A Jewish Illustrator and Jewish Eyes

Jewish Eyes:

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If eyes are the window to the soul, then Jewish eyes are the window to the Jewish soul. In fact, our greatest leaders and scholars have traditionally been called, “ the eyes of the nation.”

One of the joys of being a Jewish artist is the rich experience of studying the eyes of our masters. Few people have the time and focus to spend tens of hours meditating deeply on every nuance of a great man’s eyes, getting lost in every detail and emotion. Joy, sadness, responsibility, love, and endless hours of study are all reflected in these holy eyes. The purity of the Satmar Rebbe’s eyes, like the eyes of a child, the deep bags under the Steipler’s eyes from lack of sleep and deep study, the nobility in the eyes of the Ben Ish Chai, the clear gaze of the Chazon Ish, the sense of otherworldliness in the eyes of Baba Sali, and the keen gaze of the Chasam Sofer; all of these are deep sources to reflect upon and study.

Ultimately, my vision is stymied. I cannot penetrate the truth reflected in these eyes any more than I can understand the depths of these great men. As a Jewish artist and illustrator, I have a deeper understanding of what I am seeing than others have. Nonetheless, at best, I can see the reflection of my own projections in their serious, opaque gazes. But still, like a baby who smiles back at a parent’s smile, I hope these “face-to-face” encounters bring me some connection, bring me somewhat closer to greatness.

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