Sunday 15 July 2012

Radiance - Behind the scenes 5

Another part down, and section 6 - Chessed/Compassion - begins tomorrow (if I can get it written in time). I guess that means it's time for another behind the scenes look into Gevurah/Strength.

Chagigah 16a describes demons in the following way:
Six things were said about demons: in three ways they are like angels, and in three like humans. In three they are like angels: they have wings like angels; they fly from one end of the world to the other like angels; they know the future like angels. And in three they are like people: they eat and drink like people; they increase and multiply like people and they die like people.

I wanted to get across some of this in Radiance, so it seemed fitting to me that the key prophecy, spoken from beyond the curtain, is heard by Emma in heaven, by Rahko the highest of the Seven, and by the Sitra Achra.

Having said that there are some things that I would like to have done better in this regard so far and would love to get feedback on.

1] I think I've been rather unclear on the differences between demons, the spirits of the dead and the sitra achra. Should I be clearer between them?

2] I had the idea that the prophecy should be worded slightly differently depending on who is revealing it. Obviously, this will vary with how the prophecy will be fulfilled (wait and see how that plays out) but is this a good idea? I'm worried that the same prophecy three times is boring, but also that no one will pick up on subtle differences as they will simply scan over it.

I always had in mind that the sefirah of gevurah would involve a trip to the Jewish version of hell, but I wasn't sure how to capture it. Then it occurred to me to blend the image of a grey, lifeless world with the Lurianic teaching of the shards, the remains of the vessels that shattered when God poured His energy into them to create the world. The clay dust is meant to symbolise these klippot, the husks left over from creation.

Prayers for the dead
There is an old medieval story justifying the use of the kaddish as a prayer to save one's parents' souls from suffering in Gehinnom. Chabad has a decent version of it here. The basic idea is that Rabbi Akiva meets a suffering spirit, who is tormented because his son is an ignoramus who is unable to say kaddish for him. Rabbi Akiva finds the son, teaches him to pray for his father thus ending the suffering of his father's spirit. Will Asher find faith enough to pray for Eliav?


  1. 1) Some extra background on all three would be good, but try to keep some ambiguity if possible.

    2) I think a lot depends on how different they are.

    I didn't pick up on the meaning of the clay dust, despite being aware of the shattering of the vessels.

    I heard that story before, but didn't realize it was medieval (I thought it was Talmudic). Although I feel uncomfortable with the idea of saying kaddish for the dead anyway.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I think a bit more clarity is some thing to aim for in general, so I may make the clay dust thing a bit more explicit.