As we spoke in previous articles, women have often been in the
backstage for the development of history. And, despite having huge
influence over the affairs of mainkind, their accomplishments have
often gone unnoticed. Let’s try to rectify that a little in this article.
Here we will explore a new facet of these wonderful feats of
women in the Tanach, obviously from a Kabbalistic perspective!
Before we go on, let’s explore a few more ideas from Kabbalah.
The Arizal explains that before all sustenance reaches the physical
world, it has to traverse through all the spiritual systems above. Each
one takes it share, and whatever is left is distributed according to
each person’s need.
The Spiritual System of Creation
Each of the 4 worlds Atzilut, Beriyah, Yetzirah and Assiyah
have 5 spiritual systems (or engines) within them that need to be
rectified. This can happen at every instant, Mitzvah, or over a period
of time like the system of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and
Shmini Atzeret. What we do in 22 days is a macrocosm of what we do
in the daily Tefilah. When we fix a certain system, then Light flows
down and the bottom-most system is what is called the Shechina (or
the Sephira of Malkhut).
The Shechina is responsible for receiving the Light from the
upper systems and bringing it down to the next world. In fact, the
complaining and diminishing of the moon is explained on a deeper
level to be associated with the fact that the Shechina has to go to the
world below it and sustain it. That was part of Hashem’s order of “Go
and diminish yourself”.
There are occasions in which the Shechina goes up to be
replenished and then comes back down to “bring food to her house
and laws to her maidens” (as we read in the Eshet Chayil song).
In essence, the Shechina is everything, and while it’s called
Hashem’s immanent presence in Creation, it is a female aspect of His
Divine Providence. The male counterpart is called Ze’ir Anpin (“small
face” in Aramaic), and is Hashem’s transcendent part of the Divine
Providence. Basically, what we are doing with our Torah, Mitzvot and
Tefillot is getting these manifestations to be rectified and united.
So, whatever we have is, first and foremost a product of how
much light the Shechina receives from above. This can be wisdom,
health, wealth, protection, victory over enemies and even prophecy.
Why miss out on the Secrets of Torah?
The Zohar laments when people see the Torah only according
to its literal meaning and uses very stern language to describe their
limited understanding. As it turns out, each of the women in the Bible
represent a facet of the Shechina and their lives needs to be carefully
analysed in order to see the fascinating works of Hashem’s
The story of Purim is probably the best example. Esther
assumes the main role of saving the Jewish People by placing her life
no the line. In the beginning of the Megillat Esther, Haman
“prophetically” said “Yeshno Am Echad Mefuzar” (there’s one people
scattered) to convince king Achashverosh of his plan. The Arizal
interprets the word Yeshno (there is) as Yoshen (asleep), since both
words have the same letters. In Sha’ar HaKavanot Rabbi Chaim Vital
explains that Haman, as a big astrologer, knew Ze’ir Anpin was
“asleep” as it were. The Mochin (flow of Divine consciousness) hadn’t
descended yet to wake it up and this is what happens when we are all
asleep. This happened in the macrocosmical system of 70 years of
exile and it was a necessary step to building up the
Malkhut/Shechina, exactly as it was in the story of Purim! Esther
took the lead, while Mordechai was in the backstage, building himself
and the people up, until he finally emerged and, as the verse says
“went out from the presence of the king, clothed with a royal robe,
and a great golden crown”. This moment, which we revisit every
year, spelled out the culmination of the saving of the Jewish people
when we received a tremendous Light that was hidden and is only
available on Purim.
Women saving the day
And this is a situation that often happens in the course of
mankind and Jewish family. The Talmud in Tractate Sanhedrin
praises On ben Pelet’s wife for having saved her husband from
joining Korach’s rebellion. When her husband was “asleep” about life,
she took the lead by saying “What do you gain by joining Korach? If
he wins, you will still be an underling, and if he loses, you will also be
an underling!”. So she fed him and made him drunk so he’d sleep
until late and miss the action. She also “sacrificed” part of her
modesty when Korach’s comrades came to get On, by showing her
hair at the entrance of her tent and warding them off. The same
happened to Yael, who ended up killing Sisera by bringing her into
her tent with a spike. It was also the Shechina that meted out punishment against the Egyptians, Syrian Greeks and all other enemies of the Jewish People.
The prophets (Yeshaya 30:26) tell us that in the future, “the
light of the moon will be like the light of the sun”. This means that the
Shechina will shine like its male counterpart the transcendent Divine
Providence and an abundance of Light will flow down freely to “cover
the face of the earth like the sea”.
While the moon / Shechina / women need to go down from its
original splendor, we can only appreciate their efforts to sustain
creation and pray that their crown will be restored for eternity,
speedily in our days.
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!