Friday, March 7, 2014

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book I Part 13.15

General Information:

Name of Book: Tree of Souls

ISBN: 9780195086799

Publisher: Oxford University Press

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 XIII: Myths of the Bride of God

64. The Creation of the Shekhinah 

Issue: The idea that Shekhinah contains heavenly treasures as well as wisdom, making them available to the world, but only to a select few. If they want to understand the mysteries, then they have to turn to her for help.

65. God's Names for the Shekhinah

Issue: G-d calls Shekhinah different names such as "mother, daughter, sister", and there is mention that when Abraham introduced Sarah as his sister, he in fact referred to the Shekhinah instead of being literal.

66. The Two Shekhinahs 

Issue: She exists in two realms at the same time, in heaven and on earth. Because G-d always wants to communicate with her, He has built a window where they can join if the need arises.

67. The Earthly Dwelling of the Shekhinah

Issue: A long description of where Shekhinah has dwelled such as the lower world, then Garden of Eden, Gates of the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were expelled, as well as lengths of time to when she abandoned the Israelites and whether or not she returns.

68. The Roaming of the Shekhinah

Issue: In beginning of creation, Shekhinah dwelt in lower world and everything seemed clear and perfect up until the fragments began and then Adam sinned to where Shekhinah has fled to heavens.The forefathers drew her back down and she eventually found a resting place.

69. The Garments of the Shekhinah

Issue: Shekhinah has numerous clothes that helped G-d create Throne of Glory and heaven, earth and countless creatures. Whenever Israel does good deeds, she is clothed in light, and if they do bad, she is clothed in Lilith's clothes.

70. The Sacred Bedchamber

Issue: King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem acted as a Sacred Bedchamber for G-d and Shekhinah where they are able to enjoy different delights, until the Temple was destroyed and that was when Shekhinah went into exile with Israelites.

71. The Casting Down of the Shekhinah

Issue: Before the destruction of the holy land and His home, G-d cast down Shekhinah from high, and only then was he able to destroy the Temple.

72. The Wandering of the Shekhinah

Issue: When Israelites were exiled, Shekhinah went along with them, and as sins grew, she wandered away to various places, waiting for Israelites to repent and eventually she went back through Gate of Mercy and went to be in heaven until Israel repents.

73. The Lament of the Shekhinah

Issue: Almost every night Shekhinah descends to the Temple where she and her Husband met and loved one another. She begins to wail and beseech Him to come back.

74. The Wailing of the Shekhinah

Issue: Israelis make up the whole Shekhinah, thus when someone abandons their faith, Shekhinah wails and despairs of seeing them again.

75. The Exile of the Shekhinah

Issue: When the Temple was standing, Shekhinah was happy because she was able to rest upon the Temple. But when it was destroyed, G-d asked her why she was upset, to which she mentioned why, which is why no joy is to be found anywhere.

76. Mourning Over the Shekhinah

Issue: After the destruction and exiling, G-d came down from heaven and asks angels what does a mortal king do when he mourns, to which the angels give him answers and he does them.

77. The Suffering of the Shekhinah

Issue: Whenever Israel was exiled, Shekhinah went along with them, and its mentioned that those who are in exile, shouldn't be worried about personal distress, but should only be sad for Shekhinah's exile. Through Torah study and prayer, repair to the limbs can be done.

78. Lilith Becomes God's Bride 

Issue: After the exile of Shekhinah and Israel, G-d brings in a slave girl Lilith to take Shekhinah's place. Shekhinah is held a prisoner while many ravage her, and whenever G-d will see the distress Shekhinah's in, He will come and rescue Her, making Lilith go back to where she came from.

79. Israel and the Shekhinah in Exile 

Issue: Whenever Israel went into exile, The Shekhinah accompanied them, no matter where it was. When they were wandering through the desert for forty years, Shekhinah went with them in a form of columns of smoke, and when Israel comes back from exile, Shekhinah will return with them.

80. God's Exile with Israel

Issue: When Israel was exiled into Babylon, G-d asks them whom they want to be led by, and whoever it will be, that person will be raised up and help them. The Israelites chose G-d instead of a patriarch.

81. The Face of the Shekhinah

Issue: In days of Moses, everyone could see Shekhinah's face. A story about Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai follows, how through study of Torah he was able to see Shekhinah's face.

82. The Shekhinah Within 

Issue: Inside every Jew, Shekhinah dwells, where they must raise her up from Her exile and liberate her from Other Side.

To be Continued...

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