Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Mystery of Samson

I still love the fact that three years after its publication, readers of the EJMMM still send me new sources for traditions not included in my book. This is the marvel of Jewish tradition. It is as big as the sea itself. You could swim in it all your life and still not discover all its secrets.

So this concerns Samson, the biblical judge and strongman. In the EJMMM I wrote that:

As a redeemer of Israel, his birth was heralded to his mother and father by an angel (Jud. 13). He was dedicated to God from birth, and lived his entire life as a nazirite. God blessed him with extraordinary physical strength, which he demonstrated in a series of amazing feats.
Nevertheless he was easily distracted from his dedication to God’s purpose. This made him vulnerable to the schemes of his enemies, the Philistines. Eventually he was shorn of his long hair, which the Philistines believed was the source of his power, after which he was blinded and enslaved. Both his faith in God and his hair grew during his servitude, and he eventually was able to ambush the Philistines while in their temple, bringing the building down upon everyone inside, including himself (Judges 13-17).

Given the already fantastic nature of the Biblical account, there is surprisingly little additional rabbinic material about him and his adventures.

So that last sentence isn't wrong, but it's incomplete. This is what Brem, a reader in NY, shared with me. He found a book, published by Bezalel Naor entitled Kabbalah and the Holocaust (Spring Valley: Orot Inc., 2001). This book cites a number of Kabbalistic traditions regarding Samson. For one, the Hasidic Master Zadok ha-Kohen of Lublin put forward the argument that Samson's multiple marriages to non-Jewish women were part of a messianic scheme to uplift the k'lipot, the "fallen sparks" among the gentiles in order to prepare the way for the Messiah (Yisrael Kedoshim). This is further developed in an obscure Kabbalistic treatise by a Rabbi Isaac Messer, U'mi-Midbar Matanah. In it, R. Messer draws together several esoteric sources. Samson's very name, shimshon, "sun," who mates with d'lilah, "night," signifies his spiritual mission, which as to reconcile cosmic opposites, in this case Jews and non-Jews. Samson was meant for this mission because, in fact, he was the reincarnation of Jeptha, the son of Noah, and ancestor of many gentile nations.[1] Thus, Samson's great strength was a personification of the power of the nations, derived from his (partly) non-Jewish soul. Yet this mission in anecient times failed. But Samson will be be reincarnated one more time, as Serayah, the Danite, the messiah's general at the end of times.[2]

Todah rabbah to Brem for adding further to my library of Jewish lore. If I am ever blessed to published a 2nd edition of the EJMMM, this will be included.

Zal g’mor: To learn more, read the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism:http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050

1. Galya Raza 42c

2. Zohar III: 194b


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a story here! I am neither jew or christian but see some great parrells. Samson is obviously a Type of Christ. Chosen, blessed, sacrificed so to speak, broken down yet risen again, destroying evil. The "sparks of light" quote is very gnostic in nature. Maybe these stories are illuminating the light within us and returing our nature to its proper home?

9:43 PM  

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