Loving with the Feminine part of your soul:
Lessons from the Mishkan
Ed Yisroel Susskind, Ph.D., Monsey, NY
Kabbalah and Chassidism advise that we need to draw on the Feminine side of our souls when connecting to Hashem, to our spouses, and to people in general. This instruction is alluded to in this week's
The blueprints for the construction of the Tabernacle ( the "Mishkan") appear twice, in nearly identical form, in the Book of Exodus. The first set of instructions ("the Mosaic instructions") are given by G-D to Moses in this week's parsha. The second set (the Bezalel instructions) are given 3 parshas later by Moses to the architect Bezalel in Parshas Vayakhel .
Both sets of instructions list 4 components that are involved with the act of connecting: (1) the curtains that are sewn to each other ; (2) the curtain's loops that are parallel to each other; (3) the golden clasps used to "join" the curtains to each other; (4) the pegs or tenons that were parallel to each other and that connected the planks to their silver bases .
In the "Bezalel instructions", the Hebrew words used for "to each other" in each of the four instances above is the feminine form of "one to one", that is " akhas el ekhos". There is nothing remarkable about that language, since "one to one" is a simple way to say "one to the other" and the nouns involved ( the curtains, loops and tenons) are all feminine nouns. Bezalel is invested in the practical, literal, concerns of an architect, so his language is simple and literal.
However, what is remarkable is the very different language used for these same statements of "to each other" in the earlier Mosiac instructions . There, a biblically-rare and more flowery-feminine metaphor is used. It states that the various items were attached "one woman to her sister" (in Hebrew, "isha el akhotah" ).
Why did the Mosaic instructions choose to use this unusual feminine metaphor "one woman to her sister" in describing the connected items in the Mishkan?; I would offer a possible interpretation: Moses is not being "practical and literal", but rather he offers a spiritual allusion .
Consider the meaning of the Mishkan. The Mishkan and its components are both literally and metaphorically a vehicle for connectedness. The Mishkan's purpose was to provide a place where Hashem could connect with the Israelites here on Earth, where His presence could dwell amongst us.
At a symbolic level, the use of the feminine metaphor "each woman to her sister" is meant to underscore for us the centrality of the Feminine Force in creating our connectedness to both Hashem, and to people.
The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that when Rationality limits your committing to Hashem, draw on your simple Faith, on answers that you feel in your flesh (me'b'sorri echezeh).
All of our souls ( both those of men and those of women) draw from both the Masculine and Feminine forces of the universe. Men typically have greater access to the Masculine Force and women typically have greater access to the Feminine Force.
When either a man or a woman draws on the Masculine
"Chochmah" , the intellectual result is an intense flash of isolated insight of a single "atom" of knowledge. Metaphorically, Chochmah is like lightning.
In contrast, when men or women draw on Feminine Binah, the product is a broad sense of the connection between a number of pieces of knowledge, creating an intellectual "molecule" rather than an "atom", creating an elaborate theory rather than a single insight. Metaphorically, Binah is like gravity, rather than lightning; it holds things together.
There are serious limitations to basing Connectedness solely on Rational or Intellectual criteria.
Seeing all of the suffering in the world makes it difficult for some people to hold on to their faith in Hashem. What if my intellect says I cannot rationalize the Holocaust with the existence of a loving Hashem? Then, I still have the option to surrender to Him by going beyond my intellect. So I surrender to a deeper awareness of Hashem and I accept that " my computer does not have enough RAM to load the program called "God." Yes, I have an obligation to use my intellect to the fullest to grow close to Him; but ultimately, my connection is not limited by my intellectual capabilities.
If we move from "how we connect to Hashem" to "how we connect to people", we again see the special role of the female force. We know that women, as a group, tend to have more social and emotional connections than do men. When men are intimately connected interpersonally, they are typically drawing on the feminine aspects of their souls. In this vein, we can understand why Torah does not command women to marry ( although Torah strongly advises them to do so) , while Torah absolutely commands men to be married. Men need to be "grounded" in the stabilizing presence of the Female Force. In a good marriage, a wife helps to nurture a man's feminine side. In Torah's view, women do not need to be commanded to marry, because typically they naturally have a stronger urge to connect with a spouse.
Marriage does not always make sense. Our spouse's requests or demands may not always make sense. Nonetheless, I may choose to fulfill a specific "irrational" demand because overall I have faith in the relationship and a beyond-rational loving attachment.
May it be that we welcome the Feminine Force to guide the Masculine in an ultimate sense, as the Lubavitcher Rebbe would often describe in his quoting from Jeremiah (31:21) , that in the Messianic era the Feminine Force will circumscribe the Masculine,
"u'n'kayvoh t'sovev gawver"; and may that be immediately, in the literal sense of the word.
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