Judaism, Feminism, and The Twoness of Creation by Jill Hammer

Rabbi Amorai said: “Where is the garden of Eden:  He answered himself: “In the earth.”

Sefer haBahir, 12th century Provence

For many liberal Jews, the phrase “tikkun olam” has been an important rallying cry.  The phrase is often used as synonymous with “social justice,” but has more esoteric roots.  Tikkun olam, repair of the world, refers to a kabbalistic view of creation.  In this view, the Divine set out to create the world by vacating a space, an empty space within which creation could occur.  The Divine then created vessels, planning to pour divine light into them, in order to form all created things.  But when the divine light was poured into the vessels, the vessels could not hold the effulgence.  They shattered, scattered sparks of light and shards of the vessels everywhere.  Since then, the cosmic job of humanity is to find these sparks of light and free them to rejoin the One.

wisteria-knotIsaac Luria, a Jewish mystic in the city of Sfat, told this tale of creation in the seventeenth century.  It caught the Jewish imagination and has been wildly popular as a Jewish creation myth ever since.  It captures our longing for wholeness and our experience of brokenness.  It also offers a parallel with the Big Bang (a hot seed of light that expands into the universe as we know it) that many find quite compelling.  I have loved this story for a long time.  To me, it is reminiscent of the story of birth: an empty space that becomes full, then leaks out into the world as a new being.  Yet as a feminist who is also committed to sustainability, as more news of our planet’s scorching rolls in, I find this myth is beginning to crack.   Continue reading “Judaism, Feminism, and The Twoness of Creation by Jill Hammer”

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