Dov Abramson
Zimna – the Halachic Calendar, 2014
Video Installation (3:00 min. loop)
Collection of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem

The Jewish calendar is not merely about numbers and letters, days and months. The calendar is both the foundation and the handbook for the intricate practice and daily order of the Halachic Jew. As opposed to those who dust off the Menorah once a year or pay an annual visit to the synagogue on Yom Kippur, the Halachic Jew must pay attention to seemingly meaningless dates, as many of these have numerous rules and very specific regulations attached to them.

Some days one should not get a haircut, while on other days listening to music is prohibited. There are days that one has to make sure there is wine in the refrigerator or candles in the pantry; many times even the laundry cycle must be in step with the days of the year.
Zimna proposes a graphic representation of the Halachic Jew’s year. The piece intentionally “flattens” the various reasons and background of the obligations.
For example: the prohibition of listening to music on Yom Kippur stems from a severe restriction in the Torah of not doing any work on this Holiest of days, while the custom of not hearing music during Sefirat HaOmer is a “lighter” and historically later sanction.
Zimna is a manifestation of the Halachic “bottom line” – here is the way the year looks divided into days of “do’s” and “don’ts”, which is why the piece relates only to absolute dates. Shabbat, which comes with a whole other set of intricate rules is intentionally omitted from this piece, so that our calendar preserves its ‘multi-year’ status and so that each cell of the grid is is infused with its perpetual assignment, thus exhibiting the Jewish year in all its complexity, restrictiveness and glory.