Seeing the World Through New Eyes

on Sunday, 23 April 2017. Posted in Community

Rabbi Batsheva Appel's Benediction for Yom HaShoah 5777

A dear friend, finding herself at loose ends this year, took a class in drawing. She never thought of herself as artistic, never took any art classes, and putting pencil to paper to create an image of something is still a type of mysterious alchemy to her. She explained to me that drawing is all about seeing things. Her first class the instructor started the students drawing a still life immediately and the only thing the instructor said to her was, “what is the darkest part of the apple slice?” He was prompting her to see what was in front of her, to pay attention to the details that we do not always notice, and to try to translate that to paper with pencil. Art has changed way that my friend looks at the world.

Art is a way of knowing. Artists do not just create works of beauty, they see, understand, and communicate to us what they see and understand, things that we might miss. Their art can prompt us to see the joys and beauty in our world or it can prompt us to see the injustice of the world. Through works of art, we can see the world as it is or the world as it might be, for better or worse.

The banned artists of the Degenerate Art Exhibition reminded the world that the Jews and other outsiders existed, that they each had a spark of humanity, that each of us is made in the image of the Divine, and that simple truth, which we know and understand, could not be tolerated. Through the censorship of these powerful works of art and truth, they tried to suppress that fundamental understanding.

Creator of the world, who inspires us to imagine and create works of beauty and works of truth, help us to see, to pay attention, to reflect on what is around us. Help us to see the spark of humanity, the image of the Divine in each person we meet. Help us to see injustice and cruelty clearly and give us the strength to stand up against it. Help us to see the world as it could be and should be and help us to work in partnership with You to create that world, one small work at a time.

Ken yehi ratzon.

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