see” repeated twice?  At first glance, Moses saw the Dead Sea and desert.  Then, he saw the future of his people in their land.

Rabbi Haim ben Attar explained that Moses gained a deeper vision and grasp of the inner spiritual essence of life in the Land of Israel. (Or Hahaim)

Moses could see children playing in the Land of Israel.

We photographed our grandchildren and great-grandson realizing Zekhariah’s vision.

Rabbi Kook’s metaphor for Israel’s rebirth after its long exile is a child awakening from a coma asking to play with her doll.

The Jewish people’s story begins by linking kinesthetic and visual senses. Abram sees the land in a new light by walking away from his past.

On receiving the Ten Commandments, the Torah tells of the Israelites’ synesthetic experience:  All the people saw the sounds. (Exodus 20:15)

Passive hearing is transformed into internalized visions of the script for creating a better world.

The Torah formula for transforming sight into insight is:  May God expand Yefet, but he will dwell in the tents of Shem. (Genesis 9:27)

The name of Noah’s son Yefet is related to visual beauty.  Yefet’s son is Yavan (Greece).

Beauty in ancient Greece is seen in the elegance of outward form.  Israel descends from Shem, related to shemiyah (hearing).

Torah beauty is tiferet the innermost emanation of divine light that integrates our intentions, thoughts and feelings through creative action.

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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