Compassion / Largess / Loving All / Hesed
Strength / Judgment / Setting Limits / Gevurah
Beauty / Aesthetic Balance / Inner Elegance / Tiferet
Success / Orchestration / Eternity / Netzah
Splendor / Gracefulness / Magnificence / Hod
Foundation / Integrating All/ Gateway to Action / Yesod
Read praise for PHOTOGRAPH GOD below. Purchase the book at http://amazon.com
01 March 2015
27 February 2015
Thinks Brilliantly Outside the Box
Those with prior knowledge of any or all of the disciplines from which Alexenberg draws will smile again and again in affirmation, and those entering without prior knowledge will be thrilled to understand things that they thought might be beyond them. This is one of those books that other thinkers will wish they had somehow thought about how to write, and to which readers of diverse sorts will simply respond by saying: wow!" - Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, author of Tradition and Transformation: Definition and the Historical Challenge of "Jewish" Art, Professorial Lecturer, Georgetown University, former Director, National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC
26 February 2015
A Scintillating Experiment in Creativity
25 February 2015
Amazing Perspective on iPhone Culture
24 February 2015
Kabbalah and Contemporary Culture
23 February 2015
Digital Culture and Jewish Wisdom
22 February 2015
Mystical Computer Program for Spiritual Seeing
21 February 2015
Parallels in Christian Thought
20 February 2015
Sacred Dimensions of Our Lives
25 February 2013
Creating a Spiritual Blog of Your Life
Abraham rushed to the tent to Sarah and said, “Hurry! Take three measures of the finest flour! Kneed it and make rolls!” Abraham ran to the cattle to choose a tender and choice calf. (Genesis 18:6,7)
Abraham ran after a calf that ran away from him into a cave that was the burial place of Adam and Eve.
At the far end of the cave, he saw intense light emanating from an opening.
When he came close to the opening, he found himself standing at the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
About to enter the pristine garden, he remembered that his wife and three guests were waiting for lunch back at the tent.
What should he do? Should he trade Paradise for a barbeque?
The Bible tells us that he chose to return to the tent and join his wife in making a meal for their three guests.
Abraham realized that Paradise is what we create with our spouse at home.
Other visions of Paradise are either mirages or lies.
Adam and Eve had a vegetarian kitchen.
Spirituality emerged from our collaboration making a potato casserole for our guests.
We bought potatoes and scallions in Avi’s vegetable store and cottage cheese and grated yellow cheese in Bella’s grocery.
We baked the potatoes in the microwave, sliced them into the baking pan and covered them with the cheeses.
Miriam washed the scallions, cut them up, and sprinkled them over layers of cheese-covered potatoes.
After the casserole was baked, we served it to our guests.
Photograph God in Your Kitchen
This biblical narrative linked to revealing God in a contemporary kitchen is a posting from the “Torah Tweets” blog http://bibleblogyourlife.blogspot.com that presents the core concept of this book that we can photograph God in all that happens in our everyday life. Although its ideas are derived from the Hebrew Bible and kabbalah, its message speaks to people of all religions and spiritual traditions.
The book begins by teaching you how to make an invisible God become visible through your creative lens. It draws on the ancient wisdom of kabbalah to help you recognize that you have been looking at God all the time and often missed the action. It helps you develop conceptual and practical tools for photographing God as divine light reflected from every facet of your life.
Having learned how to focus your lens on God wherever you look will help you create blog narratives gleaned from your reading the Bible creatively.
You will be encouraged to explore imaginative ways for blogging photographic sequences that link two stories – the story of your life as it unfolds and the enduring biblical story. You will learn creative ways to write accompanying tweet texts to disseminate worldwide through Twitter and other social media. 52 postings from the “Torah Tweets” blogart project that my wife, the artist Miriam Benjamin, and I created offers a model for your Bible blogging.
This book invites other couples who find the Bible an inspiration to celebrate their relationship by creating their own blog. Spiritual blogging can also be a meaningful way for individuals and families to reveal spirituality in their lives.
Our “Torah Tweets” blog is a dialogue between images and text. The images are photographs of God as the moving force in our lives. The text is composed of tweets, sentences of not more than 140 characters required by the Twitter social networking website. Limiting the number of words in the "Torah Tweets" blog posts is a creative challenge that imitates the Torah itself which does not waste words. Torah tweets are like bursts of bird song that sometimes gain a haiku-like poetic flavor. 140 is the numerical value (gematria) of the Hebrew word hakel, which means to gather people together to share a Torah learning experience as in Leviticus 8:3 and Deuteronomy 4:10.
Our year-long blogart project is a narrative art form that reveals a paradigm shift from the Greek to the Hebraic roots of Western Culture. The conceptual background for the "Torah Tweets" blog is offered in my book The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press). It explores new art forms emerging from the postdigital age that address the humanization of digital technologies. My discussion of blogart reveals the contrast between static, moderate, passive Hellenistic consciousness revived in the Renaissance and dynamic, open-ended, action-centered Hebraic consciousness at the core of postmodern art.
A blog is a web log, an active diary of a living process in a networked world, rather than still life contained by a golden frame. The “Torah Tweets” blog transforms the mundane into the spiritual, the ordinary into the extraordinary, and experiences of daily living into expressions of biblical values. The blog begins with quotations that all present this idea from alternative viewpoints.
"For the Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp." (Deuteronomy 23:15)
"Judaism does not direct its gaze upward but downward ... does not aspire to a heavenly transcendence, nor does it seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality. It fixes its gaze upon concrete, empirical reality permeating every nook and cranny of life. The marketplace, the factory, the street, the house, the mall, the banquet hall, all constitute the backdrop of religious life." (R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik)
"It is not enough for the Jew to rest content with his own spiritual ascent, the elevation of his soul in closeness to G-d, he must strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of it - the world of his work and his social life - until not only do they not distract him from his pursuit of G-d, but they become a full part of it." (R. Menachem M. Schneerson)
"If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture, it will be ground-level, on the street, it'll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else." (E. L. Doctorow)
"The first message that Moses chose to teach the Jewish people as they were about to enter the Land of Israel was to fuse heaven to earth, to enable the mundane to rise up and touch the Divine, the spiritual to vitalize the physical, not only as individuals but as an entire nation." (R. Abraham Y. Kook)
13 February 2010
Searching for God Exhibition
Ohio State University - Marion Campus
Ohio State University students, visitors to the Searching for God exhibition, and people throughout the world are invited to participate in the Photograph God project by sharing their images and thoughts with others globally.
Photograph events in your everyday life that reveal the divine attributes of compassion, strength, beauty, success, splendor, integration. Send two photographs that document a process like a comic strip or storyboard sequence with a sentence identifying the place where the event took place and how it expresses one of the six divine attributes. Send your photographs as jpg images (300-400 pixels wide) and your text as a Word document to: firstname.lastname@example.org
09 May 2008
How to Photograph God
Focus your camera lens on God and you will see God looking back at you. Seeing God is seeing divine light reflected from every facet of your life. The ancient wisdom of kabbalah will help you recognize that you have been looking at God all the time but missed the action.
You only see light. You have never seen your mother, father, spouse, or children. You only have seen the light reflected from them. You only see light passing through your eye’s lens, stimulating the rods and cones in your retina, and transmitting the forms and colors of those you love to your brain. Just as you enjoy seeing your loved ones from the light they reflect, you can find joy seeing divine light reflected from every place you look. This blog teaches how to see the spectrum of divine light through your camera lens.
Photograph God in Reflections of Reality
God does not exist in reality. God is reality itself. Rabbi David Aaron, who teaches kabbalah in the Old City of Jerusalem, explains in his book, Seeing God, that God is the all-embracing context for everything. In Hebrew, God is called Hamakom, which means “The Place.” God is the place where everything is happening. You do not exist alongside God; you exist within God, within the only one reality that is God. Everything is in God, God is in everything, but God is also beyond everything.
Seeing God is all about getting in touch with reality. If you want to photograph God, focus your lens on Hamakom, The Place, anyplace where you see divine light illuminating reality. Let your camera collect the light reflecting from the reality shaping your everyday life and you will find yourself photographing God in action.
To photograph God as the place where all action takes place, you need to redefine the English word “God,” a Germanic word conjuring up images of some all-powerful being zapping us if we step out of line. This is an alien concept in kabbalah. Names for God in biblical Hebrew are not really names for God at all. They are names linked to divine attributes. Hebrew speakers call God Hashem, literally “The Name.” When you read “God” here, think of the Hebrew word Hashem, The Name of the nameless One encompassing all of reality and beyond.
Photograph God as a Verb
God is a verb. God is no thing – nothing in the process of becoming everything. The great 16th century kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as The Ari, calls God Ha’efes Hamukhlat, “The Absolute Nothingness,” as well as Ein Sof, “Endless.” God is One, infinite nothingness and everything in the universe all at once.
You can discern God over time, in the flow, in the action, in the process of something becoming something else. The primary biblical divine name YHVH, usually translated as “God,” should really be translated as “Is-Was-Will Be.” YHVH integrates past, present, and future of the verb “to be.” It is associated with the divine attribute of inner beauty (tiferet). When beauty hidden in the mundane suddenly jumps out at you, catch the action in a series of photographs of Is-Was-Will Be. Don’t freeze the action in a still-life picture, nature morte (dead life in French).
Photograph living processes in a series of images like comic strip or storyboard sequences. Show before and after. Photograph KUZU. KUZU is YHVH in motion. The biblical passage beginning with “Hear, O Israel, YHVH is our God, YHVH is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), is written by a scribe on small parchment scrolls affixed to doorposts in Jewish homes. These mini-Torahs called mezuzot, a word derived from the root zaz, which means to move. Each scroll is rolled up with the biblical text on the inside. On the outside of the scroll at the place on the reverse side of where YHVH is written, the scribe writes KUZU to set God in motion.
K-U-Z-U is spelled with each of the four letters that follow Y-H-V-H in the Hebrew alphabet. K follows Y, U follows H, Z follows V, and U follows H. It is if we were to write GOD as HPE, H being the letter following G, P the letter following O, and E the letter following D. In addition to moving each of the letters in YHVH forward, KUZU is written upside-down to invite us to see God in motion from multiple viewpoints. Photograph KUZU.
Photograph God in Every Nook and Cranny of Life
Look for God in every aspect of your life. Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century, teaches that you should not direct your glance upward but downward, not aspire to a heavenly transcendence nor seek to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality, but to fix your gaze upon concrete reality. He emphasizes that you should not confine your search for God to houses of worship for you can find God penetrating into every nook and cranny of life. Photograph God in the details of empirical reality permeating your daily mundane activities.
Photograph God in Your Work and Social Life
Draw God down into everything you do. The Lubavicher Rebbe, Menachem M. Schneerson, the greatest contemporary Hasidic master, emphasizes that it is not enough to rest content with your own spiritual ascent, the elevation of your soul in closeness to God. You must also strive to draw spirituality down into the world and into every part of your involvement with it – your work and your social life – until not only do they not distract you from your pursuit of God, but they become a full part of it. Photograph God in your relationships with others.
Photograph God at Ground Level
In his acclaimed novel, The City of God, E. L. Doctorow echoes these rabbinic thoughts: “If there is a religious agency in our lives, it has to appear in the manner of our times. Not from on high, but a revelation that hides itself in our culture, it will be ground-level, on the street, it’ll be coming down the avenue in the traffic, hard to tell apart from anything else. It will be cryptic, discerned over time, piecemeal, to be communally understood at the end like a law of science.” Photograph God everywhere you go and in everything you do.
Photograph God in the Still Silent Voice
Living for seven years in the Negev desert, I would frequently walk through the desert mountains where a strong silence surrounded me and followed me. The silence grew more intense as I stopped to stoop down to get a close look at a tiny flowering plant emerging from the crevice of a rock. The Hebrew word for “desert” MiDBaR is spelled with the same letters as the word for “speaking” MiDaBeR. The desert speaks softly about delicate forms of life. In the desert, you can see the quiet voice of God. In the Sinai desert, “all the people saw the sounds” (Exodus 20:15) rather than heard them.
Standing on a desert mountain, the prophet Elijah saw a great powerful wind, smashing mountains and breaking rocks. After the wind came an earthquake and after the earthquake was fire and after the fire there was a still silent voice. Elijah saw God in the still silent voice, rather than in the mighty wind, rather than in the rumbling earthquake, rather than in the raging fire. (I Kings 19:11-12). Listen for the still silent voice as you photograph God in the intimate spaces and minute details of your life. Transform your vision of small ordinary events into extraordinary images.
Photograph the Spectrum of Divine LightJust as a prism breaks up white light into the colors of the spectrum, kabbalah reveals a spectrum of divine light derived from the biblical passage “You God are the compassion, the strength, the beauty, the success, the splendor, and everything in heaven and on earth” (Chronicles 1:29). Look for these six attributes of divine light flowing down into your life.
Hesed: Compassion / Largess / Loving All
Gevurah: Strength / Judgment / Setting Limits
Tifert: Beauty / Aesthetic Balance / Inner Elegance
Netzakh: Success / Orchestration / Eternity
Hod: Splendor / Gracefulness / Magnificence
Yesod: Foundation / Everything Integrated / Gateway to Action
Focus on episodes expressing these attributes as you walk through the streets, ride on a bus, shop in the mall, dance at a wedding, hike in the countryside, or come home from work. “God walks in the midst of your camp” (Deuteronomy 23:15). KeReV, the Hebrew word for “midst,” shares the same root as being “close” KaRoV. As you sense the closeness of God walking with you, create six sets of pictures revealing the spectrum of divine light that you see all around you.
Let God Look Back at You
Photographer Jan Phillips quotes from Rabbi Elimelech as she shares her thoughts about focusing her lens on God in her book on photography and creativity, God is at Eye Level: “Whoever does not see God in every place does not see God in any place…. My eyes find God everywhere, in every living thing, creature, person, in every act of kindness, act of nature, act of grace. Everywhere I look, there God is looking back, looking straight back.”
My students at Ariel University and Emuna College in Jerusalem created most of the photographic sequences posted in this blog.
20 April 2007
Yesod: 5 Generations
31 January 2007
Hesed: Compassionate Intervention
Gevurah: Strength is Defending Home
Tiferet: Beauty is Coming Home
Netzakh: Eternal Cycle of Sky and Sea
Hod: Splendor as Graceful Flight
Yesod: Bread as Foundation of Life
11 July 2006
Splendor/Hod as the Echo of a Kiss
02 July 2006
Teaching/Learning as Foundation/Yesod
Michal Hadari photographed a father learning Torah with his son. He is building a foundation for successfully transmitting Jewish values from generation to generation assuring a splendid future. The biblical injunction “to diligently teach your children” forms a central part of the daily liturgy. Foundation/yesod integrates the attributes of success/continuity/eternity/netzach with splendor/hod.
Hesed on Her Wedding Day
Success from a Lizard's Viewpoint
01 July 2006
Netzach as Continuity
Merav Razon sees the birth of a child in the modern State of Israel as an expression of netzach. It is a divine event attesting to the continuity of the Jewish People despite millennia of bitter exile. The prophet Isaiah links the words “from generation to generation for all eternity (l’netzach netzachim)” to the joyous return to their homeland “coming to Zion with glad song, with eternal gladness.”
30 June 2006
Success/Netzach from Poland to Israel
Dalia Sharvit sees Success/Netzach as the victory of good over evil and eternal love of the Jewish people for its Torah. As a participant, she photographed the "March of the Living" to Nazi death camps in Poland to never forget the horrible nighmare and unimagineable suffering of millions of Jews murdered there. On her return home to Israel, she photographed strength/gevurah showing her brave peers defending their country against its current enemies seeking to destroy it while beginning their dangerous day in praise of Hashem and in chanting the eternal words of the Torah.
29 June 2006
Foundation/Yesod as Growing Food
Compassion/Hesed as Love and Food
Keren Atiya sees compassion/hesed as a process that begins with hungry cats, hungry for love and food, surrounding a man who has seen much in his life who chose to respond to their hunger. He pets them, satisfying their hunger for love, and then portions out food for each of them making sure there is enough for all.