The Shape of Sound, Yemen, 1991
The Shape of Sound, Yemen, 1991Click to Enlarge
Whether you’re in a cave in Yemen or a yeshiva in Brooklyn, the letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the words of the Torah remain the same. It is these universal Jewish traditions that keep communities connected across time and space.
Why do you think the photographer calls this picture The Shape of Sound?
בֶּן זוֹמָא אוֹמֵר, אֵיזֶה הוּא חָכָם–הַלּוֹמֵד מִכָּל אָדָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”מִכָּל-מְלַמְּדַי הִשְׂכַּלְתִּי“ (תְּהִילִים קיט,צט).
Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? One who learns from all people, as it is written (Psalm 119:99) “I have gained understanding from all my teachers.”
– Pirkei Avot 4:1
רַבִּי חֲלַפְתָּא אִישׁ כְּפַר חֲנַנְיָה אוֹמֵר, עֲשָׂרָה שֶׁהַיוּ יּוֹשְׁבִין וְעוֹסְקִין בַּתּוֹרָה–שְׁכִינָה עִימַהֵן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”אֱלֹהִים, נִצָּב בַּעֲדַת-אֵל“ (תְּהִילִים פב,א). וּמִנַּיִין שֶׁאֲפִילוּ חֲמִישָּׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”וַאֲגֻדָּתוֹ עַל-אֶרֶץ יְסָדָהּ“ (עַמוֹס ט,ו). וּמִנַּיִין שֶׁאֲפִילוּ שְׁלוֹשָׁה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”בְּקֶרֶב אֱלֹהִים יִשְׁפּטֹ“ (תְּהִילִים פב,א). וּמִנַּיִין שֶׁאֲפִילוּ שְׁנַיִים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”אָז נִדְבְּרוּ יִרְאֵי יְהוָה, אִישׁ אֶל-רֵעֵהוּ; וַיַּקְשֵׁב יְהוָה, וַיִּשְׁמָע“ (מַלְאָכִי ג,טז). וּמִנַּיִין שֶׁאֲפִילוּ אֶחָד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר ”בְּכָל-הַמָּקוֹם אֲשֶׁר אַזְכִּיר אֶת-שְׁמִי, אָבוֹא אֵלֶיךָ וּבֵרַכְתִּיךָ” (שְׁמוֹת כ,כ).
Rabbi Chalafta of Kefar Chanania used to say: If ten people sit together and occupy themselves with the Torah, the Divine Presence rests among them as it is written (Psalm 82:1) “God has taken his place in the divine assembly.” And from where do we learn that this applies even to five? Because it is written (Amos 9:6) “He has established his vault upon the earth.” And how do we learn that this applies even to three? Because it is written (Psalm 82:1) “He judges in the midst of the judges.” And from where can it be shown that the same applies even to two? Because it is written (Malachi 3:16) “Then those who revered the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord took note and listened.” And from where even of one? Because it is written (Exodus 20:24) “In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you.”
– Pirkei Avot 3:7