Friday Candle Lighting: 6:42 PM
Shabbat Ends: 7:38 PM
A Work of Craft
“See, I have proclaimed by name Betzalel, son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehuda. I have filled him with a G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft … to perform every craft of design.” (31:2-3)
In Hebrew, there is no word for Art.
There is a Hebrew word, “melacha,” that means “craft,” but no word meaning Art.
What’s the difference between Art and craft?
An artist can think he is G-d.
He starts off with a blank piece of paper and creates a universe. Being an artist is the closest a person can get to creation ex nihilo — creation from nothing. The universe of the artist is entirely at the whim of its creator. He can draw and he can erase. He can form and he can fold. He can “create worlds” and he can “destroy them.” The sky can be blue or gray. The next note could go up or down. And who says that all this has to be the way it is? Me, the artist.
For the past two and a half thousand years there has raged a global-historical conflict over the place of art in the world. The ancient Greeks, who invented Art with a capital “A”, claimed that Art is a doorway to ultimate truth. This Weltanschauung says that through art and artifice you can reach the elemental truths of existence. Celebrating the surface, the way things look, claimed the ancient Greek, leads to the essence of things themselves.