An Offering For Peace
Rav Nachman’s prayer for peace; an elegant statement of joining together of man and wife. It is a glass book, 9 3/8 by 13 3⁄4 inches, with the Hebrew text dissected between the front and back plate, so that when the book is closed, the text becomes visible. It can be displayed open on any flat surface. This is a wonderful gift. It comes with an English translation by David Moss
A Sculptural Work in Glass by David Moss
Lord of Peace!
King to Whom all Peace belongs!
Maker of Peace and Creator of All!
Help and save us all that we may ever be worthy
to hold firmly to the attribute of peace.
Let there be a great and truthful peace between each and every person,
between every husband and every wife.
May there be no strife, not even inner strife, among all humanity.
For You are the Maker of peace even in the heavens
where You bring together two opposites—fire and water—and unite them.
Through Your great miracles you make peace between them.
Draw forth a vast peace upon us and upon the entire world,
for You alone can unite opposites, bring them together, as one,
in peace, and in great love.
May You encompass us together with one mind and with one heart
to draw near to You and to Your teachings in truth.
And may all humanity be joined into one fellowship to do Your will
with a complete and perfect heart.
Lord of Peace!
Bless us with peace, and through peace, may all
and all holiness flow down to us.
Rav Nachman of Bratzlav (1772-1811)
Liqutei Tefillot Part I: beginning of Prayer 95
Collected by Rav Natan Sternhartz
Edition limited to 360 exemplars numbered 1/360 to 360/360.
Facsimile signature engraved in the glass.
Production supervision: Paul Feinstein
The first version of this work was a private, original piece I did for a friend. He had done some work for me and asked to be compensated with a piece of my art. After he had finished his work, we went on to several other transactions that eventually got complicated and led to a disagreement between us. We couldn’t untangle the knotty issues. Both of us wanted this settled in a way that would be fair to the other; we just couldn’t agree how to do that. We decided to take the issue to a Bet Din, a Jewish, religious court to adjudicate it. This was the first and only time I had ever been to a Bet Din. I found the process fascinating, enlightening and remarkably freeing. The main judge was careful, thorough, sharp and insightful. For me the whole process concretized a vast, essential arena of Judaism and Jewish law that until then had only been theoretical for me. It gave me an enormously increased respect for Torah and its remarkable ability to touch all aspects of life.
I was stunned by the remarkable ability of this court to transform conflicting viewpoints and discordant opinions into resolution. It almost felt miraculous. After it was done I decided the work of art I owed my friend would have to somehow reflect the powerful experience we had been through.
The beautiful prayer for peace attributed to Rav Nachman of Bratzlav was a natural choice for a text. The prayer was written down by Rav Nachman’s disciple Rav Natan. Rav Natan distilled Rav Nachman’s teachings in the form of stories and collected essays; he also brought them into the form of prayers which he published as the “Collected Prayers of Rav Nachman”. It is from this book that I took the text. The prayer is especially poignant when we realize that Rav Nachman’s life itself was filled with bitter controversy. Indeed, it seems that he considered conflict essential to his mission.
The artistic challenge I set myself was how to translate the essence of Rav Nachman’s view of peace into physical form. In the prayer, Rav Nachman defines peace as the bringing together of opposites, the unification of those things that naturally tend to oppose one another. He considers this miraculous act of God as it contradicts the order of nature.
As a calligrapher I began by considering the Hebrew letters themselves. One of the first things I demonstrate when I teach calligraphy is the fundamental difference between the horizontal strokes which define the flow, the essence, and the beauty of Hebrew writing and the vertical strokes which play a contrasting, contrapuntal role. I realized it is the very bringing together of these two disparate elements which forms the unity of the letters. All I needed was a way of forcefully embodying this insight. To do that I invented a new technique I call Grammatomes™. This is the splitting apart of the elements within letters in such a way that individually they have interesting form but no meaning, but when properly aligned they fall into place and read properly. The original of this piece was the first Grammatome™ I created. I went on use them in other of my works in both Hebrew and in English.
Since doing that original piece I have wanted to produce this as an edition so it could be shared more widely. I hope this work may be used to demonstrate the magic and the power of peace. I call it “An Offering of Peace” because I hope it may also be used as a gift offered to those in our lives with whom we long for reconciliation.
My prayer is that Rav Nachman’s prayer for peace, blessings, salvation and holiness spread to us all.