Rabbi unveils a secret of God
By Gary Stern,Â The Journal News
Â The tradition-bound Western image of a he-man, masculine God may already be thousands of years out of date, says a Westchester rabbi who believes he has unlocked the secret to God’s name and androgynous nature.
Â Rabbi Mark Sameth contends in a soon-to-be-published article that the four-letter Hebrew name for God – held by Jewish tradition to be unpronounceable since the year 70 – should actually be read in reverse. When the four letters are flipped, he says, the new name makes the sounds of the Hebrew words for “he” and “she.”
Â God thus becomes a dual-gendered deity, bringing together all the male and female energy in the universe, the yin and the yang that have divided the sexes from Adam and Eve to Homer and Marge.
Â “This is the kind of God I believe in, the kind of God that makes sense to me, in a language that speaks very, very deeply to human aspirations and striving,” Sameth said.
Â “How could God be male and not female?”
Â Sameth, 54, the spiritual leader of Pleasantville Community Synagogue, first hit on his theory more than a decade ago when he was a rabbinical student.Â Since then, he has quietly pieced together clues and supporting evidence from the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament and the vast body of rabbinic literature.
Â His article “Who is He? He is She: The Secret Four-Letter Name of God” will appear in the summer issue of the CCAR Journal, published by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, an association of Reform rabbis.
Â Sameth’s theory is not as outlandish as it might seem to the uninitiated.
For one thing, Jewish mystical traditions have long found levels of meaning in the Hebrew Bible beyond those that come from a literal or metaphorical reading. For another, there is a deep tradition in Jewish prayer and thinking, particularly among the so-called mystics, of seeking to reconcile the male and female elements in the universe.
Â Sameth’s article includes this: “What the mystics called ‘the secret of one’ is the inner unification of the sometimes competing, sometimes complementing masculine and feminine energies that reside within each of us, regardless whether we are male or female.”
Â The notion that God is what Sameth calls a “hermaphroditic deity” could energize the growing movement in many religiousÂ traditions to present God in gender-neutral terms, particularly in Scripture.
Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, a revered scholar among liberal Jews who has written extensively on Jewish mysticism and spirituality, called Sameth’s article “delicious, thought-provoking and wise.” Kushner is among a small group of scholars and friends with whom Sameth has shared his article in recent weeks.
“I think most people assume the God of the Hebrew Bible is masculine, but Mark, through some sound and clever research, suggests that God may have always been androgynous, ” Kushner said. “This can affect the way we consider holiness and the divine, and invites us to reconsider our own gender identities, which is kind of a bombshell.”
Â The Hebrew name of God that is known as the Tetragrammaton – the four letters Yud-Hay-Vov-Hay – appears 6,823 times in the Hebrew Bible. Since early Hebrew script included no vowels, theÂ pronunciation of the name was known by those who heard it.
Â According to Sameth’s footnotes, the name was said only by priests after the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the name was no longer said and the pronunciation lost.
Â Jewish tradition has long held that the name was too sacred to articulate.
Jews have generally used Adonai, “the Lord,” in place of the Tetragrammaton.
Various Christian groups have pronounced the name as “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”
Sameth has no intention of speaking the “reversed” name of God that he has uncovered, preferring to focus on its meaning.
“I still won’t pronounce it, intentionally, as God’s name,” he said. “I’m not suggesting that anyone pronounce the name.”
Sameth became fascinated with Jewish mysticism while a rabbinical student in Jerusalem during the early 1990s. He studied with Moshe Idel, a pre-eminent scholar on mysticism, and learned how medieval Spanish Kabbalists and others uncovered mystical meanings from the Torah that had been shrouded in patternsÂ of words and letters.
Once back in New York, at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform seminary, Sameth was studying the biblical story of the prophet Nathan reprimanding King David for murder, which becomes a turning point for David. Sameth realized that the Hebrew forms of both names, Nathan and David, are palindromes, words with spellings that can be reversed.
It was, as they say, a revelation.
“It’s about reversibility, ” Sameth said. “King David is changing theÂ direction of his life, and the two key characters, their names are palindromes.
What are the chances of that?”
A new zeal for biblical reversibility led Sameth to flip the four Hebrew letters of the unpronounceable Tetragrammaton. [YHVH becomes HVHY] In his head, he heard the Hebrew words hu and hi. That’s “he/she” in English.
And he felt connected to a long line of Jewish mystics who have mused about the male and female coming together.
“I really believed that I had found something significant, ” Sameth said.
“Then I did 10 years of study to see if I could find support for it.”
Much of his article consists of weaving together clues and examples from Jewish Scripture and wisdom that offer historical context for his thesis. For example, Sameth contends that the Zohar – a medieval, mystical Torah commentary – was referring to God’s dual-gender “when it suggested that the sin of Adam was that he ruined the marriage between the feminine and masculine halves ofÂ God by divorcing himself from the feminine.”
He also writes: “We realize now that the secret was almost revealed by the 13th-century Torah commentator Rabbeinu Bachya, who makes note of every four-word cluster in the Torah whose rashei teivot, or initial letters, spell out the Tetragrammaton in reverse.”
Rabbi Jonathan Stein, editor of the CCAR Journal, was on vacation and not available for comment.
Sameth has been the only rabbi at the decade-old Pleasantville Community Synagogue, a self-described “trans-denominational” congregation that includes elements of Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism. Congregants come from many backgrounds and communities to the synagogue, which has become known for hearty singing and dancing during services.
Talking recently about his years of study to grasp the meaning of God’s name, Sameth had to stop, swallow hard and take a breath when describing what it’s like to receive sparks of insight from the great Jewish thinkers of long ago.
“It is a form of transcendence to be connected in that way,” he said.
Sameth doesn’t believe that he has stumbled on a previously unknown understanding of God’s name, but that he has been able to connect the dots in a fresh way.
Those who find meaning in his work, he said, may encounter a different understanding of God that is comforting to feminists and those on many spiritual journeys. They may also read the Torah differently.
“If this interpretation is correct, it says that the Torah is a mystical or esoteric text,” he said. “The mystics have been saying all these years that the text conceals more than it reveals. It is structured with different levels of meaning and reveals itself over time. We’re talking about one tradition that goes all the way back.”
Katherine Kurs, a religion scholar who teaches at New School University and is an associate minister at West-Park (Presbyterian) Church in Manhattan, said that the image of God presented by Sameth will have great appeal to many people who are searching for spiritual meaning.
“Mark’s unveiling is part of a mystic lineage that presents a prismatic experience of God, that says there are ways of experiencing God that contain and explode categories simultaneously, ” said Kurs, who has known Sameth since they studied together almost 20 years ago. “This God is not a male or even a female but a male-female or female-male, a God that holds tension and paradox, a full-spectrum bandwidth God.”
Sameth has shared his image of a dual-gendered God with the seventh- and eighth-graders he teaches at his synagogue. He said they’ve been very receptive, which isn’t surprising because they are growing up in a post-modern age.
“As post-moderns, we’ve been conditioned to a different relationship with language,” he said. “That’s why there is all this interest now in Jewish mysticism.”
He wonders how, 2,000 years from now, people will understand the final chapter of “Ulysses,” which includes no punctuation.
Will they try to add punctuation, believing that it’s been lost? Or willÂ they grasp that James Joyce knew what he was doing?
“Joyce was playing with language, using language to play with the medium,” Sameth said. “And the Torah isn’t just about Noah taking the animals, twosies by twosies. If that’s what the Torah was all about, how could it have captivated Western civilization for 3,000 years? There had to be more.”
RESPONSES TO THE ABOVE:
— In email@example.com, Rachel wrote:
> The only problem with the article is that G-d has never been seen as male in Judaism; calling G-d “He” is convention. There is no neutral gender word in Hebrew. G-d is neither (not both but neither) male or female in the Jewish religion; having no physical attributes or even emotions as we understand it. When it talks about humans being created in G-d’s image it means spiritually. G-d has always been spoken of in the feminine as well as masculine, for example as a mother or father, as a master or mistress (when we are referred to as bondsmen or bondswomen).
> I don’t understand a Rabbi who hasn’t learned that. It is a bit odd to me.
Katia writes:Â Â Seems to meÂ the very fact there is no gender neutral word in ancient Hebrew, the original language of theology, basically proves there was no gender neutral God in Judaism.
GLENN KING responded to Rachel byÂ posting the following to the DivineMother forum.
Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formal theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.
Â Â Â Â Â First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus. The god of the Israelites did not relate to other gods and to human women as did the Greek gods. Clearly the bible discourages that point of view.
Â Â Â Â Â Â However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.
Â Â Â Â Â Â There is other evidence of this. G-d is often called Elohim in the bible. My understanding is that Elohim is the masculine plural of Eloah whichÂ can quite properly be translated as “goddess.” Yet the verbs associated with this are always masculine and singular. My point is that the biblical writers had a multiple of opportunities to dispel the idea that G-d is some how intrinsically wrapped up with maleness. Yet the writers repeatedly do not do this. Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male language of G-d in the bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the male language of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture of Israel which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-d has to be male even if not conventionally so.
Â Â Â Â Â I would also suggest, whatever the rabbis’ point of view, that they were not the authors of the biblical text. The understanding of the rabbis, most of them wrote and commented on the Torah after the time of Jesus, is not necessarily the view of earlier pre biblical Israel i.e. of the period 1300 BCE to about 600 BCE. It seems that monotheism only fully triumphed in Judah after the exile. Thus the understanding of the majority of Israel’s people and of her elites were not doubt quite different than that of the latter rabbis.Â It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had a different point of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High Holy One, the King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen or daughter who was in exile with Israel. The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologians and philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language was all merely metaphoric not to be taken literally. To defend this language I am sure that even the Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. The problem is why use all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue. Why talk as if there is in fact a female and male presence of God if God is only a singular, sexless “spiritual” (what ever that means) being.
Â Â Â Â Â My real suspicion is of course that these people did have a radically different vision of G-dÂ which was not compatible with Rabbinic orthodoxy. Thus what they did is cover it up with their talk of allegory and metaphor. It would not be very pleasant to be exiled even from the exiles.
Â Â Â Â Â Â I think of course that the same thing has happened within Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic and Orthodox theology claim that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her power and Glory are all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power and glory resides. Thus all of Mary’s power and gloryÂ is simply at bottom not real.
The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary in ways very similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses. The point of this being that official doctrines of religions often hide as much as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather that admitting the radical truth of the real situation. Â –Glenn
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Ricardo from our local Meetup wrote:
This documentary talks about this topic in a very interesting way:
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BURL HALL RESPONDS TO GLENN LINE BY LINE:
Glenn King writes:
Rachael, I am certain that you are right in stating that the formalÂ theology of Judaism states that God is beyond all aspects of gender. That is also the position of Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and liberal Protestantism. My problem is that I doubt that few people in their hearts of hearts really believe this. I also suspect that few Jews historically have believed it either.
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I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our relationship to the greater whole.Â When I see the Sun’s rays entering my cells and feel them unfold their potential by absorbing those rays, then I tend to see my cells as acting in a female role and the sun in a male.Â In other words, gender is reflective of cosmic process.
Another piece is that if you read other myths and scriptures fromÂ throughout the world, no other culture is shy about describing thatÂ which is before manifestation (i.e., the Unmanifest) in the Feminine.Â The Feminine is the container of potential, be that potential be in the form of a seed in the ground, an egg in a mammal or bird, or as hidden knowledge in the depths of our minds.
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>>First let me explain a few things. It is certain that the biblical God is not a male in the same physical way that a human man is or as Greek god such as Zeus.
Genesis 1:27 reads: “God created humanity is “his” image, male andÂ female created he them.” However after stating that, it is clear that in most respects the biblical writers saw Yahweh is in a deep way as male. “He” is Lord and King and never lady and Queen. G-d has mostly “male” roles of ruler, judge, warrior, etc. It is true that sometimes this male aspect slips and in few places he is seen as like a female eagle, or a woman in labor. But in general the male images hold.
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This change could also be seen as a holographic tidal wave on this planet.Â Â …Â all one movement of one tidal wave that will eventually rescind and calm down (will we become extinct in the process, or transform? is the question).Â Your work, my work, the work of the people in this group is to be the beginning of this transformation.Â So is the work of the locavores or local food movements and so on.Â While you may not see the relationship of these two movements (and many others), I do.Â They are one wave that hopefully will gain momentum (according to Sophia’s desires which operate much like the moon on the water (and our bodies) to replace these dark ages.
> Thus I would argue that the idea that the biblically male languageÂ of G-d in the
> bible is purely conventional is incorrect. On the contrary the maleÂ language
> of god in the Bible betrays the very strong patriarchal culture ofÂ Israel
> which believed that if god has to be imaged as personal then G-dÂ has to be male
> even if not conventionally so.
Looking at this holographically, I would also say that seeing God as purely male reflected a shift towards more externalized thinking.Â We have wars because we are more interested in conquering andÂ controlling them over there then we are about developing our innerÂ potential.Â This is what Sophia is, in my opinion.Â she is the infinite inner world of all creatures and contains all potentials that unfold according the interactions of Her son and husband, Eros, or Creative Desire.Â Or as Hermes said (I’m paraphrasing), “Sophia is the container of potential and Eros initiates that unfolding.” Hence, in sexual reproduction, the egg exists as a potential person that unfolds as a body upon the union with sperm.Â Or, in the Stanza’s of Dyzan “Darkness (female) radiates Light and Light drops one solitary ray into the Mother’s depths.Â The eternal egg thrills and divides…”Â And, wa-la here we are having this conversation.
> It is also obvious that the latter Cabbalist Medieval writers had aÂ different point
> of view. To a large degree their theology was that the High HolyÂ One, the
> King, had lost his connection with his Shekinah i.e. Queen orÂ daughter who was in
> exile with Israel.
When you get down to it, the Holy One entails the knowledge of unity in diversity.Â The mystical aspect of the people existing when the U.S. came to be knew this in their “E Pluribus Unim,” IN UNITY DIVERSITY.Â There is unity in diversity and diversity in unity.Â As the chaos theorists now realize, this is one Planet that operates as a single organism.Â We, in other words, are cells in the Planet and are not the Kings or Queens of it.Â Due to our arrogance and our “growth without end” mentality, we have become cancerous cells..this is what cancer is, growth gone wild.
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The Shekinah, the Sabbath Queen, etc were all seen as
> basically female. I am of course aware that latter day theologiansÂ and
> philosophers have argued that all of this Kabalistic language wasÂ all merely metaphoric
> not to be taken literally.
Ah!Â Merely metaphoric!Â Metaphor according to Burl and GregoryÂ Baetson IS the language of the universe.Â Metaphor is the languageÂ that connects.Â If we look at the external orientation of our modernÂ day, we can see the male externalized genitals.Â We are more interested in invading other countries and controlling the population (politicians, scientists, etc) then we are our inner world.Â Yet, it is in our inner world that a new world can unfold.Â It is only by tapping into the Feminine that we can create a peaceful planet.
Hence, one of Sophia’s names is Salem, Shalom or Jerusalem meaning peace.Â Giving birth to Sophia (i.e., the Daughter), we give birth to peace on Earth.
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To defend this language I am sure that even the
> Kabbalists themselves stated that it was all just metaphor. TheÂ problem is why use
> all of this metaphor if it just confuses the issue.
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Metaphor is holographic.Â Understanding one, you understand the all. Gregory Baetson says that metaphor is Nature’s language. I can figure every one of our individualized and creative paths through the Wizard of Oz.Â The Wizard of Oz is metaphor.Â One person argued with me about Baum’s story being political.Â “Well, I said, that’s true too.”
Now, how could I say that?Â Easy, in my holographic universe, theÂ political interpretation of this man was one with my spiritual [interpretation].Â The sun’s rays shining through a prism breaks down into a multitude of colors.Â Each interpretation is one strand of color existing in one ray of Light emanating from the Womb of Sophia.Â (Baum states that the story just erupted into his consciousness.Â Need I say more about Sophia’s hand being there?)Â We are all Dorothy in Oz (manifestation) seeking Kansas (Heaven or the land of non-duality as reflected in the flat greyness).
>Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I think of course that the same thing has happened within
> Christianity in relationship with Mary. Official Catholic andÂ Orthodox theology claim
> that Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven, Co mediatrix and of her powerÂ and Glory are
> all just borrowed powers from Jesus to whom all real power andÂ glory resides.
> Thus all of Mary’s power and gloryÂ Â is simply at bottom not real.
Another slant on this is that Mary, Marie, means Ocean (marine,Â marina, etc).Â When the Spirit moved over the face of the Deep inÂ Genesis, the Holy Spirit came upon Marie in the New Testament.Â Hence, the Light of the world was born, the Word.Â Again, this happens beyond time and space, in infinity, and as such is as much a possibility for each one of us as it is for some externalized womanÂ living during the Roman times. Â “Of what use Gabriel your message to Marie / unless you deliver that same message to me,” a mystic once said.
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> The problem with this is why in fact would God even permit this. If this is all there is to Mary, then Protestantism makes all the sense in the world. Of course again I think that all of this talk is subterfuge to hide the real fact
> that psychologically and really Catholics love and adore Mary inÂ ways very > similar to how the old Pagans used to worship Isis, Inanna and other goddesses.
Ya just can’t kill your love for your Mother.
> The point of this being that official doctrines of religions oftenÂ hide as much
> as they reveal. Often they hid radical realities rather thatÂ admitting theÂ
> radical truth of the real situation.
Â — Glenn
Or, is it that we don’t understand the language in our literal, empirical, results oriented, society.Â Doctrines are living documents.Â The Bible, the Rig Veda, the Tao Te Ching, the Upanishads, etc are all living, interactive beings.Â There words are seminal in unfolding potential within you.Â They are not to be taken literally, for to take them that way would be to kill them.Â Rather, one should dance with all religious writings and in hearing other interpretations, one should dance with those also.Â As the Three Musketeers stated, “Its all for one and one for all.”Â In the diversity of interpretations is the mirror of the Holy One….Sophia who is male and female in Her divine essence.Â Her kiss is Her Son, Eros.Â Every time He visits me, I create an article, a book, or an insight.Â What is unmanifest becomes manifest in me when I am in His arms.Â And who is His arms if not Her extension?
–Burl Hall, author of Sophia’s Web
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I would go further and note that this claim of a genderless God onlyÂ arises when one is discussing the Goddess. As long as the pronounsÂ remain masculine, no one makes this argument. It is just another way of keeping the Goddess from being discussed. Their argument can be boiled down to this: If God is genderless, there is no point inÂ discussing the sacred feminine because it either doesn’t exist or isÂ included in the masculine references.
This is the same argument made against using genderless titles (ieÂ flight attendant, chairperson) back when the second wave of feminism began to demand that women’s titles be the equal of men’s. The argument that the male title actually includes the female was quite popular with those who wanted to resist feminine empowerment. This argument went so far as to claim that the laws didn’t need to be changed to include women because the words “man” and “men” actually included women — this despite the exact opposite argument had been made to deny any rights to women for centuries.
In “The Goddess vs. The Alphabet,” Leonard Schlain argues that theÂ Hebrew ban on images was a direct attempt to erase the Goddess. The Goddess religions that preceded patriarchal monotheism made liberal use of images, especially sculpture. When we understand this, the God of Moses banning all “graven images” takes on a new context.
We can even argue that the concept a genderless God arose from the need to eliminate the Goddess. The Goddess worshippers were too powerful to [get rid of] all at once, therefore they began to indoctrinate the masses with the idea that God has no gender. This would have developed over decades or centuries until no one remembered that the “genderless” God (expressed as male) was needed to eliminate the feminine Goddess.
The people that claim God is genderless are disturbed when I useÂ exclusively feminine pronouns and references when speaking of deity.Â If God is genderless, then my use of these sacred feminine words shouldn’t matter. It is obvious they do, thus it is obvious thatÂ despite their claim God is genderless, they are accustomed toÂ thinking of God as masculine and are not comfortable with thinking of God as feminine.
But in my world, this argument about how the Hebrews and rabbis think of God is moot. I was raised Christian where God is very definitely male. The RCC made official pronouncements to this effect just recently, going so far as to denounce and deny all marriages whose marriage rites contained gender-neutral language. The Sistine Chapel is very clear: the image of God is powerfully male. I wasn’t raised RCC but their images bleed over into all Christian religions. No traditional Christian would make the argument that God is genderless nor do they easily accept the idea of the sacred feminine, even in the abstract. Even those who claim God is genderless do not easily accept having the sacred feminine being plainly addressed or represented alongside their easy acceptance of the sacred masculine address or representation (ie using God and Goddess equally or displaying both images in equal prominence). This is why they engage in their genderless God rhetoric. Discussion of the Goddess or any version of the sacred feminine makes them uneasy, therefore I should not feel free to use it.
As long as we’re willing to engage in their argument — that God isÂ genderless therefore we don’t need to use any sacred feminineÂ references, we are reacting on the defensive and allowing theirÂ definition of deity to be the primary definition of deity. If indeedÂ their God is genderless, my use of the sacred feminine in any of HerÂ variations should not bother them. As long as they argue otherwise,Â it is an indication that their genderless claims are denied by theirÂ passionate need to keep me from referring to the sacred feminine.
When they no longer care, then I would believe their God is indeedÂ genderless.
I don’t really care what the ancients believed or how they thought ofÂ God. I prefer to claim the sacred feminine alongside the sacredÂ masculine, therefore their preferences are meaningless to me.
At 11:36 8/24/08, Burl wrote:
>I think to take gender out of the Godhead is to deny our
>relationship to the greater whole.
It is not by accident that we yearn to identify with the sacred feminine. It is the completion we need to have a healthy relationship with all of life and the universe. Gender is indeed reflective of the cosmic process, as you noted. It is so integral that it is represented in every species, even those that are androgynous. As a species, we cannot imagine life without either gender. Even our material items are referred to as gendered (ie a ship is “she”). Trying to make a monotheistic deity one gender or genderless defies this deep natural instinct and creates imbalance in our thought processes.
It also creates a masculinized world that devalues and fears anything associated with the feminine while worshipping anything associated with the masculine. This worship of all things masculine is what allows our society to glorifies the mass extinction of othersÂ (including other species) via war, genocide, rape of the earth, etc.
Since creativity is viewed as feminine, it too is feared and devalued. We cannot make progress without creativity, yet men who display prowess in overtly creative endeavors (ie an artist) are ridiculed as “feminine” and shunned.
There is no way to have a balanced society that strictly worships aÂ monotheistic deity that is either one gender or genderless. It is anÂ abnormal and deformed way of viewing the universe and our worldÂ experience. Like all things that are deformed, this abnormal beliefÂ cannot create the balance and acceptance of Self, Earth and Universe that we desperately need.
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Katia wrote later:
I really like the new theory by Rabbi Sameth about YHVH beingÂ reversed to say He/She.Â Â He/She makes alot of sense for the Divineâ€™s name, and the major names of God in our very Bibles literally mean just that.Â Â Elohim means “God and Goddess” and Yahweh/Yahovah/YHVH is a combination of the God YahÂ and Goddess Havah (Havah is Hebrew for “Eve”, and means Mother of All).Â
The Tetragrammaton name of the Divine, written YHVH, has the added benefit of meaning God/Goddess no matter which way you look at it — front to back or back to front.Â Â No matter how you flip it, there is Goddess-and-God simultaneously.
3 thoughts on “Is God Beyond Gender? The taboo Judeo-Christian Goddess in YHVH”
GLEN WROTE to Divine Mother forum 8-25-08
I want to post a second message in response to my dialogue with Rachael who is an Orthodox Jew. Again perhaps this may be of interest here. Note Rachael develops the standard argument of normative even liberal religion in the West against any idea of goddess.
That argument is that the god of the orthodox dominating faiths of Islam, Judasim and Christianity is beyond gender. G-d is basically abstract. Therefore all discussion of goddess is simply not needed or worthless.
Re: the gender of G-d
Rachael, before I go into the issue of the competence of my interpretations, I would look to ask a few questions to get a sense of from where you are coming. I also want to make a few comments. You are an Orthodox Jew right? To clarify the meaning of this would it be possible for you to tell me if you believe that Moses was the author of the Torah? Or do you believe in the documentary thesis regarding the authorship of the first biblical books. The documentary thesis argues that the Torah was written by several authors the most prominent being “J” for the Yahwist, “E” for the Elohist source, “P” for the priestly source, and “D” for the deteronomist source. If our understandings on this issue differ greatly then at least some the basis of our present disagreement becomes more clear. Comments. First I will grant you that I know very little regarding rabbinic commentary of the Torah. I accept your position that a clear unified monotheism permeates their work. On the issue of the Kabbala I think that I am on much stronger ground. However on this issue as well since I have never studied the primary documents intensively I will admit that my interpretations may be biased. On the issue of my interpretation of the scholars that I have read I believe that I am on much stronger ground. Lets say that I am 80% sure that I have not misinterpreted them. However I will simply lay that part of my discussion aside. The Kabbalah is only peripheral to my current religious life. I certainly do not see any value in arguing concerning the contents of those documents with some one who may see them as much more central to her tradition.
However on this issue of the Bible, in this I am centrally involved.
I am person of the Book as the Muslims would say. My whole life has been lived under the shadow of that book. That book has decisively shaped my life for better or worse though out my whole life. I have studied it off and on though out my life and its thought patterns and ideas permeate my life.
Now regarding our current question regarding the issue of whether G-d is gendered. From what I have read there are no statements in the text itself in which the question is asked or in which an answer is given.
Again I will grant you the fact that the authoritive, dominant voice of the Jewish tradition has stated that the meaning of the text is that G-d is singular and not gendered.
That does not really influence my argument. I would argue that the whole Gestalt of the biblical god, the fact that he is he and not she, that he is king and not queen, That he is lord and never lady, that he is a god of war that there are so few female images applied to him is all evidence that the biblical writers thought of God as male. The simple fact is that when I read the bible G-D feels male. The biblical G-d feels male in the way that the Egyptian goddess Isis feels female. And please do not get the idea of Isis as being a big superwoman in the sky. She is no more that then is G-d a big superman in the sky with a male body a Hebrew Zeus.
What I would argue is that I believe that the sexual and gendered bodies of human beings reveal something about the being of God.
The Spirit I would argue is not to be thought of as being some sort of disembodied Cerebral Cosmic Consciousness as opposed to the Flesh. On the contrary perhaps the body in its aspects is created after the model of the spirit in some sense.
Of course these are all my own thoughts. Before submitting this I spent some time on line surfing google under the subject of God and gender.
What it has done is convince me that I am even more profoundly alone on this subject then I generally think. I think that only in the pagan community would many people agree with me on this subject. The problem is that I have my own disagreements with them.
I will end this here. I do not think that there are any authoritive answers regarding the issue of God and gender. I think that you see the writings of the rabbis as authoritive on this subject. For me my own worship experiences, and inner perceptions or lies if one believes that I am in profound error is my ultimate authority. I think that we will just have to disagree.
— In firstname.lastname@example.org, Rachel wrote:
> They don’t.
> You are not understanding what is being read or the Rabbis you are reading are not knowledgeable. This isn’t to besmirch your intelligence, it is a fact.
> The ideas in kabbalah are very complex and your summary is incorrect.
> There is NO duality of G-d in Judaism. G-d is neither male or female. All such comparisons are purely allegorical.
> Yes the Shekinah went into exile with Jews; but that doesn’t mean G-d separated Himself into pieces.
> I am stating you do not understand what you are reading.
> Try ask moses or Aish.
> G-d is not gendered in Judaism and never has been. I was not raised Orthodox but went to an Orthodox Day school. We learned this in the primary grades.
> This is not news to Jews. It really isn’t.
> And again, you aren’t understanding what you are reading. You can not just pick up a book even of authors of first rank and begin reading.
> Kabbalah originally wasn’t even taught to anyone under 40, and not until
> one had learend all of Torah, Gemorah, Mishnah etc. etc. WELL. In the
> Hebrew and Aramaic, with all the commentaries.
> You can keep reading but you are not disseminating true Jewish theological ideas.
> You just aren’t.
> I do not have the skills to debate you on this issue, please ask an Orthodox
> Take care,
> Rachel Ann
Katia writes: Rachel seems to be unwilling to acknowledge Judaism’s distaste for the Sacred Feminine, still there from the ancient days when She was (brutally) banned from the religion. Sad. And tragic.
Rachel is coming from an Orthodox background which does not give the feminine Divine or otherwise its due. I myself am Jewish but not Orthodox. Goddess Judaism is coming to the forefront and studies of the Shekinah and books are readily available now. The truth is that Shekinah — who is the Wisdom of the Proverbs and the Wisdom Books in the Apocrypha was banned very brutally when King Josiah brought about his reforms. Yahweh and His Asherah/Shekinah were worshipped all over Judea as this proof is evident in Israel with all of the Asherah figurines found there. Rachel is taught about the Shekinah but in reference to how it affects men and women on the Sabbath. This is a sad fact. Who knows how long it will be before it ever changes. Abba and Ima bless you all. -Malka Miller Hemet California
Yoshua (Jesus) said in;
(King James Version 1611)
. . .Wisdom is justified of her children.
And again in;
Luke 11: 49
(King James Version 1611)
Therefore also said the widom of God,
I will send prophets and apostles,
and some of them they shall slay and
Wisdom Is “Law Of God”
Written down in “Scirpt Form”
Ezra 7:14, 25
(King James Version 1611)
14 . . .according to the law of thy God which is in thy hand;
25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom
of thy God, that is in thine hand, . . .
This “Written Laws” of God is
“The Spirit Of Wisdom” that God place in
“The Hearts Of Man”
(King James Version 1611)
And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise -hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit
“The Lord God Is My Lamp”
2 Samuel 22:29
(King James Version 1611)
29 For thou art my lamp, O Lord:
and the Lord will lighten my darkness.
“The Commandments Is A Lamp”
(King James Version 1611)
23 For the Commandments is a lamp;
and the law is a light; . . .
A) God is a Lamp
B) God is “The Ten Commandments”
C) God Is “The Voice” that have spoken
the “Ten Commandments”
The Voice Of God Is “The Ten Commandments”
Deuteronomy 4:12 -13
(King James Version 1611)
12 And the Lord spake unto you
out of the midst of the fire: ye heard
the voice of the words, but saw no simili-
tude; only ye heard a voice. 13 And he
declared unto you his covenant, which he
commanded you to perform, even ten
commandments; and he wrote them upon
two tables of stone.
The Commandments Represent
John 4:23 – 24
(King James Version 1611)
23 But the hour cometh, and now is,
when the true worshippers shall worship
the Father in spirit and in truth: for the
Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship
him must worship him in spirit and in
The Written Law (Wisdom) Represent
“The Queen Mother”
All Creation – Prophets And Apostles
“The Power And Authority”
Whereby Kings – Princes & The All Judges
“The Earth Ruleth”
Praise Be To God For All Eternity
Proverbs 8:15 – 16
(King James Version 1611)
15 By me kings reign,
and princes decree justice.
16 By me princes rule, and nobles,
even all the judges of the earth.