Visual Aesthetics (Ritual)

I like this bit from the additional festival prayer (Musaf) read a couple days back for the holiday of Sukkot in the synagogue. Alas, the Sim Shalom translation of the Conservative movement doesn’t quite get it. The word for “being seen,” which gets repeated in this little clip about three times in various forms, gets translated as “appear.” This is okay but anemic, eliding the full impact of the point that the people are supposed “to be seen” “to be seen,” “to be seen” at the Temple when they assemble for the three ancient pilgrimage festivals mandated in the Bible. What I get from this is a little theory about ritual, and about the synagogue as a place, the importance of being seen. Ritual space is what Hannah Arendt refers to as a “place of appearance.” It’s primarily a visual one.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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