Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, a down-to-earth mystic who served as Chief Rabbi of the Land of Israel, wrote a letter of congratulations on the founding of the Betzalel Art School in Jerusalem in 1906. By way of allegory, he refers to the revival of Jewish art and aesthetics after two thousand years of exile as a child in a coma who awakes calling for her doll.
"The pleasant and beloved child, the delightful daughter, after a long and forlorn illness, with a face as pallid as plaster, bluish lips, fever burning like a fiery furnace, and convulsive shaking and trembling, behold! She has opened her eyes and her tightly sealed lips, her little hands move with renewed life, her thin pure fingers wander hither and thither, seeking their purpose; her lips move and almost revert to their normal color, and as if through a medium a voice is heard: “Mother, Mother, the doll, give me the doll, the dear doll, which I have not seen for so long.” A voice of mirth and a voice of gladness, all are joyous, the father, the mother, the brothers and sisters, even the elderly man and woman who, because of their many years, have forgotten their children’s games."
Rabbi Kook saw artists at work as a clear sign of the rebirth of the Jewish people in its homeland. Their playful spirit nurturing sensitivity for beauty “will uplift depressed souls, giving them a clear and illuminating view of the beauty of life, nature, and work.”
Excerpt from the book by Mel Alexenberg, The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness (Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press).