By Rabbi Moshe Goodman, Kollel Ohr Shlomo, Hebron
Discover the Holy Presence in Our Holy Land
And I Shall Dwell Among the Children of Israel
The verse at the top of this painting, taken from this parsha, emphasizes the Holy Presence resting among Israel. Indeed, the painting shows figures, as if enrobed in variously colored taleisim within seven “vessels”/candle-holders formed from birds/eagles/angels. It seems that the different colors represent different types of people united in the collective whole of Israel, thereby bringing the Holy Presence to rest with Israel when in unity.
We see flames of fire rising above from these seven “candles” quite clearly corresponding to the seven candles of the Menora also seen at the center of the painting. Just below the central Menora, we also know another Menora shaped in the form of a harp, suggesting the musical component of the Temple/Mishkan headed by the Levites. The song of the Levites is called by our Sages “service in the Name of Hashem.” The Name of Hashem is considered synonymous to the Holy Presence, as the Targum Onkelos translates the verse “every place that I mention my Name I shall come to you and bless you,” translating “my Name” with “my Holy Presence.” Indeed, our Sages also ascertained that the Menora is a symbol of the Holy Presence, which is also the primary theme of this painting. They said that there was a miracle that the central light of the Menora would continuously burn, thus being a sign of the Holy Presence resting among Israel.
It seems that the flames of fire in this painting represent this Presence, as the Torah describes the manifestation of this Presence at the burning bush, at Mount Sinai, and also at the Inauguration of the Mishkan as a “burning fire.” We see these flames initially ascending in the darker colors of red, orange, purple, and dark yellow, and then rising as light-bluish flames towards a whitish, light-bluish sphere at the top of the painting. Kabbalistically the colors blue and white are associated with the highest world of Atzilut. Thus, it is clear that the flames are ascending to the highest spiritual spheres to unite with the Holy Presence Above.
It is the Kohen who is given the gift of lighting the Menora. All these messages fit perfectly with Hebron, for Hebron is both a Kohanic city in the book of Yehoshua and also a focal point of the Holy Presence, as the Zohar (II , 39a) says that Yitzhak prayed at Maarat HaMachpela, for there he found the Holy Presence.