Artist: Andi Arnovitz, USA/Israel
Parshat Re’eh is a very literal, legalistic parsha. Israel’s contract with God is depicted in black and white. Each case has its ruling, its consequence. The laws of tzedaka (charity), which follow in the text, seem softer and more sensitive than what comes before. We are commanded to be giving “you shall surely open your hand”, to help our needy brother or sister. I have always loved this parsha because it carefully explains the fundamentals of the Jewish concept of tzedaka. There are many blessings and curses. But as an artist searching for the parsha’s most graphic statement, I honed in on “If there shall be a destitute person among you, any of your brethren in any of your cities, in the land that Hashem your G-d gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother.
Rather, you shall surely open your hand to him; you shall lend him his requirement, whatever is lacking to him.” In this piece I worked in layers, symbolizing the many layers of understanding and interpretation that exist in the Torah. I have used the image of the hamsa, so prevalent here in Jerusalem, to represent the hand open in giving. I have sewn them, but left the tops open so they could actually hold money. Hanging from these hands are all the categories of obligation to which an individual is required to give charity, as enumerated in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch ( a book outlining the basic laws of traditional Jewish practice). We are obligated to give to the orphan and widow, the poor of Jerusalem, the captive and the schools. All require our generosity.
Multi-disciplinary artist, Andi Arnovitz, lives and works in Jerusalem, and exhibits her work internationally. Her installations, prints, artist books and sculpture address issues such as infertility, divorce, domestic violence and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, head-on, bringing the viewer to thorny places where gender, politics and religion meet. www.andiarnovitz.com