One of my favorite movies (if not my all-time favorite) is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The scene in the Art Institute of Chicago ranks as one of my favorites. The music ("Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want” performed by the Dream Academy), the art work, the teens- it all works for me. According to the film’s editor, the museum scène was panned by preview audiences. It was the scene that they liked the least. But in those early screenings, the museum scene was placed after the parade scene. Nothing can beat the parade scene- it needs to be the highlight- and last thing- that the teens do on that day. Once the museum scne was put in the right spot of the movie- audiences loved it.
The character in the movie Cameron zeros in on one painting during that scene: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat. That’s where I learned what pointillism is. Cameron stares at the painting and the camera zooms in closer and closer until you no longer see a park scene or even the little girl but just a series of dots on the canvas. I always understood Cameron’s fascination with that painting was due to the fact that at that moment, his life did not make all that much sense to him- kind of like a work of pointillist work when viewed from close up. Only from a distance can you see the full beauty, and then it begins to make sense.
I believe that a similar idea is conveyed through the operation of the Choshen, the breastplate, worn by the Kohen Gadol. We are told that all of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet were represented on the breastplate. A question could be posed to God and the letters of the answer might light up on the Kohen Gadol’s breastplate. However the answer was not that simple. For the letters would not appear as fully formed words. It was up to the Kohen to make sense of the jumble and put the words together in the correct fashion. Without Divine intervention this was almost an impossible feat. But the Ramban writes that the Kohen gadol was granted Divine assistance so that he’d be able to read the answer correctly.
Oftentimes in life we experience something but can’t make sense of it. We don’t really know what we are supposed to learn from the situation. The breastplate of the Kohen gadol teaches us that in such a situation we should turn to God to help us sort things out.
It emerges that we pray to Hashem for two things: we pray that things will occur the way we hope for them to. And if/when they do not, we ask Hashem to help us make sense of what happened. In this way, every situation we encounter in life, is an opportunity for self awareness and a deeper connection to Hashem.