Holiday Art

Beautiful ritual objects enhance holiday celebration.

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There seems to be reciprocity of beauty through the agency of mitzvot: the Jew becomes beautiful as he/she performs a mitzvah. "But, conversely, Israel 'beautifies' God by performing the commandments in the most 'beautiful' manner…”

There are many ways to apply the principle of Hiddur Mitzvah. For example, one might choose to observe the mitzvah of kindling Chanukah lights with a cheap, stamped tin Hanukkiyah or one might make an effort to build one by hand or to buy a beautiful one. Some families might prefer an oil-burning Hanukkiyah, rather than one that uses the standard candles, in order to relate their observance of the mitzvah more closely to the times of the Maccabees, Certainly the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles is fulfilled with any kind of Hanukkiyah, but by applying the principle of Hiddur Mitzvah, one enriches both the mitzvah and him/herself.

Various companies distribute free Haggadot to their customers before Pesach, These Haggadot generally contain the entire traditional text and of course may be used at the family Seder. But a family who is motivated by the concept of Hiddur Mitzvah will want to use one of the beautifully edited and illustrated Haggadot readily available today. Similarly, beautiful Matzah covers, Seder plates, and Kiddush cups should be used. These may be family heirlooms, or ones created by contemporary artists, or ones designed and executed by the children in religious school. The whole celebration is enriched when care is taken in the selection or creation of ceremonial objects.

Hiddur Mitzvah means taking the time and making an effort to create or acquire the most beautiful ceremonial objects possible in order to enrich the religious observance with aesthetic dimension.  

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