Creative Expression

In the Jewish Scriptures symbol and analogy are often used to say something about G-d. For example, Psalm 8 says: When I behold Your heavens, the work of Your fingers (Psalm 8:4a).

Elsewhere G-d is described as a ‘Warrior’, ‘King’, and ‘Judge’ as well as a craftsman making the world. The relationship between G-d and the Jews is made clear when G-d appears as a father-figure looking after the erring children of Israel. But the Jewish scriptures also use the feminine to describe G-d: providing water for the people, just as women fetch it for their families; providing for the children just as mothers feed their household; being a mother and nurse for her wandering children during the time of the Exodus; crying out like a woman in child birth and acting as a comforting mother in times of distress.

Because of the second commandment there is little figurative religious art in Judaism. However, work such as the Chagall stained-glass windows of the twelve tribes of Israel in the Hadassah Hospital of the Hadassah-Hebrew University Medical Centre in Jerusalem demonstrates how it can have a part to play in Judaism.

The music of the Temple appears to have been chanted by the priests to the accompaniment of an orchestra. After the destruction of the Temple, music in the synagogues became the task of one person. The accompaniment of musical instruments was forbidden, particularly on the Sabbath as it constituted work. Responses to the prayers were sung by the entire male congregation. As new forms of music and chanting were developed the post of chazan, or cantor, was established during the early Middle Ages.

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