Describing

posted in: AskRabbiMax | 0

Question:

Dear Rabbi Max,
Kabbalistically is it wrong to refer to God using human descriptions such as he/she, him/her, himself/herself, etc. In some synagogues God is referred to in genderless ways. Why do you continue to ascribe human-male to God? Is there a reason for this?

Carol

Answer:

Dear Carol,

Kabbalistically and non kabbalistically, there is nothing wrong with using these pronouns for God if you realize that he is non-corporeal and genderless. If you think of God in any gender specific way, it is akin to idolatry and forbidden in Jewish law.

The use of He is the common way of referring to God. In English, a case could be made for using “it” but Hebrew does not have that word. Everything in Hebrew is either male or female. A table is a feminine noun, even though we know it has no gender. The reason for this is a kabbalistic principle that God created two forces in the universe, male and female, and everything that exists falls mainly into one of those categories even if it also has attributes of the other. God has many female attributes and when referring to them we use the pronoun She. The most common one is called the “Shechina”‘

How does Judaism define what is termed male and what is termed female? There is a give and take between everything in existence. Some things are more ostensibly related to giving and therefore “male”. Those that are more related to receiving are termed “female”‘ In the primary relationship between God and man, God is the giver and therefore “male”, and mankind is the receiver and therefore “female” That is why God is usually referred to as He..
Rabbi Max Weiman