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Part One on the Kabbala of Femininity

Malchut and the Feminine - Part 1

Malchut and the Feminine - Part 1

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Malchut and the Feminine - Part 1
Part One on the Kabbala of Femininity

Malchut, portrayed by the hei of Havayah, represents the feminine sphere that is directed inward. In contrast, the six emotive sefirot, or the vav of Havayah, represent the six outward modes of direction in a three dimensional world of north-south, east-west, up-down and represent the masculine modes of extension. As such, these six sefirot also represent the six days of the creation and the six days of the week, excluding the feminine day of Shabbat.

Malchut, the last sefira that manifests itself in this world, represents the feminine, harmonious Shabbat. Unlike the six sefirot whose direction is outward, it represents the internal, inner mode. It is the axis or focal point at the center of the six directions. Malchut and the feminine represent the state of being…

While the masculine quality is characterized by a flurry of activity, malchut and the feminine represent the state of being.

As the six days of the week represent the six emotive, masculine sefirot, the Shabbat represents malchut (Sefer Yetzira 1:5). Internal, inner-bound, it is the center that draws all six points together. The Shabbat, representing the feminine malchut, is appropriately called Shabbat Hamalka, the Shabbat Queen.

During the six days of the week we are busy doing and accomplishing, but on Shabbat we channel and direct the blessing into all our activities. The feminine Shabbat is, thus, the unifying and harmonizing force that absorbs spirituality from the six masculine days of the week.

[Note: See for example Igeret Hakodesh, ch. 26, where it is explained that on Shabbat it is a duty to eat "all delightful things" and to consume meat and wine (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 250:2) since the Kelipat Noga itself is elevated along with the chitzoniyut of all the worlds.]

On Shabbat, we are no longer in a state of activity of creation, but in a state of rest, absorbing and directing the blessing from the whole week. For this reason, Shabbat is called the "source of all blessing," causing the flow of blessing to suffuse all our spiritual and material needs from the past as well as the coming week.

So, too, in our physical world, a woman, as the representation of malchut, is the source of blessing for her home and her family. In her merit material and spiritual beneficence is drawn down for her family. Just like the feminine Shabbat, she directs and harmonizes blessing into her environment. As our sages note, "Blessing only comes to a man's household for the sake of his wife." (Baba Metzia 59a) Man does, while woman is

Furthermore, man accomplishes his mission through his various activities. Woman, on the other hand, is in a state of being. Man does, while woman is. And, like the sefira of malchut, through her being, woman directs the flow of divine light into her world.

Malchut as the Feminine Womb

In Kabbalistic terminology the human body is used as a paradigm to depict the functions of each of the sefirot. (See Gen. 1:27 where man's creation is described as "in the image of G‑d.") For example, chesed, gratuitous and unlimited benevolence, is depicted by the right hand, while the left hand depicts gevura, severity or restraint. Malchut is likened to the female womb.

Malchut exerts no influence of its own, per se, since it is the last and "lowest" of the ten Sefirot, which "has nothing of its own other than what the other sefirot pour into it." (Etz Chaim 6:5, 8:5) Malchut receives the light of all the other sefirot and channels and directs a united light into the world, harmonizing all of the diverse attributes of the other sefirot within it and projecting the sefirot downward into creation. Malchut has no unique, individual characteristic so that it may encompass all the sefirot within it to project a more balanced light into the world…

Malchut, then, is the connecting link. The divine emanations and attributes are forged together to project a focused light into our functional world.

Accordingly, malchut cannot have any characteristic or definition of its own in order to enable it to unify and project the other lights downward into our world. Would it possess its own characteristics, they would inhibit the processing of other characteristics. For example, the characteristic of severity is antagonistic to, and thus precludes, the characteristic of mercy. Therefore, malchut has no unique, individual characteristic so that it may encompass all the sefirot within it to project a more balanced light into the world.

Nevertheless, malchut is the very instrument through which the entire creative plan comes into being. Therefore "nothing occurs among the lower beings unless it be through malchut," (Tikunei Zohar 19:40b and Zohar Chadash, 11a) which is referred to as the "architect through which the whole creation was made." (Pardes Rimonim 11:2)

The womb, too, is the feminine open, empty vessel that receives the masculine seminal flow. But in addition to receiving, it nurtures, develops and completes something much greater. The seminal potential becomes a viable life-force only through the openness, care, nurturance, love and development from its initial conception in the mother's womb. The king is the personification of humility, constantly aware of his nothingness in the presence of the true King of Kings…

Similarly, this innate receptiveness, even to the point of emptiness, is personified by the two-fold role of malchut, royalty, and specifically a "melech", a Jewish monarch. On the one hand, the king is the embodiment of grandeur and achievement, widely respected and honored. On the other hand, the king is the personification of humility, constantly aware of his nothingness in the presence of the true King of Kings. In this way, the king opened himself up to the divine influx, which he would share, in turn with others.

For this reason, King David, the personification of human royalty describes himself as "poor and needy". Even though King David hailed from the wealthiest and most distinguished families of Judah, nevertheless, he considered himself poor. Just as a pauper has nothing of his own, but relies on the generosity of others, so, too, King David realized that his whole grandeur was truly an undeserved gift from his Creator.

The Jewish concept of monarchy, then, is one where a king's entire essence, definition and grandeur is predicated upon his acting as a representative of his Creator.

The honor of the king's daughter is from within. (Psalms 45:14) Women are considered…daughters of royalty…

For this reason, women are considered "bat melech", daughters of royalty whose entire source of honor, definition or praise is her quintessential inwardness. Due to her predisposition to receiving, there is no strongly expressed, outwardly directed sense of self to block or interfere with her receiving, and then directing, this light into her environment. As such, malchut is also compared to the moon, which emanates no light of its own, but rather reflects the light of the sun.

Interestingly, women have been likened to the moon in many ways. In one metaphor, just as the moon waxes and wanes each month, a woman, physiologically, undergoes a monthly cycle of rebirth and rejuvenation as her body renews its capability for receiving and housing potential life. Furthermore, Rosh Chodesh, the monthly mini-holiday celebrating the sighting of the new moon, and commemorating the beginning of a new Jewish month, is a holiday entrusted to, and celebrated specifically by, Jewish women.

The Jewish People, or G‑d's collective, cosmic bride, also have been metaphorically compared to the moon because of their continual experience of highs and lows, revelations and suppressions in their receiving the flow of divine light.

"An extra measure of understanding [bina] was endowed to women." (Nida 45:2) A woman, as the physical representation of Malchut, is thus more inclined to receiving a greater measure of understanding and intuition. Since her perception is not impeded or tainted by a particular distinctive spiritual characteristic, her intuitive understanding provides a balanced and focused perspective in life.

Physiologically woman develops and expands the seminal flash, bringing it from its potential into actual being. Spiritually, too, a woman nurtures the illumination of spirituality from its external, outward approach, directing it inward into her home and environment.

This article is continued in Part 2.

Chana Weisberg is the editor of TheJewishWoman.org. She lectures internationally on issues relating to women, relationships, meaning, self-esteem and the Jewish soul. She is the author of five popular books.
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Discussion (2)
June 5, 2013
Thank you for this teaching
Scott
November 17, 2012
Blessings to you, Dame Chana Weinberg, for presenting for Jewish women food for thought to grow spiritually closer in being. -ein(e) Noahide
Anonymous
Winnipegish Canada, --Please Select--
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