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Today it’s Mother's Day, which made me wonder if I could call G-d mother? Because G-d ‘gave life’ to all things. Of course we call him Aba, but why not Ima?

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  • "Of course we call him Aba": citation needed.
    – msh210
    May 9, 2021 at 21:21
  • 1
    fyi - I cannot think of an example where G-d is referred to as a mother. May 9, 2021 at 21:45
  • @msh210 e.g. 'Avinu malkeinu'
    – Dov
    May 9, 2021 at 22:00
  • Schina is gd an is definitely seen as feminine. So yeh May 10, 2021 at 17:18

4 Answers 4

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Why not? God calls us, Israel, His "mother":

Listen to Me, My people; and give ear to Me, O My mother... [Isaiah 51:4]

The Midrash adds how this struck bar Yochai as supremely significant:

[Rabbi Eleazar said:] The Holy One, blessed be He, first addressed Israel as “daughter” [then “sister”, then “mother”.] [As “daughter”,] in "Hearken, O daughter, consider and incline your ear…" [Ps. 45:11] As "sister” in "Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled... [Song of Songs 5:2] And when He loved Israel even more, He called them “mother”, for it says [see Isaiah, above]. Rabbi Shim’on bar Yohai arose and kissed [Rabbi Elazar] on his forehead [saying]... “If this had been the only thing I learned in life, I would have been satisfied.” [Exodus Rabbah 52:5]

These passages show that "mother" is a flexible appellation, not always literal. God has many masculine names, but also a feminine one, the Shechinah.

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    With respect I'm not sure this answers the question?
    – Dov
    May 9, 2021 at 20:26
  • It shows that "mother" is a flexible appellation, not always literal. God has many masculine names, but also a feminine one, the Shechinah. May 9, 2021 at 20:28
  • Yes but you are showing that Hashem calls us mother and not the other way round?
    – Dov
    May 9, 2021 at 20:45
  • The question was "can you say", not "where does it say". May 9, 2021 at 21:16
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    Agreed but by showing that Hashem calls the yidden mother does not prove that we can call Him mother?
    – Dov
    May 9, 2021 at 21:54
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I can't think of any halakha that would say no. The shekhinah is considered by many to be the feminine aspect of G-d. We could figuratively call G-d mother, but we must remember that G-d has no gender. G-d is neither He nor She (Rambam).

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  • thanks for the answer. Where is this Rambam located please?
    – Dovid
    May 10, 2021 at 0:44
  • @Dovid according to Maimonides G-d is not male or female. Maimonides views the concept to say G-d is a gender as avodah zarah (idolatry). See Rambam's theory of negative attributes or apopathic theology which says that we may only describe what G-d is not.
    – Turk Hill
    May 10, 2021 at 0:48
  • But where is the Rambam? Sorry if you already said I just don't see it.
    – Dovid
    May 10, 2021 at 1:02
  • @Dovid I forget but I will try to look for it.
    – Turk Hill
    May 10, 2021 at 1:39
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I do not claim to understand the following, I only quote what I’ve seen. In Sefer Sifsei Chein hakdama 9 he explains that the sefira of Bina is referred to in the zohar as אם and also corresponds to our foremother Leah. The sefira of Malchus corresponds to our foremother Rachel. Malchus gathers all of the influence from the higher sefiros and pours the shefa (influence) onto man manifesting the influence from above. Similarly a mother receives the seed of a man, cultivates it and manifests that influence to create a child.

So we see that some of G-d's attributes are referred to in the Zohar as אם and are associated with our אימהות. These are reasons to allow us to refer to G-d as אם.

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  • You need to explain how what you have written is an answer to the question, "Can we call G-d our Mother?" May 9, 2021 at 21:43
  • “He” is directly referred to as אם in the zohar (or at least some of his attributes are) and is associated with our אימהות. Thus I think that is grounds to refer to him as אם.
    – ASL
    May 9, 2021 at 22:24
  • Following your comment, I have expressed your answer explicitly. May 10, 2021 at 14:44
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This seems to be a two-part question. Asking whether we can call G-d "mother," and why is G-d referred to as the father.

I read Jordan Peterson's book 12 rules for life. In the book, Peterson explained why many cultures, including the Bible, described G-d in masculine terms. He used the example of the Yin and Yang. The Yang is the masculine side, associated with light. The Yin is the feminine, negative dark side. Although women give birth men are seen as the giver of life, order. This is not anti-women, just the representations of dark and light in ancient cultures. The Bible does the same. Since G-d "spoke" order into the universe, He is described as masculine. We look up to the father. It is psychological.

Now that we know the origins and reasons for calling G-d Aba, we could call G-d Ima so long as we recognize that He is neither male nor female, “the Torah speaks in human language" (Rambam).

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    The Torah view is definitely not what Peterson, as you represent him, says. I am unfamiliar with his book. But like is said explicitly in the Torah, male and female were both equal sources of light. The feminine was reduced voluntarily so as not to appear like a representation of there being 2 G-ds. The primary quality of the feminine according to the Torah view is conversion from one state to another. This is the principle of teshuvah, like the thread of the Alter converting from red to white on Yom Kippur. May 9, 2021 at 20:13
  • @YaacovDeane That's interesting. Did you read the Peterson book? He seems to say that ancient cultures understood the male aspect of G-d as order the female as chaos. This seems to make sense. Do you agree with it?
    – Turk Hill
    May 9, 2021 at 20:15
  • Like I said in my previous comment, I don’t know Peterson and have never heard of his book. Regarding your chaos idea being feminine/female, that is not the traditional Torah viewpoint. That is likely one of the distortions that happened early on following the generation of Enosh. Rambam discusses this evolution of religious thought and how it gradually diverged from the original accurate teachings about G-d in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Avodah Zarah, chapter 1. May 9, 2021 at 20:55
  • The idea about female chaos is very ingrained in Torah, especially the Garden of Eden story.
    – Turk Hill
    May 9, 2021 at 20:58
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    You should try to explain that to a Jewish woman and see how it goes for you. 😂 May 9, 2021 at 21:00

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