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What's In A Name?

What's In A Name?

Why my ceramic art business is called Kiyor

For about the past 10 years I've been keeping notes for my not-yet-existing blog. Or should I say, blogs. So far, I've got a bunch of titles. 'How My Children Raised Me' is my favorite. I have lots of notes for that one. 

Another title that’s been floating around in my imagination is ‘Kiyor’,  and why I gave that name to the business that is the container for my creativity. Kiyor is the name for the copper washing station used daily in the Miskhan (Tabernacle) and then the Beit HaMikdash (Temple) by the priests for physical and spiritual cleansing in preparation for their Divine service.  It means vessel or urn in Hebrew. The Kiyor is the quintessential expression of and symbol for functional art, being both magnificently handcrafted, and an indispensable utensil for a daily life of creativity and holiness.

The original Kiyor, the one that was carried around by my ancestors wherever they traveled until it was permanently stationed in Jerusalem, was beautifully designed and handcrafted from the shiny, copper mirrors made by Jewish women when they were slaves in Egypt. They first made these mirrors to beautify themselves in order to seduce their husbands, who thought it was a good idea to abstain from intimacy with them in order to avoid Pharaoh's decree of killing every baby boy. Miriam, the sister of Moses, pointed out to the women that while Pharaoh was killing the males the Jewish husbands were condemning the girls as well by refusing to engage in marital relations. 

In other words, the mirrors the women used to help ensure the future physical existence of the Jewish nation were later donated by them and recycled to make the Kiyor, which was used to help perpetuate their people’s spiritual survival. 

There are many lessons I learned from all this. One is the value of having containers in my life, both physical and spiritual. Another deep lesson is that everything in the physical world has a spiritual counterpart and vice versa.  The essential purpose of‭ ‬a‭ vessel is expounded on in Chassidic teachings‭. ‬We need vessels to contain our things‭. ‬They make our lives manageable—without vessels in which to separate‭, ‬organize and keep our things‭, ‬there would be chaos‭. ‬The spiritual counterpart of this‭ ‬physical principle is that we need vessels‭, ‬or boundaries to ensure healthy ways of interacting with the world‭, ‬with ourselves‭,‬‭ ‬and with others‭. ‬Some of the ways we fashion spiritual and emotional boundaries are through ‬living by true and eternal principles‭, ‬having meaningful rituals, treating ourselves and others with respect and dignity‭ 

To fulfill its purpose, a container must have certain attributes: it must be stable, solid, leak-proof, the right size. It is meant to contain things of value, to safeguard and preserve them From the Kiyor we learn to make spiritual and emotional 'vessels' to hold life's blessings. We do this by creating stable, strong, well-designed-and-built practices, like self-discipline, prayer, communication skills,  mindfulness and rituals that connect us to G-d, to our highest selves, and to the world. Those are the spiritual vessels needed to hold, utilize and manifest the resources and creativity we are blessed with, and that’s what my company, Kiyor Studio, is all about.

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