WHAT DO YOU THINK?
The commentary to this Midrashic teaching suggests two aspects to consider: That one seeks out others as a community in which to live and practice Judaism, and that one must put aside personal fulfillment or ambition for the good of the community. True religious and spiritual development is possible, suggests the commentary, only when we function as a community, and not as individuals.
What constitutes a “community”?
Do you agree with the idea that people are better off in a community than on their own? Why or why not?
What communities do you belong to? What shared responsibilities exist in each of these communities?
Other posters and quotations also deal with the challenge of the individual versus the community. How does this Midrashic quotation relate to Hillel’s teaching, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?” Or, with the quotation from Mandelstamm, “A human being is like a letter of the alphabet: to produce a word, it must combine with another”?
WHAT DO YOU SEE?
Each image calls out to us to examine it, to note our thoughts and feelings, and relate these impressions to the quotation. Often clues in the artwork suggest meaning and invite interpretation.
In this collage, designer Ivan Chermayeff challenges us to think about what it means to be a community and what happens when a community is “too heavy to carry alone.”
How does the image present the quotation? Was this how you interpreted the quotation without the image?
What adjectives would you use to describe the collage? What feelings does it trigger?
What elements did Chermayeff use to depict community? Do these images describe all communities?
What role do the hands play? What do they add to the depiction of the quotation?
Copyright© 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation
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