Saturday, August 06, 2011


I was inspired by Paulo Coelho's book 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' to consider the feminine aspect of God, the Shechina. For God has both the feminine and masculine aspects and in Him are they melded.

It then occurred to me that in Genesis the following verse appears.

27. And God created man in His image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. כז. וַיִּבְרָא אֱ־לֹהִים אֶת הָאָדָם בְּצַלְמוֹ בְּצֶלֶם אֱ־לֹהִים בָּרָא אֹתוֹ זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בָּרָא אֹתָם:

Rashi cites Midrash Agada that the first human was created as a hermaphrodite. Both the feminine and masculine aspects were in that first being.

זכר ונקבה ברא אותם: ולהלן הוא אומר (בראשית ב כא) ויקח אחת מצלעותיו וגו', מדרש אגדה שבראו שני פרצופין בבריאה ראשונה ואחר כך חלקו. ופשוטו של מקרא, כאן הודיעך שנבראו שניהם בששי ולא פירש לך כיצד ברייתן ופירש לך במקום אחר:

It then occurred to me that finally the words 'in the image of God' make sense to me. The first human was created in the image of God. Meaning, with both the feminine and masculine aspect as one united being. Hence as a hermaphrodite.

However, God realized that what worked for Him did not work for the human. He noted:

And the Lord God said, "It is not good that man is alone; I shall make him a helpmate opposite him." יח. וַיֹּאמֶר יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱ־לֹהִים לֹא טוֹב הֱיוֹת הָאָדָם לְבַדּוֹ אֶעֱשֶׂה לּוֹ עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ:

God realized that what worked for Him did not work for man. God is in perfect union with his masculine and feminine attributes and aspects. But man was not able to sustain this existence. He was alone. Therefore God needed to make a helpmate for him who was k'negdo. Not part of his being any longer, but separated from him. And thus God seperated the woman from the man so that what had once been one creature was now two.

In Chasidic tradition, the Shechina (as the feminine aspect of God) and the male aspect of God unite as one on the Sabbath. The Shechina is also identified as manifesting as the Sabbath Queen. As is well known, there is a special emphasis about the man and woman coming together in love on Friday eve. It occurred to me that perhaps this is why. When the male and female aspects unite, they return to what they originally were, God's image.

It occurred to me this may be one of the reasons the Bible speaks so strongly against homosexuality and calls it an abomination. If man and woman as one unit were created in God's image and God Himself represents the union of the feminine and the masculine, the homosexual is choosing his own passions, desires or pleasures above that of returning to his original state as the image of God (joining with the feminine). This may be one of the reasons these actions are considered so displeasing to God.

Note that when the Serpent tempts Eve, he presents her with the following argument:

For God knows that on the day that you eat thereof, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like angels, knowing good and evil." ה. כִּי יֹדֵעַ אֱ־לֹהִים כִּי בְּיוֹם אֲכָלְכֶם מִמֶּנּוּ וְנִפְקְחוּ עֵינֵיכֶם וִהְיִיתֶם כֵּאלֹהִים יֹדְעֵי טוֹב וָרָע:

The translation here says 'angels' but another translation would be 'gods.' The Serpent tells Eve that if she eats from the Tree of Life, she will be like god.

What Eve does not understand is that she is not meant to be like God. At least not in the way the Serpent is suggesting. God saw that when he originally created man and woman in His exact image, as hermaphrodites, they were lonely. They could not stand that loneliness and thus he had to separate them. For them to be like God, to form His image once more, they must unite together in holiness, coming close to one another, sharing their souls and their bodies.

Eating of the fruit is an act of distancing herself from God. According to Midrash, where the Serpent was possessed by the angel Samael and Eve slept with him, it's in fact the exact antithesis of being like God. If being like God is taking the male aspect into oneself and re-joining the two halves that were broken, a female can only mate with a male of her species. To mate with an angel, beast or a member of the same gender will not accomplish this. This is why the angels who mated with women to create the Nephilim were frowned upon. (I wrote a paper about the Nephilim for those curious to learn more. I can email it to you.)

The statement about their creation is repeated in Chapter 5:

Male and female He created them, and He blessed them, and He named them man (Adam) on the day they were created. ב. זָכָר וּנְקֵבָה בְּרָאָם וַיְבָרֶךְ אֹתָם וַיִּקְרָא אֶת שְׁמָם אָדָם בְּיוֹם הִבָּרְאָם:

The creature God created was originally named 'Man,' 'Adam,' from the earth. Then God seperated out the woman and the man named her 'Chava,' Mother of all Life, Eve. But as one unit, one flesh, we return to Adam. We encapsulate that image of God, binding the masculine and the feminine together. It is a form of redemption; perhaps even a reclamation. We have returned; we have reclaimed. We are now One.


Tzipporah said...

There is an interesting book you might like, a very simple read actually - less than a couple of hours and easy to digest - called "The Beast that Crouches at the Door"

which also has some intriguing thoughts on the serpent and Eve.

Anonymous said...

Terrific post; did Heshy also contribute to it?

Chana said...


Read it, love it, referenced it, also read and reviewed 'The Queen You Thought You Knew By Him.'

He's the one who took out the Paulo Coelho book for me, so yes!

Tzipporah said...

ooooh that book is on my list... for the future. I don't have as much reading time as I used to - a fact of life i have to accept.