Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book 3 Part 2.10

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 Three: Myths of Heavens

 Part II: The Treasury of Souls

194. The River of Fire

 Issue: Begins with how different angels serve G-d everyday, instead of the same, as well as where they come from. Angels must also go through specific rituals to sing for G-d. After they are done, the angels come to an end by the river of fire. Some angels meet their end at G-d's finger. Speculation on why angels are destroyed. River of fire also creates as well as destroys.

195. The Living Creatures

 Issue: Creatures of upper and lower worlds were created at the same instant and afterwards follows physical description of these creatures. G-d encourages these creatures to exalt themselves, which they do. One of the living creatures leads others in morning prayers and blesses Israel.

196. The Council of Souls

Issue: Description of how the Souls of Righteous existed long before the world was created and how G-d depends on them for advice and other things.

197. Adam's Soul

Issue: All souls come from Adam's soul. When Adam sinned, some souls followed him while others broke off and are being constantly reincarnated to atone for the sin. Theories about creation of souls also abound.

198. The Creation of Souls

Issue: All the souls that would ever exist were created during the six days of Creation and were witnesses to many things. These souls are male and female and can only be reunited through marriage. The soul of Ba'al Shem Tov was missing when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit. However, when there are more Jewish bodies than souls, only few chosen ones get complete souls and most people have only a spark or two of souls.

199. Tree of Souls

Issue: G-d has a tree that grows souls and when souls become ripe they journey on to the treasury to wait until they become needed. The tree produces all the souls that exist and will continue to exist and when last soul descends, it will be end of the world.

200. The Treasury of Souls

Issue: Those whose souls haven't been born are kept in Guf, aka Treasury of Souls, and when it is time to come down, an angel follows the soul. Also a description of where the souls are located in heaven which is in Aravot. Description of how humans get their souls through Angel Gabriel, Also a story of how Satan protested each time Angel Gabriel wanted to use Ba'al Shem Tov's soul. Speculations about Guf abound, some saying it has limited number of souls, while others are saying it has an unlimited amount of souls. After the last soul has descended and Guf is empty, the End of Days will begin.

201. The Path of the Soul in the Garden of Eden

Issue: When righteous leave the world, three companies of angels accompany them to Garden of Eden. There is also belief of a column through which a person's soul rises from lower end to higher end in Garden of Eden. Also, souls of righteous go straight to celestial Garden of Eden.

202. The Field of Souls

Issue: In a field where wondrous trees grow, holy souls are nourished there and there is also a field master who engages himself in Tikkun so that souls can be repaired. Whoever engages in this task must be steadfast and courageous as well as endure a lot of afflictions, but in the end the job will be accomplished.

203. The Transmigration of Souls

Issue: When a man dies, his soul undergoes four transformations; one is that it must cross sea and if that fails, it enters into a body of a fish. There are also souls that cross the ocean and pass above the trees, but if one falls it goes into fruit. There is also a soul that passes through crops and gets stuck there. The common suggestion is to say blessings to release the souls and let them travel to Garden of Eden.

204 How to Grasp a Soul

Issue: The way to get a hold of a soul just as one would get a hold of something substantial and physical is to call out the soul's name.

To be continued...

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