Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Praying to the She-God

I am so excited that I just got corrected and informed by a friend, Sephardi Sephari so I am rewritting this post a bit. Although God has no gender, when we pray we usually refer to Him as a He. In certain kabbalah prayers, God is referred to as Ima (which means "mother").

Why is He mostly referred to as male?

I can't answer for all religions, but from various tidbit facts that I know I suspect this: Male is usually connected to provider, giver, kindness. (Sort of like the traditional picture of the man providing for his family). Female is usually connected to receiver, defender, judge. Most times we don't want to appeal to the "judge" part of God, but rather the "provider" side.

Arousal from Below to Arousal from Above.

This is an interesting concept of praying -also known as the 'female waters' in kabbalah and getting a response: i.e. the masculine waters from Above.

Kind of like a girl who either cries (tears), kisses, or arouses other waters of appealing and the man responding. At times, the women is so beautiful (in deeds) that just her very presence 'arouses' the man to give.

Alot of kabbalah, I notice, have a lot of association to sexuality. I think that's what makes it not to proper for those who can't keep their pants up. lol

(Question to all readers: should I not post interesting stuff about Judaism? Does it make you uncomfortable? If so, please let me know and I'll leave it over at my other blog. Thanks.)


Micha said...

Interestingly, I read an article on the Jerusalem Post from a recovered jihadist. What made this man unique is that he is a devout Muslim and has developed a more or less coherent way of viewing the traditional Islamic sources that contradicts the Islamist (Islamic fundamentalist) agenda. At any rate, he spoke about how when he was in training, being indoctrinated in Egypt, one the main techniques to spur on the young men is to at the same time take women and anything attached to femininity completely out of their lives, and at the same time tantalizing them with images of virgins and unbridled sensuality in the afterlife. This created, he said, a kind of fettish which produces a tremendous amount of angst and is used to fuel some of the most evil deeds. This is just one of an almost endless list of examples of how sexuality misused can create untold harm.

This is because Kabbalistically, sexual union stems from the most basic formulas integral to existence, any existence. Without union of opposites, nothing can exist. The Divine male principle and the Divine female principle need to join together for the creation and sustenance of the world. And this joining together is what sexual union partakes of.

It is interesting that the Sephardic liturgy uses the feminine form much more often. I have never heard an explanation for it. Somehow it gives the prayers a softer, more "rounded" feel. Something more intimate. A basic principle in Kaballah is that there are higher and lower realities, in terms of their relationship; that is the higher reality or, sometimes, world, is seen as more causal, closer to the Ultimate One Source. A world or reality which is called female may be a receiver in relation to a more causal reality, but in relation to what's "below" her she becomes the source, in a sense the womb. In a certain sense, all of creation is feminine.

The Sephardi Safari said...

It is interesting that the Sephardic liturgy uses the feminine form much more often. I have never heard an explanation for it.
Somehow it gives the prayers a softer, more "rounded" feel.

It's not a Feminine address but rather a Mishnaic form of masculine address. Many (but not all) Sephardic prayers use Mishnaic rather than Biblical/Classical forms, so we say things like toratach instead of toratecha. The Feminine would be torateych.

But if you look in the amidah in the Sephardic nusach, you'll see it switches - in the earlier prayers (except for kedushah) the possessives end with -echa until ya'aleh v'yavo where it changes to the -ach form, then it reverts back to -echa until elohai netzor. It's almost as though the prayers with the -ach possessives are of later origin than the prayers with -echa possessives.

There are prayers in the Kaballah in which G-d is addressed as Ima. The Kaballistic school is much more attuned to the fact that G-d has attributes which we humans associate with one of two popular sexes; in fact, G-d is neither masculine or feminine, but since Hebrew has no neuter gender G-d is referred to in the masculine.

Had we started out a Matriarchal society back in the midbar, things would have been very very different, I would think.

So far as posting "interesting stuff about Judaism" goes...preach it sister. I read both blogs and I comment on both, and both are linked from mine. Spread the word.

Micha said...

To Sephardi Safari

Thanks for the clarification. It behooves ones to check one's ABC's of grammar before going off on esoteric discourses.:)

Miriam said...

Micha and Sephardi Sefari, thank you so much for your comments and responses. I learned from this.

SheCodes said...

I am a Christian, but I am intruiged and enlightened by your posts about your faith... so no, please don't move them all to another blog.

Your faith is an important part of you, and if people can't accept ALL of you, then maybe their opinion of your writing shouldn't matter that much. Just my 2 cents...

Miriam said...

SheCodes - thanks for the support!

Mes Deux Cents said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mes Deux Cents said...


I am a firm believer that bloggers should post about what they are passionate about.

I enjoy your posts on Judaism. :)

Miriam said...

thanks, MDC! Its relieving to hear that.

Kylopod said...

I had an eccentric first-grade rebbe who referred to God as "she." That was how I heard the term during my first exposure to Chumash.

Of course, we ought to remember that Hebrew is a gender-dominant language, and many words are marked grammatically as masculine or feminine without being literally male or female. Sword is feminine, and breasts are masculine.

Yanmommasaid said...

Hey Miriam,
I also like reading about your faith, even though I don't believe in any kind of deity. It's not like you're preaching to us.

Do you know of this site?

I just discovered it at work and thought it might be interesting. I really like the art gallery.

Miriam said...

Hi Yan!

Did I tell you the "Yan Momma said" makes me smile all the time.hehe.

Thanks for the response. I don't want to sound preachy -no way. just nerdy and geeky! lol