Sign In Forgot Password

YINW's Stained Glass Mizrach Windows

Designed and executed by Eli Chaikin, these windows were installed around the Aaron Kodesh in 2002.

Each window represents a tribe – shevet – of the Jewish people. 

In Parchas Bamidbar, in the first two psukim of Perek bet, the Torah says:  
"HaShem spoke to Moshe and Aharon and told them that the Children of Israel should encamp, each man by his banner, according to the insignias of their fathers' households, at a distance from the Ohel Moed shall they encamp."

Previously (a few psoukim earlier) Rashi’s commentary explains that the tribes moved and camped in four groups of three, each group under its own flag. The flags of the group featured combinations of colors representative the individual tribes.  

These two verses describe how each tribe had his own flag, with a specific color and graphic representation.  Rashi explains that the colors were the colors of the stones of the Choshen Mishpat, the breastplate that Aharon wore with his garments of Kohen Gadol - Grand priest.

In Parshas Tetzave, in Sefer Shmos we see that on the Choshen Mishpat, were featured four rows of three stones:

- The first row had the stones Odem, Piteda and Barekes
- The second row had the stones Nofach, Sapir and Yahalom
- The third row had the stones Leshem, Shevo and Achlama
- The last row had the stones Tarshish, Shoham and Yaspe

The Midrash explains the tribal flags in the following manner:


Reuven had a red banner - his stone is Odem, which is either Carnelian or Ruby - with a representation of water as well as the flowers Dudaim, which he offered his mother in Sefer Bereishis upon his return from the fields. That is the top window.


Shimon's flag was Green - his stone is Piteda, which is a Topaz - and had a representation of a fortress, symbolic of the city of Shechem. This is in relation to his controversial act of bravery and revenge, where he single-handedly took on the whole town of Shechem to avenge his sister Dinah's honor.  Top right window.


Levi's banner is White, Red and Black - The stone is Barekes, a Smargat - and featured the Urim Vetumim, the stones of the Choshen Mishpat. Second window from the right.


Yehudah's flag was Sky Blue - the stone is Nofach, a carbuncle also translated as a red garnet - and his insignia is the lion.  In his father's deathbed blessings, Yehudah's courage and attitude towards life was equaled to that of a Lion.  Top middle square window.


Issaschar's banner was colored in a very dark Blue, almost Black - his stone is the Sapir, which is a Sapphire - and represented on it is the Sun and the moon. The tribe of Issaschar was renowned for its scholars who were very involved in astronomical calculations about the orbit of the planets relative to the calculations of the Jewish calendar.  Second window from the left.


Zevulun's flag was white - the stone is Yahalom, a diamond - and featured is a boat crossing oceans, representative of the tribe's strength in commerce. Top left window.


Dan's banner was the color of Sapphire - his stone is Leshem, a jacinth - and featured on it is a snake.  In Yaakov's blessing to his son Dan he compares him to a snake.  In the cluster of three windows on the right, it is the top one.


Naftali's color was pale red - his stone is the Achlama, the amethyst - and featured on it is a doe (Ayala), an allusion to Naftali's speed as a warrior and as a protector of his father's interests.  In the cluster of three windows on the right, it is the middle one.


Gad's flag represents a battalion or encampment of soldiers.  This is also feathered in his father's deathbed blessing and refers to Gad's mobilization of an army to defend his brothers - his stone is the Shevo, an agate.  In the cluster of three windows on the left, it is the top one.


Asher's banner was Greenish - his stone is the tarshish, a beryl - and depicted on it is an olive tree, referring to their oil used for the Menorah in the Beis Hamikdosh.  In the cluster of three windows on the left, it is the middle one.


Joseph's stone is the Shoham, an Onyx.  That tribe had two flags one for Menashe and one for Ephraim, Joseph’s two sons.  Both flags were black in color. Ephraim's had an Ox and Menashe had a Re'em.  The explanation for Re'em is not obvious, however one source calls it a wild cow, or a buffalo.  That is the bottom right window.


Binyamin's banner was a mixture of all the colors featured in the flags of the other tribes.  His stone is the Yashpe, a jasper.  Represented on the banner is a wolf, also from the blessing Itzchak gave him before passing, in which he compares Binyamin to a predatory wolf.  That is the bottom left window.

This project was a labor of love. One that allowed the artist to express his passion for his Jewish history while satisfying his artistic explorations of new modes of expression.  Having these windows filter the light that illuminates his prayer book during services is a source of constant pride in the beauty of this community’s mikdash me'at.  It is the artist's wish, that these windows bring us the energy of our forefathers, inspire our tefilos which in turn should bring on the true redemption through the coming of Moshiach.

Note from Eli Chaikin:
I would like to thank all the people who helped me along this project.  First of all my wife, who tolerated my schedule, allowed me to transform our family room into a design studio and as always is my best supporter and worse critic.

My children who inspire me to do many things and questioned my every choice of colored pencil.

My father and my brother who helped me with my research.

Gordon Zitsholts who was there with me at every turn of the road as well as Howie Blady and the members of his board who gave me a total "carte blanche" to complete this project the way I felt it should be.  And lastly, everyone at Gil studio who were absolutely wonderful and supportive.

Sun, June 23 2024 17 Sivan 5784