Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein |


Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein likes to combine his two passions – Judaism and art – into unique projects that delight connoisseurs of Judaica. His magnificent Book of Psalms and miniature Shield of the Mighty statues are superb examples

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The recent publication of the Book of Psalms by Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein aims to shed his own unique, artistic perspective on the influential book. Like many other devout Jews, Goldstein reads the entire Book of Psalms every single week. Ive always felt a strong and special connection to the Psalms, he admits. My great-grandfather was a Hassidic Rabbi who wrote his own scholarly commentary on the Book of Psalms, so the connection runs deep in my family.

The result of Goldsteins tireless effort is a breathtaking coffee table sized edition – The Illustrated Book of Psalms. Only 613 copies of this remarkable book exist – a number that is significant since it is traditionally believed that there are 613 commandments.

Unique interpretations

On each page of the book, a single chapter is printed in the original Hebrew followed by an English translation below it. On the page facing the text there is an original illustration of the Psalm, painted by one of 150 different Israeli artists, one for each chapter in the book. The artists were given a free hand to interpret the verses as they chose. Every copy of the book is also individually signed by each of the contributing artists.

The Book of Psalms

The artists come from the entire spectrum of Israeli society, explains Goldstein. They are both religious and secular, native born Israelis and olim from different countries. This form of unity, which is so greatly needed among the Jewish people today, is the message I hope the book will convey. Each artist studied their specific Psalm in depth, only then proceeding to paint his or her own unique interpretation of the chapter. Since there are no machines in Israel that are able to bind the pages of such a large book without permanently damaging it, each one of the books was individually sewn by hand.

A mighty miniature

The Shield of the Mighty, a statue by David Susanna positioned at the entrance to the IDFs main Induction Base at Tel HaShomer, is a unique statement to new recruits, reminding them of the Jewish chain of generations and heroic Israeli fighters. Miniature replicas of this powerful statue are now being offered to the public.

Both the original and the miniatures contain a large Star of David, which affords the feeling of protection by overarching those carrying it. The soldiers holding on to it appear suspended and clinging to it, in search of finding refuge under its shadow and pinions, Susanna explains. It also expresses the metaphoric concept of shield, because the Star of David with its acute and obtuse angles, its 12 sides, and the many shapes and forms into which it can be merged, incomparably expresses the Shield of the Mighty of Israels eternity and confidence in the Jewish peoples continuity.

The sharp and polished Star of David is carried aloft by five soldiers who are not standing proportionally and symmetrically to the Stars sides. This expresses the traditional belief that the number five is auspicious against the evil eye, and it has the power to overcome the conventional laws of nature. The slope represents the shields role of deflecting and fending off all attacks, just as oil would cause the arrows and catapults aimed at the shield to skid off.

I am glad that this Shield is welcoming those arriving to be drafted. It reminds them of the importance of their duty, that Israels Eternal One will protect them, and that it is their privilege to join the soldiers of Israels armies to defend the Jewish people as it marches towards its unique destiny, asserts Susanna.

Smaller version

The miniature Shield of the Mighty is an accurate and upgraded copy of the original, including several unique motifs that were added to the smaller versions under the direction of the artist. The miniatures base is made completely of bronze marble, plated with pure 24K gold. It weighs about 2.6 lbs., the height is about eight inches, and it was scaled down to an approximately 1/29th of the original work. One hundred and one copies were made, symbolizing the gematria (numerical value of the letters) of the angel Michael, who is considered Israels Defender and symbolizes the continuity of Israel into eternity.                

For more information, contact Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein: 050-9934330, yigoldstein@gmail.com.

A miniature replica of "The Shield of the Mighty" by David Susanna