Fellow-blogger Myrtle Rising reviews 'The Princess of Dan', by Nechama Sarah Gila Nadborny Burgeman
Even though I drifted off novels (yes, including frum ones) a while ago, a friend handed me a frum novel with a non-fiction twist that offered quite a lot of information from solid Torah sources on the Tribe of Dan.
So I read The Princess of Dan and here’s what I think:
First of all, the non-fiction element woven throughout the book is brilliant.
I learned so much about the deeper qualities of the Tribe of Dan and it was also so inspiring. Though the concepts are profound, the author manages to present them in a highly readable and clear manner.
For example, she described dysfunctional people as “expressing the unconscious, unrectified parts of their character”—what a wonderful way of viewing dysfunctional behavior!
It’s an inspiring viewpoint because it’s the Truth. The author goes on to emphasize that this heightened understanding goes hand-in-hand with protecting oneself from abuse.
When the book first started discussing male-female relationships, I braced myself for a pretentious sermon based on Seventies feminism and prepared to put the book down.
Refreshingly, the author actually utilized Torah sources to discuss authentic masculinity and authentic femininity, once again bequeathing the reader with genuine insight and inspiration. And once again, I learned a lot.
The final and most powerful realization for me was that of the Tribes, their qualities, and how today’s Jews drift toward their ancestral portion—meaning that those unknowingly descended from Dan drift toward the areas encompassed by Dan’s Tribal boundaries, and so on. Also, the author mentions actually feeling the difference when crossing over from Dan territory to Yehudah territory.
I think it also sheds a lot of light on what’s going on among a minority of Jewish communities in Eretz Yisrael. While you have large, vibrant Orthodox communities all over the country, those in the areas of Dan (and also Binyamin, for that matter) contain an element that sometimes lashes out. “Dan” means “judging” or “deliberating” and the book explains that Dan’s strength is from the liver (spiritually speaking) and the liver is associated with anger. Ideally, Dan’s contribution to the Jewish people is rectified anger. The book details how Dan’s qualities can be used for the good.
But if you look at the current populations within Eretz Yisrael today with an understanding of how each Tribal territory influences its population or is expressed by those with an ancient soul-connection to that specific Tribal portion, you gain sudden clarity on some of what is going in Eretz Yisrael among the Jewish population today.
Regarding the fiction element:
The author combines 2 genres: literary and experimental.
(“Experimental” isn’t quite science-fiction, nor does it totally fit the fantasy genre.)
Neither has ever been my personal taste, so it’s hard for me to judge the fiction element objectively.
Basically, the book’s innovative experimental style combines the story of a young Jewish woman named Sarah trying to find her real self in the Seventies with the story of a young woman named Danya, who lives in the future of the Third Temple. If I understand it properly, Danya is the future incarnation of Sarah. Pretty cool, eh?
I must say that it was very intriguing to read about what Jewish society might be like in the future with a Rebuilt Yerushalayim.
Also, while I found myself getting drawn into the characters and their stories and experiences, the fiction element was never as compelling for me as the brilliantly researched and rendered non-fiction element.
Happily, the author compiled the vast majority of the non-fiction element into its own chapter at the end of the book, making it easier to re-read my favorite parts.
All in all, I gained a tremendous amount from reading this book and passionately recommend it.
(Note: Upon completing this book, I discovered that the author published an earlier book describing the qualities of and insights into all the Tribes. Based on The Princess of Dan, I’m eager to get a hold of The Twelve Dimensions of Israel by the same author.)
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