Navol Tibol

2021

20" x 16.5"

I was chosen by the Amen Institute to participate in a Fellowship studying a Torah Parasha (reading) with a rabbi and responding with artwork.As a result of my discussions with Rabbi Ben Greenfield I created this two print series. Our discussion centered on the beginning Parasha Yitro where Jethro counsels Moses to outsource his adjudicating to other sages after watching him, sitting day after day, tending to squabbles amongst the Israelites. Jethro says it is not good to work so hard and in a botanical analogy “Navol tibol” a withering limb will wither. Jethro was not an Israelite priest but nevertheless was an experienced religious leader who himself had dealt with adjudicating people. 

 

The first panel shows Jethro viewing the increasingly exhausted Moses when he first came upon the encampment as throngs of Israelites were yelling, pushing and shoving to get Moses’ attention. Below them the camp filled with men, women, children and animals. The large pillar of smoke indicating their presence as a people.  The sharp peaks of the Sinai mountain range hinting at the challenge Moses will yet face.  And there, Navol tibol, I have placed a withering tree right near Moses, a symbol of his flagging strength.  

 

The second panel addresses this same Navol Tibol concept from Moses’ point of view. We see Moses contemplating a log being lifted  by five men, while Yitro is looking on from afar.  This is an interpretation of the Mekhilta de Rabbi Yishmael which states that Navol Tibol means “it is beyond your strength, when a beam is moist you need four or five to lift it.” Moses becomes stronger with the support of others. None of us can carry a load by ourselves. Navol Tibol, a simple phrase which resounds in all of our lives

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