LILITH—A BLESSING FOR THE WORLD
Ohad Ezrahi / April, 2010
Translated by Yair Ohr
Men and women alike need to know how to respect her and how to give her a place within themselves: Lilith—the awesome, untamed, feminine sexual energy. If we do not give her place, she will strike us harshly: she will destroy our intimate relations and poison us from the inside. But if we learn how to give her place and to work with her using appropriate skills, she will be transformed into blessed energy, to a power that blesses us as women and as men, that blesses our intimate relations with stability and perpetual freshness, with juiciness and with razor-sharp clarity.
In the Jewish mythical tradition, the Midrash and the Kabbalah, relates that Eve was not the first woman to be created. Eve was in fact the second woman, who was created only after the first woman—Lilith—got into an argument with Adam and fled from the Garden of Eden.
Eve and Lilith are of different natures: Eve is the family woman. She is the mother. Her love is to bring children into the world and to raise them, to cook for them and to be a “housewife.” She accepts the social hierarchy in which the male dominates society, and she functions within that system. She allows for the financial, social, sexual and intellectual superiority of the male, supporting the existing social order.
Lilith, on the other hand, rebels against this “superior order.” From the day of her creation, Lilith perceives herself as an independent woman who will not accept the dominating male authority. She is not willing to accept male superiority in any sphere—not in the workplace, social interactions, academia, or sexual relations. She demands freedom for herself, and even if it will cost her heavily, she is willing to pay the price.
NOT JUST A FEMINIST
However, we should not make the mistake of perceiving in Lilith the simplistic image of a feminist woman. While feminism has neutralized women’s femininity in order to make them equal with men (see Femophobia – How Women Have Become Men, by Tovi Browning), Lilith is a specifically feminine energy. Lilith is not afraid of the power of her female eroticism, and does not deny her outbursting of femininity.
In several places throughout the Kabbalistic texts of the Ari it is stated that each woman possesses both of these aspects: within every woman there is both an Eve and a Lilith. However, our society is built in such a way that its members are generally unable to deal with a woman who expresses both of these aspects.
Our society is structured so that each woman must choose between being an “Eve” or a “Lilith.” By causing this split, our society brings untold suffering upon women and their mates. (The many Kabbalistic sources of Lilith’s spiritual roots, spread throughout the prolific literature of the Ari, are collected and analyzed in my book, Who’s Afraid of Lilith? [Hebrew] Modan 2004.)
Based upon ideas already found in the Zohar, the Ari develops the approach that sees in Lilith a very spiritually sublime aspect of femininity, even higher than that of Eve. The ideal, though, according to the Ari, is the integration of both of these aspects anew, into one single feminine image that can fearlessly be either Eve or Lilith.
So that this may happen, women must go through an inner transformation, befriending anew the power of Lilith within themselves, a power that generally speaking they have long ago suppressed into some forgotten corner in order to survive in a socially acceptable way. But women cannot accomplish this transformation on their own. Both sexes are responsible for the creation of a society and its proper functioning. Men must also go through a transformation in order for Lilith to return to live and breathe comfortably among us.
MEN ARE AFRAID OF LILITH
Men feel threatened by Lilith. She threatens their position of power and their self-confidence. But we must understand the male paradox regarding Lilith: specifically because Lilith does not accept male domination nor suppress her wild sexuality from bursting forth as does Eve, she poses an erotic seduction that is very difficult for men to withstand. Men yearn for a woman like Lilith, a woman who is able to express the fullness of her unbridled passions, who is willing to be a sexual creature, to be active in bed, to be a woman who derives great pleasure from sexuality and is not one bit ashamed of it, who is able to be both gross and refined, both sensual and seductive, a woman who is able to be both transparent and mysterious simultaneously. Men yearn in the depths of their hearts for such a woman, who does not lecture them about morals, who does not have “headaches,” who does not all of a sudden need to prepare a child’s sandwich for school… They yearn for a free and liberated woman who can tear them apart with her unbridled passions while never allowing herself to become taken for granted. Lilith is thus the object of male passion, of sexual fantasy, a never-ending adventure for men. But at the same time, she is also a threat for their orderly world. For this reason, “normal” men are very afraid of such a woman.
The Zohar states that both Adam and Jacob were afraid of Lilith’s power, which is why they perceived her in a negative way. But this was only on account of their own smaller statures compared to her, and not because she actually was like that. And in fact—she is at a very high level. Perhaps even too high.
For this reason, a man usually decides to suppress his passions, to denigrate Lilith and to besmirch “women like that.” He may occasionally falter, and then he seeks her out discretely. He will find her in the prostitute, in the courtesan, in the secret lover, in the dark romance, in the Internet pornography. She will seduce him in dreams and fantasies; she will be his femme fatale. Afterwards, he will lash out at himself (and at her), and endeavor to establish a society “without such disgraceful phenomena.” He will decry her, “Abomination!”
THE PARADOX OF LILITH’S SOUL
The problem with the “Lilith type” is that she too is aware of these social codes. She too grew up in a fearful male society, and though she rebelled against those “ethics,” she still integrated them into herself and assesses herself by their measure. This is the paradox of Lilith herself: on the one hand, she rebels against the society that wants to suppress her, while on the other hand she integrates the standards of that society and judges herself accordingly. Lilith has a negative opinion of herself. She sees herself as a criminal, as a, “bad girl,” as a disgraceful phenomenon.
Even the ancient Midrashic myth tells of Lilith integrating this terrible image of herself, thus transforming into a demon.
RECTIFYING THE DEMON
And this is exactly the point in need of great rectification: Lilith, whose spiritual root is so exalted, has been transformed in our society into a demon, causing great suffering to men and women alike. Many families fall victim to the incitation of the demon Lilith without even being aware of it. Any couple that separates on account of “betrayal” has essentially fallen victim to the seductive teasing of Lilith. Whoever secretly masturbates in front of the computer screen, with passion accompanied by guilt and shame, hoping to not be discovered, has fallen into Lilith’s trap. Lilith is a very active demon to this very day.
My understanding of a “demon” is any obsessive/compulsive and mindless drive in the human soul that manipulates it as if it were a choiceless creature. The Kabbalah speaks about the addition of the letter Yud to the Shin and Dalet letters of the word SheD (demon), which transform it into the holy name of Shin Dalet Yud—ShaDaY. The letter Yud represents the enlightenment and sanctification of consciousness.
Is it possible to add enlightenment and consciousness to the Lilith energy so that she will cease being an obsessive/compulsive demon and reveal her true strengths within our society and within our intimate relations? I do believe so. It is not easy, it is not simple, and not everyone is ready for it, but it is possible, and even desirable. As I have already pointed out in my book, Who’s Afraid of Lilith, it is quite surprising to find that the Ari pointed to just such a rectification as the goal of the entire Torah on earth!
THE PROCESS OF RECTIFICATION
In order to know how to contain Lilith’s energy, men and women alike need to do some heavy duty spiritual work. Men need to, “connect with the holy spark in Esau,” as it is called in Chassidic thought, and to be willing to live on the edge. Not to insist to walk only on “safe ground.” This is a decision at a very deep level to surrender control, yet to remain fully alert, for Lilith will not let you get by without full alertness. If you try to control—she will rebel. But if you surrender control in a way that turns you into a wet rag, she will immediately chop your head off!
Lilith can become a great spiritual teacher for man, sustaining him in a state of clarity, strength, and uncompromised alertness. She will not allow him to fall asleep on her watch. But she requires a man at a high level. Men of low stature are unable to contain her.
And what do women need to do? They simply need to allow her to come forth from within. To allow the wild woman that exists within them to come out and wrestle with life. She may arise from some soul-basement full of anger. But that’s OK. We would be mistaken to judge Lilith as a sour and angry creature because of that. After thousands of years of her being suppressed, yes—she is quite angry! But this will pass if we show her love. When a woman allows her inner Lilith to come forth, and begins a process of self-reassessment together with a weaning from guilt and self-affliction, she is able to harness the power of her inner Lilith to the light of love. Then, her love only increases. Then, she is able to shower a razor-sharp and uncompromising love that is as refreshing as it is filled with passion.
THE RECTIFIED LILITH AS A BLESSING FOR THE WORLD
A woman who is able to rectify her inner Lilith and integrate it with her Eve becomes a great blessing for the world. She becomes a source of inspiration, of light, and of powerful love. Lilith’s love does not come only in appealing pastel colors. The dark colors of life—black and deep red, for instance—become filled with power and beauty on her account. Men who are able to contain a rectified Lilith are very rare at present. But when such a man appears, he allows for many women to reveal their fullness in his presence, and the circle of rectification continually grows.
The work of rectifying Lilith is an integral part of the processes we lead in “The Garden—A School for Love and Kabbalah.” These processes allow singles and couples to live their love lives in full, without fear or shame, secrecy or suppression. In our opinion, this is a necessary healing for mankind, in which the percentages of betrayals and divorces are so high that one must be blind not to see that something in our “normal” family model of Adam and Eve—of a child, a lawn, and a dog—is simply not working.