Monday, February 4, 2013

The Synthesis of Beauty: From Strength Comes Kindness

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Kidist P. Asrat
The Synthesis of Beauty: From Strength Comes Kindness

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not merely three highly accomplished spiritual individuals. They formed a dynasty, in Hebrew shalshelet, which is derived from shalosh, meaning "three." According to Kabbalistic thought, each of the three patriarchs created a different spiritual awareness in the world, each becoming one of the three pillars necessary to support the establishment of the nation. Abraham is identified with chesed or "kindness." Isaac is identified with the opposites of kindness, namely gevurah or "strength" and din or "justice." And Jacob is identified with the merging of the above -- “tiferet” or beauty. Thus, the patriarchs represent (to borrow the Hegalian model) thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Once synthesis is achieved, the nation can emerge.
Rabbi Ari Kahn
In this explanation of Jacob’s death and his revelation to his sons of their roles in the future (as the twelve tribes of Israel), the author talks about the three patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - and how they connect with each other.

Abraham is identified with kindness, Isaac with the opposite strength, and Jacob with beauty.

In fact, Jacob is the synthesis of the two.

It makes perfect sense that beauty is a synthesis of kindness and strength.

Any work of art that is too strong will come off as harsh and unconnected.

Any work that is too kind will appear weak and sentimental.

Beautiful works of art need to combine harshness and sentimentality to bring us closer to an authentic feeling, that is neither too cold nor too mawkish.

Jacob's beauty must have had just the right combination of strength and kindness in order to form the authentic tribes of Israel.

No comments:

Post a Comment