This pictures the Ark (Torah shrine) doors from the Butzian synagogue in Cracow, Poland. “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, fast as a deer and strong as a lion to do the will of thy father,” is inscribed over the doors. Carved and painted wood, 130 x 96 cm
The Holy Ark is the central piece of every synagogue and placed facing the direction of East so that the worshippers face the direction of Jerusalem. It contains the Five Books of Moses (the Torah). The doors of this Holy Ark are beautifully decorated with the art style of seventeenth-century Poland.
It illustrates the statement carved above the doors, which is from the Ethics of the Fathers (Pirkei Avot) 5:23.
This is how I understand the saying of the sages:
- Be bold: don’t be afraid, nor embarrassed of what you undertake as a mitzvah, even if others would be surprised or make fun of you for doing so;
- Be light: don’t be judgemental of others, of what they do or how they do it because you might not understand what they are doing and they might be doing good as well;
- Be fast: be prompt to choose the action you want to take because if you start wondering what it is all about if you don’t fully understand why you won’t do anything;
- Be strong: nothing comes without pain and suffering, loss and sadness; do not try to numb the pain or avoid the sadness. Be strong in experiencing them and you will overcome and feel the love that comes from the source.
You might have other words to explain what you understand, and that is fine to explain differently. Because what matters, in the end, is the feeling of beauty and peace that comes from the understanding or “standing under” where it comes from.
This year, I have committed to a daily blog in English to participate in @imabima’s project of Elul. I will dedicate my endeavor for the רפואה שלמה complete healing of מרדכי אלעזר בן חנה מרים (Mordechai ben Chanah).
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