Monday, April 2, 2018

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book 3 Part 8.10

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 VIII: The Ministering Angels

233. The Primordial Metatron

Issue: It is mentioned that Metatron was the first creation of the G-d, and also happens to be the son of the Shekhinah and is often referred to in the Torah and he also helped G-d with creation of the world.

234. The Angel Metatron

Issue: Description of Metatron's job duties which includes similar duties that G-d has. Also mentiona and description of Suraya who bows down a thousand times to diadems before each one. Description of education that G-d has given Metatron is mentioned. Metatron was also given a crown by G-d and there is description of that crown. Metatron is also introduced to everyone and is compared to G-d. The mention of courtiers who surround Metatron. After praisings and blessings Metatron begins to utter the G-d's name in either seven or seventy voices.

235. The Angel Sandalphon

Issue: When children of Israel sing, do angels begin to sing after them. Duties of Sandalphon are described, that of weaving the songs into crowns for G-d. After the crown is put on G-d, all the angels begin to praise G-d.

236. Michael, the Patron Angel

Issue: Description of Michael as Israel's patron angel, as well as how that position was taken away by Satan.

237. Elijah the Angel

Issue: Description of how Elijah, instead of dying, became an angel and how on a mission to earth he is transformed into his terrestrial body. Description of how Elijah's heavenly body looks like. And there is also mention that perhaps he was angel first but then became a human.

238. The Keeper of the Book of Records

Issue: A heavenly prince, Radweriel who is Keeper of the Book of Records, who often fetches G-d's book of records and who often produces angel each time he speaks.

239. The Angel Gallizur 

Issue: Gallizur acts as pronouncing G-d's evil decrees as well as absorbing fiery breath that might consume other angels.

240. The Angel of Conception

Issue: Lailah is the angel of conception who serves as midwife for the souls and there is description of what happens when a man and a woman conceive the child; how she coaxes him itno the sperm. After teh conception, the growing child is taught about the world of above as well as the one he will enter into and upon birth he is given a mark above upper lip which causes the child to forget everything. On the child's departure, Lailah comes upon the child and reminds the child of whom she is.

241. The Angel of the Covenant

Issue: Description of how the sign of circumcision will prevent the child from descending into Jewish hell of Gehenna, as well as Elijah's role in it. 

242. How Rabbi Ishmael was Conceived

Issue: Description of how Rabbi Ishmael was beautiful,  and how his parents were childless as well as attention that his mother should pay attention once she left mikveh. When a black dog crossed her eight times, she went to mikveh eight times and with the angel Gabriel was able to conceive Rabbi Ishmael who was incredibly beautiful.

243. The Angel of Friendship

Issue: Description of how friendships form angels that only live a year unless that friendship becomes renewed continually.

244. Guardian Angels

Issue: Each person is given a guardian angel according to his ways. If the man is a saint, an angel will encourage him to be more saintly. If he acts badly, he is assigned an angel that will encourage him to be bad, and so forth. There is mention that a man might have two angels instead of one, representing good and evil inclinations.

245. The Might of the Angels

Issue: Description of G-d's angels as well as how they are mighty and tall and could go through a lot of distances.

246. The Angel of Losses

Issue: Yode'a is an angel of losses who watches people over in the dark and records all events. A Tzaddik [righteous person] often helps Yode'a. A small light is given to help in aiding the search for self.

247. The Angel Tzadkiel

Issue: Tzadkiel dresses souls in pure garments that Shekhinah wove. A story of how Ari has died but Rabbi Hayim Vital never dreamed of his master is told. Rabbi Hayim Vital tried to purify himself and succeeded; on death anniversary he invokes the Holy Name and meets the angel. The angel introduces himself. Rabbi asks him to contact Ari in the other world and asks if he might have sinned somehow. The angel tells him that his place is ready for him in dreams, but one sin holds Ari from visiting his dreams. Hayim asks what it might be. The angel replies that he has not done enough to cause people to repent. and to accept the burden of being a Tzaddik. After doing what he could, Ari began to visit his dreams.

248. The Angel of Rain

Issue: Description of how the angel stands between two Deeps and brings rain to both above and below.

249. God Changes the Roles of Angels

Issue: Jeremiah warns people to repent, but they scoff and don't listen to him. When G-d learned of this, He changed the roles of angels to make sure they didn't respond to the pleas.

To be continued...

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