Saw this stunning painting over Shabbat in the stairway leading down to the shul in the stunning new Waldorf Astoria situated in the heart of Jerusalem and had to go back for another peek today and a photo (see below).
Just to give you an idea, it’s about ten feet high and you simply cannot miss it heading down to the synagogue located on the lower level.
Notice the way their arms joined together in ecstatic dance appear to have become so strongly interlocked, seemingly grafted into one elongated arm flowing through them both.
The artist Huvy (Ahuva) Elisha, known by all as Huvy, one of the most sought after and well collected contemporary impressionist painters in the Jewish world; deftly captures the spirit of their collaborative devotion, each brushstroke another step in this sublime human dance painted with the celestial colors of a heavenly blue.
One can almost imagine this artist as a sort of “Geppetto,” appointing these Chasidim as surrogate extensions of her own joie de vivre, dancing this picture into being. Brush twirling wildly, colors bursting off the palette, she managed to anoint these colors with a transfusion of joy directly from her own soul — propelled by a new-found sense of purposefulness, they must have leaped nimbly of their own volition into the soft white emptiness of the beckoning canvas with the eagerness of a lost child who suddenly remembers the way home.
This is what it can feel like here at times dancing in the streets of Jerusalem, wrapped in her warm glow, her arms extensions of one’s own, her heartbeat beating as one with ours. As if we too are being danced back into our own beings once again.
These two wild and holy dancers in blue are irresistible; they lift us up off the ground, albeit grudgingly at first, and welcome us into their circle, sweeping us into their exuberance. They lift us “A tefach hecher,” reminding us that the best way to ground us back into our highest selves is by lifting ourselves OFF the ground.
For me, this week, the image of these two Chasidim act as a bridge through time, providing a visual adaption of the words of the prophet “Nachamu Nachamu Ami,” the “two consolations” that are the opening lines in the Haftarah read on the Shabbat following the Fast of the Ninth of Av, the same dance as Rabbi Akiva, who, unlike the Sages, chose to ignore the foxes scurrying through the rubble and dance smack in the midst of the smoldering carnage of the destroyed Beit HaMikdash (holy Temple).
We are reminded that the power of this week’s consolation flows through our togetherness, the comfort to be found in the ways we too are interlocked with one another, in the circle of our families, our friendships, and the solidarity we feel with our community.
Their mystic joyfulness symbolizes the quintessential motto of our people; “Le-chaim ve-lo la-mavet,” a fierce ability to cling tenaciously to life that has helped us withstand thousands of years of adversity and oppression.
Their dance is ours as well, the dance of Am Yisroel, leaping up with Emunah Shlaymah from the ashes of destruction, again and again — refusing to succumb, instead, dancing triumphantly atop its ruins. The sadness of Tisha be-Av pales in comparison to its magic — its paradoxical ability to be a catalyst for renewal and hope.
These heady days, if approached with a kabbalistic mindfulness, can help awaken within each of us the courage to dance faithfully on the smoldering remains of our own failures, amid the places where we might still be haunted by the lingering traces of a destruction, resisting the temptation to simply learn to adjust to the darkness, refusing to remain captive to the tyranny of hopelessness.