Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Heal the world.

In Eikev, Moses tells the Children of Israel that they will soon enter the Promised Land. After forty years of wandering in the desert and experiencing many trials from which they emerge—sometimes imperfectly—God now allows them to take the next step. As I said yesterday, Moses spent time reminding the Israelites that they need to remember the Law and Covenant and not become complacent.

These days it’s easy to become complacent when things are going well. The road is smooth and we kick back and relax. After all we did all the work, right? We made the success happen, right? G’d had nothing to do with it, right? But if we look at the other side of the coin, we give thanks to G’d when we get out of a tight spot or when tough times get easier. When loved ones return home safly, or recover from an illness, we give G’d thanks. Eikev reminds us that we also need to thank G’d when times are good…..for all our blessings.

We can do so by following the “commandments” given to us, By saying the blessings after meals, by mitzvot, and doing “good deeds”. We can help others who are less fortunate, without wanting or needing recognition for such deeds. Go serve at a soup kitchen, help an elderly neighbor, teach your children to share toys they don’t use. In my case, perhaps from being a paramedic for 25 years, I choose to do mitzvot by collecting for Magan David. The artist in me chooses to teach the children at shul to create beads and other items to send to sick children in hospitals, or like last year, to the children in Israel who were living in bomb shelters during the conflict.

We can do so many things to help others who are not as fortunate as we are. If we ignore the “cries” around us, be it in our own country or halfway across the world, then we are complacent, even guilty of taking G’d’s graciousness and mercy for granted. Not only do we hurt ourselves by becoming complacent…we hurt G’d. In the Babylon Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a, it states “One who causes the loss of even one life, it is as if that person caused the loss of an entire world, and one who saves one life, it is as if that person saved an entire world". Now is the time for us to look outward and take that step to help save our world. Tikkum Olam, heal our world.

Artist Yair Emanuel, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, lives and works in Jerusalem. Born in Kibbutz Sha'alavim, he grew up in Jerusalem in an Orthodox home and later in life adopted a more pluralistic approach to Judaism. This background influenced Emanuel's style of Judaic art. Vivid and harmonious colors as well as a mixture of the old and the new characterize Emanuel's work, which is designed and crafted in his Jerusalem studio.

The principal techniques utilized encompass painting on silk, hand-embroidery, raw-silk applique' and painting on wood.

the staff in his studio are new immigrants and mentally handicapped employees. A portion of the studio's profit is donated to charity.

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