It is amazing how often one finds answers to long held questions in the most unexpected places. One Sunday, I visited the Tate Modern in London, a famous and massive gallery of modern art. Some of the pieces on display are truly remarkable. As I was viewing the art, a very simple fact occurred to me: whereas art was once the portrayal on canvas of a real life situation, modern art endeavors to convey the thoughts and imagination of the artist in a most direct way. This is what truly fascinates me about this genre of art: it is a window into the minds of other people.

For most people, the only medium of communication is speech. Speech, however, can never communicate the full depth of what one would like to share; inevitably the diverse usage of language creates barriers and the limits of vocabulary are restrictive. Speech can never communicate the full depth of what one would like to share. Music often succeeds where language fails. Ultimately, the musically talented are able to communicate through music, which although unable to convey deep ideas, is capable of stirring intense emotion in the listener. However, neither language nor music have the ability to portray the thoughts, feelings and imagination of the communicator to the extent that art, in particular modern art, can.

An artist who depicts a scenic view does so from a subjective standpoint, reproducing the scene as closely to reality as possible. In modern art, instead of reproducing what they see outside themselves, artists portray what they see in their mind's eye. The result can therefore often seem baffling to the layperson. The truth is, however, that when artists reveal their own personal thoughts and imagination to the public the result is very powerful. It is not often that we are privy to other people’s thoughts in such a direct way.

Based on Genesis, the Kabbalah teaches that G‑d created the world using the power of speech. According to the Kabbalists it is this power that perpetually sustains the universe, except on Shabbat when G‑d stopped creating. This is interpreted to mean that on the seventh day of creation G‑d no longer sustains the world through speech: instead, it is sustained through G‑d's thought. Since thought is a higher faculty than speech, Shabbat is a holy day because on this day the world is sustained by a more lofty Divine faculty. In a sense, on the Shabbat G‑d's thoughts are revealed to the world.

This concept always presented me with a difficulty. The Kabbalistic system is predicated on the idea that G‑d created man in His image, so that by understanding the nature of man one can have some understanding—albeit a very limited one—of the workings of the Creator. In the human being, speech is the prime method of communication, while thought is generally unable to communicate itself without the medium of speech. Or so I believed.

Walking through the halls of the Tate Modern that Sunday afternoon, it struck me: thoughts can be communicated via art in the most pristine fashion. The artist paints the exact thought-image from his or her imagination, the paints and the canvas placing few limits on the communication of the artist's thought.

The world is a painting and G‑d is the artist. The world is a painting and G‑d is the artist. During the week we perceive the world in a subjective manner, and the Divine artist is not always immediately noticeable through His work. On Shabbat, however, when we are charged with the responsibility of steeping ourselves into an atmosphere where we see the world totally as a reflection of G‑d, the world may be seen as a manifestation of His imaginative thoughts. In this sense, G‑d is the prototype modern artist, the universe is His gallery, and on Shabbat it is open to the public.