Paradox and Women: Key Players in Redemption

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Articles

Our capacity to integrate paradox is one of the most powerful qualities we can develop within ourselves.

Paradox refers to two opposite ideas that are both partly true (and therefore, partly false) and when merged together they result in the whole truth, a truth that is greater than the sum of its parts. We see this idea expressed in our Forefathers. Abraham represents Chesed (loving-kindness; the expansive impulse of unconditional generosity), Isaac represents Gevurah (strength; meters the impulse to give; boundary-making) and Jacob represents Emes (Truth) because his avodah (inner work) was the integration of the opposite traits of both his father and grandfather.

Living according to this higher definition of Truth, a truth that isn’t one-sided but truly captures a holistic understanding of a subject, is the key to setting ourselves free and transforming our lives.

According to Kabbalah, a wise person is defined as someone who can bear paradox. From a Kabbalistic perspective, the difference between a narrow and childish mind versus a mature and expanded mind is distinguished by this ability (Schneider, Sarah Yehudit. You Are What You Hate).

Kabbalah also explains that the avodah (inner work) needed to prepare for Moshiach is to expand our ability to bear paradox. This is because it also expands our consciousness, which allows us to absorb the future lights of Moshiach that are currently shining on our world.

It is these messianic lights that allow us to experience geula in the PRESENT!

Just like we need to open the window shades to receive the lights of the sun, we also need to expand our consciousness to receive the lights of Moshiach.

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Let us consider a practical example.

G-d fearing people are careful not to attribute their success to their own powers; rather they recognize that their success comes from Hashem. As we are warned in Parshas Eikev (8:17), we should never think “Kochi viotem yadi asah li es hachayil hazeh” (My own power and the strength of my own hand has accumulated this wealth for me!).

However, this verse highlights ONE side of a paradox: that all power comes from Hashem.

If we only focus on this single aspect of truth, then we are living according to a half-truth and are deeply disempowered. We need to simply look to the very next verse to appreciate the other side of the paradox: “vizacharta es Hashem Elokecha ki Hu hanosain licha koach laasos chayil” (Remember Hashem your G-d, for it is He who gives you power to make wealth!).

Hashem gives us power!

(Parenthetically, power is different than control. We never have control, only Hashem has control. But we absolutely do have power. Control means controlling the exact results of one’s efforts. Power means influencing reality without dictating the specific results or the specific pathway to achieve one’s goals.)

In Dina Friedman’s Mastery series, she describes the 5 ways that we nourish and strengthen our soul:

  • Learning Torah
  • Doing the Mitzvos
  • Tefillah (prayer)
  • Machshava (good/holy thoughts)
  • Vehalachta Bidrochov (following in Hashem’s ways)

As we can see from number 5, when we emulate the traits of Hashem, we nurture our soul and connect to it.

One of Hashem’s traits is that He is a CREATOR! Therefore, we nourish and connect to our soul by owning our ability to CREATE, which includes the ability to CREATE OUR REALITY, similar to how Hashem creates reality.

So on one side of the Power Paradox we have the following truth: Hashem has full control and is the Source of all power.

On the other side of the Power Paradox we are invited to simultaneously contain another truth: Hashem gives us power and we nourish our soul when we own our creative powers.

We can integrate these two paradoxical ideas with the following understanding:

We have power to create our reality by creating ourselves into a vessel that is capable of receiving shefa (abundance). We create the space for Hashem’s shefa to flow in.

Imagine a small bathtub. How much water can it hold? Not that much, right? What about an Olympic sized pool? It can hold way more! Our power lies in creating ourselves into a LARGE and OPEN vessel, free of leaks and blockages, so that we can hold and contain all the blessings that Hashem WANTS to give us, but He can’t if we’re just a little leaky bathtub.

That’s how we integrate this paradox of power. And the more we step into our G-d given power, the more freedom, abundance, and yeshuos (salvations) we will receive…a true taste of Geula.

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We can now understand more deeply why our Sages say that women are key players in leading the redemption process. As we learned, the key to redemption, Truth, wisdom, and higher consciousness is the ability to integrate paradoxical truths – and the Gift of Integration is a uniquely feminine gift!

Adam was created “Afar min Ha’adamah”, which means that his body was from the earth; then he received “Nishmas Chaim”, a breath of life from Hashem (Genesis 2:7). So Adam was created from earth and heaven mixed together.

Chava, on the other hand, was created from Adam, an already integrated mixture of heaven and earth! 

Therefore, the Masculine gets more stuck in dichotomy, separation, division, an “either/or” mentality. A masculine environment is characterized by competition and hierarchy.

The Feminine, on the other hand, can more easily see past the paradox and understand that it’s not “either/or”, rather it’s “both”. In this way, feminine energy is about inclusivity, equality, and oneness. And this oneness, this LIVED EXPERIENCE of Hashem echad ushemo echad (Hashem is One and His name is One), creates healing and geula.

Physical healing is best supported when we focus on healing our body AND our emotional world because of the mind-body connection.  

Financial and Material abundance flows more freely when we are careful with our money, budget, and save AND spend money with a generous spirit and abundance mindset. Money also flows more freely when we appreciate the importance of giving AND receiving, because the more we allow ourselves to receive, the greater capacity we have to give.

Relationships improve when there’s a better appreciation of chessed AND gevurah, of flexibility AND boundaries (including emotional boundaries).

Our spirituality can soar when we embrace both Litvish AND Chassidic learning, gifting us with a holistic Jewish perspective.

Emotional mastery is achieved when we honor both the head AND the heart.

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Let us bring our attention to the last example, the importance of engaging the head AND the heart, to further appreciate the redemptive significance of femininity.

Many people are intellectual, practical, absorbed in their headspace and, as a result, downplay and suppress their emotions. In fact, being overly analytical and intellectual can be a subconscious strategy to avoid uncomfortable emotions. Ask such a person what they feel, and they might answer you by telling you what they think! This emotional avoidance keeps people trapped in their personal exiles, because accessing personal freedom requires healing – and you can’t heal what you don’t feel.

If we suppress negative emotions like resentment, sadness, jealousy, despair, rage, disappointment, and insecurity – then we also suppress positive emotions like joy, gratitude, love, trust, confidence, optimism, and connection. We need to feel the full spectrum of painful feelings in order to feel the full spectrum of pleasurable feelings because all emotions are just sensations in the body, so either our bodies feel safe to feel strong emotional sensations or they don’t.

The answer, of course, is not to get lost and buried in a sea of overwhelming emotions. As was already mentioned, emotional mastery comes from engaging both the heart AND the mind. With our intellect, we can understand how emotions function in our bodies, and we can incorporate both the mind (e.g., mindset work) and the body (e.g., somatic work) to learn how to process emotions in a healthy way.

Increasing our capacity to feel safe with intense emotional sensations is one way we evolve into a large and open vessel, free of leaks and blockages that can hold and contain all the blessings Hashem WANTS to give us, because now our bodies feel safe to receive all the pleasurable but unfamiliar feelings that come from so much goodness. Our nervous systems are wired to find safety in familiarity, even if what’s familiar is unpleasant, but we can expand our nervous system’s capacity for new pleasurable experiences through the healthy processing of emotions.

The emotional world is more feminine (whereas the intellectual arena is more masculine). Though men and women are now developing both their intellectual and emotional sides, as a generality, each gender tends to maintain his or her dominant characteristic. Therefore, women will usually be more developed in the arena of emotional intuitiveness. As a result, it is more frequently the woman who is called upon to lead this emotional healing (and by extension, personal freedom and redemption) for herself, for her family, and for the world.