Shal na’alekha me’al raglekha, “Unshoe your sandal from your foot” (Exodus 3:5), Moses is told as he approaches the Burning Bush.
What is a sandal? What is a shoe? In essence, a piece of leather placed between the nethermost part of one’s body and the topsoil of the earth, a skein that protects one’s tender material existence from the roughness of the ground. But when the ground itself has been made holy, when it has been rendered insubstantial and transparent by God, as it were, the foot must be divested of the shoe, the soul must be unshoed of the body, as of an opaque thing obstructing intimacy between the human and the Divine.
In this print, Moses, robed in variegated segments of tallit-stripes, stands before a hot-white Burning Bush set in a circle.
“He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed” (Exod. 3:2). The scene is submerged in emerald and turquoise, as if under water — the fire cannot be quenched.
Behind Moses, close to the onlooker, a pair of sandals are suspended by their golden straps in a surreal dark mauve crag of stone. The soles of the sandals are dirty with kaleidoscopic scintilla of material reality.
The Shem HaMeforash or Tetragrammaton, the holy four-lettered Name of the LORD, is encrypted (the “letters” are not properly formed) in the circle of white fire. But part of the Burning Bush exceeds the frame of the print. It transcends the phenomenal world. In the print, this (right) part of the Bush is touched in gold leaf.