S.Y. Agnon story: The Kerchief

The Kerchief:  A short story by S.Y. Agnon

Chana Helen’s illustration of the Agnon story

A mother, on the day of her son’s Bar Mitzvah, lends him a beautiful silk kerchief, which was a present to her from the boy’s father.

That same day, the boy meets a beggar sitting on a pile of stones.

 A mother, on the day of her son's Bar Mitzvah, lends him a beautiful silk kerchief (a present to her from the boy's father). That same day, the boy meets a beggar sitting on a pile of stones. The boy, full of compassion, gives the kerchief to the beggar, who winds it round his bleeding feet.

The boy, full of compassion, gives the kerchief to the beggar, who winds it round his bleeding feet.

Title: S.Y. Agnon: The Kerchief 

Media: Oil     Year: 2016    Size: 80 x 60 cm

I have tried to capture the love between the Mother and the son, the compassion that the boy feels towards the beggar and the acceptance of the good deed by the beggar, who returns the good deed to the Mother.  I have aimed to portray the other worldliness of the story by S.Y. Agnon by painting the kerchief supernaturally long – long enough to share with others, and painting the sun giving out a strong, spiritual glow.  Just as the kerchief is the central part of S. Y. Agnon’s story, so I have made it the centre of my painting, starting on the Mother’s head, going through her hands to her son’s neck, from the boy’s hands to the beggars hands, wrapped around the beggar’s feet and then offered back to the boy by the beggar’s hand.  Thus, in my work, the scarf represents the cycle of mitzvot (good deeds).  What goes around comes around.

“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

“Every time you do a good deed you shine the light a little farther into the dark. And the thing is, when you’re gone that light is going to keep shining on, pushing the shadows back.”
Charles de Lint

The Story

The Kerchief

Chana Helen with her 2 paintings at the S.Y. Agnon Exhibition

I am a member of The Association of Israeli Painters and Sculptors, and I am currently (June 2016) taking part in a Collective Exhibition at The City Art Gallery in Be’er Sheva.  The painting on the right is ‘S.Y. Agnon: The Kerchief’.  The one on the left is ‘Torah in the Negev’.

Title: Torah in the Negev (2015)

Media: Oil     Year: 2015    Size: 80 x 60 cm

At his acceptance speech of the Nobel prize for literature Samuel Agnon said, ‘If I am proud of anything, it is that I have been granted the privilege of living in the land which God promised our forefathers to give us.”

S.Y. Agnon Biography

2 Responses to S.Y. Agnon story: The Kerchief

  1. A. Cheetham Wilkinson says:

    ‘This is the miracle that happens every time to those who really love: the more they give, the more they possess.’
    – Rainer Maria Rilke
    This painting is a deep expression of the human need to love, give and share. Through the surreal lengthening of the scarf, the encircling movement of the brushwork and the, as ever, glory of the artist’s colour choices, the story is enchantingly told.

  2. jeff shapiro says:

    Beautifully done, both spiritually and artistically. It would be my pleasure if, as a function of this note, you suggested this piece to the Israeli Postage Stamp authority, and they accepted it.

Leave a Reply