Jerusalem. Artist: Avraham Schiff
size 17" x 11.8" (43 x 30 cm)
This paper-cut is based on ideas from the "Song of Songs".
According to our Sages the "Song of Songs" does not depict the earthly love of the beloved and his loved one; it is rather an allegory descripting the relationship prevailing between G'd Almighty and Knesset Yisrael (the Jewish people).
The verse - "I charge you, maidens of Jerusalem, by the does and the hinds of the field that you stir not up nor awaken my love till it please" is interpreted literally as a request of the loved one to her girl-friends not to wake her from her dreams of love but to leave her to awaken in her own good time.
Our Sages (Ketubot III-I) construed the verse as a vow G'd elicits from His exiled people not to urge Him to redeem them and return them to Zion prior to the due time of Redemption.
The final verse of the "Song of Songs" is a prayer to G'd to speedily terminate the Exile and to bestow his Divine Presence on Mount Moriah and the Temple "Make Haste, my beloved (=G'd) and be you like a roe (act speedily) upon the mountains of incense" (Mount Moriah).
The centre of the work portrays a characteristic Jerusalem, focus of the yearnings of generations for the Return to Zion, surrounded by roes and hinds leaping upon the mountains of incense.
At the bottom - two lions, the lion being the symbol of the Tribe of Judah and the House of David and the emblem of Jerusalem.
Between them - a royal crown -likewise, am emblem of Jerusalem - "royal city" - as in the Sabbath Hymn "Lekha Dodi" (=Come,my beloved).
Above it, a palm trunk, alluding to the verse "I said I will go up to the palm tree" which was the incentive for the Aliya of the Yemenite Jews in 1882. In the corners - a couple of doves, conveying the longing for peace.
Avraham Schiff, born in Israel in 1964 is a graduate of the External Study Program of the Technion (Tel Aviv Branch) in Graphic Design. He has been designing and cutting Jewish paper-cuts in neo-classical style for the past 18 years. As a Talmudic scholar (P.H.D. Bar-Ilan University, 2002) and teacher of Judaic subjects he is uniquely qualified and indeed does incorporate in his art works verses sayings and motifs from the Bible Talmudic Literature and the Midrash.