Lion, Eagle, Dog, and Dove Watercolors

Adam gave the animals names - lion, eagle, bulldog watercolors
One of my problems with blogging is coming up with text. When I used to use SEO tools (search engine optimization), they would say “you need 500 words or so to be” blah blah blah, something about meriting a golden spot in some grandstanding search engine. Well, if words are needed, here are some words.

A new year begins … we ended the fall holidays of Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simhat Torah. The Jewish year of 5783 has begun. I am hoping to do a little more blogging this fall … Learn How to Ferment (or whatever I will choose to name the post) is almost for publishing. Other blog ideas: How to See In Order to Draw Better. Highland Park Synagogues in Watercolor or Gouache. Highland Park Restaurants. Local Park Scenes. Not all of these will make it to production … but maybe one or two will.

Each week I aim to make an illustration for the parsha (portion of the Torah read in the synagogue on a weekly basis). For Breishit, the first parsha of the year I depicted (Genesis 2:20):

And Adam gave names to all the cattle and to the birds of the sky and to all the wild beasts;

וַיִּקְרָ֨א הָֽאָדָ֜ם שֵׁמ֗וֹת לְכׇל־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ וּלְע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וּלְכֹ֖ל חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֑ה

Why did I choose the pasuk (sentence) about Adam naming the animals? I just liked the idea Adam gave out names. It was opportunity to draw an elephant. Except the elephant did not make it into the finished illustration. Lion is King of the Forest. So Lion is on top. Eagle is a majestic bird, so it got the bird spot. And bulldogs are cute.

He sent the dove to see if the waters land
After Breishit, the parsha is Noah. I get a little help each week from Rabbi Avigdor Bonchek, author of the What’s Bothering Rashi series.

I chose to illustrate the dove in the story of Noah because of a Rashi about this pasuk (sentence) (Genesis 8:8):

וַיְשַׁלַּ֥ח אֶת־הַיּוֹנָ֖ה מֵאִתּ֑וֹ לִרְאוֹת֙ הֲקַ֣לּוּ הַמַּ֔יִם מֵעַ֖ל פְּנֵ֥י הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃

Then he sent out the dove to see whether the waters had decreased from the surface of the ground.

Who was supposed to see if the waters had subsided? Noah or the dove? It was Noah. If the dove did not come back, then there was land for the dove. If she found a resting place, the yonah (dove) would not return.

Before the dove, Noah sent out a raven. Maybe next year I will paint a raven.

Lavan, Yaakov and Leah or Rachel

Lavan, Yaakov, Leah or Rachel
Lavan, Yaakov, Leah or Rachel

My daughter and her friend worked very hard on this diorama for her school’s Torah Fair. It’s sort of like a science fair, explained my husband, except the subject matter was all from the book of Breishit. My daughter’s project depicted the wedding of Yaakov and Leah. Or was it Yaakov and Rachel? In any case, for those of you who don’t know the story, Yaakov first had to work seven years to marry Leah. He thought he was marrying Rachel, but Lavan, Leah and Rachel’s father, tricked him into marrying Leah. After seven more years, he got to marry Rachel. Poor Leah – I once did a painting of Leah crying.

In other news, my eldest son graduated from high school, which emotionally is charged for me – how could my first baby be a high school graduate? We discussed in the car on the way home what is the meaning of “real life” – does being a high school graduate mean one has entered the real world? According to my niece who just finished her first year of college, college is not real life.

My blog workshop went quite well – Blog Workshop slides are now up on slideshare. Planning to write a post about the workshop soon. Meanwhile, Valeri Weidmann wrote an amazing summary of the Highland Park Public Library blog workshop: Thanks, Val!

Dove, Hydrangea and Burning Bush

brown dove
Last week I saw this brown mourning dove wander about in my yard.

dove on a wire
Soon after he noticed that I was following him (her?) around with my camera, he settled on this high phone wire in the back of my yard.

Oh, by the way, did you know that Noah sent out a dove: “And he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground.” But before the dove, he sent out a raven. I didn’t have any ravens showing up in my back yard.

burning bush bright red
My neighbor’s burning bush is quite spectacular – bright red at this time of year. Ah, another Biblical reference, except the burning bush doesn’t show up in the weekly Torah reading until winter time.

hydrangea flower dry
Here’s the how the dry oak leaf hydrangea flower looks – this photo was taken the same day as the red hydrangea leaf photos.

The Diamond and The Window

Note that this post is not called The Diamond in the Window (book by Jane Langton). It’s a post about Noah, who was considered a righteous man in his generation.
Noah holding a diamond with a sparkle
So here’s the question: was Noah a righteous individual who might have not been so great in a different generation or was a shining light unto all the generations? And why is he looking at this diamond?

Or maybe he’s really looking out the window:
Noah looking through a window

For the answer to these and other tantalizing questions, you will have to visit my friend’s Harry’s post Noach – Is righteousness relative?

The illustrations of Noah with diamond and window were executed by me (with some critical helpful feedback from my daughter) with pen, ink, and then a lot of playing in Photoshop. The aim was whimsical and playful.

One Hundred Equals Twenty

Leora Presents 100=20 While Kindergarten Son Hides Under Table
Leora Presents 100=20 While Kindergarten Son Hides Under Table

Way back over ten years ago, my then kindergarten age son and I were supposed to do a presentation to the rest of his class on a topic related to the book of Breishit. However, my ever social son never took a class with Janice Tomich on presentations skills, so he hid under the table. Instead, I gave the presentation myself.

It seems I started to blog about 100 20 and 7 back in 2008, but I never completed the post. Can anyone explain in the comments how 100 equals 20?

(Update in 2022: see the comments to learn why 100 – 20).


Tall Towers Tale

Tower of Babel by Brueghel
Rabbi Bassous related the following story on Shabbat:

About thirty years ago when the Soviet Union first opened its doors, an elderly woman arrived in Israel who was visited by many rabbis. She was not religious, but she was the granddaughter of someone famous: the Chofetz Chaim. They wanted to hear about her conversations with and stories about her famous grandfather. There was one story in particular that was related. The granddaughter, against her parents’ and grandfather’s wishes, had attended university. After much education, she came back to her grandfather and said to him, when are you going to give up your old-fashioned ways? The world is moving forward with science and technology; all sorts of exciting new discoveries are happening. The Chofetz Chaim replied, with all these great discoveries, they will build bombs. One day there will be a bomb to destroy the world. While they are building bombs, I am building people.

Rabbi Bassous then went on to relate this to the parsha, where the people build a tower toward the skies.

More on Congregation Etz Ahaim in this post.

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The Kosher Cooking Carnival, post-holiday edition, is on Batya’s blog. Thank you, Batya.

The painting is Tower of Babel by Brueghel.

Cow – Free Associate

What do you think of when you see a cow? Or a drawing of a cow? Much thanks to Peter Paul Rubens for his help with the drawing.

My original reason for drawing a cow was a I had a chance to read the parsha of Miketz (Torah portion) last week that was read today in the synagogue.

Your turn.