Meditation is a powerfully philosophical and spiritual work, rooted firmly in Chagall's memories of his Hassidic Jewish upbringing in Vitebsk, the figure's similarity to his father recalling his loving and devout family. Unlike the celebratory paintings of gravity defying figures of his later work, the bearded man in Meditation is firmly earthbound. Huddled against a vast snowy terrain, his introspective pose severs him from the world in an internal communication with God. Clutching a Torah to his body, his head reverently bowed, he sits in solemn contemplation of the sacred text, whilst far off in the distance a temple and houses of a village peek above the horizon. His detachment from the village can be seen to represent the Jew in exile, a figure longing for the far off lands of Israel.
The bearded man, attired in the long dark coat and Kashkel cap typically worn by the poor Jewish communities in Belarus in which Chagall grew up is a recurrent presence in his paintings, paying tribute to his beloved homeland and the Jewish culture that shaped him. The religious overtones Chagall's work would be repeated through the 1930s while the man's sombre reflective posture in Meditation, eyes closed and isolated in prayer and set under a dark wintry sky would be echoed again in his painting Solitude of 1933, housed in the Tel Aviv Museum. Chagall once stated 'If I were not a Jew, I wouldn't have been an artist, or I would have been a different artist altogether' and Meditation is both a universal symbol of the Jewish faith as well a personal remembrance of his profound connection to the native lands from which he was now an exile. (M. Chagall quoted in Ed. J. Baal-Teshuva, Chagall: A Retropsective, New York, 1995, p. 170)