Artist's Statement

The work may be seen in the context of disturbing current events in Israel and the world, where the dominant trend of behavior of most individuals and the society seems to be that only the violent prevail.
If I were to seek an appropriate phrase from Jewish sources,  I would choose the following section from the Ethics of the Fathers 3:2:

Rabbi Hanina, the priest second-in-charge, says: One should pray for the authority of Kingdom, because if there is no fear from it, each person would swallow his friend alive.

רבי חנינה סגן הכהנים אומר: הוי מתפלל בשלומה של מלכות, שאלמלא מוראה, איש את רעהו חיים בלעו


It would seem that Rabbi Hanina voices a basically pessimistic view about human nature and prefers any kind of societal order (even the oppressive rule of the Roman empire) to anarchy. This is emphasized by the fact that Rabbi Hanina himself was one of the famous Ten Martyrs who were cruelly tortured by the Romans.

This idea would seem to fit the triptych submitted. The center panel suggests a scene of uncontrolled violence which is being "contained" by the outer panels with their strong diagonal vectors and a hint of two fishes swallowing each other on the right and perhaps a Roman soldier on the left.

A Jewish mystical interpretation sheds a completely different light on the phrase and ultimately the idea behind the triptych. The context now is not societal but the individual. The idea of "swallowing one's friend alive" is not to kill him, but to believe because of an exaggerated self-evaluation that everyone else exists (and is allowed to live) only to be absorbed and used to satisfy one's own needs. The correction for this is the Fear of Malchut or Kingdom, a higher Divine Authority, which forces the individual to contain and ultimately transcend his ego and self-aggrandizement. Now the center panel can relate to the EEG activity of an individual's brain while the diagonal vectors on the side panel symbolize or suggest transcendence.

This is one of the important secrets of the Hebrew letter Aleph א, the only letter with a dominant diagonal form and of course the first letter of the Ten Commandments.

Finally, we can derive a typically Jewish exegesis that internalizes the “swallowed friend” to include even our sworn enemies, such as Pharaoh and Amalek, which become now symbols of the undesirable aspects of one’s own personality. And if a tikkun or correction of the individual is achieved, it can then have a positive influence also on the outside reality and society.