Face Of Sabbath

Face Of Sabbath
Type: Oil
Dimensions: Width/Height (in inches) 48/36
Year: 2002

This painting gives visual representation to the lyrical, poetic Sabbath song “Lecha doedee lekrat kallah”, “come my beloved and let us greet the Sabbath bride, the face of Shabbat let us welcome” which is sung Friday nights to greet the incoming Shabbat. It was composed by the sixteenth century Safed Kabbalist, Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz. The background of the painting is the face of Sabbath, i.e. the divine presence (shechina). The eyes’ pupils contain multiple human embryos. Each falling tear heralds the arrival of a newly created human being.

In this painting, tears doubling as angels are falling into the waters of earth. Within these tears are also Kiddush cups with the words of another Sabbath hymn, “woman of valor” addressed from husband to wife reciting the verses “outer beauty and pleasantness are mere illusions”. On the angel’s wings are written the words of the Friday night benediction derived from Genesis, “and G-d concluded the heavens and the earth, and he concluded on the seventh day of his work”.

The nose of the face is composed of an anthropomorphized temple/Shabbat menorah. The branches of the menorah are the arms. Centrally is a two headed individual, the central candle which burns with the letters “Aleph Sof,” “Ein Sof” “, infinity”, “G-d”. The two heads are so positioned to represent an inverse reflection of the cherubim found in the temple i.e. instead of facing each other they face away from each other. Each candle is composed of a singing priest with their hands held up in priestly benediction, blessing the Sabbath and the new born creations. Their heads are covered with miters in the form of flames. The Sabbath face’s beard is composed of two challas, (Sabbath braided bread) that are eaten during the Sabbath meal. Emanating from each of the two challas is a “Kallah”, a “bride”. Two brides for the two faced reverse cherubim. The brides are wearing crowns labeling them as two spherot of theKabbalistic G-d head; “Tiferet”, “beauty”, and “Malkut”, “royalty”.

Written on the Challa/beard is a pun of one of the stanzas of the Sabbath song,”bowee Kalla, bowee, Kalla”, “come my bride, come my bride”. In this painting it is translated “come my bride, come my challa”. Within these words, the letters of G-d are outlined in white. The cheeks of the Sabbath face are composed of different worlds. On one world is written “Shamor”, “keep the Sabbath” and on the other world is written “Zechor”, “remember the Sabbath”, which are words derived from the two versions of the Ten Commandments with respect to honoring the Sabbath. The background of the painting consists of a combination of night sky, day sky, and dawn sky, and dispersed clouds, with lightning emanating from the priests’ hands which doubles as eyebrows.. Written on the lips is Shaddai, another name for G-d.