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Reconciliation
by Melissa Oringer
(c) Melissa Oringer, 1998-2000, All rights reserved

The Jewish deity is all-pervasive, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipotent, invisible, inscrutable, ineffable, incomprehensible, inconceivable.  It is beyond gender, beyond time.  It is my theory that the Jewish laws against idolatry are because to personify this force diminishes it by leading to anthropomorphization, creating a "personality" to whom the description "benign dictator" only touches the surface.

The Hebrew language assigns every word, noun, verb or adjective a gender.  Because of this, this vast force became God, Lord of Hosts, Man of War, King, Master of the Universe, Our Father in Heaven - the divine Masculine.  And because this God was also all-pervasive, all-knowing, all-powerful, omnipotent, invisible, inscrutable, ineffable, incomprehensible, and inconceivable, any other God or Goddess must therefore be false and an evil thing at war with His rulership.

Yet, human nature demands a divine Mother.  In "The Hebrew Goddess", Raphael Patai traces the thread the divine Feminine has maintained in the long history of Judaism.  In his book, he endeavors to show that the Goddess, be She Ashera, Astarte, Anath, Shekhina, Matronit or Shabbat, lives in the life of every Jew.

The other key reason that I can be both Jewish and Wiccan is in the lack of a single ruling body, or a Jewish "church".  To quote Patai ("The Hebrew Goddess", (c) 1978, pp. 26-27):

    "In contrast to the Roman Catholic faith with its single body, the Church, Judaism has never developed a monolithic structure which could super-impose its authority upon all Jewish communities in the many lands of their diaspora.  Local variations exist, ...yet there is only one Catholic faith, one doctrine and one practice, which unites believers throughout the world...

    "No such unity exists in Judaism, nor has it ever existed, with the possible exception of a brief period when the Great Sanhedrin exercised central authority in Jerusalem.  Prior to that time and after it to this day, Jewish doctrine and practice, although derived from one ultimate source, the Bible, differed from place to place, because, lacking a coordinating and sanctifying central authority, their precise formulation was left to local religious leadership...

    "Differences in doctrine among Christians led to schism.  Among Jews, they led to heterodox groupings without secession, because there was no organized religious body from which to secede or which might have cut off the offending limb.  There was, to be sure, disapproval of the views and conduct of groups other than one's own, there were even arguments and conflicts; but however erroneous the ways of others appeared, such errors were never considered serious enough to warrant a formal break.  Jewish history contains examples of excommunication of individuals because of apostasy -- Uriel Acosta's case comes readily to mind -- but no body of religious leaders ever used the weapon of the herem ("ban") against any Jewish group...

    "A case in point is the situation that developed in the 18th and 19th centuries when the Jews of Eastern Europe became sharply divided into Hasidm (roughly, Mystics) and Mitnagdim (Opponents).  The antagonism between the two groups increased to such a degree that intermarriage between them was completely out of the question.  Yet, at no point during the great struggle, did any Hasidic or Mitnagdic leader go so far as to cast a doubt upon the Judaism of the opposing group."

Because of this history, and my heritage as a Jew, when I incorporate the Goddess into my life I do not relinquish my claim to Judaism.

In my mind, the only way to access that incredible, genderless force is as a Wiccan.  Wicca, in my perspective, is unique in that it recognizes that unknowable force, then accesses it through the first logical division of gender.  Wicca recognizes a God and a Goddess, each total unto itself, and together becoming the whole that is more than its parts.

Further, as a Wiccan Priestess, I may interact more specifically with the God or Goddess by accessing one of the many named deities mythologized throughout human history.  In my experience, the older the deity, the more primordial its nature, the more recent the deity, the more human in nature.  By that I mean the creations of human civilization:  war, justice, architecture, crafts, marriage, etc.  All of them carry the tangible link that ties them to the divine Feminine and Masculine, and through that, to the infinite source of my ancestors.

Blessings,
-M

(c) Melissa Oringer, 1998-2000, All rights reserved


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All content herein copyright 1998-2004
Melissa Oringer, all rights reserved