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Hanimal 3
[1]

In recent posts, I compared artistic and scientific inspiration with prophecy:

https://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/5-5-17-science-and-prophecy/
https://rabbielimallon.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/5-13-17-art-and-prophecy/

Based on a Talmudic association with dreams, “prophecy” here means unexpected knowledge or understanding coming from some higher level or source than ordinary human thinking. 

Prophecy” in its highest sense is displayed by Mosheh receiving Torah on Mt. Sinai. We have no first-person report from him on what his experience was. But if in the case of artists and scientists, “inspiration” required a degree of relaxation of the conscious mind — during sleeping, for example — we might reasonably infer that Mosheh’s conscious mind was all the more relaxed.

Aside from the content of Torah itself, Mosheh’s receiving of Torah demonstratedhanimal 1 that a Divine Source is present, accessible, can help us better understand our environment and see beyond its limitations (or the limitations of the senses in perceiving it). [1]

Is this Divine Source “in” or “outside” of us?

The question only has meaning from the human point of view. God both permeates and surrounds us. It is we who are “in” God, not God Who is “in” us. When the sunlight comes through the window into our room, is the sun in the room? We can only say that it is usually only through some “internal” perception that God’s inspiration is revealed to us. Even in the story of Newton and the apple, the timing of the event and Newton’s understanding of it ultimately both come from a Divine Source.

To deny that would be to say that it was “just an accident,” however fortuitous, and that “God had nothing to do with it.” If we do, we worship the power of “luck”; the “god of luck,” we might say. At that moment, we have turned our minds from God Who is the One power over everything and given credit to something else. It’s like flying to a  destination, then when you arrive there, thanking the airplane instead of the pilot.

Hanimal 2All inspiration comes only from the Divine, Who and Which is always accessible to us.  If we say that the senses and the “human” or “conscious mind” tell us what “is,” the Divine in us tells us what can be[1]

Conversely, we honor the Divine when we recognize It as the Source of all artistic and scientific inspiration. Honoring It, we experience It personally.

Might we, then, call Sh’vuot “The Holiday of Artists and Scientists” — not to credit them as the source of their own accomplishments, but to see the Divine in those accomplishments? 

Mosheh’s staff becomes a snake. He strikes a solid rock and water flows photomicrographyout. The Divine is saying to him, and through him to us:

“The limitations you perceive are misperceptions on your part.”

The Divine says the same to us no less through inspired art; reframes our understand-ing through inspired science. [2] 

We need not be a professional artist or scientist. The Divine inspires us in whatever we do in our personal lives, no matter how mundane. 

We don’t all have to envision the structure of DNA.

But we might have innumerable questions arise about our interactions with others or about the best solutions to practical problems.

Who has not experienced a sudden, spontaneous understanding of (or insight into) a topic, or a situation, or another person? Who has not “suddenly remembered” where they had placed something that they otherwise thought was lost? We might not have a meditation-like experience of the Divine at that moment, but neither could we explain where those thoughts came from.

The Divine, the Source of inspiration for us, is always with us and we are always with the Divine.

Let us make Shavuot a celebration that the same Divine Source of inspiration that revealed itself to Mosheh at Mt. Sinai is present with us and in us today.

Joshua 1-9[3]

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[1] https://www.amazon.com/Hanimals-Mario-Mariotti/dp/0671752324
Artist Mario Mariotti did a series called “Hanimals,” and another called “Hanimations”

[2] http://www.canadiannaturephotographer.com/photomicro_gallery.html

[3] Y’hoshua/Joshua 1:9

Rabbi Eli Mallon

photo by Carl Merkin (cmerkin@verizon.net

Rabbi Eli Mallon, M.Ed., LMSW

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