Posted by: Moshe Mikanovsky | September 8, 2009

Ten Commandments or Can Art Bridge between People?

Do you have in your life times when you feel helpless because you can’t change something? And I am not talking about the daily stuff we have no control over, but the big stuff, like world peace or clashes between religions…? And the only way for some of us is to express the frustration with the situation in some personal creation. Back in 1999, after living in the US for about 3 years, there was a lot of talking in Israel between the religious leaders and the secular leaders, and most of it was unpleasant. Each was sending his poisonous arrows at the other, with no apparent respect to the other side or the people who just wanted to live their live peacefully, adding to the already stressful situation with the Palestinians. This was the background for my Ten Commandments painting.

Ten Commandments, Acrylic on canvas, 24''x30'', 1999
Ten Commandments, Acrylic on canvas, 24”x30”, 1999

On the right, is a secular girl, holding kittens in both arms. On the left, is an ultra-orthodox boy, protecting a stack of Chumashim (Torah books) with his hands. The girl is on the right tablet of the Ten Commandments, with the first five letters of the Hebrew alpha-bet written below her, in modern script letters, a font that should be easy for her to understand. The boy is on the left tablet, with the next five letters, written in Rashi font, used in most Torah and holy books commentaries, therefore easy for him to understand. Both tablets, represented by hot red, orange and yellow squares, are floating on a cool green background, on which the sentence “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Proverbs 22:6) is written.

In the Jewish tradition, the first five laws of the Ten Commandments are representing laws between man and his God. The last five commandments are representing laws between man and his peers, other men. To the girl on the right, and the community she represented, I wanted to say: “Remember where you are coming from. You are part of the same nation that believes in God and you have to learn and respect your roots, knowing God and respecting him”. To the boy on the left, and to his entire community, I wanted to say: “God is not everything. He also gave us many laws to remind us we are human and to make sure all humans are respected equally. Don’t forget your fellow humans while following God blindly”. To both I wanted to say: “Respect each other, and become much better than both parts.” And I wanted to say: “Start teaching this to our kids, as they are the next generation, who will live together, and hopefully will make things better!”

 I believe this message is still very relevant and true today. It is always interesting to see the reaction people have when they see this painting, especially when they get it. Because once they do, they tell me about exact thoughts that they have, about family members from both ends of the scale, about respecting each side, and the yearning to have peace amongst us.

 And one final note about this painting – This is one of the paintings that I actually never thought is finished. I have it hanged in my dining room, in this state, for almost 10 years now, and I just got used to it. As long as it conveys the message, then I am happy! So I guess it is finished 🙂

 If you like this post, and would like to read more, please subscribe to my Blog. Please feel free to forward it to anyone you know, and leave comments as well. Thanks, Moshe



  1. first i like the post.
    i agree and disagree.
    i think god is everything but we have to know that god gave us the rules how to act between one to another, and pirkei avot said “דרך ארץ קדמה לתורה”
    so i guess the orthodox must learn that the torha is great but how to treat people its above all.

    • Exactly! My point was that both sides need to learn something about the other one. Being patient with each other and learning to respect each other is key. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Congratulations on getting your Blog going. Good posts that really help explain the complexity of messages in what could look like a simple image.

    • Thank you! I will definitly try to continue writing about my art, and post some new work that I am working on. Its very exciting! 🙂

  3. […] Ten Commandments or Can Art Bridge between People?    Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Alexandra Juhasz – Video Artist […]

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