Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the greatest Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, once wrote: “We manipulate what is available on the surface of the world; we must also stand in awe before the mystery of the world.”
Often, artists, musicians, and writers shed the most light on that mystery. Great visual art, music, and literature can connect us in a deep and profound way to the parts of the world, and the parts of ourselves, that seem to defy reason and scientific analysis.
In a wonderful new coffee table book titled Art of Revelation – A Visual Encounter with the Jewish Bible, Yoram Raanan, my wife Joelle’s favorite Israeli artist, grapples with that mystery. The book features his paintings that illustrate each weekly Torah portion (i.e., biblical passages that Jews read throughout the year in synagogue).
The book is all the more miraculous for having survived a tragedy. When wildfires swept across Israel in 2016, Yoram’s studio burned to the ground and thousands of his paintings were destroyed – including most of the 160 paintings he made for this book.
Yoram faced the situation with extraordinary faith and optimism. He describes watching his beloved studio go up in flames: “As we were able to evacuate and drive through the still spreading fire in the smoky night air, I realized that this was surely the work of God, and that only good would come from this.” Fortunately, Yoram had made high-quality digital copies of his paintings, so it was still possible to produce the book.
As Jews and Christians, we know well the miraculous stories contained in the Torah. Yoram’s paintings depict these stories and reflect the inner dimension of the people, laws, and events in them. This is one gifted artist’s illuminating response to the “mystery of the world” that Heschel wrote about – a response to the mystery of God’s creation and our place in it.
Visually captivating and profoundly moving, Art of Revelation illuminates in new and unexpected ways the beauty and majesty of the Bible, the book we live by and know as the revealed word of God. Poring through these pages, you will be absorbed and engaged by the Hebrew Bible in an entirely new way – and you will be grateful that Yoram Raanan chose to share his “visual encounter” with the Bible with all of us.
I’ve included a link for you to see some of the art in Art of Revelation, and to order the book directly from the artist.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President