Recently, at the Shabbat table, my husband asked the children what gifts in their lives make them feel loved by God. It was an interesting question and produced answers from the children which were particularly illuminating for us as parents to hear. But the question also got me thinking and helped me articulate one of the greatest gifts in my life: the gift of insight and understanding.
Often, in the writing of my new book, Circle, Arrow, Spiral, Exploring Gender in Judaism, I felt as if I was piecing together a gigantic puzzle. Sometimes I would reach a dead end or be left with something that seemed to contradict the essence of what I was groping towards. And then I would learn an idea or hear an insight and feel the tangible thrill that meant another piece of the puzzle was falling into place. There was a feeling of delight each time I came across a piece that fit—a feeling of moving towards a goal, a progression. I felt as if a beautiful tapestry was forming in front of my eyes, with ramifications much deeper than the social issue I had started out with.
Of course, the puzzle is not complete—nor can it be—in this world of limited vision. It was a conscious decision that almost didn’t get made to accept that fact—and still to present these fragments, which only hint to the ultimate joy of wholeness we pray for. There were times that I felt that since I couldn’t have it all, maybe the parts that I did have weren’t worth it. But in the end, it was the joy I experienced in the discovering that convinced me. Shefa—abundance—always seeks to express itself outwards, and in this case, this book begged to be written.
Another thing that gave me the confidence to push through with this—a project of many years—is that, although I am not a learned person, I palpably felt that God was guiding me on this journey of understanding, unearthing gold mine after gold mine, surprising me and delighting me—often when I felt that I had reached an impasse.
In a sense, my discovery of this material is an apt metaphor for the topic of this book. The more the issue bothered me, the more I yearned and looked for the answers, the more I emptied myself out of preconceived ideas and opened myself up to new ones, like the woman in I Kings, who had to prepare the empty vessels to receive the oil—the more startling and deeper the concepts I found.
I thank the Master of the Universe for granting me this corner of light.
To read more about the book, click here.