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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism

Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: "An interesting thing struck me while we read through the portion, Shoftim. The portion begins by instructing the Israelites to tear the asherot and m'tzavot, sacred trees* and stone pillars associated with pagan (or, more likely, corrupted Israelite) worship. But then Shoftim ends with God instructing the people not to cut down fruit trees during a siege. It made me think of how the idea assigned to the object makes all the difference. After all, trees and rocks remain potent Jewish symbols. Deuteronomy itself refers to God as Tzur, "Rock." and centuries later Proverbs speaks of wisdom** as "a tree of life." The objects don't go away, they just undergo a symbolic transmutation."

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