"Destruction of Leviathan" by Gustave Doré

“Destruction of Leviathan” by Gustave Doré

To celebrate the October 13th release of my forthcoming debut novel, King of Shardsbeginning next week I will be featuring one new blog entry a day about a different Judaic myth for 36 days*. In my research for King of Shards I delved into the folklore and mythology of a people with a long and fascinating history, and what I discovered always surprised me. Woven into the ancient Jewish fabric of life is an intertextual analysis worthy of any graduate thesis in literature. It’s not so often what is written in the sacred texts, but what is interpreted as happening between the lines of Torah and Talmud, Zohar and Mishnah. It is in these gaps of knowledge and in the imagination of a bookish people that these folktales and myths germinated and eventually blossomed. Sometimes the myths were borrowed from other cultures and reshaped to fit the Jewish cosmology, while leaving remnants of their former origin. Other times the tales arose from the collective fears of a people who were suffering through violent and murderous periods, silently awaiting the promised days of redemption. At times it could be one extra word in a Torah phrase, contradicting a passage a dozen pages later, which forced the ancient rabbis to construct elaborate stories to explain the discrepancy.

This, for example, is exactly how the myth of Lilith was born. She shall be the subject of my first blog entry, which I will begin a week from today. I hope you’ll join me for this adventure! 

* Why 36 days? Because there are 36 Lamed Vav in the world, the anonymous saints who uphold the world. I’ll talk more about the Lamed Vav in a future post.