Matter & Spirit – The Blog

14 בJanuary 2015

The Color Red – Parshat Va’era

The bitter taste we all experienced this past summer has been the lot of southern Israelis for the past decade—the constant rush to bomb shelters, the terror of leaving your children outside to play, the crash of missiles and horrifying booms of shelling. In the south, “Red Alerts” were constantly heard alongside wailing sirens.

Red symbolizes danger, warning!  Red alerts. Red lights. Crossing red lines. It all derives from the same foundation and theme.

Israel’s south actually boasts another kind of red too—the Darom Adom Festival, a major annual attraction drawing many tourists to come and view stunning expanses of red flower fields. It’s our prayer that, from now on, this will be the only ‘red’ that Israeli residents of the south will ever know…



A Red Square in…Cairo

We’ve all grown up on stories of the Ten Plagues in Egypt, but imagine waking up one morning in your beloved Cairo to discover the city streets and rivers flowing with blood!  No one knew how long it would continue or imagined the nightmarish year that they were fated to endure. “…On their rivers and their lakes and in every body of water there was blood; and there was blood throughout the land of Egypt (Shmot 7:19).

Ever wonder why blood has such a striking color? Maybe to daunt or intimidate? I once mused that if the blood that emerged from a wound was clear or inconspicuous; we wouldn’t get as nervous and would therefore neglect the danger to our health.


Little Red Riding Hood

The color red has many connotations. Blood, both in the sense of life and death. Romance, as in red roses and red hearts. An intriguing study indicated that the highest number of road accidents occurred with red cars. Is this because the color red attracts a certain bold personality?

Red clothing connotes daring, spunk and even immodesty. There are women who wouldn’t be caught wearing a red dress or coat, and others who reserve the color for accents only—a flower in the hair, shoes or buttons.



What do you think about a red kitchen?

Red is a dominant color in home styling too. It’s eye-catching, bold, and draws attention, which is why the client’s personality, taste and daring nature will strongly impact how much, if at all, the color red is integrated into their home.  Mostly, red is woven into black, white and gray schemes—colors characterizing young, modern and urban designs.


 A touch of red in the kitchen:  Midwestliving  Red lamp:  Remodelista



Bedroom: Nordstrom


I personally prefer to reserve red for the little accents that inject a bit of flair, joy and warmth–‘a bissele simcha’–into the home, especially when the overall design exudes a colder, modern feel.  Diminutive accents range from candlesticks to vases to silk flowers. For my more adventurous clients, a red couch or red rug can illuminate a living room.


In a bathroom, a red garbage bin can stunningly complement cement-gray floors and wall tiles.


Red toilet bowl: OM design


Red can also be warm and classic, especially when the bolder hue is softened into shades of burgundy. In such cases, red is positively regal and fits right into European royal palaces or eclectic Moroccan designs where it blends artistically into rich shades of blue, green and gold.



Fire & water—a match made in heaven!

Aside from Blood, the Egyptians also suffer the throes of another six Plagues in this week’s parsha, the last of which is Hail. “And there was hail and fire mingled with hail, very heavy” (Shmot 9:24). Fire and water, the two quintessential opposites, made peace in order to fulfill the words of Hashem.

The way to inject a ‘wow’ into any design is to experiment with the unique. That’s why it sometimes works to use a very bright accent, something bold and inimitable—like the color red. Another way to go is to select two opposites and fuse them into a single unit in a design that’s startling and creates that perfect desired effect. Examples include stone beside a delicate, flowing curtain; a combination of wood and glass; or a modern centerpiece with classic legs. The Plague of Hail teaches us to step out of the ordinary and search for the extraordinary—to work to fuse opposite elements that transform space into special!





Design: Aviva Loberbaum   Photo: Meitav Imas


Somehow, I have my doubts that Pharaoh’s focus during the trials and tribulations of the Ten Plagues was redecorating his palace; but when I learn this parsha, I can’t help but reflect that anything—but really anything!—can serve as inspiration for a design!


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