בסיעתא דשמיא

Line and letter art by Emily K (Feathered Hat Studios)

Some Jewish line art to aid in illustrating your siddur or other liturgy-related work. . . .

אלף בית – דרשן :: Aleph Bass by Darshan

Celebrate Hanukkah with a Psychedelic Hebrew Animation from Darshan! It’s that time of the year again: menorahs, dreidels, and of course, psychedelic hamsas. Wait, is that a thing? Brush up on your aleph-bet as you travel through time and space in “Aleph Bass,” this crazy language-learning video. From filmmakers Brian Savelson and Abbey Luck, and the musical maestros of Darshan (Eden Pearlstein and Shir Yaakov Feit), this trip includes Kabbalistic mysticism and super sick beats. Guaranteed, you’ve never seen anything quite like it. . . .

חנוכה | Ḥanukkah Sameaḥ Mandala by Ḥatul Yehudi (Cat Jew)

A mandala for Ḥanukkah by Brazilian Yemenite Jewish artist, GatoJudeau . . .

האותיות של האבג״ד בעברית | A Periodic Table of the Hebrew Aleph Bet Emphasizing Phonetic Grouping, Symbolic Association, and Diversity of Letter Form

Basic Hebrew letter and vowel lists adorn the opening pages of a number of siddurim published a century ago — evidence of the centrality of the Jewish prayer book as a common curricular resource. But the Hebrew letters are not only essential to fluency in Hebrew language, they are also the atomic elements composing the world of the rabbinic Jewish imagination. This is especially so for those who conceive in their devotional literary practices an implicit theurgical capability in modifying and adapting the world of language though interpretation, translation, and innovative composition. To create a world with speech relies on thought and this creative ability is only limited by the facility of the creator to derive meaning from a language’s underlying structure. This, therefore, is a table of the Hebrew letters arranged in order of their numerical value, in rows 1-9, 10-90, and 100-9000, so that elements with similar numerical structure, (but dissimilar phonetic amd symbolic attributes) appear in vertical columns. Attention has been given to the literal meaning of the letter names and the earliest glyph forms known for each letter in the Hebrew abgad. . . .

חד גדיא | Ḥad Gadya (ca. 1526 CE)

Making sense of Ḥad Gadya beyond its explicit meaning has long inspired commentary. For me, Ḥad Gadya expresses in its own beautiful and macabre way a particularly important idea in Judaism that has become obscure if not esoteric. While an animal’s life may today be purchased, ultimately, the forces of exploitation, predation, and destruction that dominate our world will be overturned. Singing Ḥad Gadya is thus particularly apropos for the night of Passover since, in the Jewish calendar, this one night, different from all other nights, is considered the most dangerous night of the year — it is the time in which the forces of darkness in the world are strongest. Why? It is on this night that the divine aspect of Mashḥit, the executioner, is explicitly invoked (albeit, only in the context of the divine acting as midwife and guardian/protector of her people), as explained in the midrash for Exodus 12:12 . . .

An Illustrated Kabbalat Shabbat Siddur with Drawings by Daniel Nebenzahl

There are many illustrated siddurim for children. This Illustrated Kabbalat Shabbat Siddur is an illustrated siddur (in Hebrew) for grownups. The purpose of this siddur is to inspire us during prayer, to help us create and maintain Kavana. I chose to create this siddur for Kabbalat Shabbat, since usually at Kabbalat Shabbat we are more relaxed and open. The siddur has all that is needed (Nusaḥ Sefarad) for the Friday night prayers (Minḥah, Kabbalat Shabbat, and Arvit). The drawings accompany Kabbalat Shabbat. . . .

שִׁוִּיתִי | Shiviti by Mashiah Asgari, circa late 19th – early 20th century Herat, Afghanistan

We are grateful to Andrew Meit for restoring a Shiviti from the Royal Library of Denmark’s Simonsen Manuscripts Collection. The image was slightly adjusted by Aharon Varady. All files including the vector art are shared with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) Public Domain dedication. . . .

שִׁוִּיתִי | Shiviti: perceiving the world as an expression of divine Oneness

Given that the Torah forbids impressing our imaginations with illustrations of the divine, some other method is necessary to perceive divine Oneness. One method is found in the verse in Psalms 16:8, “I have set YHVH before me at all times.”

שִׁוִּיתִי יְהוָה לְנֶגְדִּי תָמִיד׃ Shiviti YHVH l’negdi tamid I have set YHVH before me at all times.

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שמע | An illustrated meditation on the unification of imagination and awareness through empathy

When works are printed bearing shemot, any one of the ten divine names sacred to Judaism, they are cared for with love. If a page or bound work bearing shemot falls to the ground it’s a Jewish custom to draw up the page or book and kiss it. Just as loved ones are cared for after they’ve fallen and passed away, when the binding fails and leaves fall from siddurim and other seforim they are collected in boxes and bins and brought for burial, where their holy words can decompose back into the earth from which their constituent elements once grew, and were once harvested to become paper and books, and ink, string, glue. While teaching at the Teva Learning Center last Fall 2010, I collected all our shemot that we had intentionally or unintentionally made on our copy machine, or which we had collected from the itinerant teachers who pass through the Isabella Freedman Retreat Center on so many beautiful weekend shabbatonim. While leafing through the pages, I found one and kept it from the darkness of the genizah. . . .


בסיעתא דארעא