Rooms of the Soul
Paperback, 166 pages, $14.95
Kindle / eBook, $9.95
Rooms of the Soul
Illustrations by Tsila Schwartz
Originally published in October, 1984, the 2020 edition is newly designed and typeset for a new generation to discover. It is reissued by Rossel Books in tribute to our long and treasured relationship with Howard & Tsila Schwartz.
iIn ROOMS OF THE SOUL, Howard Schwartz weaves a fabric of singular tales—each a self-contained fable of its own.At the same time, he creates a novel. Taken together, the individual tales contain the story of Hayim Elya of Buczacz.
The thirty-six tales call to mind the Jewish tradition that in each generation thirty-six among the righteous are chosen as the pillars of the world. On their shoulders the world stands and because of their righteousness God withholds destruction and chaos.
Reb Hayim Elya fins himself suddenly separated from the other Hasidism of Buczacz when he enters a room of the soul that exists just the other side of ecstasy. From that instant, he begins an adjustment—to the Hasidism around him, to his wife, to his past, and to his future. And the world around begins an adjustment to the growth and progress of this new and powerful presence.
As Reb Hayim Elya comes full circle in the closing scenes of the novel, he emerges as a tzaddik, one of the righteous. The nature of reality has changed, too; for the reader as much as for our hero.
The message is powerful: all is possible if we view ourselves as travelers caught in a metaphor. Life itself is a series of parables, teachings, and intimations of holiness. Like Reb Hayim Elya, we are set upon a path not of our own choosing and with bewilderments on every side. Yet a beacon shines in the distance rising now and again just above the horizon. An occasional glimpse is all that is offered.
For Hayim Elya, and for us, it must suffice.
Howard Schwartz, a poet and teller of tales, a scholar and a dreamer, weaves together here a series of mystical encounters in an imagined Hasidic shtetl that existed before the Shoah and in some ways still exists in the Jewish imagination. He brings us to Buczacz to teach us that there are many rooms of the soul and each worth exploring. Thanks to Howard’s imagination now we can.