Rav Moshe Feinstein

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Rav Moshe Feinstein

In the towering apartment complexes on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the second half of the twentieth century, lived hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Jews. Among them was a distinguished and elderly gentleman, diminutive in physical stature, but a giant in intellect. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein z’’l became the leading halachic authority of his generation, and his psakim (halachic rulings) were accepted worldwide.

Rav Moshe was born in Uzdan, near Minsk, Belorussia, where his father was a rabbi. He became Rabbi of Luban, also near Minsk, as a single bochur. Later he married ShimaKustanovich in 1920, and he entrusted all material decisions to his lifelong partner. They had three children in Russia.

Rav Moshe remained in Luban until 1937, by which time the exit gates from Russia were locked shut. By a combination of hard work by the rav for several earlier years to obtain papers, plus some American political influence instigated by family already in this country, papers finally arrived, and he immigrated with his family to the United States.

He became Rosh HaYeshivah of Mesivta Tiferes Yerushalayim that became world-famous because of his presence. Rav Moshe’s halachic decisions have been published in a collection called Igros Moshe (The Letters of Moshe).

Rav Moshe says that he is only providing his opinion with respect to the halachic questions raised, that he indicates all his sources, and that he welcomes and encourages all readers to check his sources and question his conclusions.

The selflessness and modesty of this Torah scholar only magnify his greatness. And the fear of Heaven that underlay all his thoughts shows how great a Gadol,a Torah giant, he was. Rav Moshe Feinstein passed away in 1986.

Mikhail ChapiroBorn in 1938 in Belorussia, he was captivated by painting since his early childhood. Thanks to his teachers, Peter Chernyshevsky and Boris Zvenigorodsky, the artists of great experience and talent, this endowment became his predilection, the raison d’être of his life. After 6 years of studies, he graduated from the Mukhina Institute of Arts and Industrial Design. He worked as a stylist for 7 years in the capital of Siberia, city of Novosibirsk.

He moved to Moscow in 1974 and since 1977 till 1987 he regularly exhibited in the Russia’s famous underground avant-garde centre at Malaya Gruzinskaya 28, which in 1981 became the home of his solo exhibition. Only with Perestroyka he was widely recognized in Russia. From 1988 to 1990 his paintings were exhibited at the Muscovite Modern Art Gallery MARS.

He was recognized by the intellectual elite. Great Russian ballerina Maya Plesetskaya, 3-times Olympic Champion in figure ice-skating Irina Rodnina, Nobel Prize Laureates Academicians Sakharov, Frank, Prokhorov – those are just few of the most prominent people who knew Chapiro and whose portraits he did.

In 1990 Mikhail Chapiro immigrated to Canada. He settled in Toronto and immediately joined the city’s artistic life. The “Hittite Gallery” held his solo exhibition in 1992. In 1993, he moved to Montreal, being fascinated by the singular charm of this metropolis and its people. Being highly productive, Chapiro has constantly enriched his collection with fresh subjects. In 1996 he had a solo exhibition at the Elgar community center in Verdun (a Montreal district).

While Chapiro’s themes always remained portraits, landscapes, cityscapes, animals, and flowers, his style has gradually evolved from a merely realistic formalist expression towards an unique painting technique allowing to express at best the softness and subtlety that forms the bottom line of the artist’s philosophy. Mikhail Chapiro is, by his substance, perception of the world, and even training, is a figurative, objective, realistic painter. What characterizes his painting is softness, subtlety, implicitly.

However, in some works from different periods, he had come close- and still does so today- to abstraction: mostly with his nudes and flowers, sometimes in portraiture and landscapes. Abstract painting has always fascinated him: during his Moscovite period in the Eighties, he created series of abstract compositions, which he continued once in Canada, in both Toronto and Montreal.

The rationale behind his work, what triggered him is as it has always been, asking the “What?” question-that is, he needs unequivocally an idea fuelling his creativity.
What he tells with one or another abstract work may be philosophical reflections about life, death, the good, the bad, the passage of our soul from the material world (the life on Earth) into the thin world (the soul’s life in the Cosmos); the return of our soul into material world- a sort of an infinite transfiguration-, and so on. It’s only then that he would care about the composition, texture, color, etc.

Abstract painting is for him the most interesting experiment, one of his art’s facets. Whether his paintings are realistic or abstract, his approach is equally sincere.