“Havdalah” is a multimedia piece, 24″ x 24″ on a 1/2″ piece of birch board.  The flame is composed of bright pieces of torn paper, mod podge, and encaustic yellow paint.  The spices and candle are from my havdalah set.  The two small candles and cup were created by first rubbing oil sticks on fabric with a woodcut block placed underneath, then painting with encaustic paint.  The stars began as paper.  The tree was a woodcut print on mulberry paper.  Poetry circles the flames, reading:  “Cycle of the Week, Anticipating erev Shabbat, Counting the days, Next Mystical union, Welcoming the bride, Shabbat is a wedding feast, Consummation of the marriage, Holy union man and woman, Two souls find each other, Streams of light flow together, Reaching to Heaven, Holy Union, Sensual, communal, ecstatic, In farewell extinguish the flame, Havdalah”

This piece came to life in 2009 when I was struggling to find my feet as an individual woman.  I have worked with the Ba’al Shem Tov quote many times in my ketubahs, the quote that talks of two souls being streams of light that flow together to Heaven as one stronger light.  A beautiful quote, yes.  But for me a question was being formed– do the streams of light become one stream and lose their individual qualities?

I knew that implying such a union was not the intention of the tradition.  So I looked further and found a different symbol– the Shabbat candles.  Always there must be at least two Shabbat candles, symbolizing two actions around Shabbat: shamor (to guard/keep the Sabbath) and zachor (to remember the Sabbath).  Shamor is an activity; zachor is more of an internal state for the observer.  Perhaps shamor is communal– “let’s do this together”, whereas zachor is personal, individual.   Since spouses are encouraged to consummate their love on Friday nights, it seems reasonable that the lessons of Shabbat would also be lessons about marriage.  Shabbat is, after all, a Bride at a wedding feast.

In the midst of these explorations, I added this poem to the piece and found my own understandings about Love growing and expanding in my process of making the art.  Later I removed the poem, because I hoped the Shabbat candles would speak the same message:

Remember to separate

Two flames once again

Union will come soon

Shamor v’Zachor

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