Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book I Part 4.15

General Information:

Name of Book: Tree of Souls

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

Year it was published: 2004

Overall theme:

"With only one God, heaven would be a barren place, at least in mythic terms. Yet the actual Jewish view of heaven is quite different. There are seven heavens, filled with angels and other divine beings, such as the Messiah [Not jesus!], who is said to have a palace of his own in the highest heaven. The clestial Temple can be found there- the mirror image of the Temple in the earthly Jerusalem- as well as an abundance of heavenly palaces, one for each of the patriarchs and matriarchs and sages, where he or she teaches Torah to the attentive souls of the righteous and the angels..." (xliii)

"Drawing on the full range of Jewish sources, sacred and nonsacred, ten major categories of Jewish mythology can be identified: Myths of God, Myths of Creation...Each of these categories explores a mythic realm, and, in the process, reimagines it. This is the secret to the transformations that characterize Jewish mythology. Building on a strong foundation of biblical myth, each generation has embellished the earlier myths, while, at the same time, reinterpeting them for tis own time." (xlv)

Book One: Myths of God

Part IV: God's Mystery

20. The Hidden God

Issue: No one has any ideas where G-d has hid himself, and some believe that true meaning of psalms chapter 30 verse means that G-d is even hidden from himself.

21. The Contraction of God

Issue: G-d's light filled all of existence before the creation of the world, and in order to create various worlds, G-d contracted Himself and left empty space, thus the light was withdrawn. To create the world, G-d carved large boulders and hewed rocks to paths of wisdom.

22. Adam Kadmon

Issue: Adam Kadmon is beginning of all beginnings and from him spring forth all the worlds as well as lights. Also he's described as a spiritual being. The main worlds titled Emanation, Creation, Formation and Action go out from him too. Unlike G-d, he has a beginning.

23. God's Disguises 

Issue:  Throughout the Biblical times, G-d has appeared in many disguises such as a mighty warrior at the Red Sea, an old man at Mount Sinai, and in days of King Solomon, a young man and  in days of Daniel an old man who taught Torah. 

24. Where God dwells

Issue: G-d can dwell either in celestial realms and in highest heaven, or he's equidistant between the upper and lower worlds. However, everyone thinks that G-d's bride, Shekhinah, the Divine Presence, lives in this world.

25. The Holy Spirit

Issue: Before the beginnings an essence called Holy Spirit came out. It has three parts which are Spirit, Voice and Word. From these three elements G-d created various things such as Throne of Glory mire and clay and so forth. Holy Spirit spoke to various patriarchs and they saw what the Spirit saw. When the Temple was destroyed, the Holy Spirit left, and a heavenly voice informed people of various things. Afterwards it moved on to letters but then no longer do letters fall and heaven is silent.

To be continued...

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