The religion of Judaism, which plays a prevalent part in the culture and art of the Jewish peoples, is known for its tradition of Aniconism. The holy texts of the Old Testament specifically prohibit the drawing of God. It goes as follows: “Do not make yourselves false gods. Do not raise up a stone idol or a sacred pillar for yourselves. Do not place a kneeling stone in your land so that you can prostrate yourselves on it. I am God your Lord.” Because of this, religious art in Judaism is rare, and art is not used as a means of connecting with God. At the same time, this raises the question of whether it is possible to engage the mind without engaging the senses or not.
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To answer the question, one must first understand how the mind works. For a person to be considered conscious and self-aware, one must possess a mind’s eye. It helps create an artificial landscape inside one’s imagination. If a person is deaf and blind, they can still imagine sounds and visuals, proving that the mind does not need to practice the senses in order to remain engaged.
However, creating art is impossible without engaging at least one of the senses. All art, whether music, poetry, or painting, engages at least one of the human’s senses. The connection between art and the divine is present in many religions, as some consider art an act of worshipping God. The book titled My Name is Asher Lev deals with the issue of self-expression. The main character, who is bestowed with an artistic gift, worships God in the best way he knows – through drawing symbolic art with heavy religious motives, which is seen as blasphemy by his people.
This brings the discussion back to the question of engaging the mind without engaging the senses. Even the strictest aniconic religions, such as Judaism, have produced art either dedicated to their God or depicting scenes from the holy texts. In Orthodox Christianity, there are icons of Saints, which are said to be capable of bringing about miracles. In Judaism, the prime examples of religious art are the Dura Europos Synagogue and the Beth Alpha Synagogue in Israel, both of which feature numerous depictions of people and events of the Abrahamic religion.
The conclusion connects these historical artifacts with the central idea of My Name is Asher Lev. While it is possible for the mind to remain engaged within its own mindscape, it is impossible to engage God and others without producing some sort of art that would engage the individuals on a personal level, through one or more of their senses. As demonstrated in the book, God calls to Asher Lev through the mindscape, which is effectively his sixth sense. Thus, the attempt of religion to censor art or forbid it based on the lines quoted at the beginning of this paper is impossible and even harmful, as the relationship between a person and God is explored through senses as well.