The Family Amromovitz: Teamwork

The Family Amromovitz: Teamwork
Type: Oil
Dimensions: Width/Height (in inches) 60/48
Year: 2005

Moses the lawgiver who received the Ten Commandments from G-d on Shavuot would not have lived to do so, and could not have accomplished what he had, without the help and actions of his brother Aaron and his sister Miriam. Upon Pharaoh’s instruction that all male children be killed, Moses at the age of three months is placed in a reed basket into the Nile under the watchful eye of Miriam. Pharaoh’s daughter takes mercy on the crying child and raises him in her father’s court.

The painting illustrates Miriam and Aaron on the sunny right hand side of the Nile. Miriam is delicately and reluctantly transferring the crying Moses child to Pharaoh’s daughter so that he may live. Miriam is portrayed with her tambourine cast over her shoulder, and with leprous hands, thereby combining in one image the pivotal actions of her entire life. Aaron is portrayed as a child with a childishly placed Priest’s cap and breastplate overseeing Moses’ transfer, with his hands raised in priestly benediction. The bird is flying heavenward to G-d like a temple animal sacrifice. On the left is Pharaoh’s daughter wearing her pharoic headgear with the red disc of Ra symbolizing the major Egyptian deity, one of many deities that G-d is jealous of. The pyramid with multiple Eyes of Horus is in the background of the cold Egyptian night representing the darkness into which Moses was thrust in order to survive.

Again the multiple textual and image nuances are too plentiful to diiscuss in this brief space.

Moses is portrayed as an infant with a beard, giving you the impression that you are watching a movie of his life as he is aging in fast-forward, seeing him as a child and as an adult almost simultaneously. Thus two discrete space-time coordinates are overlapping. Years later as a bearded adult he is on top of the mountain beckoning G-d and receiving the Ten Commandments. The Nile/water is also in this fast-forward movie, simultaneously transforming into Mount Sinai on top of which are the two tablets. The entire Ten Commandments are written on the tablets in ancient Hebrew.

According to legend the same divine writing could be seen on both sides of the tablets. In deference to this midrash, in this painting, alternate lines of the ten commandments are written either from right to left, or from left to right in reverse mirror image. This relays the mystical transparent nature of the tablets. The placement of Aaron’s right hand vis-à-vis the tablets also provide a veiled sense of tablet transparency. The circular mystical emanations from the tablets give the impression of rotating cylinders actively downloading the code of Torah into Moses’ umbilical cord DNA. Moses’ hands are branded with the ancient Hebrew letters Aleph and Sof which stand for Ein Sof, No End, G-d.

The infant Moses is crying because of separation anxiety from his mother whose name is “Yocheved”, which means “God’s glory”. The painting melds the separation cry of the Moses child who will no longer see the face of his mother, with the sublimated, lonely cry of adult Moses who is forever seeking and searching for G-d’s hidden face (Kevodechuh) who he also can not and will never see. God’s face will remain as elusive to him as an adult as his mother’s face was to him as a child. The hand maidens who saved Moses’ life are portrayed as talking fish in the Nile water.