ומאי תהו דבר המתהא בני אדם
Sefer HaBahir, verse 2 excerpt

Traditional interpretation: “What is tohu (chaos)? Something that confounds (taha) people.”

Liorah’s second interpretation: “And how is tohu (chaos) a leader who confounds (taha) people?”

The word traditionally translated here in verse 2 of Sefer HaBahir as “something” is the Hebrew word דבּר dabar. An alternative and equally legitimate translation of this word, is “leader“.

And how is tohu a leader who confounds people? Because tohu is a feminine energy, just as the letter configuration דבּר is associated with the feminine sefirah Gevurah [1]. Utterly female. A woman. Like the biblical prophetess (neviah) and judge (shoftah), Deborah.

Tradition teaches that the tikun of tohu is the mitzvah of a woman. Specifically, the tikun of tohu is associated with the mitzvah of challah. A woman’s mitzvah.

Interestingly, Deborah is described in Shoftim 4:4 as both a woman (isha אשה as opposed to itta אתתא) and she (היא as opposed to הוא). Both, אשה and היא are associated with unrectified femininity. In contradistinction, both אתתא and הוא are associated with rectifed femininity, as I’ve discussed elsewhere (most notably here and here). Consequently, tohu is a leader who confounds people when the woman, she, has not rectified her portion (challah) of tohu.

Shoftim 4:7 The rulers ceased in Israel, they ceased, until that thou didst arise, Deborah, that thou didst arise a mother in Israel.

Shoftim 4:8 They chose new gods; then was war in the gates …

War in the gates arose on account of the prophetic leader, Deborah, who had not rectified her portion of tohu. Leading one’s people to war does not an ideal leader make. Leading one’s people to peace does an ideal leader make.

Don’t think the course of history is unaffected by the generation’s prophets and tzadikim, both directly and indirectly. Both by what they do and by what is done to them.


[1] Sha’are Orah, R’ Yosef Gikatilla, the first gate, the tenth sphere


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