For this timbrel I was asked to portray the fourth plague, Arov, which means swarm. This plague sent hundreds of noxious insects, serpents and wild beasts to swarm upon the Egyptians. It caused them and their livestock bodily harm and it ruined whatever crops they had left. The Egyptians had to struggle to protect themselves and their families from the plague and to carry on their daily lives.
This plague can be compared in contemporary times to the difficulty modern women face in protecting their children from today’s “swarms”of media, violence, commercialism, and economic turmoil. The more I thought about what could counter the modern day swarms, the more I kept getting an image of Shabbat. I saw a woman at the Shabbat table. I envisioned a time separated from the rest of the week and I thought about the strength of character it takes to create that time. A peaceful time when computers, TV’s and phones are turned off.
A time when the focus is on the family. A time when there is a meal on the table and loved ones to share it together. I thought of the strength of the women who struggle to protect their children from the ravages of hunger and poverty, commercialism and other media influences, or from the stress and anxiety that comes hand in hand with our over-scheduled lives.
Thus, my artwork represents the strength and importance of women as nurturers. I see in women and in their nurturing ways an answer to the plagues of poverty, violence and the fast-paced, materialistic craziness in our world today. I therefore depicted the feminine symbol of earth, Adama, with the symbol of wheat. Without a strong, healthy Adama there could not be a strong, healthy Aitz, tree of life. The tree of life I painted contains pomegranates, which represent the six hundred and thirteen commandments and is a symbol of abundant goodness - the important values that women strive to pass on to their children. This tree of life, I feel, symbolizes healthy, confident children with a strong sense of values having been raised by nurturing, strong, Jewish women.