27 November 2015

The Spirit of Amalek Rising Up Invites Future Holocaust Memorials

From The Times of Israel, Nov. 26, 2015. http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-spirit-of-amalek-rising-up-invites-future-holocaust-memorials/.

I explore this week’s Torah portion in relation to two of my blogart projects: “Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life” http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com and “Future Holocaust Memorials” http://futureholocaustmemorials.blogspot.com.

Genesis 8: Vayishlah/Sent (Genesis 32:4-36:43)

Rescue me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I fear him lest he come and kill us all, mother and children alike…. Jacob went to Sukkot….  Esau was the ancestor the Edomites.  (Genesis 32:12,17,43)

Remember what [the Edomite tribe] Amalek did to you on your way out of Egypt.  When they encountered you on the way and struck those of you who were weak and lagging behind when you were weary and exhausted. (Deuteronomy 25:17,18)

The spirit of Amalek rises up in every generation to murder Jews because they are Jews from the time of the Exodus to the Persian Haman.

And to the Spanish Inquisition to the Russian pogroms to the Holocaust orchestrated by Hitler with Germany efficiency.

Arising once more in Persia today as Iran develops nuclear weapons to wipe Israel off the map.

Germany is promoting a second Holocaust by doing billions of dollars’ worth of business with Iran despite international sanctions.

The week of Vayishlah, Mel was keynote speaker at the symposium “Postdigital Narrative Art” at Germany's ZKM Center for Art and Media.

Mel's presentation focusing on this blog as postdigital narrative art was presented in what was formerly Hitler's torpedo factory in Karlsruhe.

In the 1200's, Munich's Jews were herded into the synagogue and burnt to death.  In the 1700's, Munich authorities made it illegal to build a sukkah.

For Sky Art '83, Mel built a sukkah at the entrance to the BMW Museum in Munich that was attacked by a neo-Nazi motorcycle gang.

Although they failed to destroy the sukkah, they smashed the table holding earth from Israel that had cast its shadow on the sukkah floor.

The scattered earth was swept up.  Mel spread it on the grass at the site of Hitler's death camp in Dachau.

He wrote from multiple viewpoints the word sukkah with Hebrew letters constructed from rebar rods discarded at a building site.

(See all the photos for the blog post above at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com and more photos and texts about my art projects mentioned at my website http://melalexenberg.com.) 


Current Palestinian leaders from Fatah to Hamas are the heirs of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who joined the Nazis in exterminating Jews.  Below is the Nuremberg trial testimony of SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dieter Wisliceny (Adolf Eichmann’s right-hand man):

“According to my own opinion, the Grand Mufti [Hajj Amin al Husseini], who has been in Berlin since 1941, played a role in the decision of the German Government to exterminate the European Jews, the importance of which must not be disregarded. He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he has been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considered this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and has constantly incited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he has visited incognito the gas chamber at Auschwitz.”

In the last election for a Palestinian parliament, the majority in both the West Bank and Gaza elected Hamas whose charter reads: 

“Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims…. Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him…. We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma introducing fundamental changes in educational curricula: 'I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.'”


In the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica extended into networked times, I created the “Future Holocaust Memorials” blogart project http://futureholocaustmemorials.blogspot.com  to prevent a second Holocaust before Islamists worldwide from Tehran to Gaza execute their plans to wipe Israel off the map with the acquiescence of the EU and UN.  As a wake-up call to those nations that cried crocodile tears as they built Holocaust memorials, I offer to double the size of their memorials in advance to the extermination of the other 6,000,000 Jews living in Israel today.  Never again?

70 years after Holocaust #1, Germany was quick to sign off on a deal with Iran so that it can profit from Holocaust #2.  It leads the EU that passed a resulution to boycott Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria choosing to forget that the Holocaust began with the boycott of Jewish businesses in Germany.  The EU resolution was passed at the time when Kristallnacht was publicly remembered.   On the ‘night of broken glass’ Germany upgraded its boycott in 1938 to murder Jews, destroy Jewish businesses, demolish thousands of Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools, burn down 1,000 synagogues, and ship 30,000 Jews off to Nazi concentration camps. 

My “Future Holocaust Memorials” blogart project that I began a decade ago follows in the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica crying out against the bombing practice by Hitler’s burgeoning war machine killing hundreds in a little Basque village in northern Spain in 1937.  Just as the world’s acquiescence to Hitler’s raining bombs on the village of Guernica gave him the license to proceed with preparing for WW II and exterminating the Jews of Europe on his way to global conquest, the world’s indifference to the thousands of rockets launched against Israel by Iran’s proxy armies, Hamas and Hezbollah, are empowering Iran to annihilate the Jews of Israel as a prelude to global conquest.  

As Germany joins in mourning the victims of Islamic jihadist’s terrorist rampage in Paris, Arabs in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority celebrate.  Although more Jews have been murdered per capita by Arab terrorists in the past month in Israel, no one put the Israeli flag on their Facebook pages like the French tricolors splashed everywhere.           

I propose upgrading the Berlin monument that Germany commissioned to commemorate their having exterminated the first 6,000,000 Jews.  It is a sprawling field of 2,700 stone slabs. I propose doubling its size by adding 2,700 more stone slabs as a future memorial to the six million Jews of Israel incinerated by an Iranian nuclear bomb. 5,400 stone slabs for twelve million Jews murdered.

70 years of Holocaust #1, Germany was quick to sign off on a deal with Iran so that it can profit from Holocaust #2. As Iran’s major European trading partner today, German businessmen are whetting at the bit to end sanctions.   Even before the agreement was ratified, and sanctions lifted, German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel flew to Teheran to be the first in line to make billions through renewed trade with Iran.  The Germans were there two weeks after the virulent anti-Semitic al-Quds parade lead by President Rouhani celebrating Iran’s intention to destroy the Jewish state. 

Instead of telling the Iranians to end their Holocaust denial, support for terrorism, genocidal threats, the Germans are busy arranging to reach ten billion worth of business per year, including the sale of dual-use technologies to boost Iran’s nuclear and missile development. 

26 November 2015

Bring Spirituality into Your Everyday Moments

Photograph God: Creating a  Spiritual Blog of Your Life by Mel Alexenberg


Photograph and share your life journey using digital consciousness and modern media tools. 
Astute guidance will help you capture God, bring kabbalah and spirituality into your everyday moments, and create a dialogue between biblical narrative and your personal story. 

Jewish Family Times
"Best Picks for Hanukkah 2015/5776" 
One of the two top books of the year for adults 

19 November 2015

ART IS A COMPUTER ANGEL (Jacob’s Dream and Discovery)

From The Times of Israel, 19 Nov. 2015, http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/art-is-a-computer-angel-jacobs-dream-and-discovery/

The sixth portion of Genesis, Vayetze/Went away, is read from the Torah scroll on this Shabbat (Nov. 21, 2015).

(Photo from AT&T Annual Report shows the artist Mel Alexenberg sending a computer angel on circumglobal flight from AT&T building in New York)     

See how my wife Miriam and I linked this Torah portion to our life with photographs and Torah tweets at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/genesis-7-art-is-computer-angel.html. 

Below is one of the 52 posts of the Torah Tweets blogart project that we created 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.  See all the photographs and tweet texts can at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com.  


Vayetze/Went away (Genesis 28:10-32:3)

He [Jacob] had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground and its top reached up toward heaven; and behold! Divine angels were ascending and descending on it. (Genesis 28:12)

We enjoyed sitting together in the Metropolitan Museum of Art print room holding Rembrandt's drawings and etchings of angels in our hands.

Mel painted on subway posters and screen printed digitized Rembrandt angels and spiritual messages from underground:

Divine angels ascend and descend. (Genesis 28:12) "They start by going up and afterwards go down" (Rashi) "Have you seen angels ascending from the NYC subways? (Alexenberg)

Art is a computer angel.  The biblical term for art (MeLekHeT MakHSheVeT) is feminine.  The masculine form is computer angel (MaLakH MakHSheV).

The biblical words for angel and food are written with the same four letters to tell us that angels are spiritual messages arising from everyday life.

We chose an image of an ascending angel to digitize and send on a circumglobal flight on 4 October 1989, Rembrandt's 320th memorial day.  

We sent it via satellite from the AT&T building in NY to Amsterdam to Jerusalem to Tokyo to Los Angeles, returning to NY the same afternoon.

The cyberangel not only circled our planet, it flew into tomorrow and back into yesterday, arriving in Tokyo on 5 Oct. and LA on 4 Oct.

In Tokyo, the 28 faxed sheets were assembled in Ueno Park and then rearranged as a ribbon ascending the steps of a Shinto chapel.

As we assembled the cyberangel on its return to NY five hours after it had left, TV news sent it into ten million American homes.

The AP story of our angel flight appeared in 60 newspapers each with a different headline.  AT&T featured it in its Annual Report.

For the full story and more images, see “artworks” at http://www.melalexenberg.com. 

In addition to ‘Art is a Computer Angel’ above, below are two other sections in my new book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com that explore Jacob’s dream and his discovery that God (named ‘The Place’ - Hamakom) is everyplace.      


“He had a vision in a dream. A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as Divine angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12)

PaRDeS is an acronym for four levels for looking beyond the Torah text.  P’shat is the simple, literal meaning of the biblical words. Remez is a hint of innate significance. Drash is a homiletic interpretation.  And Sod is a mystical, inspirational meaning.

That a ladder is a ladder is P’shat.

That the ladder was spiral, like a spiral staircase, is the Remez.  We arrive at the spiral shape of the ladder by noticing that the numerical value of the Hebrew words for “ladder” and for “spiral” are both 130. Creative play using numerical equivalents of Hebrew letters, a system called gematriah, can lead to fresh insights. 

A more contemporary Remez links Jacob’s ladder to the DNA spiral ladder with rungs on which codes for all forms of life are written with four words: A-T, T-A, C-G, G-C.   The SPR root of SPiRal is found in many ancient and modern languages.  The hand-written scroll of the Five Books of Moses is called SePheR Torah.  SPR appears in SPiRitual and inSPiRation, two words most significant in my book.    

That the ladder was a metaphor for Mount Sinai reaching up towards heaven from the ground below is Drash.  Jacob’s dream was a prophetic vision of angels ascending the mountain to bring the Torah down to earth. The numerical value of “Sinai” is also 130.

The deepest significance of the ladder as symbolized in Sod  is offered in the Zohar, the major work of kabbalistic thought.  The Zohar teaches that Jacob’s ladder is Jacob’s body with his head in the clouds dreaming of what can be while his feet rest on the ground where dreams are realized.  Every human being has the potential to connect heaven and earth by making spiritual energy flow through him into the everyday world.


One of God’s names is Hamakom.  In Hebrew, Hamakom literally means The Place. “Why do we call God by the name Hamakom?  Because God is the place of the world” (Bereshit Raba).  These words penned almost two millennia ago as a commentary on Genesis teaches us that Hamakom, the Omnipresent, is everyplace. Hamakom is the spacial name for the endless God. 

The biblical narrative describes Jacob coming upon a nameless place on his journey from his parent’s home to a distant place that he has never seen.  It was at that place where he stopped to sleep that he had the dream of a ladder linking heaven and earth.         

And Jacob left Beersheba and headed toward Haran.  He came upon the place and spent the night there because the sun had set; and he took from the stones of the place which he arranged around his head and lay down in that place (Genesis 28:10-11).

It was in this rocky no-man’s-land that Jacob encountered Hamakom.   If God is in everyplace, how could Jacob have stumbled upon Hamakom in one particular place?  Jacob came upon a new insight rather than finding a new geographical place.  He came to realize that in the finite makom, the place where he happened to stop for the night is where he encountered the infinite Hamakom.  He began to see that God was present wherever he stopped on his life’s journey.  Jacob stumbled upon the understanding that wherever he found himself was the right place at the right time.  When he awoke from his sleep, he said “Surely God is present in this place and I did not know it…. How awesome is this place” (Genesis 28:17-18).  Jacob’s insight teaches us how awe-inspiring it is to discover God’s presence everyplace we happen to find ourselves.

Jewish tradition refers to God as The Place to signify that God is the address of all existence.  God is called Hamakom in the Talmud, the central text of Judaism’s oral tradition. We read, “Hamakom will provide you with all that you are lacking.” When consoling a mourner, we say “May Hamakom comfort you.” The 613 obligations delineated in the Torah are divided into those between person and person and between person and Hamakom.  On the eve of Yom Kippur, Judaism’s holiest day of the year, the congregation gathers in the synagogue. The Ark is opened and two people take from it two Torah scrolls and stand on each side of the cantor.  The three of them begin the evening service chanting the words: “With the acknowledgement of Hamakom and the acknowledgement of the congregation.”  Wikipedia translates Hamakom as “The One Who Is Everywhere.” 

If you want to photograph God, focus your lens on Hamakom, The Place, anyplace where you see divine light illuminating reality.  Photograph places in nature that God creates and places that God creates through human creativity.   Let your camera collect the light reflecting from the reality shaping your life and you will find yourself photographing God.

14 November 2015


From The Times of Israel, Nov. 13, 2015 

And these are the offspring of Isaac son of Abraham. (Genesis 25:19)

The sixth portion of Genesis, Toldot/Offspring, is read from the Torah scroll on this Shabbat (Nov. 14, 2015).  It relates to the five generations of my wife Miriam’s family photographed together in Israel and to the attribute of compassion exhibited by two Abrahams – the patriarch and my father.

The photo above shows Anna at 100 surrounded by her daughter Miriam, her granddaughter Iyrit, her great-granddaughter Inbal, and her great-great grandson Eliad. My amazing mother-in-law Anna gave a piano concert to a packed auditorium at 100 and was blessed to live to 102 physically and mentally active.  She was very angry at the Israeli motor vehicle bureau when they would not renew her driver’s license when she was 98.  She drove her red Volvo through the fast-moving traffic on the freeways from her home in Herzliya to Petah Tikva to visit Miriam and her sister Channa.             

See how my wife Miriam and I linked this Torah portion to our life with photographs and Torah tweets at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/genesis-6-children-grandchildren-and.html.

Below is one of the 52 posts of the Torah Tweets blogart project that we created to celebrate our 52nd year of marriage five years ago. 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.  All the photographs can be seen at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com.   

Toldot/Offspring (Genesis 25:19-28:9)

And these are the offspring of Isaac son of Abraham. (Genesis 25:19)

Refrigerator Genealogy:  Mel photographed our youngest grandchildren and great-grandson for this blogart project and for updating our refrigerator album.

Our offspring celebrated Shabbat Toldot at our home in Petah Tikva:

Our son Ron, Miri and their six children Or, Yahel, Shirel, Meitav, Tagel and Razel came up from Yeroham in the Negev.

Our son Moshe Yehuda, Carmit and their daughter Elianne came from Kfar Saba. (Update 2015: Elianne, named for Miriam’s mother, has four brothers , Avraham, named for my father, Navad and Ariel.)

Our daughter Iyrit came with her daughter Inbal and Moshe from across the street with their son Eliad, our great-grandson. (Update 2015: Eliad has a sister Tehila Yaffa, named for my mother.)

Our refrigerator genealogy begins with wedding pictures of our parents:  Abraham and Jeanne Alexenberg in New York and Leo and Anna Benjamin in Suriname.

The photo sequence begins with Ron, a rabbi, scientist and educator, making havdalah to mark the end of Shabbat.

It is followed by photos of Meitav, Tagel, and Razel with Elianne and Eliad in our home.

Our son Ari and his wife Julie live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where their children Elan and Yalia grew up. (Update 2015: When our granddaughter Talia turned 18 and her friend went off to college, she moved to Israel.  She joined the Israel Defense Froces and became a shooting instructor in the Golani combat unit.  She’s now a student at Bar-Ilan University.)

From generation to generation, they will dwell in the Land of Israel where the wilderness will rejoice over them, the desert will be glad and blossom like a lily. (Isaiah 35:1)
Her wilderness will be made like Eden and her desert like a Divine garden; joy and gladness will be found there, thanksgiving and the sound of music. (Isaiah, 51:3)


My book PHOTOGRAPH GOD: CREATING A SPIRITUAL BLOG OF YOUR LIFE http://photographgod.com , describes how biblical personalities exemplify Divine attributers derived from the passage “Yours God are the compassion, the strength, the beauty, the success, the splendor, and the [foundation] of everything in heaven and earth” (Chronicles 1:29).  The patriarch Abraham exemplifies compassion (hesed).   My father Abraham demonstrates the Divine attribute of compassion in contemporary life. 


Abraham, the first Hebrew, left his home and its idolatrous culture.  He opened his home to all interested in learning about his radically new way of thinking about one universal God.  His acts of loving kindness and compassion are legendry

In the first pages of my book, we meet Abraham’s kindness joining with his wife Sarah to invite strangers crossing the desert into their home, sheltering them from the sweltering sun, bathing their feet, and offering them drink and food.  As legend tells, he turns away from what he saw as the entrance to the Garden of Eden in order to host his guests.  His need to express compassion by giving and sharing with others, made him choose a barbecue over Paradise.
Abraham built an inn in the desert so he could bestow hospitality upon wayfarers.  It was open on all four sides so that everyone would feel comfortable entering and engaging in dialogue with him.  His chief aim in life was to teach the world his revolutionary ideas about God by connecting with others through loving kindness.

Although Noah was considered a righteous man in his generation who walked together with God (Genesis 6:9), Abraham was the first person to be chosen to reveal a divine message of loving kindness to all humanity.  Noah was only considered righteous in a wicked generation.  When he hears a divine voice telling him to build an ark to save himself and his family because God plans to drown everyone else in world, Noah just went ahead and built an ark without challenging God.  He accepted God’s decree without any question or protest. 

Unlike Noah who walked together with God, the Bible relates that Abraham walked wholeheartedly before God (Genesis 17:1).   He took the lead and challenged God’s decision to destroy the wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah.  “Will you destroy the righteous with the wicked?  Perhaps there are 50 righteous people there.  How could the Judge of the entire earth not act justly?  And perhaps there are 45… or 40 .. or 30… or 20… or 10?” (Genesis 18;23-32).   Abraham had the compassionate strength to challenge God and bargain with Him as in a Middle Eastern market. 


My life was blessed to have been able to see hesed being enacted daily by my father Abraham.  He was born in Woodbine, where his parents were founders of an agricultural village established in 1891 in New Jersey for Jews fleeing to freedom from the pogroms of Czarist Russia. After high school, Abraham left his birthplace and his parent’s home and moved to New York where he met my mother Jeanne, a rabbi’s daughter born in Boston.  As the Great Depression was approaching, Abraham turned down admission to university and a pro baseball contract at a time when a player’s wage was meager.  Instead of realizing his dreams, he ran a housewares store in Brooklyn to support his extended family.

Jeanne told of the days when her parents and their five children shared a single roll as their sole meal of the day.   While courting Jeanne, Abraham gave her unemployed father funds to open a Hebrew bookstore to feed his family.  After marrying Jeanne, he gave his brother-in-law, a young rabbi, money for the down payment on a building to convert to a storefront synagogue with living quarters above.  His brother-in-law named it Congregation Beth Abraham after my father.  When Jeanne’s father passed away, his wife with her two unmarried children came to live in my parent’s three-room apartment in Queens when I was seven and my sister five.  

Abraham took them in with opened arms.   His compassion flowing through our crowded apartment transformed it into a welcoming home of love and tranquility.   The daily acts of giving and sharing with compassion and caring between my parents, sister, grandmother, aunt and uncle seemed to extend the walls of the small apartment we all shared.  Every word spoken in our home as I grew up was spoken with affection, thoughtfulness, and consideration.     

After my father worked for forty years in his store in Brooklyn, he moved with my mother to Florida.  He joined “Operation Grandfather,” a Federal government sponsored program in which retired people volunteered to work in elementary schools teaching reading and math to disadvantaged children on a one-to-one basis.  After taking courses in child psychology and educational methodology, he worked in the program for ten years.  When I would visit Florida and walk with my father in the mall, I enjoyed seeing excited African-American children call out “Grandpa Abraham,” run into his arms and hug him tightly.                 

07 November 2015

Artful Plan

From The Jerusalem Post, November 6, 2015

The establishment of the Dry Bones Academy of Cartoon Advocacy by The Jerusalem Post’s legendary cartoonist Yaacov Kirschen merges his creative ingenuity and artistic imagination with his love of Israel and the Jewish People (“Dry Bones battles against BDS, media bias,” November 4). 

His aim of training an army of cartoon activists on college campuses to fight the anti-Israel media bias and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement by creating an online school is powerful.  It follows in the tradition of Picasso’s Guernica – extended into networked times.

As former art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, I appreciate the political power of art being harnessed by Kirschen.  After coming on aliyah in 1969, I was happy to see his Dry Bones cartoons on the pages of The Jerusalem Post when they first appeared in 1973. 

I first saw him drawing his imaginative cartoon characters climbing up the margins of his notebooks as we sat together planning ways to combat anti-Israel propaganda at meetings of the Student Zionist Organization at Queens College in 1957.  Yaacov’s youthful creative energies continue to grow in the service of the amazing Zionist enterprise that has created the State of Israel.

Mel Alexenberg

05 November 2015


From The Times of Israel, Nov. 5, 2015

The fifth portion of Genesis, Hayay Sarah/Sarah’s lifetime, is read from the Torah scroll on this Shabbat (Nov. 7, 2015).  See how my wife Miriam and I linked this Torah portion to our life at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.co.il/2014/01/genesis-5-women-water-and-loving.html and in my new book PHOTOGRAPH GOD: CREATING A SPIRITUAL BLOG OF YOUR LIFE.

Below is one of the 52 posts of the Torah Tweets blogart project that we created 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.  See all the photographs at http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com.  


Hayay Sarah/Sarah’s lifetime (Genesis 23:1-25:18)

Rebecca came out carrying a jug on her shoulder.  When she went down to the well and drew water, I said to her, “Please give me a drink.”  She hurried and lowered her jug and said, “Drink, and I will also water your camels.” (Genesis 24:45)

This week’s posting from the shores of the Sea of Galilee is about women, water and hesed (loving kindness), both human and divine.

On Shabbat, we heard “Hayay Sarah,” the only Torah portion named for a woman, read from a Torah scroll in Casa Donna Gracia in Tiberius.

We stayed at a hotel built around a museum honoring Donna Gracia, a pioneering Zionist woman who convinced the Sultan to grant her Tiberius.

Rebecca’s water jug linked itself to Donna Gracia’s 500th birthday, Miriam’s well, and religious Zionist women studying the arts.

Rabbi Isaac Luria taught that after moving through the desert with the Israelites, Miriam’s well ended up under the Sea of Galilee.

Rebecca’s hesed linked itself to divine hesed today where Miriam’s well below joins rain from above to fill Israel’s primary water source.

Make the wind blow and the rain descend (recited in morning, afternoon and evening prayers during Israel’s wet winter)

Dark rain clouds hovered as we descended to Tiberius to spend Shabbat with faculty of Emuna College where Mel heads the School of the Arts.

As we checked into Casa Donna Gracia, we were greeted by a mannequin representing Donna Gracia who preceded Herzl by four centuries.

With the water level of the Sea dangerously low, we were disappointed that the rain clouds dissipated as we walked to the waterfront.

On Sunday, we drove to the east side of the Sea where egrets strolled between shells and stones at the water’s edge.

Our oldest grandson Or photographed his youngest brother Razel reaching out for the surf during their summer trip to the Sea of Galilee.


Just as a prism breaks up white light into the colors of the spectrum, kabbalah reveals a spectrum of divine light based upon the biblical passage:

“Yours God are the compassion, the strength, the beauty, the success, the splendor, and the [foundation] of everything in heaven and on earth” (Chronicles 1:29).  

Photographing God is to creatively photograph these six divine attributes revealed to you in all aspects of your life.  Focus your lens on acts of compassion, strength, beauty, success, and splendor that you encounter every day and everywhere.  Shift your focus to see ordinary events as being extraordinary, incredible, and amazing.  Take nothing for granted.  To be spiritual is to be continuously amazed.

You can better understand and appreciate the range of meanings within each of these six divine attributes by seeing them expressed in the lives of biblical personalities: Compassion (Abraham and Ruth), Strength (Isaac and Sarah), Beauty (Jacob and Rebecca), Success (Moses and Miriam), Splendor (Aaron and Deborah), and Foundation (Joseph and Tamar).  Imagine walking with your camera millennia ago photographing key events in the lives of these people.  Then take your camera and photograph actions that you observe in the lives of family, friends, and others you encounter that parallel events in the lives of these biblical personalities.

Aesthetic balance between Compassion (Hesed) and Strength (Gevurah) gives rise to Beauty (Tiferet).  Tiferet emerges from dynamic interplay, creative dialogue, and elegant integration between Compassion and Strength.  It is the harmonizing principle that restrains excessive Hesed and mitigates severe Gevurah.


Rebecca represents Tiferet.  In would have been easy to document Rebecca’s Tiferet as acts of both Hesed and Gevurah if cameras were around four millennia ago.  The dramatic biblical narrative describes two events in her life that demonstrate Compassion and Strength.  She treated Abraham’s servant with kindness and showed her strong will when she deceived Isaac by disguising Jacob as his twin brother Esau.

To emphasize the importance of Rebecca’s act of kindness, the narrative is repeated three times.  It is expressed in the prayer of Abraham’s servant, experienced in the act itself, and in his telling the story to Rebecca’s brother. 

When he reached his destination, he let his camels rest beside a well in the evening when the daughters of the townsmen come to draw water.  He prayed, “If I say to a girl, ‘Tip over your jug and let me have a drink,’ and she replies, ‘Drink, and I will also give water to your camels,’ she will be the one designated by God for Isaac” (Genesis 24:14). 

When he saw a very attractive girl fill her jug, he ran toward her and said, “If you would, let me sip a little water from your jug.”   “’Drink, Sir,’ she replied.  She lowered her jug to her hand and gave him a drink.  When he had finished drinking, she said, ‘Let me draw water even for your camels, so they can also drink water to their fill’ (Genesis 24:18-19). 

When Rebecca brought him to her brother Laban, he explained that he had come to find a wife for Isaac, his relative.  Abraham’s servant then repeats the story to Laban of what had happened (Genesis 24:42-46).

As the culmination of this story of compassion, we see sparks of Rebecca’s strength.  After agreeing to her marriage to Isaac, her brother and mother said that they wanted her to stay at home for a year, or at least ten months, before leaving.  However, strong-willed Rebecca said that she would go right away.  They knew her strong will enough not to argue with her.  Rebecca’s physical beauty was matched by her inner beauty, Tiferet, which combines both her kindhearted and giving nature with her powerful and resolute disposition. 

Rebecca and Isaac had twins.  When they grew up, Esau became a skilled hunter, a man of the field, and Jacob was a scholarly man abiding in tents.  Isaac enjoyed eating Esau’s game and favored him, but Rebecca favored Jacob.  Like Sarah, who possessed the vision to see that Isaac was Abraham’s son who could conserve his legacy, Rebecca had the insight to realize that the furtherance of Abraham’s legacy would be through Jacob.  Isaac blindness extended from his eyes to his inability to see that Esau, assimilating into the Hittite culture of his wives, was unable to carry on the mission of his grandfather. 

Rebecca dressed Jacob in the Esau’s coat, covered his arms with goat skin on his arms and neck, and had Jacob serve his father his favorite recipes that she cooked to taste like the delicacies that Esau usually made for him.  Isaac became suspicious as Jacob was carrying out Rebecca’s ruse to insure that Jacob was blessed rather than Esau.  When Jacob drew close to his elderly father, he felt him and said, “Your voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau” (Genesis 27:22).  Still suspicious, Jacob asked Jacob to come close to him and kiss him.   The fragrance of the field of Esau’s coat that Jacob wore, convinced him to bless Jacob as his heir, “May God grant you the dew of heaven and the fatness of the earth, and abundant grain and wine” (Genesis 27:27). 

Rebecca had the prophetic vision that only Compassion coupled with Strength could insure the dissemination of Abraham’s universal message of love and peace.  She understood that Jacob, her more intellectual and spiritual son, required the hands of the more aggressive and materialistic Esau to succeed in the on-going battle to protect Abraham’s mission from its countless enemies aiming at its annihilation to this day.
The text above is based upon my book Photograph God: Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life http://photographgod.com/