Chukat

Delicate balance between poetry and sorcery. When people are cured by looking at a copper snake, the Talmud rightly asks: “Does  a snake kill and revive? No. They used it as the symbol it was, let it guide their thoughts upwards and reassess their ways. The ‘meaning’, or power, of the symbol was projected onto it by the people. The same applies to every sacred object, ritual, liturgy – they’re not essentially meaningful, but can be, if we want. Moses momentarily erred, blinded by anger. “Shall we get water from this rock?” He strikes the rock like a magician with a secret trick, not listening to the weary people, not looking beyond the rock and the water, stuck at the symbol.

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[Inspired by: Numbers 20; Rosh Hashana 29a; Fountain by Marcel Duchamp.]

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