I made this piece in a Middle Eastern, oriental style, and have included within it two texts, both crucial to the Mizrach notion, Psalm 113 and the text from the Talmudic Tractate Berachot 30a. In the middle of the print the Hebrew word “Mizrach” shines forth in hand-gilded pure leaf gold.
Both of these passages point to intentionality: the Mizrach directs us to the geographic focal point of our existence, focuses our attention and concentration during prayer, and unites us as a people wherever in the world we may find ourselves. The original of this work also seemed to have its own intentionality for the story of its provenance is quite remarkable.
The edition is strictly limited to one hundred forty signed and numbered highest quality giclee prints done on 250 gram Arches Aquarelle Fine Art Paper.
PRICE: $1,000 plus shipping. SOLD OUT
A map of my daily bicycle journey from my apartment in Bakaa to my studio near the Jaffa Gate. It merges words and thoughts, memories and resonances, history and musings, the ancient and recent past with my very present quotidian reality.
It’s my own little experiment to see if I could map my own personal realities onto a single sheet paper. To do that I set out some simple words and a handful of direct images.
The edition is strictly limited to one hundred forty signed and numbered highest quality giclee prints done on 240 gram Arches Fine Art Paper.
$600 plus shipping. SOLD OUT
Limited Edition Print
What might a map of all of Judaism look like? What do we stand for? What kind of place could be imagined that would present the specific Jewish responses to life’s big, human concerns. As part of my large Garden of Jewish Exploration project I began with such a map.
This print is a two dimensional artistic rendering of the original 3-D model I made of Judaism. It is a kind of Jewish mandela where each of us can visualize ourselves as being in the little hole at the very center. Surrounding us, embracing us, is our entire tradition presented as six questions. What’s behind me? What surrounds me? What is deep inside me? What is above me? Whom do I face? What’s ahead of me.
The print is oriented in the Hebrew manner with the past to the right and the future to the left.
This question-based conceptual map is called The Multi-Dimensional Jew. Indeed, we are all multi-dimensional Jews. We each live in a world of questions. We each live within reach of a precious tradition that has grappled with these questions for thousands of years. This attempt at mapping our Jewish world is a kind of Compass Rose to help orient us within this vast, diverse, all encompassing, and colorful tradition.
The edition is strictly limited to one hundred forty signed and numbered highest quality giclee prints done on 240 gram Arches Fine Art Paper.
PRICE: $950 plus shipping. SOLD OUT
In every generation a person must see himself as if he personally came out of Egypt
This passage is the central theme of Passover. This 16” x 20” image is printed just as in the Song of David Facsimile Haggadah, and contains images of historical Jew through the ages. When the haggadah is closed, all the Jews are is looking at themselves in the mirror opposite. As the haggadah opens, each individual begins to contemplate each other, their historical and future selves. When the book is open, you,the participant, are contemplating your self in the mirrors and truly seeing yourselves among all the generations of Jewish history. The mirrors are hand applied and are reflective. This image is the full double opening, as in the original haggadah. It is a limited edition of 500 copies, signed by David Moss.
$200 + SHIPPING.
The following 4 images (13” x19” ) from The Moss Haggadah are printed on acid-free paper and placed in a folio.
PRICE: $90 each + Shipping.The Tree of Life
The Tree of Life. This image is the first and last image of this haggadah. It is the image of pure potential.
The Set Table or Table of Content, known in the haggadah text as Shulhan Orekh. The image of the table is set for the Levy family for whom this haggadah was created. The image is surrounded by fine micrography, containing biblical passages.
A charming custom of the Kuristani Jews was to bind the ketubah to the bride’s arm. From this developed the practice of binding a piece of Afikoman to the arm of the son they wanted to marry off during the coming year.
For the oppressed, whether Jew of Gentile, the plagues and the Exodus forever remain the definitive statement that the ultimate power is God’s alone, that any usurper of the power, any man who claims absolute authority over his fellows, ultimately has a truly Absolute Power to reckon with. The story of each plague, from Exodus, is in the fine micrography.
Portfolio of Seven Wedding Blessing: Shevah Brachot
A portfolio of seven frameable prints of the marriage blessings. This memorable gift for the bride and groom is a continual reminder of their wedding day and shevah brachot
This elegant sculptural work embodies Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav’s Prayer for Peace. It is a two-page glass “book”, 9 3/8” x 13 ¾” with each letter of the Hebrew text dissected between the front and back plates. When the work is displayed open on any flat surface it is a fascinating abstract sculpture; when it is closed the Hebrew text of the prayer magically appears. It is a beautiful item for all who yearn for peace, a perfect present for a newly wedded couple, or as a gift to give as a gesture of reconciliation.
Lord of Peace! King to Whom all Peace belongs!
Maker of Peace and Creator of All!
Help and save us all that we may ever be worthy to hold firmly to the attribute of peace. Let there be a great and truthful peace between each and every person, between every husband and every wife. May there be no strife, not even inner strife, among all humanity.
For You are the Maker of peace even in the heavens where You bring together two opposites,fire and water, and unite them. Through Your great miracles You make peace between them
Draw forth a vast peace upon us and upon the entire world, for You alone can unite opposites and bring them together, as one, in peace, and in great love. May You encompass us together with one mind and with one heart to draw near to You and to Your teachings in truth.
And may all humanity be joined into one fellowship to do Your will with a complete and perfect heart.
Lord of Peace! Bless us with peace, and through peace, may all blessing, all salvation, and all holiness flow down to us.
Rav Nachman of Bratzlav (1772-1811
Liqutei Tefillot Part I: beginning of Prayer 95
Collected by Rav Natan Sternhartz
Translation: D. Moss
AN OFFERING OF PEACE
A Sculptural Work in Glass by David Moss
Edition limited to 360 exemplars numbered 1/360 to 360/360.
Facsimile signature engraved in the glass.
Production supervision: Paul Feinstein
The text of this work is the beautiful prayer for peace attributed to Rav Nachman of Bratzlav. The prayer was written down by Rav Nachman’s disciple Rav Natan. Rav Natan distilled Rav Nachman’s teachings in the form of stories and collected essays; he also brought them into the form of prayers which he published as the Collected Prayers of Rav Nachman. It is from this book that I excerpted the text. The prayer is especially poignant when we realize that Rav Nachman’s life itself was filled with bitter controversy. Indeed, it seems that he considered conflict essential to his mission
The artistic challenge I set myself was how to translate the essence of Rav Nachman’s view of peace into physical form. In the prayer, Rav Nachman defines peace as the bringing together of opposites, the unification of those things that naturally tend to oppose one another. He considers this a miraculous act of God for it contradicts the order of nature.
As a calligrapher I began by considering the Hebrew letters themselves. One of the first things I demonstrate when I teach calligraphy is the fundamental difference between the horizontal strokes which define the flow, the essence, and the beauty of Hebrew writing and the vertical strokes which play a contrasting, contrapuntal role. I realized it is the very bringing together of these two disparate elements which forms the unity and harmony of the letters. All I needed was a way of forcefully embodying this insight. To do that I invented a new technique I call GrammatomesTM. This is the splitting apart of the elements within letters in such a way that individually they have interesting form but no meaning, but when properly aligned they fall into place and read properly. The original of this piece was the first GrammatomeTM I created. I went on use them in other of my works in both Hebrew and in English.
Since doing the original of this piece I have wanted to produce it as an edition so it could be shared more widely. I hope this work may be used to demonstrate the magic and the power of peace. I have called it An Offering of Peace.
My prayer is that Rav Nachman’s prayer for peace, blessings, salvation and holiness spread to us all.
A suggested note to accompany the piece if is being used as an offering for reaching out in reconciliation:
You may be surprised to receive this gift from me. It is a work of art entitled “An Offering of Peace”. It contains Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav’s beautiful Prayer for Peace. I have sent it to you as a gesture of reconciliation. I hope this offering will provide an opening for understanding between us.
The strokes on each separate page of this work may be consistent and well ordered, but they lack meaning without the other. Conflict has risen between us and like the two pages of this open book I feel we each remain somehow incomplete without the other. Though it is tempting to nurse my wounds and rehearse my justifications, I do miss the relationship we once had.
In his prayer Rabbi Nachman realizes both the immense difficulty and the abundant blessings of reconciliation.
By sending you these seemingly strong, but fragile pieces of glass, I want you to know that I am reaching out to you to see if we can to repair our shattered relationship.
Let us speak frankly.
Let us be open to compromise.
Let us be open to negotiation.
Let us abandon our rightness and seek wholeness.
Let our wounds be healed; our hurts be comforted.
Because we were close, I know we can be close again.
I long for the moment when we can again embrace. It will be a magical moment like
the instant when these two sheets of glass kiss each other, reunite, and both regain their significance.
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Seven Judaic Images based on the Pottery of the Pueblo Indians
These prints of Judaic images are in the style of Pueblo pottery, and are based on the hand-painted pottery that I have been producing for several years. Each of the seven fine art prints transforms a Judaic theme, motif, or text into a graphic inspired by the hand-painted pottery of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico. Each 15”x 20” giclee print is printed on heavy acid-free paper, and the set comes in a folio with a surprise feature.
A Pueblo Portfolio (Full Description)
Seven Judaic images inspired by the pottery of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico
By David Moss
Contained in a stamped envelope. Laid in is a letter to the governor of San Ildefonso Pueblo and a descriptive pamphlet.
The seven giclee prints are done on Epson Fine Art Textured 225 gram paper. The production was accomplished at the Jerusalem Fine Art Prints Workshop, Israel, under the supervision of Yair Medina and the artist.
Production coordination by Paul Feinstein, Bet Alpha Editions, Berkeley.
The edition is limited to 162 sets.
120 are the standard edition bearing the numbers 1/120 to 120/120.
22 are the deluxe sets each of which contains an original graphic by the artist in addition to the seven prints. These bear the Hebrew numbers aleph:kaph-bet to kaph-bet: kaph-kaph-bet.
15 are artist proofs with the designation AP.
Five are out-of-the-edition samples reserved for the craftspeople who produced the portfolio and are marked HC.
In addition to the sets, there are 120 copies of each print made to be offered separately.
These bear the Roman numerals I/CXX to CXX/CXX
The images in this portfolio are two-dimensional translations of some of the paintings on pottery I have done over the past few years. Because of my long and deep connection with New Mexico, I began experimenting with some Judaic designs done in the Pueblo style. I was immediately intrigued by the possibilities of blending Jewish texts and symbols with the powerful, bold graphic design of Pueblo pottery. At first thought this may seem an odd combination, but one of the fascinating characteristics of Jewish art for millennia has been its adaptability to a vast range of visual styles. Wherever Jews lived we would freely draw on the ambient local styles. This was not only true for secular items such as household utensils, jewelry, and clothing, but for our holy objects as well. Our synagogue architecture, ritual objects, and book illumination closely reflected the regional styles. The very fact that the visual arts in Judaism have taken a relatively minor role as a means of transmission of our culture has made us very open to freely adapt vernacular artistic styles. The collections in our Jewish museums testify to this natural, almost unconscious freedom with which our artists always drew on the visual world they inhabited and adopted for sacred objects. Chanukah lamps often reflected local architecture; spice containers for Havdalah would be based on the local civic or church tower. In Italy the interiors of synagogues reflected the very latest fashions in Italian art. In Spain or Tunisia, in Poland or Iran, the synagogues would strongly reflect the local style. Why shouldn’t an artist whose important spiritual development occurred in the mountains of northern New Mexico embrace the strong, local style that surrounded him? Working in this style began to bring together many wonderful memories for me as I began to weave together previously diverse parts of my life. My initial experiments were paintings on tiles, but one day as I was walking down a neighborhood street, I noticed some Hebron pottery planters at the nursery. Something drew me to them. I went in, bought a few, and began to use them as canvases for acrylic paintings in the Pueblo style. Something definitely clicked for me. The pottery surface took the paint beautifully. I loved working on objects I could hold and cradle in my lap. Ideas began to flow and I painted many such pots. I also expanded into other styles as each new piece allowed for the exploration of whole new directions. I drew inspiration from a very broad range of sources as I mined and reworked other historical or folk styles. There was great joy and exhilaration in the creation of these pieces. From early on I envisioned the possibility of translating some of my favorite designs into prints. When I first saw the deep intensity of flat colors that could be obtained with fine giclee art printing, I immediately thought of this body of work and began this portfolio.
The human enchantment with the pomegranate goes back to the earliest periods in the Middle East. This elegant fruit’s perfect form has continually inspired artists in our region where it appears again and again in jewelry, sculpture and on religious objects. The beautiful coloring of this unique fruit is captivating. The abundance of seeds that spill forth from it when opened suggests a mysterious source of richness. The Torah counts the pomegranate among the seven plants with which the Land of Israel is especially blessed. The fringes of the garments of the high priest were hung with miniature golden pomegranates and bells. The only archeological object from the First Temple ever found is a single, lovely little pomegranate with an inscription in the ancient Hebrew script. Rabbinic literature, too, contains many references and allusions to this fruit. Perhaps the most famous one is the comparison of the Jewish people to the pomegranate. It states that just as the pomegranate is filled with 613 seeds, so the Jewish people is teeming with the 613 commandments. I have designed this pot image with two parallel rows of pomegranates, one facing upward and one facing downward
Wheat, rice, and corn were the foundations of the civilizations of the Middle East/Europe, Asia and the New World respectively. Of these three, it seems that the first to be cultivated was wheat. It is probably no exaggeration to state that the domestication of wheat here in the Middle East was the single most important factor in the transformation of human beings from hunting/gathering bands, to settled agricultural and eventually urban communities. Every aspect of culture was transformed by this revolution. In Judaism, wheat takes the first place among the plants of the Land of Israel. Bread, whether it be the showbread of the Temple service, the Matzah of Passover, or the Challah for Shabbat and holidays, has always played a very prominent place in Jewish law, custom and folklore. According to one rabbinic opinion, the Tree of Knowledge was none other than the wheat plant. The eating of bread is what determines a full meal and obligates one to recite the Grace afterward. The blessing over bread covers all the other foods at a meal. In this print, I have merged the image of wheat with the most important Jewish symbol of all, the Menorah. The seven-branched candelabrum of the tabernacle and of the Temple has become the primary symbol of Judaism throughout the ages. Here I have used the reiteration of this combined wheat and Menorah form to suggest the constant grace and abundance of God’s gifts of life to us—physical food, symbolized by the staff of life, and spiritual light hinted at by the Menorah. As we say each time we eat bread: He gives bread to all flesh, for His mercy is eternal.
Soon after I began painting on pottery in this style, I developed a Hebrew alphabet based on the way in which Pueblo artists divide and fill space. In this piece I have written out Psalm 117, which seemed especially appropriate for this work of merging Hebraic ideas with a particular very regional non-Jewish artistic style. “Let every nation praise God! Let every people exalt Him! For His graciousness towards us has been abundant, And the truthfulness of His universal message is eternal. Written by a poet of a tiny people in a remote corner of the Middle East, it is remarkable how clear the vision of the universality of this message was. That our Psalms continue to be sung daily in a thousand different languages in every corner of the globe bears witness to the power of this message. It seemed appropriate to write out this psalm in the language in which it was written and right in the place in which it was written, but in the style of one of those nations, envisioned by the sweet singer of Israel three thousand years.
Another technique I developed for the pots was to create a style of lettering which employed little geometrical islands filled with Pueblo-style designs to form the negative spaces between Hebrew letters. In this print East meets West literally as the four Hebrew letters, Mem, Zayin, Resh, and Chet appear in the white spaces between these islands and spell out the Hebrew word Mizrach which means east. The Mizrach plaque is a traditional Jewish object that was placed on the eastern wall of the synagogue or home to indicate the direction of prayer towards Jerusalem. These plaques would often take the form of intricate calligraphic works employing micrography or papercuts, and became a virtuoso object of Jewish folk art. Often each of the four letters is associated with the first letters of the phrase: Mitzad Zeh Ruach Chaim, meaning, From this direction comes the spirit of life.
Over the years, a thread running throughout my work has been an interest in the revival of abandoned, overlooked, or neglected, Jewish objects, texts, or art forms. I am fascinated by the interplay between old forms and their translation, reinterpretation and transformation into contemporary pieces. The breathing of new life into old forms has been a lifelong artistic obsession. A similar process has been at work in the art of Pueblo pottery. Though the creation and decoration of functional pottery has been an uninterrupted process for hundreds of years, it is clear that at a certain point a conscious decision to look back at old forms and designs was made. The ubiquitous little pottery shards easily found throughout the Southwest provided intriguing hints of the designs used by the ancestors. Once archeologists began unearthing the ceramic treasures of the ancient Indian civilizations, all could see the actual pots used many generations before. The finds at Mimbres were especially important in this regard. I can only imagine how powerful the deep identification with their ancestors must have been for the pueblo peoples as these stunning images were discovered. Their influence has pervaded the work of Pueblo pottery ever since. Some of these ancient designs, like the repeated feather design, have now become almost emblematic. In the sixties, I met Maria Martinez, perhaps the most famous Pueblo potter. In her stunningly elegant black-on-black pottery she transformed the Mimbres feather pattern into an icon of Indian art. In this work, I have adapted this pattern to our ram’s horn, the Shofar, whose shattering, primal, age-old voice announces our moments of greatest joy and calls us annually to self-examination and repentance
The commandment to create the seven-branched candelabrum for the tabernacle in the desert appears in the Torah. According to a rabbinic tradition, despite the precise, detailed instructions spelled out in Exodus, Moses could not figure out exactly what was intended until a visual representation was shown to him. Many of us who deal with both images and words understand his predicament perfectly. Words can never fully convey the impact of an image; and no image can capture the precision of verbal thinking. Our culture clearly weighs in heavily in favor of words. This makes us take special heed of those few image like that of the Menorah whose power comes from its visual impact. The fact that no one knows the precise description and arrangement of the various elements of the Menorah has given rise to thousands of years of endless speculation and contemplation. The prophet Zechariah saw its image as a striking Divine message. Philosophers have seen it as a model for conceptual categories or cosmic patterns. Mystics have seen it as a rich source for meditation. Indeed, of all the Jewish images, that of the Menorah has been the most ubiquitous. From the Exodus to today, it has been intimately connected with our people. For me, its three most prominent features perfectly capture much of the essence of Judaism. Its most immediate characteristic is its perfect balance. I believe that the perfection of Judaism derives to a very large extent from its harmonious balance in virtually all aspects of life. All the forces, factors, and aspects of the universe and of life are acknowledged, accepted, embraced, and then balanced in perfect harmony. What better image could there be of this than the Menorah’s arms reaching outward to embrace all and to bring them into that strong, perfectly centered middle column? This is the horizontal aspect of the Menorah. Vertically too, the Menorah seems to be a very apt image of Judaism. Like Judaism it is firmly rooted in the earth and delights in all the details of the earthiness of life—food, agriculture, sex, work, society, commerce, politics. Judaism, however, takes all these earthy elements and sanctifies them by raising them upward like the branches of the Menorah. Both functionally and etymologically the Menorah is essentially about light. It is a source of physical light and a symbol of divine light. Atop each branch is a pure, shining light suggesting that the Godly light that fills the universe is somehow accessible to us if we seek it.
This piece incorporates the fourth verse of Psalm 105 with the Hebrew lettering formed by the negative (light) spaces left between the dark geometric patterns:
Seek the Lord and His strength; Yearn for His presence constantly.
The acts of seeking and yearning both imply a constant, never-ending, lifelong process. The Midrash Tanchumah quotes this verse and states: Sometimes He appears; sometimes He does not. Sometimes He hears; sometimes He does not. Sometimes He answers; sometimes He does not. Sometimes He is close; sometimes He is not. The circular form in which I have made this piece reflects this fundamental truth of the religious life. The verse reads over and over again just as the acts of seeking and yearning never end. Each Hebrew personal name has a biblical verse associated with it. This is a verse that incorporates the name itself or begins and ends with the same letters as the name. Many people add this personal verse at the end of their recitation of each Amidah—the central prayer of every service. Psalm 105:4 is my personal verse. Like the name David, it begins and ends with the letter Dalet.
The Dream Map
Created in a medieval style and features designs and text referring to the land and cities of Eretz Yisrael. The blue and red names are the tribes of Israel in their historic locations. The seas and cities are depicted and biblical and Talmudic text are appropriately inscribed. It is a limited edition print, 16” x 20”, printed on acid-free paper. It is signed and numbered, in an edition of 500 prints, and shipped in a folio with a written description of the work.
83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94
The Alphabet of The Angel Metatron
The Alphabet of the Angel Metatron is a folio of 23 hand-colored serigraphs inspired by the crytpo-Hebrew letters created in the first century CE and used for Jewish magic. The prints are packaged in a black and clear Acrylic box, which allows the letters to be selectively presented, and the box can be wall mounted.
The prints are on 300 gr. Arches paper, limited to 130 exemplars, numbered and signed.
The regular edition consists of one set of prints.
We offer a deluxe set consisting of two specially numbered sets in three boxes. All Hebrew root words can be made with only three letters, only two of which repeat, so with this set all root words can be displayed.
$1,000 for regular edition + shipping.
$1,900 for deluxe edition + shipping.
41 42 43 44
I realized that the bold graphic designs that I created for my portfolio of 22 prints, entitled The Alphabet of the Angel Metatron, would work beautifully on a much larger scale. I used the same elements as the Metatron letters, the concentric double disks in primary colors for the “eyes” of the letters, the powerful, parallel black and white stripes that form the interconnections and the flat black backgrounds, but this time I based the letters on the regular Hebrew alphabet rather than the esoteric Metatron letters. I have been working through the entire alphabet, creating a very large original acrylic painting for each letter. These images have been turned into stunning, high-quality giclee prints. The high contrast and deep saturated colors work beautifully in these prints. We will be offering a small number of portfolios of the entire alphabet in one or two formats; tentatively we”re considering 35” x 23” and 23” x 16”
Prints of individual letters will also be available. These will make wonderful sets for homes or organizations. The letters could be selected to spell out family names, initials, monograms, or names of organizations. If the letters of a first name were selected these would make very lovely gifts for new babies or B”nai Mitzvah children. A meaningful three-letter Hebrew root or word could be chosen to highlight a Jewish concept or value, such as shalom, tzedakah, chessed, tikkun.
20 22 62 63 68 71
The Binding of Isaac: A Story without Words
The Binding of Isaac: A Story without Words
7 7/8” x 23’
The edition is limited to four hundred sets
bearing the numbers1/400.
Two Hundred sets come in the format of an accordion book
Two hundred sets come in scroll form for hanging or mounting.
Both pieces are accompanied by a color transation/explanation booklet.
The Binding of Isaac: A Story without Words.
This book was originally designed as a mural for the Akibah Academy on the Schultz Rosenberg Campus in Dallas. I designed this piece as a 45-foot canvas mural in three sections running down the entire wall of the central hall of the primary school. I created the original as a collage using cut, colored papers. This was then scanned and refined to create the mural as well as this fine art giclee print.
I had long been fascinated by the wordless graphic novels done in the thirties by artists like Lynn Ward and Franz Maaserel. These powerful, full-length books of woodcuts printed in strong black and white were certainly an influence on this present work.
But the most direct spur to this piece came during the period I was working on the school. At the “Arthur and Matilda Library of Books as Aesthetic Objects” I caught a brief glimpse of a work of the Swiss artist Warja Lavater. It was a fairy tale done as a little folding book made entirely with colorful images. I was captivated and charmed by the thought that such simple images could convey a story.
For the mural I decided to try my hand at a wordless retelling of a Biblical story. I chose the mysterious, elevating haunting and frightening tale of the Binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. It is a foundation story of our people, a token of our absolute commitment to God and a token of God’s absolute commitment to us. It’s a magical, elemental story with a pulsating rhythm that attracts, fascinates, rivets, scares and enchants children and adults.
I chose an approach somewhat different than Lavater’s both in the way I made the correspondence between concepts and images and the way I presented the flow of the story. I extracted the ten key elements of the story and assigned each a color.
Unlike Lavater, I made no attempt to make a correspondence to shape or form of the elements. Those I would let change freely as the story demanded. I also chose to represent the pulsating, musical rhythm of the story by using distinct groupings of images, one following the other, very much as I heard the perfect phrasing of the Hebrew that slowly builds up the inexorable power of the story.
My decision to ignore any correspondence to shape for the elements allowed me interesting ways to subtly comment on the story.
In verse five Abraham tells his servants that “I and the lad will go there and we will prostrate ourselves and we will return to you.” Who is the ‘we’ that will return? I’ve shown Abraham returning indeed, but Isaac is merely a trace of a possibility of a shadow.
The horn of the ram in Isaacs heart-piercing question in verse eight, itself becomes a poignant question mark. “Here is the fire and here is the wood, but where is the ram for the sacrifice?”
After this question, Isaac—up till now portrayed in sharp rectilinear lines—himself becomes slightly curved like the horns of the ram he does not see but may become.
For me the denouement of the story is verse eighteen as God promises Abraham:
And through your seed shall all the peoples of the earth be blessed for you have listened to My voice.
These nine Hebrew words constitute an eternal mission for the Jewish people. They are at the same time a blessing and a charge, an honor and a duty, a promise and a hope. This verse became the mandala-like image in the story. It was later produced as a separate, large art print to be used as a gift to donors and as a fund-raiser for the school. Only much later did I realize that it almost perfectly reflected one of the very first things I designed for the campus. The round Bet Midrash, representing the place of Torah, the word of God sits firmly in the center of the campus. All the other buildings surround it with meaningful gaps between them. These represent the school’s commitment to be centered in Judaism and Torah, but open to bringing in the best of the outside world and especially to carry the best of Torah out to the entire surrounding community. This is exactly the message of verse eighteen.
The delight in this piece came just before I was about to take it off to Dallas and present the idea to the committee. Before I did, I wanted to first test it out on a child. I decided to show the model collage to my seven-year old granddaughter, Hallel. Our whole family was gathered together. We spread out the long piece on our dining room table and I proceeded to tell her the story as I pointed to each image in turn. She listened carefull as her eyes took in each picture. I could see she was transfixed. When I reached the very end, I turned the whole thing back to the beginning and said, “Now you tell it to us, Hallel.” Without a moment’s hesitation she proceeded to recite the entire story, word for word, pointing to the images as she went. She missed nothing. We were all stunned.
I knew then that this piece would do exactly what I wanted it too: empower children to master the mystery of a story without words, and to be able to translate it in their own words and present it to others.
It is my hope that the children of the Akiba Academy in Dallas and all the children that see these prints will become the docents of these few but powerful words of Torah to their friends, their parents and to “all the peoples of the earth”.
A Limited Edition Print.
The denouement of the story of the Binding of Isaac is verse 18, as God promises Abraham: And through your seed shall all the peoples of the earth be blessed for you have listened to My voice.” These nine Hebrew words constitute an eternal mission for the Jewish people. They are at the same time a blessing and a charge, an honor and a duty, a promise and a hope. This verse became the mandela-like image in the story without words, I did originally as a mural for the Akiba Academy in Dallas. It was then produced as a separate, giclee art print. Later, I realized that it almost perfectly reflected one of the very first things I helped design for the campus. The round Bet Midrash, representing the place of Torah, sits in the center of the campus. All the other buildings surround it with meaningful gaps between them. These represent the school’s commitment to be centered in Judaism and Torah, but open to bringing in the best of the outside world and especially to carry the best of Torah out to the entire surrounding community. This is exactly the message of verse 18, which is depicted in this print.
Signed and numbered, 15” x 12”
Limited to 350 copies.
Giclee print on Epson Fine Art 225 gram paper
$200 + shipping
A signed, limited-edition, giclee print by David Moss
Edition limited to 218 exemplars:
1/200 to 200/200
18 Artist proofs marked A/P
16 7/8″ x 11 3/4″
Printing: Yair Medinah, Jerusalem Fine Art Prints.
Paper: Epson 225 gram Fine Art Paper
Two-Hundred Dollars SOLD OUT
A seemingly trivial problem had me stumped: how to finish the main part of Love Letters, my book on Jewish love and marriage. I had divided the works into seven sections. I knew that the next thing to follow the last section was the list of attributions. Yet I sensed that to just display the last Ketubah and finish off with the letters I had written the couples did not provide the closure I was seeking. I tried moving various parts of the text from the introduction into the back as an epilogue. Nothing seemed right.
Traditional Jewish books end with the six-letter acronym: Tav.Vav.Shin.Lamed.Bet. Ayin which stands for Tam V’nishlam, Shevach L’El Boreh Olam. A very fitting ending to any sustained work of years of creative energy. It means “Finished and Completed [with] Praise to God, the Creator of the Universe.”
Somehow every creation brings us back to a keen awareness of The Creation. Yet what is the relationship between the Creator and the created? In a sense, the story of creation culminates with the verse:
And God created Humanity in His own image, in the image of God, He created it; male and female, He created them.
Volumes have been written to expound the multitude of opinions on what this Biblical verse implies. In what sense were we created in the image of God? How do we resemble God? Were we created with a spark of the Divine? Were we endowed with a portion of Divine wisdom? Is the human soul somehow of a Godly essence? Is our similarity in our ability to wield immense power? Does it have to do with our gift of free will? Is it our ability to make moral and ethical decisions?
I believe that part of the divine image in us is our gift to create. Though incomparably different from divine creation, we humans can originate. We can innovate, we can invent. We can bring new forms into being. We can structure, organize and generate little worlds of our own, in a poem, a novel, a treatise, a painting, a building, a city, a culture. Like God, we can even participate in making people. The verse concludes “male and female He created them.”Are we somehow being God-like when we do all this? I believe we are. Is there a danger in doing it? I believe there is. The story of the tower of Babel makes it clear that human design and building can also run amok. Yet the immense power of human creativity for noble causes remains inspired. The creative act can engage the very best of the human/divine spirit in ways that few other modalities can.
Acknowledging and praising the Creator on the completion of a book collecting a lifetime of creative work on the re-creation of a document symbolic of the creative union of male and female felt just right.
Yet the gap between divine and human creativity remains infinite. Hebrew distinguishes this carefully. The verb that opens Genesis is Barah “In the beginning God Barah the heavens and the earth” In the traditional phrase of completion of a book praising God the same verb is used. I believe this verb is never used in the Bible for people. Human creativity is of a different kind. It has a different verb: Yatzar. This is what the potter does. She forms, she molds, she shapes, she structures. She brings earth and water, hands and tools, kiln and fire together to ‘create’ something new. Human creativity is about bringing the God-created elements of our world together to make new things. The poet combines words. The composer combines sounds. The painter combines colors.
To acknowledge, thank and elevate my physical helpers, the precious tools that have allowed me to make all these works, I placed them boldly on this page:
- The turkey feather, cut into a quill, effortlessly writes minute letters for me.
- The crow-quill, steel pen, flexible, delicate and responsive, precisely outlines for me.
- The large-nibbed pen, dipped in ink or paint, patiently draws for me.
- The razor sharp scalpel makes intricate, lacy cuts in paper or parchment while only rarely harming me.
- The bamboo tomato stake, cut to a broad edge, graciously writes year after year for me.
(I apologize to the pencils, brushes, rulers, burnishers, inks, paints, gold-leaf, erasers and so many other friends I couldn’t include.)
For me these tools must not be thought of as mere servants, there to do my will. They are partners. It is perhaps most accurate to say that they are teachers. By listening to them very carefully, I have learned what each one most wants to do, what stroke it delights in, what flourishes it relishes. My tools have taught me much. At the business end of each tool, I included a snippet from one of the ketubot in the book of the kind of work that tool might do.
The image of the tools doing their work seemed to me the appropriate ending I was seeking. It was inserted not only as the last page of the body of the book, but as the last thing to be included. I put it in after the editors and publisher had seen final copy. When my wife, Rosalyn, saw it she immediately loved it and realized that it could stand alone as a print. She requested that a fine art print of the image be made for her. It came out perfectly and she had it beautifully framed. Requests started to come in and we decided to edition it.
I suppose this print is a grateful acknowledgement of all the innumerable gifts I have been given: the Divine gifts of soul and spirit, of hands and heart, of books and teachers, of clients and patrons, of family and friends, of tools and materials, of knowledge and understanding, of health and wealth, of time and energy, of patience and persistence, and of the knowledge that I, too, can sometimes be a useful tool.
Tam V’nishlam, Shevach L’El Boreh Olam
In this colorful limited edition print of Psalm 93, I celebrate the Ta’amei HaMikrah, or trop—the cantillation symbols of our sacred texts. In addition to the vowel signs, every verse of the Bible is marked with these special symbols that indicate how to chant the verse. These ancient markings are perhaps the oldest commentary to the Bible, for they indicate which words are connected and where there are pauses, thus forming a punctuation system. Some believe their lively shapes were derived from hand motions given to the reader, so he would know the musical rises and falls of each word as he chanted every verse. In this print, I constructed colorful columns made of the specific cantillations for each phrase. Every column reads upward, suggesting the joyously sung music rising heavenward. Psalm 93 praises God in all His grandeur and is sung during the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat service. This work is an attempt to bring the traditional music of one of the oldest Jewish hymns to life in a contemporary, graphic form.
This print makes a delightful gift that is appropriate for all occasions, but would be especially meaningful for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah who has just joined the scores of generations who have mastered our ancient Jewish system of musical
$250 + shipping
Blessing For The Home
May there be Peace within your walls, and tranquilty within your home.
The text for this work seemed an appropriate one for a home. In the Psalm, from which this verse is taken, the Psalmist prays fervently for the welfare of Jerusalem and seeks peace for all the homes of Israel, from small to great. The style I selected for this piece was that of the lovely Byzantine mosaics that are found throughout the Land of Israel. Some of the most intriguing are those that were in the ancient synagogues. Typically, in these synagogue mosaics, we find a graphic reference to the ultimate Jewish home, the Bet HaMikdash—The Temple—included. Some of the most common of such elements is shown here: the lulav and etrog used during the joyous Sukkot celebrations. Sukkot seemed especially relevant for a home blessing, since it is during this week, when we leave the apparent protection of our houses and live only under the protection of God, that we most appreciate and most deeply understand what home means. The Meir Eynaim, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Chernoble, beautifully makes this point by comparing the covering of the Sukkah, the s’chach (from which Sukkah gets its name) to the way God’s bounty, protection, and presence are both revealed and concealed in this world like the glimpses we gain through the lattice pattern of the foliage of our sukkot. There are several interesting Yemenite customs that connect the lulav and etrog to the home. Some families kept the lulav and etrog near the door of their homes after the holiday was over. Others kept them within the house all year. I made all the tiny squares of this piece representing the many tesserae of a mosaic with a traditional quill dipped in paint instead of ink. The original, made as a housewarming gift for a good friend, was considerably smaller than it appears in this print. I pray this prayer for domestic peace expressed in this small, detailed work is fulfilled within all homes in Jerusalem, in Israel and in the entire world: 22.5×27 cm $120.