The Artist As Thinker

In his 1998 lecture on Exodus 26, Dennis Prager said: The artist is called a thinker in Hebrew. Art without thought is not considered valuable. What great art does not have an intellectual element to it? Breaking your guitars over your knees doesn’t take thought. There’s something in me nervous when such people are described as artists. These people go through the door labeled “Artist’s Entrance” but it is not fair to the term. The greatest art demands the greatest thought.

It is generally perceived that Judaism doesn’t care about art. If Judaism doesn’t care about art details, why does it devote so many chapters in the Torah to artistic details?

The Jewish people traded in the aesthetic for the intellectual and moral. The aesthetic has largely been ignored. With the destruction of the temple, art is no longer necessary. That is why the rabbis banned music in the synagogue. The temple had musical instruments played on the Sabbath.

The Jews worshiped God using beauty. God should be the only ends. Everything else should be a means.

What’s the difference between Bach and heavy metal? Think of how you feel during Guns n Roses concert and how you feel during a Bach concert?

Why were there only male priests? The desexualization of religious ritual. Sex was integral to pagan worship, including acts of intercourse at the temple. In all ancient religions, you had priestesses. It would not have offended the Israelites to have priestesses.

All of the gods of ancient religions had sex. Jehovah was the first god to not have sex.

I was given an opportunity many years ago to have an audience with the Lubavitcher Rebbe. I was honored, but being a big rationalist, I missed the opportunity to be in the presence of a holy man.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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