In my last blog post, I explained what we lost when the Israelites became monotheists. That post looked at the move to monotheism from a more historical, feminist perspective. In this post, I want to understand monotheism from a more modern, feminist lens. Using the Shema as a starting point for modern Jewish monotheistic thinking, my question is: how do we honor the deity based on who we understand that deity to be? In my opinion, Jewish monotheism requires we honor G-d by moving away from one-sided gendered depictions of the deity and think about how we act in light of the interconnectedness of life.
Judaism highlights the Shema as the description of the divine. It reads, “Hear, O Israel! The L-rd is Our G-d, The L-rd is One!,” (Deut. 6:4). The key aspect of this verse is twofold. First, we have a relationship with the deity hence the description of the deity as “our,” and, second, this deity is one.
Oneness used to imply that no other deities count, and perhaps also that no other deities literally exist. For example, if one were to read the Torah, one would understand the deity differently. On the one hand, the deity is one of many possible deities one could worship. On the other, it is quite clear that no matter what the deity is called, there is one specific deity that chose to help the Israelites. In the Torah, the divine is always referred to as he, using only masculine pronouns for the deity. In addition, he is often called king, lord, and master. G-d is depicted as powerful, wrathful, jealous, and even scary. Continue reading “Monotheism and the Shema: Lessons on Oneness and Unity by Ivy Helman”