Dov Abramson, Shaot Zmaniot, 2004
8 prints on paper, 90×90 cm each
Collection of the Ein Harod Museum

Shaot Zmaniot – literally “relative hours,” though translated here more playfully as “temporary hours” – play a significant role in Jewish law. Described by the sages of the Talmud, they are dynamic hours, the lengths of which change according to the seasons of the year. To calculate a “Talmudic hour,” the actual time between sunrise and sunset is divided evenly into 12 parts. An summertime hour, therefore, can exceed 60 minutes, while an hour in the winter becomes much shorter.

Constantly in flux, these Sha’ot Zmaniot are of great legal consequence to the Torah-observant Jew. They instruct him when to recite the Shema, don tefillin, and stop eating chametz on the eve of Passover.

This piece seeks to depict a system of inherently fleeting elements, while infusing the invisible with color. While exploring our mechanical mastery over nature, it also reminds us of our capacity for beauty, and proposes a synthesis of the two. In so doing, the artist succeeds in demonstrating vibrancy in the most regimented of systems.

Shaot Zmaniot was originally created as a site-specific piece, as part of an exhibit titled Al Daat HaMakom, which was held at Kol HaNeshama, a  synagogue in the Bakaa neighbourhood of Jerusalem, in 2005. It was the only piece in the show to remain after the show ended, and is still installed there till this day.