Sharona Margolin Halickman

The importance of the artists

In Parshat Pekudei (Shmot 39:32), B’nai Yisrael received the credit for building the Mishkan (Tabernacle):

Thus was finished all the work of the Tabernacle of the tent of meeting; and B’nai Yisrael did according to all that the Lord commanded Moshe, so they did.

The Alshich states: Even when God assists those who execute His commands He attributes their execution only to the person engaged in it. In the case of the construction of the Tabernacle, B’nai Yisrael were not experts in the work which was executed miraculously on its own accord through Divine Providence. Despite this, the text attributes the execution of the work wholly to the Israelites.

We see from here that artists are partners with God.

Throughout the generations, there have been many talented famous Jewish artists around the world including Mark Chagall, Camille Pissarro and Reuven Rubin.

Art is one way to spiritually draw people closer to God.

Uva Letzion- Ingathering of the Exiles, Benzion BarAmi

When I was in fifth grade, I had a teacher named Benzion BarAmi. He was on Shlichut in New York from Israel. He is both a scribe and an artist. He displayed his artwork at the school and it was available for sale. I always loved the picture of the Kotel, a shofar and a dove called U’Va Letzion which symbolized the ingathering of the exiles. The entire picture was made up from the words of Yirmiyahu, chapter 31, the Haftara for the second day of Rosh HaShana plus some other related verses from the Torah. When he came to our home to sell his artwork, my parents chose three other pictures but not that one. He saw how disappointed I was that they didn’t buy the picture with the shofar, so he gave it to me as a gift. I still have the picture which came with us on aliya and I am still amazed at how it is made up entirely of words with such significant meaning.

Recently, I met an artist, Jessica Tamar Deutsch who is connecting the younger generation through art whether it is by creating custom made illuminated Ketubot for young couples or through her book The Illustrated Pirkei Avot, a Graphic Novel of Jewish Ethics. Art has the capacity to draw in those who may otherwise not have connected to Judaism.

We see from as far back as the days of the building of the Mishkan that the artists worked as partners with God in connecting the Jewish people to their heritage.

About the Author
Sharona holds a BA in Judaic Studies from Stern College and an MS in Jewish Education from Azrieli Graduate School, Yeshiva University. Sharona was the first Congregational Intern and Madricha Ruchanit at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale, NY. After making aliya in 2004, Sharona founded Torat Reva Yerushalayim, a non profit organization based in Jerusalem which provides Torah study groups for students of all ages and backgrounds.
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