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The Jewish boy (recto). The Jewish boy (verso)

Author: Moshe Bernstein (1920–2006)
Dimensions:70 × 44 cm

bottom right in Hebrew: M. Bernstein 54 (recto). Unsigned (verso)

Prayer and the tallit. According to halakhah, a Jew is required to attend morning, afternoon and evening prayers in the synagogue, and each prayer has a precise starting time based on the time the sun rises. In addition to communal prayers, which can be recited only in the presence of a minyan, a quorum of ten men, individual prayers are also said every day. During the day, a Jew must say 100 prayers and blessings, so every action, such as eating, lighting a lamp, meeting a friend on the street, seeing the rain or a rainbow, and so on, is a sacred and special moment in the day’s routine.

Morning prayers must begin before sunrise: ‘Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord’ (Genesis 19:27). In the past, it was difficult to tell the exact time of the sunrise (and the morning prayer). Thus, the tallit, a white cloth with blue stripes, used during the morning prayers, served as a kind of clock. In the dark, all colours are grey, and acquire their true colour only with the light. Therefore, the blue stripes starting to appear at daybreak on the tallit are a sign that it is time to say morning prayers. Moshe Bernstein’s drawing depicts a young man with a tallit on his shoulders, going to or returning from morning prayers.

Text author Vilma Gradinskaitė

Source: Law firm Valiunas Ellex art album STORIES OF LITVAK ART (2023). Compiler and author Vilma Gradinskaitė
Expositions: "Shalom, Israel! The Paths of Litvak Artists", 16 December  2015  – 13 March 2016, Tolerance Center of the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum, Vilnius; "Free and Unfree. Lithuanian Art between 1945 and 1990", 9 September 202130 April 2022, Lithuanian Art Centre TARTLE (Užupio St. 40, Vilnius). Curators Dovilė Barcytė and Ieva Burbaitė.