Monday, 23 May 2011

Through the Seven Heavens in Academia


Last Friday 20th May 2011 was the date that I finally finished my reading project entitled: “Understanding the Merkavah User Manual in 2000 pages or less”.

It's been an amazing learning experience and in all honesty will require several months of digestion to come up with a coherent understanding of how this affects my world-view and crystallizing the new knowledge.

Part way through the project I came to the realization that the academics themselves are each struggling with how to interpret and understand these Hechalot (Palace) and Merkavah (Chariot) texts. Not quite as the blind men trying to identify what an elephant is, but with a variety if views on such things as whether the focus was on celestial ascent or angelic adjuration.

But rather than blow my own trumpet on having completed this reading project I would like to dedicate it instead to the academics who had the courage and tenacity to write these amazing books. Reading the reviews by Lesses and Davila of current state of research by other authors brought home how small this field is.

In any case, if you're looking for inspiration and are about to set out on a very challenging project, here are a couple of videos and images to inspire.

In closing, do I consider this project a success? Yes, it completed in time, full scope and cost. It's also helped to improve my understanding of its influence on later trends in Jewish mysticism as well as its influence on the Jewish prayer book.