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Birkat Ha’Lev - Blessing of the Heart

Artwork by Bonnie Cohen

April 8,2022

Flowing ribbons of light emanate from the heart of the Beit. Swirls of golden light journey outward on different trajectories towards the holy ark. The Beit hovers above us curving and flowing like the gentle embrace of a tallit, inviting one to feel the sheltering presence of God.

 

Mosaic art is a metaphor for life. Each individual piece is made more beautiful by those surrounding it. No one piece can stand alone, and it takes all the pieces, working together to complete the picture. Thousands of pieces of white luminous recycled glass, gold leaf tiles, handmade tiles, mirror, Jerusalem stone, smalti, stained glass and 22 k gold leaf were used to create this picture.

Beit is the very first letter of the Torah and  Beit is the first letter of  the Hebrew word Bayit – a house. The dot inside the house represents those who live within God’s house and His presence, the Shechina, dwells in this space.

 

The Beit is closed on the right, top and bottom but open on the left, the direction that we read the Torah and leading us to the bima and the holy ark. Beit teaches us to not only remember Bereshit, the beginning of the world, but also to look outward and onward to the future.

The first word in the Torah, B'reishit, begins with the letter Beit and the final word of the Torah, Yisroel, ends with the letter Lamed. Together, Lamed and Beit, are the letters that spell the Hebrew word for heart (Lev). From beginning to end the Torah is the heart of the Jewish people and it is the heart that holds the Torah together.

Beit is also the first letter in the word Beit Ha Mikdash, (a house of holiness), Beit Tefilla (a house of prayer), and Beit Ha Midrash (a house of study).

Beit also begins the word B’racha,(a blessing). The Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Blessing) revealed in the Torah, is recited by rabbis and cantors for joyous occasions such as a bar or bat mitzvah, a baby naming, a bris, a wedding ceremony, an anniversary, and confirmation. Anyone can recite these words and the most meaningful and loving opportunity to say these words is on Shabbat when parents recite these words to bless their children.

“The Eternal One spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons: Thus shall you bless the people of Israel. Say  to them:

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord show you kindness and be gracious to you.

May the Lord bestow favor upon you and grant you peace.”

These words from the Torah have endured through generations recalling the blessings of our ancestors and arousing hope for blessings for future generations.

May this artwork inspire and comfort all who come together to pray in this sacred space

 

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