May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Yael H had one of the most common first names in the school and the most common in her grade. In August of the year she was born, the great pioneer race car driver Yael Speeds passed away. Speeds was a hero for being the first Jewish racing driver to win both the NASCAR and Formula One championships, and on top of that, she was competing in the men’s division. Yael Speeds was active in the Jewish community through charity work and politics, and so was considered to be a true Jewish hero. In turn, many Jewish girls born in the following months were named Yael.

In this particular grade, eight out of the 62 girls were named Yael, so it became a bit important for teachers to distinguish one Yael from another. Fortunately, none of these girls shared a starting letter in her last name with another girl, so they simply went by their first names and last initials. This strategy could not solve all the Yael-related problems, and so the Yaels were constantly confused for one another. Yael B once received Yael M’s report card (awkward!), Yael S was once sent home on Yael Z’s bus, but to Yael C’s house (yikes!), and Yael P received an invitation to her own surprise party that was meant for Yael D (d’oh!). Each Yael felt differently about this situation, and Yael H was no exception. She was sick of being confused for other students, for teachers not knowing who exactly she was, and for having to turn around every time someone called “Yael!” in the hallways. So Yael H told herself “from the second I graduate, I will not let anybody confuse me for another again!”

Yael planned and plotted, and by the time graduation came around, she put an idea into action. With some help from her brother, Yael rolled up a huge banner on which she painted, “I Am THE Yael, Don’t You Forget It!” She then rigged the rope holding the banner so that it would unroll with the press of a button that she would deploy immediately after receiving her diploma. So when Yael’s principal announced, “Yael Herringbone!” Yael hustled up to the stage with a big smile on her face. She turned and posed for the camera, took her diploma and reached under her hat to press the button. She heard the sound of the banner unrolling, and raised both hands in the air, and gave it her loudest “Yeet!” For a second, Yael felt a sense of triumph, but after seeing the crowd’s confused faces, that feeling was replaced with unease. Yael slowly turned around and noticed the bottom right corner of the banner was caught on a tree limb, so that the only visible part of the banner read “I Am THE Yael D.”

Needless to say, this was quite an embarrassing moment for Yael H, but it only strengthened her resolve to become one of a kind. To make this happen, Yael threw herself into the activity she loved more than anything, painting. Yael followed her own path, and eventually became a world-famous painter. She had her works featured in the finest galleries, and her total sales easily surpassed the $100-million mark. However, Yael was not yet satisfied. Something was missing.

At this time, a common practice among artists was to paint masterpieces and to present them to galleries anonymously. Nobody but the painter would know whose painting it was, yet art critics from around the world would offer opinions on these anonymous works of art. Additionally, other art experts would attempt to determine the identity of each creator, which was sometimes revealed later on. Yael would read these reviews and predictions withs great interest, and while doing so, she realized something about her own style. Although elements of her painting were unique to her, she never created anything about which people would say, “Only Yael could have created something so masterful!” So she set out to do just that.

For the next six months, Yael barely left her studio. She spent 10 to 12 hours each day meditating, sketching, mixing, drawing inspiration and, of course, painting. After six months were up, Yael anonymously sent her masterpiece to 12 different galleries for evaluation and investigation. One masterpiece to 12 galleries? Did she make 12 copies of the same painting? Absolutely not; Yael actually painted 12 works of art that, when combined, become one large masterpiece.

When critics and experts began to examine Yael’s anonymous paintings, it did not become immediately clear that they had been created by one artist. Yael’s name did come up as a possible creator for most of the paintings, but her name wasn’t the only one popularly thrown around for this collection (which nobody knew was an actual collection). However, one afternoon, Barbara, a regular art-loving citizen (and not an expert by any means), was looking over some of the latest anonymous works. She noticed a similar pattern in 12 of the paintings that indicated they were connected somehow. Barbara took the 12 photos and began arranging and rearranging them until she realized the paintings were meant to be organized in a particular order. When finally arranging the paintings properly, Barbara let out a gasp, realizing she was looking at one of the most brilliant works of art ever to be seen.

Barbara immediately got in touch with the curators of a few of the galleries that had received Yael’s work. She explained her theory, emailed out the completed “puzzle,” and within hours, the art community was abuzz with talk of this discovery. Very quickly, the consensus of almost all the experts was that only one artist, Yael, had the specific skills to create such a masterpiece. In fact, Yael had one last surprise in store. When all the paintings were finally brought to one location, and placed in order, one of the gallery owners had a feeling that he should look on the back of the paintings. And, lo and behold, there were a number of lines on the back of each painting, that when combined in the correct order, made up a sentence. It read, “I Am THE Yael, Don’t You Forget It!”

Similarly to Yael (but of course on a totally different level), Hashem’s will is for us to appreciate how unique, masterful and infinitely brilliant He is. This opportunity applies to all people, Jews and non-Jews alike. One way to do this is to look at the amazing world Hashem created. The Torah tells us that Hashem created the world in six days, although, as we know, He could have created the world in less than a second. However, these six days teach us that Hashem created a world in a specifically organized way. And just as the six days were connected as part of an organized process, the different parts of Hashem’s world are connected to one another. Our job is to look at the world and say, “Wow! Only Hashem could have created something so masterful!” When we do this, and we put the different parts together, we might notice Hashem’s signature hiding on the back of the “paintings.”

By Yair Daar

 

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