I’m out of breath from running as I finally get to the library. Basha is talking to Miriam, her mom.
“Hi, Basha. Hi Miriam,” I gasp, “Sorry I’m late.”
“Well,” Basha scolds me, “It is about time you showed up. Ladies do not like to be kept waiting.”
“Sorry Basha, I...” I respond.
“Daughter,” Miriam interrupts, “I found the book you asked for. At least I believe this is it. But daughter, be careful. This is no simple Book of Shadows that you ask to read, I am not familiar with it, but it feels powerful. I didn’t know we even had this book. It was a long search to find it.”
“Ahh, Miriam,” I interrupt.
“Do you have a book called ‘The Red and the Black’?”
“Now this is very mysterious. Just yesterday, buried under a pile of misplaced items I came across that very book. I never saw it before, but there it was. How did you know of this book?”
“The title came to me in a dream.”
“Well I’ll just be a minute and I’ll get you your book. Why don’t you two go to the alcove I’ve set up for you? It’s the one with the pot of tea, fresh-baked scones, and fruit-butter.”
Basha takes her book and off we go. I make myself useful as I wait for Miriam to return, by pouring the tea. Basha starts right in with her efforts. The enormous volume is in Hebrew, I recognize the language from some text’s Basha had been reading.
“So? What’s this book?” I ask.
“This is incredible,” Basha exclaims in a whisper.
“The book. To begin with,” Basha makes herself comfortable; she knows explaining something to me can take a while. “What is it doing here? This text is written in Hebrew, some previously unknown treatise on the Jewish Kabbalah.”
“You’re right, it is odd,” I mutter, “how did this text come to be in the care of the Goddess, considering the traditionally patriarchal religious views of most of the ancient Rabbis?
“Mystery number one,” Basha remarks, “Mystery number two is the author.”
“Well, who wrote this stuff?” I ask.
“It was written by Simeon Ben Zoma,” Basha answers; saying the name with emphasis as if everyone knew that man.
“Of course, how could I forget Ben Zoma,” I say jokingly, “Isn’t he the guy who wrote that recent bestseller ‘The Dream Quest of the Unknown Pooh Bear’”?
“Very funny, Kid,” Basha quips, “Ben Zoma was one of four legendary scholars who dared to venture beyond the heavenly gates and look upon the face of the Holy One, Blessed be She.”
“Okay, back up. Start from the beginning and explain it for the uninitiated.”
“In the Talmud...” Basha pauses, “you do know what the Talmud is?”
“Yes, I was awake during that class and,” I respond, “as always, I read the homework assignment, go on.”
“Well, in the Talmudic tractate Chagigah, which deals with festival offerings, a tale is told of the disastrous end that came upon these four famous scholars because of what they did.”
“Is this the Jewish version of the bogey man? Some fairy tale to keep kids from wandering off into the woods at night, as in, to warn off lesser scholars from the study of this Kabbalah stuff?”
“No,” Basha sighs, “the Rabbis are totally serious. If you stop interrupting me, I will explain.”
“So, the story goes that four pious and very learned scholars desired to learn the secrets of the Kabbalah, specifically those known by the phrase ‘Ma’Aseh Merkavah’, the Work of the Chariot, as in the chariot of fire that the prophet Ezekiel saw. They studied these mystical texts and prayed for guidance,” Basha relates all this with smoldering intensity, “Through their efforts, they uncovered the hidden and well-kept secret paths of power. By means of uncovering the many layers of meaning that the Torah contains, they found the doorway that opened unto the gardens of Heaven, and how to ride the chariot up to the garden. There, the dangerous path to the very throne of the Holy One, blessed be She, lay before them. What they saw and what they experienced on that journey has never been recorded. Or, at least that is what has been assumed. This text before me purports to be the last written words of Ben Zoma upon his return from the Throne of the Holy One, blessed be She, and before Ben Zoma and the others were struck down.”
“As a result of what he did and what he saw, Ben Zoma went insane. Of his companions, Simeon Ben Azzai died, and Elisha Ben Abouya lost his faith in HaShem. Only one man returned unharmed, for a time. Rabbi Akiva later was flayed alive by the Romans, but that is another story. Thus, you could say that no one has ever come back from the Throne untouched and unharmed.”
“And you study this Kabbalah?” I ask incredulously, “Is that wise? If your insurance agent found out she’d definitely revoke your policy.”
“Not all of the Kabbalah is that dangerous,” Basha reassures me, “It’s a matter of choosing your paths wisely and knowing your strengths and limits.”
“And this text of Ben Zoma’s is obviously one of those safe, wise paths, right?”
“Well, to be honest...”
“Which is what we all want.”
“Well,” Basha wheedles, “It is probably not exactly the safest path.”
“I thought so. Then, you should be careful.”
“I am, always,” Basha musters up absolute conviction.
“What’s the title of this Jewish magic book anyway?”
“The title is Sefer Tzaeleem Shavareem, which translates from the Hebrew as The Book of Broken Shadows or even the book of shattered dreamers. Since the word tzaleem is used to represent a dreamer’s astral body or what we would call their dream body.”
“What is it?”
“Broken, shattered, same difference,” I mutter, “that is the book from my vision all right. It must be it.”
“According to the text he wrote this up until the very moment when his insanity overcame his ability to write.”
“What do you think makes this book so useful to us?” I ask.
“According to Tradition, the Eternal Torah was used like a set of blueprints as the means to build all of Creation. To update the metaphor, the Torah is the ultimate software or computer program. It is the code that explains how everything in the universe is built and works. The Kabbalah is the study of analyzing that program,” Basha continues. “It all has something to do with the fact that each Hebrew letter has a numerical equivalent. Thus the words of the Torah can all be broken down into a great big string of numbers.”
“Like the machine language codes in computer programs!”
“Correct. I would reason that this particular treatise is so important is due to the fact that Ben Zoma and the other three Rabbis had gone deeper and farther than anyone else in uncovering the practical application of the Divine mysteries. They had broken the code completely and used it to get to the Heavenly Garden, to stand before the Throne of Glory and came face to face with the Holy One, blessed be She.”
“Ahh! Therefore,” I interject, “with this text, you could figure out how to build spells to alter the very fabric of reality, which is what we need.”
“Correct. Sort of. To explain: whoever made the first gate that Jon stepped through did it within the framework of the cosmos. It was a natural part of how the Universe works.”
“And the weird gate opening you called it natural. You deduced this fact from, what?” I ask.
“From how you described the opening of the gate that Lana and you witnessed. The area around the opening was not cataclysmically altered or disturbed.”
“From whose perspective?” I ask, “It seemed to me cataclysmic is an accurate description of what took place.”
“Not really,” Basha asserts, “‘Cataclysmic’ should reflect an Earth-shattering event, like ‘End of the World’ stuff. What you described was awesome, but not like that. It was a relatively speaking, non-disruptive event. There was no accompanying doom and gloom stuff going on at the time of this gate opening, no earthquakes, tidal waves, fire pouring down from the heavens or erupting up from hell below, etc. If such a gate was to open, and it was not meant to have been opened, what we know as reality would have been wrenched in all directions. You did not describe such an occurrence. The spell caster behind the creation of those gates was like a surgeon using a laser scalpel to cut an opening in the body of the Waking World. There was blood coming out of the open wound, but this was to be expected, that was the dark skies, funnel of air, etc., that you saw. Now, we on the other hand, are going to have to force open this gate. It may be at the proper place and a related time but our opening of the gate is not in accordance with how the universe and those gates were established. When we open up the gate, it will not be in accordance with the regularly scheduled timetable that had been established for this gate. We will be more like barbers, than like surgeons, who will be wielding double-barreled shotguns in our attempt to open the gate between the worlds.”
“I see. Then you are saying that this is not going to be a neat and clean job.”
“Not at all. The event will be very messy. Using this text perhaps I can find the recipe for how such Gates are made and how we might open one up.”
“Hmm. I see.”
“Well, Basha relates, “if these had an index, we would be looking for: dimensional gate spells and the location of some naturally occurring gates between worlds. But, no such luck, they are not indexed.”
“I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be that easy.”
Miriam brings me my book and departs. It looks exactly like the one that I had held at Tezcat’s temple; it has the same odd creepy tanned leather cover.
 The brief outline of the tale is from Talmudic tractate Chagigah section 14b.
 The seed of this idea comes from the book of Proverbs, chap. 8 v. 22+. The Rabbi’s assert that it is the Torah, herself who is speaking. In the Midrash Rabbah, which literally means: the great Midrash [collection of stories], the commentary on Genesis chap 1 v. 1, begins as follows: The Torah said, I was the architectural instrument of the Holy One.
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