The L‑rd spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to Aaron and say to him: “When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall cast their light toward the face of the menorah.” Aaron did so: he lit the lamps toward the face of the menorah, as the L‑rd had commanded Moses. (Numbers 8:1–3)

Among many interpretations of the meaning of the seven lamps casting light on the “face of the menorah” is that the “face of the menorah” refers its central stem, called the “western lamp” (which burned miraculously in the Holy Temple). A more esoteric interpretation is offered by the Sefat Emet, who suggests that the seven branches of the earthly menorah gave light in front of a heavenly menorah.

The menorah in this painting was hidden within a very wet canvas swimming with gold and brown paint. It emerged from within the drips and swirls of paint that melded, suggesting the shape of a menorah. Coaxing it to life by dipping wadded tissues into the wet paint, and blotting the water, produced various textures as well as tones of color. Using tissues instead of a brush created the effect of shimmering light. As the tissues picked up most of the paint, the menorah became white with inner light, and with the addition of pastel, the glow of light was increased.

Turning the canvas upside down, the menorah was painted from both directions, almost as if painting two menorahs—a celestial one and an earthly one. Jewish tradition believes that Jerusalem and its Temple have always had a heavenly counterpart which is the real source of blessing and light, as the menorah has continued to shine through thousands of years of our history.