Saturday, February 16, 2013

Asher Lev's Crucifixion

On Ash Wednesday's blog I mentioned that I would be doing a blog on crucifixions.

Recently I re-read Chiam Potok's novel: MY NAME IS ASHER LEV. I suppose besides it being the Lenten Season when we normally would think of the crucifixion, I can't help but to think of crucifixion scenes after reading Potok's novel.

Potok's main character is a young Hasidic Jew who is very talented painter from childhood on-- Asher Lev. My, what a painter he is! Of course, this presents lots of problems for him and his family and the Jewish community to which he belongs. How could an Hasidic Jew be taken up with painting in the first place and furthermore crucifixion paintings? And of course, that would smack of the Jesus who is the Messiah for many.

 However, the point that I am so struck with about Asher Lev's crucifixion is the person who is being crucified. I will try to find an image of his crucifixion on the internet and place it in this blog. But Asher did two paintings of the crucifixion-- Crucifxion I and Crucifixion II. In both of the paintings it was his mother who is being crucified.

Throughout her life, Asher's mother suffered much for both her husband and her son. Both of them have demanded much from her in their separate careers. And she has given much to both of them so that they could succeed-- both have succeeded. She has emptied herself to say that least.
And the place where she is crucified is the window in the apartment where the family lives. Many hours Rivkeh would stand in front of that main apartment window, waiting for both her husband to return home from his travels or her son to return safely home from his wanderings as an artist. She suffered much.

And to truly express this suffering Asher Lev felt that a crucifixion expressed it best.

So the first painting -- Crucifixion I -- had only his mother in the painting -- hanging by the strings of the blind in the window-- tormented by pain and anguish. The second crucifixion -- Crucifixion II -- also Asher's mother is there being crucified, but also both her son and her husband on either side -- like they are part of the crucifixion or that they are cause of the crucifixion.

For this reading of the novel, this was a striking point for me-- being the cause of the crucifixion.

It occurred to me that this idea is worth thinking about. Although Jesus was crucified in an historical setting by the Romans, the real cause for Jesus' crucifixion is the evil of humanity and the world. And of course, we all share a part in that.

Part of Asher Lev's training as an artist was to study different crucifixions by famous artist-- especially Piccaso.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for us to study different crucifixions as well during Lent. I will try to include a few different pieces of art work we have around the abbey here also in this regard. But finally, I would also suggest reading Potok's book-- MY NAME IS ASHER LEV-- would be a good thing to do during Lent as well. And finally, asking ourselves a question that this novel provoked would be good: Whom do we put on the cross or whom do we crucify??

Below is a photo of a cross in our monastic dinning room. It has many nails in it!

Below is a close up of the nails.

Below is a crucifix designed by a former monk of years ago-- copper wire corpse.

Below is close up of the corpse.

Below is a painting of Jesus just taken off of the cross, in his mother's arms. Niccolas Oramas did this painting-- as well as the painting of the Resigned Jesus which is on the Ash Wednesday blog.

The cross below is in the abbey stairway to the library-- simple.

Below is one of our processional crosses.

Below is a close up of the center of the cross.

Below is the ebony crucifix that is also pictured on Ash Wednesday's blog.

Below are a few jeweled crosses -- done by Abbot Theodore.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful--There are also the Chagall crucifixion images (just Google Chagall crucifixion). Post-Holocaust Christology is an interesting topic.
    --Brian Britt