Monday, July 03, 2006

A New Resource for Jewish Occult Lore

Shalom aleichem (Peace to y’all) and welcome to Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism, the official blog for The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism (or as I like to call it, the EJMMM). What is the EJMMM? It is the first and only comprehensive one-volume reference work devoted to Jewish occult traditions.

(Today's illustration is "Princess Sabbath" by E.M. Lilien - a personal favorite)

This blog is meant for the readers of the EJMMM and those curious about the topics it explores. I am on a continuing exploration of Judaism's esoteric and indigeous traditions and I am hoping that there are kindred spirits out there who want to know more about the "other side" of Jewish tradition. Here we will discuss fabulous, mysterious, and awesome lore that defies and transcends the purely rationalist interpretations of Jewish tradition that dominate modern Jewish life. I will regularly post my thoughts, provocative tidbits from Midrash, Kabbalah, and esoteric texts I find, or anything else I think relates to our theme.

You, I hope, will respond with your thoughts, your questions, and especially with your knowledge. In the course of writing the EJMMM, my knowledge of Jewish esoteric tradition has grown exponentially. Yet I am under no delusion that I have mastered or even found everything there is related to our topic. The body of Jewish occult lore is g'dolah lei'elohim, ("divinely large") and I discover new teachings and traditions all the time. I bet you do too, and I hope you will share them with me and teach me.

That being said, let me offer a few ground rules:

  • If you wish to post a question, please be sure that question relates to the esoteric in Judaism. While I am an active congregational rabbi, there are plenty other sites on the Web that can tell you which way to light a menorah, why mi-chamocha lacks a dagesh, or how to convert.
  • "Judaism" is also a key word. There will be times where it is both useful and interesting to draw parallels or comparisons to other faith traditions (I am open to "compare and contrast" discussions), but long posts about things like medieval Japanese demonology or the meaning of mother-goddess axeheads found in the Siberian tundra will likely take us far off point. If you can bring it back to a Jewish esoteric theme, fine, but this blog is not meant to be a clearing house for everybody's esoteric traditions.
  • Speaking of "points," this is not a forum for scoring points with your favorite deity. Smug, insulting, self-righteous, triumphist, fight-picking posts will be pulled. I will try and maintain a respectful tone in what I write and I hope visitors to this blog will do the same.
  • Finally, with regards to some of the strictures of Jewish tradition, let me be clear from the beginning that I am a liberal rabbi. While I honor Jewish tradition, I like the fact that English has vowels and I will use words referring to divinity, like "God," "Lord," and even transliterations such as "Adonai" and "Elohim" in their malei (plene) form. By the same token, I honor our mystical traditions which teach that God simultaneously embraces and transcends categories of "male" and "female," so there will be times when I refer to God as "Her" or "She." You are welcome in your posts to use abbreviated spellings or gender God-language of your choice, but if you feel compelled to chastise me (or others) for not doing likewise, then this is not the blog for you.
So look for my next entry! To have more of Jewish esoteric tradition at your fingertips, get my Encylopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: