Two Generations x Seven Emotions
When my father died, I inherited his tallit and his own father’s century-old hand-embroidered velvet bag that contained the mysteriously sacred tefillin, the bindings for head and arm that are referred to in the Torah. Collecting these historic treasures did not interest my brothers and I became curious to discover the religious experience that was associated with this action.
The purpose of tefillin is to bind our mind and emotions to G‑d. The mind is represented by the tefillin of the head, and the emotions are represented by positioning the arm tefillin near our hearts, the seat of emotion. According to the Kabbalah, there are ten emanations through which the Creator is revealed. Three attributes are associated with the head tefillin and the seven emotions toward G-d are channeled by wrapping the straps seven times around the arm. Of the six hundred-thirteen mitzvot, laying tefillin is one of the three referred to as an אות "ot", a sign representing the eternal bond between G-d and the Jewish people.
For “Two Generations x Seven Emotions,” I photographed my friends as they were laying tefillin and teaching themselves to wrap their arms seven times. It is the mother’s hand that is the foundation for her daughter as they learn to follow the commandment to bind oneself to a higher power and channel the divine energies of the seven emotions.
I transformed my photograph into a sketch-like drawing as I viewed it as the beginning, exploratory stage of a narrative that may be colored in over time, as repetition leads to greater understanding and closeness with G-d.
"And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day. Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a frontlet between your eyes."