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Hand of God: Soul

Elliot Toman

Bound to stumble and fall
but my strength comes not from man at all.
Matisyahu

Wisdom resides in the soul of nature—of humanity. Most of us learn from an early age that some people are more soulful, what I call “touched by G-d,” and we feel blessed to have them in our lives. But what does it mean for a work of art—a poem, photograph, painting, sculpture—to have soul? Our reference point, of course, is nature. The “wisdom of trees” has almost become a cliché—but for a reason. A tree’s resilience stems from its strong roots and mighty core; its beautiful branches and leaves are the rewards of that labor. A soulful painting or building often feels as though it’s speaking directly to our own souls, because there’s nothing superficial, frivolous—fake—preventing that dialogue.

Being surrounded by soulful, transcendent art + design nourishes our own souls. In an age of social media, Instaporn, and filtered selfies, it’s needed now more than ever.

Karen Lehrman Bloch

“Beit Hanan,” Josef Anah
“Masada,” Pavel Bernshtam
“Galil,” Amit Geron

“Beauty is God’s handwriting.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Morning,” Luis Curiel
“Double Tulip,” Don Freeman
“Mountain,” Anish Kapoor
“Safra Square,” Assaf Pinchuk

“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.”

Goethe
“Tel Aviv Museum of Art,” Pedro Kok
“Efendi Hotel,” Amit Geron
“Factory Jaffa House,”  Amit Geron
“Repetition and Dream II,” Simon Lewty

“God wants, man dreams, the work is born.”

Fernando Pessoa
“Underground Prisoners Museum,” Assaf Pinchuk
Hurva Synagogue (unbuilt), Louis Kahn
“L’abbaye du Thornet,” Provence, David Heald
Tinmel Mosque, Morocco
Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Hiroshi Sugimoto

“Every recognition of beauty is a form of prayer.”

Rabbi David Wolpe
“Ethiopian Worshippers,” Dor Kedmi
“Jerusalem,” Elad Matityahu

Issue IX

Elliot Toman

Mobileyes

Working as a multimedia reporter for several decades in one of the most volatile regions of the world, I would also commonly shoot my own photos and footage in order to more deeply comprehend the subjects I was covering.

Striving to be as accurate and focused visually as I am in print and online, that journalistic aptitude and essential thematic clarity of vision carries over to my current photography, where I mainly work in black and white, in order to see the soul within the image, rather than the distracting gloss of color.

Although I have worked with many DSLR cameras and desktop editing suites over the decades, in recent years, as mobile camera lenses and software have exponentially improved, I’ve almost completely moved over to smartphones as a quality photographic tool of choice, and online editing platforms for the immediacy and cross-platform shareability of the results.

Dave Bender


Deadly Stones: a masked Arab youth fires off a slingshot at Israeli Border Police during an alleyway confrontation in Kfar Shiloach/Silwan, a contested Jerusalem neighborhood.

Massed Media: an Arab holds a staged “protest” moment for sympathetic media during a during a street confrontation in Kfar Shiloach/Silwan, a contested Jerusalem neighborhood.

Street Fighter: a masked Arab youth hurls a stone at Israeli Border Police during an alleyway confrontation in Kfar Shiloach/Silwan, a contested Jerusalem neighborhood.

Sacred Melodies: Hassidic Jews from New Jersey chant a “niggun” at a cenotaph honoring 3rd Cent. Mishnahic sage, Yehuda II, near Tzfat, in northern Israel.

Tzfat Night Bus: a Tzfat city bus appears to vanish into the Ottoman-era Saraya Fortress as it rounds a traffic circle in a time-lapse shot.

Sea of Galilee: shafts of sunlight break through low clouds over the Kinneret Sea of Galilee, as seen from the Mt. Of Beatitudes.

Jerusalem of Lights: Jewish tombs on the Mount of Olives face the Old City.

Pesach Prep: Youths duel with rolling pins between batches of Pesach matzos at the traditional tomb of Shem and Ever in Tzfat.

Negev War Memorial: a timeline of battles to liberate the Negev is etched into a wall of a dramatic memorial in Beersheva, in southern Israel.

From Darkness to Light: rail commuters at Tel Aviv University hurry beneath garlands of Israeli flags as the nation transits from Memorial Day to Independence Day celebrations.

Tel Aviv Takes All Kinds: Hassidic youth gaze at the Mediterranean Sea and passing joggers at Tel Aviv’s “Namal” pedestrian promenade.

Ethiopian Princesses: Doe-eyed immigrants at an Absorption Ministry housing center in northern Israel.

Wedding Memorial: an Israeli child at a wedding in Tzfat gazes at memorial candles lit in the memory of a trio of teens – Naftali Frenkel (16, of Nof Ayalon), Gilad Shaer (16, of Talmon), and Eyal Yifrah (19, of Elad) – who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists south of Jerusalem in June, 2014.

Making History in Manhattan

“…there is a surprisingly rich and layered heritage of modern buildings proving our connection to contemporary architectural thinking which makes me wonder why we have so lost touch with this spirit. So many current new buildings can’t make up their minds what they want to be other than parochial regionalism… the meek wallpaper contextualism of…

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Zelensky: A Modern Day Jagiello

Change the name of the aggressors and of the battle, give the warrior a green T-shirt and replace his swords with smartphones, and you could replace the medieval warrior-king, Wadyslav II Jagiello, with the President of the Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

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Fairfax Leadership Fail

While our leaders are more responsive when hatred comes from neo-Nazis and white supremacists, they still have no strategy for addressing it, and they seem utterly flummoxed and paralyzed by the more nuanced anti-Semitism arising from groups other than these.

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A Remembrance of Eternal Truth

If nothing comes from nothing, then truth, like matter, must be constant. The pursuit of these constant or unchanging truths is, or should be, the shared cause of philosophy and science as it relates to the physical world.

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Arrogance Breeds Foolishness

It is when we think we are wiser than the Creator of the universe that we make the most foolish decisions.

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Wisdom Eternal

Eternity before Wisdom implies some divine involvement, which is above humanity and above us; that was the concept our ancestors believed, from Moses to Jesus to Plato.

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Of Pharaohs and Patriarchs

Many voices vie for our attention claiming to teach wisdom. In our current point on the Information Age continuum, we would do well to remember Biblical flesh and blood archetypes and the Source from which their wisdom stories flow.

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Bible Taboo

Knowledge is power and ignorance is not bliss. Finishing the book taught me so much about the identity stolen from me by the atheist establishment of the socialist society.

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Eternal Traditions

The primary difference between the Eternal Traditions and other ways of thinking is that worshipful practice potentially transforms the individual into a person infused with Spirit or Oneness or G-d. The best practices of the Eternal Traditions open the hearts of the devotees.

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When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till…

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The Giant Canvas

What if, We were given a giant canvas,And the freedom,To find our own space on it, Move on to whichever corner of the canvas we wished to,Splash the colors of our choice,Shape up the shapes that fascinate us,Create our own masterpiece,Every moment of our lives? But … What if,We were not alone in this? What…

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What is the Good Life?

The question of the good life, the tension between Athens (Reason) and Jerusalem (Revelation), the quarrel of the ancients, can be seen, today, as a form of Counter Enlightenment.

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Sunshine

Pitch Darkness.Instantly turned toA majestic sun-shine.I just had to,Open my eyes….

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The Silent Time

Since the moment they were liberated, many of the survivors bore within them a constant awareness that, like it or not, they were witnesses to one of the most monumental horrors in human history.

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Eternal Wisdom

The cultivation of wisdom requires dialogue. That can be dialogue between self and others. Or it can be dialogue between present self and past self. And that requires a bit of time travel and self-awareness.

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