Picture for the Shavuot festival (at Spanish Synagogue)
This religious picture was created for the merchant Benjamin Trietsch, who is mentioned in the dedication at the bottom of the sheet. He may have presented it to the Prague Zigeuner synagogue, to which, together with his wife, Heyla, he donated a Torah mantle (inv. no. JMP 82.851) in 1724-25.
At first sight, the viewer’s eye is caught by the large golden letters of the Decalogue. In the 18th century, tablets with the Decalogue, representing Divine Law and all its commandments, appear as a symbol on synagogue walls or facades and on various ritual objects: curtains and valances for the Holy Ark, Torah mantles and shields, and others.
The Decalogue is framed by a double arcade, the shape of which is also reminiscent of the two tablets of the Law, as they are usually depicted. The three crowns are the crown of Torah, the crown of priesthood and the crown of the kingship, which are named in the Mishnaic tractate of Pirke Avot (4 : 17).
But there is more. If we look closer, we discover that the outlines of the doves, crowns, columns, flowers and leaves are formed by a miniature script (micrography). Written here are the whole biblical books of Ruth and Song of Songs, and passages from Exodus, prophet Ezekiel, Judges and Psalm 68. All these texts are read on the festival of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks, 6th and, in the diaspora also 7th of Sivan) or in the period preceding it. In this context, the Decalogue itself gathers an additional meaning: besides its agricultural aspects (as a festival of the harvest), the Shavuot festival is above all a commemoration of the time of the Giving of the Law (Hebr. zeman matan toratenu), given to Moses, according to the tradition, on this very day.
It is not clear where Abraham di Mordo, a native from Corfu, created this sheet. With the exception of Aaron Herlingen from Jevíčko (who nevertheless worked in Vienna), his masterful work has no parallels in the Czech Jewish milieu. The micrography is considered a specific artistic means of Jewish scribes from the oldest extant biblical codices up to the present.