Black and White
We are preparing a tour of Jewish artists for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. This is a world class museum with very little on Jewish art or artists. One artist mentions "black fire white fire" as the inspiration for one of his paintings. He says it is from the Zohar. Can you please give me some references or some other information on this? I can not find it. Thank You.
Dear Ron Cohen,
In the Zohar we find a statement that the Torah was written with "black fire upon white fire." One explanation of "black fire and white fire" is that black fire denotes Divine Mercy while white fire is Divine Justice. The Maharsha explains that to appreciate G-d one must recognize the fact that both mercy and judgment are Divine attributes.
Interestingly, the concept of colored fire recurs in Midrashic literature. According to the Midrash, G-d showed Moshe the menorah made out of white, green, red and black fire.
- Zohar 3 Parshat Naso page 132a
- Devarim Rabbah Parsha 3
- Tanchuma, Parshat Shemini 10
- Maharsha, Tractate Berachot 33a