Sat 6 Oct 2012
Jews all over the world start celebrating tomorrow evening Simchat Torah, the last of the Jewish holidays in the autumn season. The holiday marks the end of the annual cycle of reading and learning of the Torah, and the joy of beginning a new cycle. Life is meant to be in the Jewish tradition not only a cycle of seasons but also a cycle of learning and living according to a tradition based on the Torah. I collected and I am sharing here a few exceptional images of Torah as it is reflected in art and I hope that you will like them.
I am starting with a couple of reproductions of the Illuminated version of Maimonides’s Mishneh Torah created in Northern Italy between 1457 – 1465. This collection of Maimonide’s rulings and interpretations of the Torah was written by the great rabbi, philosopher and physician in the 12th century during his stay in Egypt. As the art of writing illuminated manuscripts was flourishing during the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance, the Jewish books were no exception, and this is one of the most beautiful examples that survived the centuries.
Marc Chagall was one of the greatest painters of the 20th century who created many works inspired by the Torah and the life in the Jewish villages in Eastern Europe where he was born, a life all but destroyed by the storms of the 20th century and especially the Russian Revolution and the Holocaust. I had last year the chance to visit the exhibition Chagall et la Bible in Paris, at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme and i wrote about it here. Above is Rabbi with a Torah.
This is one Chagall’s latest works dedicated to the subject – Man with Torah, dated 1975.
From the same area of Eastern Europe as Chagall came Emmanuel Mane Katz, a painter associated with the School of Paris, who traveled to the Palestine under British Mandate and then Israel which he considered as his spiritual home. Much of his work is inspired by Jewish themes, here is ‘A Jewish Man Holding Torah’.
Finally here is “Torah” by the American artist Norman Gorbaty, known among other for his illustration of the Sesame Street books.
I am concluding with an astonishing photograph which I found while researching for this blog entry. It represents a man carrying a Torah being saved from a synagogue in New Orleans devastated in 2005 by hurricane Catrina. A picture which – as a Facebook friend of mine wrote – symbols the essence of the holiday.