To my delight, I found the work of two contemporary rabbis who were intrigued by Luria’s view of Lilith, and took it upon themselves to elaborate on the theme, and demonstrate how the process of Tikkun is about embracing one’s darker self and sanctifying it. As the two show, the figure of Lilith served patriarchal culture to repress and demonize what it considered the “dark” side of women, out of fear of free, erotic femininity.
To accept Leah, Jacob will have to go trough personal transformation and grapple with the erotic, animalistic aspect of his own self, as manifested by his wild twin brother, Esau. Only when Jacob will embrace his own “dark self” will he be able to see the holy side of Leah, his rejected wife.
The two rabbis explain that Tikkun would embrace these aspects and respect them as the integral part of a woman’s spirituality, and not its fiendish opposition.
It turns out that grappling with the figure of Lilith does have its price, especially, so it seems, for pious men.
Unfortunately, one of these two rabbis was accused of sexual harassment, and as his co-writer has noted, he has failed to embrace his own progressive ideas regarding the feminine.
It is fascinating to learn about the figure of Lilith and witness how men grapple with her and with womanhood generally. Myself, I see no need of redemption, at least not on account of my gender.
As I am going away for three weeks, I’ll send my next posts from Rome and Israel.
Meanwhile, Happy Holidays!