By Yonatan Gordon
We mentioned in “Does Realism Have a Place in Fantasy,” that maybe only a tzaddik (righteous Jewish sage( can complete the transformation from fantasy, to its corresponding source in the Torah. But instead of waiting for these transformations, we thought to at least line these transformations us for the tzaddik.
Here’s a short history of Moses’ famous sapphire staff, as quoted from a translation of Pirkei D’Rebbe Eliezer 40 (a Midrashic work composed by the school of Rebbe Eliezer ben Horkenus [circa 100 c.e.]:
Created at twilight, before the Sabbath, it was given to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Adam gave it to Chanoch (Enoch), who gave it to Metushelach (Methuselah); he in turn passed it on to Noach (Noah). Noach bequeathed it to his son Shem, who transmitted it to Avraham (Abraham). From Avraham to Yitzchak (Isaac), and then to Ya’akov (Jacob), who took it with him to Egypt. Ya’akov gave it to Yosef (Joseph); upon Yosef’s death all his possessions were removed to Pharaoh’s place. Yitro (Jethro) one of Pharaoh’s advisors desired it, whereupon he took it and stuck it in the ground in his garden in Midian. From then on no one could pull out the staff until Moshe came. He read the Hebrew letters on the staff, and pulled it out readily. Knowing then that Moshe was the redeemer of Israel, Yitro gave him his daughter Tziporra (Zepporah) in marriage.
Specifically, we would like to call attention to the “pulling out the staff from the ground” part at the end of the paragraph. The fact that Moses was able to pull out this special staff with ease, was a clear sign for Jethro that Moses was the redeemer of Israel. If this sounds like the legend of a certain king, it is … and now you know where they got it from.
Living Long and Prosper
So like the phoenix, we just showed another example of a legend or mythology that dates back to a Jewish source. Although there is a debate about whether to interpret midrashim literally or not, certainly there is justification to do so. In either case, there is no “lionheart” to be found here, aside from the braveness of Moses himself.
But there are even clearer examples of this “fact to fiction” progress. We mentioned that at least to some extent, 18 or more Star Trek technologies have started becoming real. We should rightfully become excited about this, because it gives us great hope for our present day reality. For instance, there are many ways that a Tricorder can be used to help diagnose and treat patients in ways that the standard diagnostic devices cannot. So when news came out of a “real life” Tricorder, we should rightfully be excited.
But what is not positive is the use of something holy, as a sign for something fictional or secular. The Hebrew word for secular (חלל) literally means to hollow out or make void. So while Leonard Nemoy grew up performing the priestly blessing in Synagogue with his family, his transition of the hand sign used during the priestly blessing, into the world of science fiction, was not something advisable (even though his greeting is still only half of the actual priestly blessing hand formation).
Collecting the Sparks
Eventually, the act of transforming fantasy back to fact is intended to bring more truth to the world. Like the phoenix that waited to be “reborn” again as a Jewish concept, there are a great many other myths and legends that began as Jewish concepts. Our task, especially in these times, is to collect these fallen sparks of truth, and return them back to their source.
The wisdom of King Solomon “the wisest of all men,” was also appreciated by the non-Jewish nations of the world as well. All the sages of these nations simply stood nullified before the perfect wisdom of Solomon. It was these nations themselves, of their own accord, that began bringing him these scattered and hidden spark of holiness.
Perhaps the most famous example of this was the visit from the Queen of Sheba, as recounted in I Kings 10:1. As Chassidut explains, her gifts, and eventual marriage to King Solomon, were a foretaste of the perfect peace that will occur in the future when, “they shall not hurt nor destroy…, for the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d….” (Isaiah 11:9).
This encounter is also one of the most fictionalized accounts in all of the writings of the prophets; showing that is a story that merits being studied in greater depth through the light of Torah.
For more on King Solomon and the spark rectification process, please read “King Solomonʹʹs Wisdom: The Integral Relationship Between Torah and Science” by Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh here: http://www.inner.org/science/solomon.pdf