The Four Sons

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The Four SonsThe 4 Sons of the Passover Seder:

At the Passover Seder, we read about the 4 Sons and their very different approaches and interactions with the Seder.  I have symbolically incorporated several themes into this paper cut.

The Chacham (wise son) with the 3D image and planting a carob tree realizes he is part of the living organism that is the Jewish People. He is prepared to build something so that it will be perfectly in place for someone who he will never meet nor will ever know of him.

The Rasha has turned the same dots into something strange, unrecognizable and impossible: i.e. unviable “Tum’a”. Although he is also a blessing, he requires quite a different response.

Tam (the simple son) has almost all the dots, but has only been able to construct a 2D shape. He lacks perspective.

She’ayno Yode’a (the one who doesn’t know [how] to ask) doesn’t have enough data points to even formulate a question!

The 4 sons represent each one of us. Depending on one’s depth of understanding in any particular area of knowledge, his/her abilities and approaches to reality will differ. We all have parts of our lives for which we cannot even begin to formulate questions. We all experience what seems to be a rejection of reality or only a broad sweeping perception of it. And at times we can sense being completely integrated into the fabric of time through relationship.

As the 4 Sons we are bound together with the most difficult commandment to achieve at the Seder:  “In each and every generation, an individual must regard his essence as if he personally went out of Egypt.” This is shown graphically by the border calligraphy

This piece is also a play on the meaning of “In every generation” or דור, which is related to the Hebrew word דר and דרור, which means freedom! According to Rav Matis Weinberg, through the pursuit of freedom we have come to understand that asking questions is the answer! The Haggadah stresses this by making no real attempt to answer the 4 formal questions asked at the Seder (The Ma Nishtana); Rather, the 4 questions are meant to serve as a jumping off point for deeper questions. In the end, exercising our freedom to ask the big questions is what leaving Egypt is all about and it is our taking the initiative to ask, do, and hear that causes Yismach HaShem Bema’asav (God to be joyful in His Creation).

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My Profile: The Gemara says that all of our constructs and paradigms exist as a result of suppressing information. From chaos, the sum potential of all that is possible - physicists call it white noise; statisticians call it raw data - we must push away that which is unwanted. We are left to work with our visions and patterns of reality. The big question is, how well do those visions match up to what reality actually is in all its inter-related complexity and detail. On Yom Kippur, we come face to face with the reality that "The hidden things belong to HaShem our God, but the revealed things are for us and for our children forever, that we might fulfill all the words of this Torah." (Deuteronomy 29:28). God's ultimate and uncompromising reality must hold us accountable even for paradigms we are NOT aware of! Many refer to this as "The law of unintended consequences." This is why what I hold dear is not answers, but an endless path of growing awareness that attempts to come closer and closer to reality as it really is - not the "reality" that is just a projection of some inner solipsistic construction within my brain. The questions- not the answers - lead me on that path. I have become deeply committed to a life long journey of learning, growth, change, love, discernment, service, play, commitment, questioning, and valuing disagreement. At my core is the notion that without self-doubt and without valuing difference and differing opinions, one cannot develop a fulfilling and meaningful life. My art starts as a white sheet of whole paper, which represents chaos - all the possible pictures that one could create on it - onto which I impose order. Simultaneously destructive and defining, my paper-cutting adds meaning to the paper. Cutting pieces out is a creative process that graphically reveals before me my deeper paradigms so that I can scrutinize them - so that I can better understand the limits and characteristics of the space in which those paradigms work and gain insight as to where they are no longer valid. But it is not just a discovery of my internal landscapes. It is a process of becoming aware of myself within relationship and covenant. It is my simultaneous love and awe of and participation in the splendor of God's continued creation. It is my Avoda.

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