As more advances are made in struggles against discrimination and gender-based harassment, many turn their gaze towards traditions of spirituality and assume, since the ancient traditions look backwards in time, instead of forwards, that men have an unfair advantage in a system of enlightenment from antiquity.
When it comes to Kabbalah, although its study has certainly been dominated by men, women are not precluded. A glance at the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings indicates clearly that women have the ability to climb to the top of the ladder of spirituality in this system.
At the very top is the status of being a prophet/prophetess. This is the pinnacle of achievement for anyone in pursuit of greater holiness, and women are well represented there. In fact the prophets mentioned in the holy writings number 48 to 7 men to women, which considering the circumstances is a very significant number of women. (Many more prophetesses and prophets who lived during those times were not mentioned because they didn’t have a prophecy that was needed for future generations.)
Our tradition states that true prophecy has not existed since Temple times (2000 years ago), and therefore the highest level of spiritual achievement for men and women is called Divine Inspiration. Gender does not inhibit your ability to become holy. Spirituality runs deeper than your personal philosophy of life, country of origin, etc. and therefore anyone can access truth if they so desire. Spiritual blemishes like lying, stealing, and other acts of immorality can make it difficult to access spiritual truth, but not impossible. And as you can see, www.kabbalahmadeeasy.com is open to anyone who wants to log on. While some articles require a basic knowledge of Judaism, most articles are understandable even to readers without any background.
Do men and women have different souls?
The concept of male and female is deeper than most people realize. Our physical existence is an expression of a spiritual reality. Just as there are males and females in the physical world, so too in the spiritual world there is such a thing as male and female, but on a spiritual level. Some of the metaphors in the Bible allude to this. God, though obviously genderless and infinite, is often referred to as “He”, and humanity or Israel is called “she”. This is because the nature of our relationship to God is, from one standpoint, one of giving and receiving. God gives and we receive. We are the recipient of His beneficence and boundless love. We can’t give to an Infinite Being. Yet “He” tells us that “His” desire is to give to us, so the more we allow “Him” to give, by doing “His” will, the more we are giving, so to speak, to “Him”.
There are, of course, many references to female attributes of God, the primary one being the “shechinah”, God’s presence. Those familiar with Hebrew recognize when the various names of God or the holy attributes are in a feminine form or a masculine form. These two forces, male and female are found throughout the universe and therefore nouns in Hebrew will almost always take either a masculine or a feminine form. (Though not our topic at the moment, we see similarities to the eastern philosophy of Yin and Yang)
Women who want to access their true inheritance of spirituality would do well not to look at the superficialities like wearing a kippah, tallis, or tefillin. These are outward displays of spirituality, and women are more sensitive to, and can achieve more through, the inner core. Women have the right and the ability to access the highest realm of spirituality there is, as it says in the book of teachings by Elijah the Prophet, “I testify before the heavens and the earth, whether someone is Jewish or not, man or woman, slave or maidservant, everything is dependent upon deed. That’s what causes Divine Inspiration to rest on someone.” Elijah then goes on to say that Devorah made wicks and had her husband bring them to the temple. That act was the catalyst that caused her spiritual growth into a prophetess.
Our spiritual potential is waiting to be accessed. Find your spiritual core and take advantage of your abilities. The sky’s the limit.