Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review for Tree of Souls The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz Book 2 Part 3.15

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 Two: Myths of Creation

 Part III: The Primordial Light

106. God's Garment of Light

Issue:A brief tale on the possibility of how G-d created heavens, either wrapping Himself up in a tallit of light, or draping the six days of creation around Him, and even stretching out light.

107. The Light of the First Day

Issue: Before creation of the world, G-d thinks to create light to illuminate the world which is a different light than the one created on Day 4. There is a claim that Adam saw the light, and it allowed for him to see the whole history of the world. A brief story of how the G-d made sure there was that particular light is also retold, Questions are also asked and debated about how long the primordial light lasted. although it is agreed that as soon as Adam and Eve tasted forbidden fruit, the light was taken away. Also numerous fates of primordial light are also told, and that when Messiah will return, the light will come back.

108. The First Cloak 

Issue: Light was the first thing that was created, mention that out of primal light angels were created and that they surround G-d.

109. The Tzohar

Issue: The story of creation of light is retold, starting with what primordial light is, then when Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit and were expelled, they were given a stone called Tzohar which contained primordial light. Adam passed the jewel to Seth who passed it to Enoch and Enoch passed the stone to Methuselah and then to Lamech, to Noah who lost it when he got drunk from grapes. Years later, Abraham was abandoned in the cave where the stone was found by him and angel Gabriel. Abraham passed it to Isaac, Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to Joseph. The stone then passed on to Moses and continues to burn above every Ark of the Torah in a synagogue.

110. How Light and Darkness were created

Issue: G-d asked for an invisible thing to become visible, thus Adoil became visible and gave birth to light. G-d made Adoil foundation for everything high. Arkhas also became visible and gave birth to darkness and G-d made him in charge of lower beings. Then G-d mixed light and darkness together and created water, and pathway for stars out of it.

111.  Creation by Light

Issue: G-d contracted light again and again until physical bodies were created.

112. The Light of Prophecy 

Issue:  Description of how prophecy is created as well where it comes from and how it it diminishes as it goes down and it becomes a spirit that inspires prophets.

To Be Continued

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