The Deronda Review

a magazine of poetry and thought

Vol. VII No. 1 2017

Yoram Raanan, The Chariot of the Baal Shem Tov, 100 x 130 cm, acrylic on canvas (2008)


In this issue:

I.  Creation on Fire: A Tribute to Yoram Raanan  

II. In Memoriam: Gretti Izak and Sue Tourkin Komet

III.  The Uncertainties of Residing Here

IV.  Hearts’ Design

V. Runes  

VI.  Fitting Frames

VII.  From Sabbath to Sabbath


Contributors to this issue:

Hayim Abramson I, VI   *    Brenda Appelbaum-Golani I  *  Yakov Azriel I,  III, IV, VII  *  Mindy Aber Barad I, III  *  i.batsheva I, VI  *  Maayan Ora Batt III  *  Guy Beining VII  A. Cabrera IV  Esther Cameron I, II, III, VI  *  Netanel Cohen III  *  Chaiya D. III, VII  *  Zev Davis I, VII  *  Sara DeBeer I  *  Diane de Pisa IV  *  Heather Dubrow IV  *  Ruth Fogelman III  *  Claudia Gary VI  *  Joan Gerstein VI  *  KJ Hannah Greenberg  I  *  Gerald E. Greene  VI  *  Esther Halpern VI  *  George Held VI  *  Jane Herschlag IV, V  *  Paul Hostovsky VI  *  Gretti Izak z"l II  *  Sheila Golburgh Johnson VI  *  Sue Tourkin Komet z"l II  *  Sean Lause  IV, VI  *  Chaya Kaplan-Lester I  *  Tziporah Lifshitz I  *  Esther Lixenberg-Bloch  II  *  Doug Macdonald V, VI  *  Shira Mark-Harif III  *  Constance Rowell Mastores IV, V, VI  *  Avril Meallam II  *  David C. Miller MD IV  *  Lisa Morris IV  *  JB Mulligan I, VI, VII  *  Nechama Sara Gila Nadborny-Burgeman I  *  Cynthia Weber Nankee I  *  James B. Nicola IV, VII  *  B.Z. Niditch I  Susan Oleferuk IV, V, VII  *  Bibhu Padhi IV, VII   *  Reizel Polak I, III, IV, VI, VII  *  Meira Raanan front & back cover  *  Red Hawk IV, VI  *  Yehudit Reishtein I  *  Vera Schwarcz I  *  L.B. Sedlacek IV  *  Steven (Shlomo) Sher VII  *  Laurence Snydal V Harvey A. Steinberg IV  *  Lois Greene Stone I, IV  *  Michael E. Stone VI  *  Wally Swist  I, IV, V   *  Chaim Tabasky VI  Connie S. Tettenborn I, VI, VII  *  Vincent J. Tomeo IV  *  Shira Twersky-Cassel I  *  Lois Michal Unger II, VII  *  Catherine Wald VI  *  Sarah Brown Weitzman I  *  Kelley Jean White V  Yocheved Miriam Zemel I


Commentary by Meira Raanan on "The Chariot of the Baal Shem Tov":  This surrealistic  work depicts an imaginary  chariot led by blue horses flying through a fiery sunset.  In contrast, the background colors are muted as a cool breeze moves over the pale firmament above.  Framed by warm yellow sunlight and below, the red earth looks like it is on fire.

The carriage and horses were fashioned by the free movement of Raanan’s hands, and once revealed, needed only to be subtly defined.  Working on the wheels of the carriage, repeating the circular motion with his fingers, he created a sense of rapid movement.

    “One of the things that amazes me most in creating art is the movement of my hands in the paint; they seem to become like magic wands conjuring up scenes.”  

    Spontaneously painted with (his) hands and paint-soaked fingers dancing across the canvas, Raanan created the impression of swirling wind. With carefree abandon and even working with his eyes closed, by touch rather than by sight.

This painting was named after the carriage of the Baal Shem Tov. The Baal Shem Tov was the founder of the Hassidic movement, (characterized by simple and joyous service of God, through prayer and acts of kindness). To spread his teachings and help those in distress, he traveled to faraway places, riding his horse-drawn carriage ascribed with supernatural qualities.  Although ordinary in appearance, many stories reveal its mystical power, in which his driver Alexei follows his master’s orders, drops the reins, turns his back to the horses and lets them travel where they may.

The horse’s hooves do not touch the ground, for the carriage is not rolling on wheels but flying to its destination like a magic chariot.  Such was the alleged power of the Baal Shem Tov’s carriage to leap beyond gravity, and even the laws of nature and journey over great distances in an instant.

The freedom with which this was work was painted is the very aspiration into which every artist and writer longs to tap: to be on a magic chariot, drop the reins of control and fly on the wings of inspiration.



Editor: Esther Cameron., Co-editor for Israel: Mindy Aber Barad, POB 6709, Efrat. Hard copy $7, subscription $14, back issue $5.



Since its inception as The Neovictorian/Cochlea in 1996, The Deronda Review has included a Contributors' Exchange of addresses (surface, email, URL) and available books. Contributors' Exchange is now a separate .html file, and includes contributors from vol. 5 no. 1 on.

As the people gathered around Mount Sinai, a heavenly supernal light settled on top of the mountain. In the painting the sky radiates into shades of yellow and blue, illuminating the mountain and the multitudes of people below. Our sages tell us that in its original form, the Torah was composed of fire, and it was from within fire that the Torah was revealed—on a mountain that was ablaze. Here in the painting the mountain glows white hot, incandescent and luminous. Every day, we are told, a Heavenly Voice issues from Sinai urging us to recall how G-d speaks to us from within the fire.
                                         —Meira Raanan