Artist: Cheselyn Chaya Chesed Amato, USA
This portion speaks to me about G-d’s Love for us, and about our opportunity to reflect this love. The reading includes the reiteration of the Covenant, and explores repentance and restoration. By presenting a living history, it marks continuity.
The Torah is close to you, to us. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so you can keep it. I’ve employed female figures—a collage amalgamation of Jewish women over time—at the points of the mouth and heart to communicate the idea of closeness, nearness, of all qualities of love. I think this Torah portion is a “Shekinah portion,” so to speak, one that is full of the feminine indwelling presence of G-d. My piece also refers to the four dimensions of reading Torah: PaRDes—Pashat, Remez, Drash, Sod, literal, allegorical, interpretive, and secretive.
With this piece I envision an embrace, as with the heightened connection between lovers. This embrace is between the Torah and us as represented by the figure of a woman with v’ahavta, “and you shall love,” rising from her mouth and her heart over a semi- transparent collage of images that represent how close the Torah is to us. The image suggests the ways in which we take care, literally, of the Torah. It also symbolizes the deep love of the Torah as a physical object, and whose words become one with our minds, our hearts and our souls.
In the spirit of love from the heart, here is my Song of Shekhinah inspired by Parshat Nitzavim:
We stand before You, Yah, Adonai, Elohim, Shekinah, You give us the Torah, Teaching and Learning, Kabbalah, Receiving and Transmitting, Shir, Song and Singing, Teshuvah, Repentance and ReturningSo that we may live and thrive. You show us how to live and die, Under the canopy, chuppah, of Your blessing, barak, berakha, You are always close to us, L’Shir shel Shekinah, The Song of Indwelling Presence, Your Love, H’Ahavah, is always holding each of us, And we are Your Beloved, Yadid, Dodi! Sometimes we stray, anachnu taayim, And curses befall us, h’kellalot, and seize us, And we are cursed, arar, parar, marah, marud, As individuals, as communities, as nations, as a whole globe, And we become broken and fallen, shavar, nephil, naphal. Nitzavim, We stand before You and we can be healed, rapha, raphua.We can return to ourselves, Recover our hearts, Restore the seed and seat at the center of our souls, by listening, hearing, keeping, shama, shaba, shamar, Your Word, Devar, and Blessing and Abundance, Berakha v’Mitzvah,are bestowed upon us,You can meet us with Your Love, H’Ahavah Because we are meeting You with our love, h’ahavah shelnu, and we are loving with all our hearts, l’vavcha b’chol, Nitzavim, We Stand.
Cheselyn Amato is an interdisciplinary visual artist and designer, Jewish thinker and practitioner, Kabbalist, interreligious thinker and activist, secular humanist, global citizen, and nomadic temple builder. Her work has been exhibited in various venues, including The Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. Her work has been collected by The Jewish Museum of New York City, The Spertus Museum in Chicago, as well as privately.