Spirit Tales Reviews By Miss Diane Donovan for MBR

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All Spirit Tales reviews by miss Diane Donovan,  hardcopy and e-book reviewer for Midwest Book Review.

Her review website which consists ALL reviews she’s done for various books: http://donovansbookshelf.weebly.com

Scroll down to read all review highlights!

Update: August 28th 2014.

Spirit Tale One: The Wheelwork

5_Starsstar rated.
Spirit Tales Spirit Tale One: The Wheelwork is a recommendation for students of Messianic Jewish studies, and provides the first in the ‘Spirit Tales’ series of stories: this opener centering around what influences identity.

First, an introduction: its author, Messianic Rabbi (MRav) Sipporah Joseph, is a born Jew and a Jewish religious storyteller with not just a heritage to claim, but a personal faith deeply rooted in Messianic Judaism. Her stories thus center around and explore elements of Messianic Judaism using the storyteller mode as a user-friendly way of accessing deeper spiritual understanding, and are based on truth and truth and inspired by His writings. Inspired by Him whose residence is far above earth.”

The Wheelwork opens this dialogue with a story most definitely not a fairytale but a ‘spirit tale’ which reflects a dialogue with God, and begins with a prologue that sets Grandma Sasson as a family storyteller with a message for all: “The ruach blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but cannot tell from where it comes or where it goes.”
God is He, He is Ruach (Spirit) and Ruach is speaking to our ruach (spirit) revealing great mysteries, knowledge, wisdom, understanding and joy. Just like the wind blows He is whispering to us, can you hear it? When you’re quiet on the inside you might here His gentle whispering, the still small voice. Adam and Chava (or Eve) knew the sound of His voice and Presence. We need to learn again to know and recognize the Voice, Ruach, EL Dio and let Him inspire us in our daily lives.”

The opening story in the series, The Wheelwork, is set in a faraway fictional country where a big city holds citizens actively engaged in competitions, fights, and other self-serving activities. It centers upon young adult Danit, daughter of Lot and Zillah, and it happens on a typical day for a student expected to attain a university law degree. Despite her success and path on the fast track for further societal success, Danit  felt an emptiness inside herself, but couldn’t find words to describe it.”

When her parents seem to abandon her, Danit finds herself within a whirlwind of personal and spiritual revelation, transported to a strange new world somewhere between living and dying, where all things are possible: ““What is happening to me?!” Danit cried out. But at the same time she felt a peace that surpassed all understanding. She was inside the whirlwind and was taken to a place she had never known before.”

Her journey to uncover a previously-elusive understanding masked by the patterns of her goal-oriented world will change not only her life, but the lives around her; for The Wheelwork is all about the process involved in setting these forces in motion, and provides the rudiments of a healing encounter that will set the winds of spiritual change in motion for Danit – and for readers.

Understanding, faith and love are facets of life that Danit has never before realized, and they sweep her away in a tide of new found self-examination and, ultimately, understanding.

It’s rare to find a religious treatise based on Jewish Biblical teachings that hold the potential to reach out to a non-devout audience; but the storyteller form holds within it a greater power than plainer writing. All this is reinforced by a concluding section of ‘questions’ by Grandma Sasson’s young listeners which further clarify points presented in the story.

The result is a powerful vision of redemption, recovery, and spiritual awakening filled with moral, ethical and religious insights especially recommended for Jewish readers looking for Messianic parables that are both different and highly accessible. It’s deserving of five stars for its unique focus and insights, highly recommended for any who enjoy parables with Jewish roots.

Spirit Tale Two  The Seven Teachers:
The Dean

5_Starsstar rated.
Spirit Tale Two: The Seven Teachers – The Dean begins a series of seven stories told by the Sephardic Jewish Grandpa Sereno. Joseph’s Spirit Tales series represents religious fiction that is based on Jewish tradition, values and storytelling, but written to be accessible to readers of all faiths. The Wheelwork introduced this concept and the ‘Seven Teachers’ sequence of books takes it a step further, embarking on a journey whereby each teacher offers further spiritual and ethical insights. Familiarity with The Wheelwork is not a requirement for this second book, which will please newcomers and prior readers alike. A prologue explains the character of Grandpa Sereno and his importance to a large family, while the tale itself is presented in a short, pamphlet-appearing booklet of under 40 pages, which makes it accessible to both busy learners and non-readers alike.

Connections are drawn between the spiritual/metaphysical world and life experiences, with individual strengths and purposes linked to their world impact: “Watch what you say. Because here everything you say becomes visible; even as much as seven times more than usual” the Dean explained.” Perhaps this is the most valuable lesson the Dean can impart: that individual actions, words, and choices impact and hold consequences for the wider world around us.

A being called the ‘Announcer’ is introduced by Grandpa, setting the stage for revelations about an invisible dimension of possibilities that all visitors to it perceive differently. Exploration of this dimension and one’s role in it is what Spirit Tale Two: The Seven Teachers – The Dean is all about, offering the framework and basic setting for a series of teachings connecting spiritual with earthly concerns and offering readers of all ages an opportunity to reflect on the larger meaning of experience and discovery. Characters of students are tested, story sequences offer gentle reflections on life and God’s meaning, and the end result is an easily-digested, authentic introduction to a series designed to lead all ages to a greater understanding of self and spirit.

Spirit Tale Three: Teacher of Counsel

 

Spirit Tale Four: Teacher of The Fear of The Lord

 

Spirit Tale Five: Teacher of Knowledge

 

Spirit Tale Six: Teacher of Understanding

 

Spirit Tale Seven: Teacher of Wisdom

 

Spirit Tale Eight: Teacher of Power

 

Spirit Tale Nine: A Miracle Is On Its Way

Spirit Tale Nine: A Miracle Is On Its Way is Book Nine of the ‘Spirit Tale’ series of fables – but you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate these stories.

It’s Channukah, and time for the Festival of Lights. Family members are gathered to celebrate (and a welcome prologue neatly defines their relationships and connections to one another, leaving nothing to puzzle.)

From why the men choose to honor their women by serving the meal women have so carefully prepared to miracles of marriage affirmation, family connections, and an aura of happiness that permeates all, Spirit Tale Nine successfully captures and embodies the essence of celebration and neatly defines the basic concept of miracles as “… unexpected pleasant events that defy all logic and reasoning.”

In this case, the miracle of family is explored as each family member considers their blessings in being part of a supportive, close-knit system…but as always with Rabbi Sipporah Joseph’s approach, there’s a story, and Yonathan uses family experience to provide yet another fable offering enlightening insights into the wider meaning of ‘miracle’: “…we indeed do not always recognize miracles when they present themselves. Sometimes they even irritate us before we begin – perhaps only slowly – to understand their hidden meaning and lesson,” Yonathan stated.”

Now, one might not expect a story about miracles to be connected to “true freedom” – but all of the Spirit Tales hold wider implications, and that is one of their strengths.

A short song introduces the story of 24-year-old professional actor Nathan Rubylionstein, who along with his Jewish troupe reflects on gatherings, celebrations, marriage, the way of the Torah, and the roots which led to his success.

Insights for readers take the form of a series of discussions and debates between protagonists which brings to light such diverse considerations as evolution and different Jewish perceptions of miracles and life: “Not all Jews are religious, John, which by definition gives rise to a plethora of views

on biblical narratives in general, including Genesis. “By the way, Zalman, could it be that those Jews who do firmly believe in the theory of evolution concerning the origin of human beings, do so because of a tangential subject -reincarnation?

When disaster strikes and a Voice once again speaks to Nathan, he comes to realize new truths about his path in life the meaning behind world events: “The Voice: “Look at the chess game, Nathan!” “All these pieces have their part to play, just like you. Life is a game of chess. Can you name the pieces?

How can there ultimately be revelation and happiness even in the face of a disaster and Nathan’s possible demise? Survival of the spirit is even more important than bodily safety, and as Nathan embarks on a surprising journey, so those around him are changed.

Spirit Tale Nine: A Miracle Is On Its Way is about all kinds of miracles: the miracle of God, life, the spirit, and various forms of survival.

Its prologue and epilogue are perfect introductions and conclusions to the story’s wider meaning, and though Rabbi Joseph’s inclusion of family member ages on every paragraph is somewhat disconcerting at times, the overall story is beautifully done and easy for any reader to digest.

All that’s required is an interest in moral questions, spiritual reflection and a fable format which takes one man’s life and examines its underlying meaning. Readers who love parables, fables, and especially Jewish-based stories will find Spirit Tale Nine: A Miracle Is On Its Way stands well on its own in addition to supporting the series as a whole.

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