Three figures are depicted moving across a turbid sea of angry waves, symbolizing the trials of exile. Each figure is wrapped in a talit, and lit by the inner flame of their its soul- dedicated to the service of the creator. Each figure combines a human form with the bottom half of a fish, suggesting the ancient tradition that the righteous in holiness are likened to fish in water. The fish allegory also derives from the fact that the fish were spared the ravages of Noah’s flood, as the righteous will be spared the turmoil preceding the final redemption. In accordance with their holy elevation, the three figures are seen floating peacefully above the furious surf that does not trouble them.
All of the three figures are using each of their hands to serve God, and each object that they hold represents another commandment fulfilled, leading them steadily to redemption. Moving from the left of the canvas, in keeping with the figures’ own movement from left to right, the religious objects are: In the hands of the first figure, the four species which Jewish people are commanded to bring together on the holiday of succot and an ornate goblet representing the sanctification of God by the blessing over wine. The second figure blows a shofar with one hand, and in the second arm clutches a Torah scroll. The third figure carries two items that are essential to the service in the Temple of Jerusalem: a seven branched menora, and a lyre to accompany songs of praise to God.
Baruch Nachshon – A Great Jewish Painter
Nachshon, wearing a beret and beard, revealed to me his unusual history. Born in Haifa, he already displayed a love for art when he was 3 years old. As a young boy he was introduced to Solomon Neroni, a disciple of the famous French impressionist, Paul Cezanne. He spent 7 years in this great master’s presence. But his turning point came when he encountered Lubavitch. This happened through hearing the nostalgic, haunting nigunim (melodies) of Lubavitch, which drew him to the deep world of the Tanya, which revealed to Nachshon the “essence of the Torah.” This led to his longing for the mystical.During my last visit to Israel I was exposed to two great Jewish artists. One was Hermann Struck, whose exhibition in Haifa was described in one of my previous columns (“Hermann Struck: Jewish Artist, 1876-1944,” July 8, 1994). The other one was Boruch Nachshon, whose visit to me was one of the most memorable experiences I had in Israel. Nachshon has been called the most important Jewish artist of our generation in that he expresses the deepest layers of the Jewish soul and tradition in his deeply symbolic and significant paintings, which at the same time display an outstanding artistic talent.