Thursday, January 21, 2010

Tzfat, Kabbalah & David Friedman

Tzfat or Safed, in Israel is said to be the center of Kabbalah. There is something special and mystical about this place that draws me to it. In 2005 on my actual birthright trip, I was not changed until I came here.

Something about the connections and teachings really touched me in this place and since then I have been extremely interested in learning more about it. Hence me also getting into yoga a lot more recently. The city comes hand in hand with a lot of artsy things. There is a lot of great shopping for original jewelry and some nice pieces like menorahs and mezuzahs. Unfortunately it was raining and the group opted to not shop and my wallet remained heavy.

Our tour guide has a friend who lives in one of the many winding allyways that we went to visit. His name is David Friedman, he's an artist influenced by Kabbalah (and possibly some other external more organic influences if you ask me! ). A Kabbalistic artist. He gave us a lecture about his work and his life. He and his wife moved from Denver to Israel 30 years ago. Among other things, he was diagnosed with cancer and used Kabbalah and his art to get through and heal him.

He uses the letters Aleph, Shin and Mem often in art and meditation. The shhhhh sound and mmmm sound for breathing out and to breath in would be silent like the aleph. Shins are usually red in his work because it represents fire and Shin are blue for water. Yin and Yang, warm and cool. All felt in meditations and explained in Kabbalah.

You can clearly see bright colors and shapes and designs. In Kabbalah, everything has a meaning which leads to another meaning and so on. For example, each letter has numerical value in the Hebrew alphabet. And each number combined with another number creates something else. This atwork reflects much of this. I thought some of the pieces looked like quilts.

As he explained the pieces, it just got trippier and trippier. Like this one for example:

He says that people from different backgrounds and religions like this one because they relate to it. People into yoga see chakras, there is Hebrew written from top to bottom with the word for G-d, but then something crazy happened. A man mentioned that when you flip the painting on it's side, it also spells out ALLAH, the word for G-d in Arabic. Creeeeeepy!

See it?

He also had works like this one,

which I immediately identified with as a Beatles cover and that was confirmed as his inspiration. It was funny how I saw the words written in the negative/grey space because after taking art, you are trained as an artist to look at that. But Mr. Friedman then asked if people were looking at the positive/green space and most said yes and he then said, look beyond it. Only then did the rest of the room see the letters. That was an interesting moment. Everyone sees different things.

All of his paintings have deeper meanings then what first may appear. Even if he didnt intend it like the first example I used. It was pretty sweet. I wanted to buy something but I didnt want to chance ruining it in the rain.

David Friedman's website states:
The artwork and teachings presented here deal with kosmic themes that are based on Kabbalah: infinity, kosmogeny (concerning the origin and evolution of the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical realms), Divine names, kabbalistic mandalas and fractal, sefirotic maps of the Kosmos. The dictionary defines cosmopolitan as one who is at home in all parts of the world or in many spheres of interest. If you are kosmopolitan (one who feels at home in all parts of the Kosmos) and are interested in the many spheres of the Kabbalah, you will enjoy visiting this site.

If this is something that interests you, I would also recommend reading his teachings sections.

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