by Melanie Gruenwald
This summer, I created and facilitated a course called Isha al Achota, As a Woman Faces her Sister. It has been a wonderful process of discovery– exploring primary texts and contemporary voices, which bring alive the spirit and the energy of women in our tradition.
I am particularly struck by Rabbi Tirzah Firestone’s book, The Receiving: Reclaiming Jewish Women’s Wisdom. She offers a new approach to the Tree of Life/ Sefirot, in her sharing the story of Malka of Belz.
At Kabbalah Experience, we generally teach Yesod as it is translated—as a foundation. Yesod is the foundation of our tree of life, keeping it standing upright as we weather storms. It is the base of the energy, just above Malchut. I explain it as the birth canal, the channel before manifestation actually occurs, or as the kiss between Tiferet and Malchut, where the manifestation is becoming.
Rabbi Firestone takes this one step further- She teaches Yesod as a place of creativity for women, “the very foundation of our being, for which women is often doomed to invisibility, for its very nature demands surrender. It is at Yesod that we begin to understand the spiritual conundrum of why women have remained hidden in the shadows for such a long time.
She explains that for women, Yesod is the center of our “creative and procreative energies.” Yesod is connected to the womb.
For me, creativity is a process of birthing. Sometimes I feel what I’m birthing is worthwhile, sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed. Bringing my ‘full self’ out on the dance floor, is just as vulnerable as posting my soul in a blog post. At my age, I’ve learned to embrace the awkwardness and share that light. Most of the time.
“Whether is it the urge to bring new life into the world in the form of a flesh-and-blood child, or a piece of music and writing, medical research, or community service, women know in their cells and organs the work of creating, of inward carrying, giving over everything, and stretching to the point of disfiguring themselves to nurture a creation and bring it to life.” (R. Tirzah Firestone)
My child-bearing days are behind me, but I still feel there is something to birth, to bring to life. I’ve often considered writing a book- but didn’t feel I have enough commitment, vision, or time. My motivation isn’t what it used to be, to manifest anything, really. Are these merely excuses? Is it time to recover my inner artist—as I’ve read about in The Artists Way?
“The feminine approach to Yesod demands that we, like Tamar, be endlessly creative. To connect with Yesod, we must listen to our creative urges take risks, and cultivate our belly as a center of deep knowing.” (R. Tirzah Firestone)
Birthing classes and blog posts are part of this process. Nurturing an organization and community I care deeply about are additional aspects of manifesting creativity. Maybe this is the year of leaning into Yesod– taking risks and cultivating that fire in my belly.
I’m curious– How will you lean into your creativity through Yesod this year?