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The Sun Rays On Top Of The Torah Ark: A Dialogue With The Aureole, The Christian Symbol Of The Divinity On Top Of The Altarpiece

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Chapter Summary

From the mid-nineteenth century on, sun rays on top of the Torah ark became a wellknown motif in European synagogues. But when the Hatam Sofer was asked about the depiction of sun rays on a synagogue window, this was a new feature in synagogue design and suspect of idolatry. No doubt, even at first glance these sun rays remind us of the aureole, the Christian symbol of the divinity on the top of the altarpiece, as seen on a side altarpiece in the Bernardine Church in Cracow, where, together with a wreath of clouds, it encircles the symbol of the Trinity in the shape of an eye within a triangle. This chapter reveals the process of the dialog on the matter between the synagogue and the church, and discovers its early manifestations. It provides understanding of how such Christian form was considered acceptable in the synagogues by the halakhic authorities.

Keywords: altarpiece; Bernardine Church; Christian aureole; divinity; European synagogues; Hatam Sofer; sun rays; Torah ark



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