Obj. ID: 48420 Shiviti, Italy, circa 1800
The following description was prepared by William Gross:
The Shiviti plaque takes its name from a phrase in the Psalms, "Shiviti Adonai Lenegdi Tamid". "I will always hold the Lord before me." During morning prayers, the 67th Psalm is read as a part of the liturgy. The making of such visual pages to augment the reading started almost 500 years ago. It began because of a particular story or legend. The custom relates that if one gazes on the form of the Menorah while reciting the Psalm, or reads the Psalm written in the form of a Menorah, the person is carried back to the Temple, standing before the golden Temple Menorah itself. To complete the illusion, some of the Temple implements were often illustrated. The mysticism of the idea is clear, and the Shiviti page is often filled with Kabbalistic abbreviations as well as the Menorah form. Sometimes, depending on the size and complexity of the image, other texts read during the time of prayer are also presented on the sheet.
Such pages appear as small sheets to be inserted into a prayer book and taken out when the psalm is recited or as large pages to be hung on the wall of the synagogue for the viewing by the whole congregation. The sheet was also used on the wall of a home or Sukkah. Later still, the Shiviti could be printed in the prayer book or painted on the wall of the synagogue. There are numerous examples of both the prayer book tradition and the wall plaque tradition in the Gross Family Collection.
As with most objects created in Itally, the elements here are particularly finely drawn. the colorful pages has the Temple implements illustrated near the base of the Menorah and the whole is surmounted by the tetragrammaton in large hollow letters. There is a definite similarity to another Shiviti in the Gross Family Collection. This page was printed in Livorno in 1792 by an Algerian Rabbi. The page with the Menorah is quite similar to this one.
This shiviti contains a finely rendered menorah, above which is the name of god in large hollow letters. Below are illustrations of the temple implements. Many of the parts of these illustrations are colored in transparent washes.