This Week’s Featured Article
By Yitzhak Aharon
One can identify polar attitudes regarding sexuality in Judaism. On one hand, there are clear recommendations and instructions to maintain a celibate life, because sexuality could hinder spiritual ascent and religious work. On the other hand, the Kabbalah includes claims that understanding and implementing sexuality is the key to divine knowledge.
There is also so much discussion of sexual symbols in the Kabbalah that one might say that it mostly deals with sex. Of course this does not only mean sex in the physical sense, but the entirety of aspects which represent a dynamic flow between opposing forces, male and female, whose merge creates acceptance and harmony.
Sex is coded in the Kabbalah
The “Zohar” teaches us that the real marriage is that of the righteous man with the “shechina”, the divine spirit, which is the feminine part of creation, God’s female partner. Therefore, the main work of true Kabbalah scholars is to make matches; meaning, to recognize and connect the male and female forces acting in creation, and emphasizing the characteristics typical to each of them.
This matter requires intensive and comprehensive observation at the wisdom of Kabbalah, but because the topic of sexuality is controversial and complex, it appears in the Kabbalah in very high language, and in codes and symbols that cannot be understood by strangers.
Due to this, the analysis of these issues is sometimes inaccurate, and the information available to the public is usually simplified statements limiting human sexuality, and in line with general religious morality.
Match means knowledge
In the Kabbalah, maleness is represented by the shapes of a line, and femaleness by the circular shape. The male, “zachar” is derived from the word “zicaron”, meaning “memory”, and it breaks a path into the female circle, releasing it from its eternal path and exposing it to the outside world.
The female circle is the fullness of everything and the essence of wholeness; it is the divine spirit and the immense energy of love itself and the creation of life. But when it is not matched with the male it remains captive in its eternity, full of emptiness.
The wholeness of the match is seen by the basic count, one of ten sefirot in the Kabbalah, which includes the male and female genitalia. The wisdom sefira (“hochma”) is attributed to the masculine side, while the intelligence count (“bina”) belongs to the female side. Combining the male wisdom and the female intelligence gives us awareness.
Awareness is the result of the combination and indicates the spiritual and physical match between man and woman as mentioned in Genesis: “And the man knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain...” (Genesis 4, 1).
Of course the above does not refer solely to physical sexuality, because a match can be created on many different levels. But the opening to all of them is the recognition of the male and female flow in nature, through which a full intimate relations can be experienced in a wide variety of areas.
I will emphasize that intimate relations without love is like a body with no soul. Love is not merely a romantic interest, but it is the most significant condition for the existence of spiritual work which leads to a couple’s growth and evolvement.
Love is opening the heart to devotion and complete giving to the other, to recognizing limitations and broadening the barriers of the “self” until it includes the two in oneness, like a single body.
This is presented with blessings by Yitzhak Aharon, a writer and speaker about the secrets of Kabbalah, the head of “Hochma” center, the Israeli center for Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism.