Thursday, July 8, 2010

Isaac O'Bath - Artist of Mitzpe Ramon

The last time I wrote about Isaac O'Bath, from Bath, England, he was a shepherd herding sheep. He has since had to give that up for health reasons, but I recently discovered that Isaac is also an artist. His latest work is a pen and ink drawing of exquisite detail entitled "Amalek" (or "Doubt", in English).

The Torah in Devarim 25:18 says of  Amalek "asher korcha ba'derech", commonly translated as "how he happened on you by the way (when Amalek attacked you on your going out from Egypt)." 

17. You shall remember what Amalek did to you on the way, when you went out of Egypt,יז. זָכוֹר אֵת אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְךָ עֲמָלֵק בַּדֶּרֶךְ בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם:
18. how he happened upon you on the way and cut off all the stragglers at your rear, when you were faint and weary, and he did not fear God.יח. אֲשֶׁר קָרְךָ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיְזַנֵּב בְּךָ כָּל הַנֶּחֱשָׁלִים אַחֲרֶיךָ וְאַתָּה עָיֵף וְיָגֵעַ וְלֹא יָרֵא אֱ־לֹהִים:
19. [Therefore,] it will be, when the Lord your God grants you respite from all your enemies around [you] in the land which the Lord, your God, gives to you as an inheritance to possess, that you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. You shall not forget!יט. וְהָיָה בְּהָנִיחַ יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְךָ מִכָּל אֹיְבֶיךָ מִסָּבִיב בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ נַחֲלָה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ תִּמְחֶה אֶת זֵכֶר עֲמָלֵק מִתַּחַת הַשָּׁמָיִם לֹא תִּשְׁכָּח:

But korcha can also be translated "he cooled you off". What this alternate translation means is that Amalek cooled off the relationship between Hashem and the Children of Israel by instilling doubt in them about divine providence. Thus, Amalek = Doubt.

And so the Amalek of today also wants to instill doubt and separate the Jews from G-d by instilling doubt about the divine promise of the Land of Israel to the Jews, and doubt that Israel can survive its enemies, both in its own neighborhood and around the world, and, Yes, doubt even that Israel has a right to exist. But instead we shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens. We will never forget what they did!

Amalek or Doubt, by Issac O'Bath

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