M’rahemet Shel Olam: The Emwomber of the Universe By Theresa Yugar

The following is a guest post written by Theresa A. Yugar, Ph.D. Candidate in women studies in religion at Claremont Graduate University.

This poem was written modeled on a Hebrew understanding of the world and God. In contrast to an Occidental or Western understanding of God, which elevates the noun of a sentence, a Semitic understanding of God highlights the “verb” of a sentence. In this way, God is a more active presence in the creation of a more just world.

M’rahemet  Shel Olam: The Emwomber of the Universe

In the beginning the primal womb gave birth to all living creatures . . .

She gave birth to us . . . her daughters and her sons.

She is the great mother.

Her body envelops the earth and is in communion with all.

She is a part of me and I am a part of her.

She is the one who breath and spirit pulsates the universe.

She is the one who is most merciful and compassionate.

She is the one who affirms relationships of reciprocity.

She is all that is just.

She is all that is peace.

She is unity.

She is all that is good: harmony, creativity, diversity and liberation.

She is both our Mother and Father.

She is hope in the possible in the midst of the impossible.

Daily she renews the earth and the human spirit.

Categories: Feminist Theology, God-talk, Judaism, Poetry, Women's Spirituality

Tags: , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Theresa,
    Thank you for this beautiful depiction of god as Mother.I have sent this to a few of my male friends who struggle with the femaleness of god.


  2. Theresa,

    I just love this! Elizabeth Johnson has referred to God as Mother, sister, and Lover. This poem reminded me of this expression.



  3. Does anyone want to speculate as to why congregations are so afraid of prayers like this? I would have thought they would be standard practice by now.


  4. This is a beautiful poem/prayers. Are there Hebrew poems where God speaks in the first person as She?


  5. Michele, the only context where I might intuit that God speaks in the first person, as “She,” is in the book of Provers, more specifically, Chapter 8:22-24,27,28: “Wisdom’s Part in Creation: The Lord created me at the beginning of his [her] work, the first acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there was no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. When he [she] established the heavens, I was there . . . when he [she] marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him [her], like a master worker.” Really, this is a question for a biblical scholar. I know of three whom I can ask regarding this question. It is interesting and I would like to know the answer myself. I want to say that it is humbling reading this passage again and noting that besides the term, “Lord,” or “Adonai,” all other references to God are in lower caps, “he.” For me, it undermines in an indirect way the overt patriarchal power of God. I might use lower, “g,” for god as an act of resistance in this matter. In terms of your response Carol, I just re-read the poem over again. What stood out for me is that the characteristics of god in the poem all relate to aspects of “life” and “living.” She who gives birth to us. She who is breath and spirit. She who is in communion with all. She who is justice, unity, peace, creativity, harmony, beauty and liberation. Speculating, I believe all these characteristics of god are shared by [Christian] men and women alike. It is the noun, “She,” that is threatening to people. It is us, as feminists, I believe who have been entrusted by god, with the great and important work of raising issues of gender justice and gender-bending, to individuals around us who are open to diverging theological perspectives. I have an example to share with you. One religious educator with a group of priests wanted to raise a discussion about the theme of inclusive god-imagery. What she did is work with the Gospel of John, “The Word Became Flesh,” 1-18. She typed it up in such as way that all the “he’s” in the section were changed to “she.” What evolved was a wonderful conversation about how women in the pew feel every time we go to service and are continually denied the opportunity to envision ourselves as images of god as well. It is time to raise the questions. It is time for us to be prophetic in our communities of influence. In this process, may the power of “Shekinah” be with us, as we journey with our god and others to renew the face of the earth and the human spirit as well.


  6. I’m catching up on the posts I missed before I became a subscriber of the FAR blog. This is absolutely beautiful! I love it.



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