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Author Topic: Lilith  (Read 2252 times) Average Rating: 0
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Jeni
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« on: April 16, 2006, 10:59:03 PM »

I participate in another forum for moms.  It is for all kinds of moms.  One posted a question about Lilith, being Adam's first wife.  The stuff in the post sounded a little fake, so I googled.  Evidently this is from the Kabbalah.  Is there an official Orthodox view?  Can I come here and ask these questions, so I can respond there?
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2006, 12:01:42 AM »

please, do ask the questions here... hopefully, someone will have a thoughtful response.  i had never heard of the lilith thing... but if it's from the kabbalah, then I'd be weary of it.
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2006, 02:46:05 AM »

I participate in another forum for moms.  It is for all kinds of moms.  One posted a question about Lilith, being Adam's first wife.  The stuff in the post sounded a little fake, so I googled.  Evidently this is from the Kabbalah.  Is there an official Orthodox view?  Can I come here and ask these questions, so I can respond there?
I don't know about an "Orthodox view" of Lilith, but I have heard of some of the legends. Many feminist critques of Judeo-Christian traditions promote the idea that Lilith saw herself as Adam's equal, and was thus an unsuitable 'mate' for Adam.

Lots of modern folk tales have her as a vampire, a succubus, a tormentor of men. The most recent 'adaptation' of her story is in a really silly film "Darklight". Lesbian films such as "The Mark of Lilith" go to the heart of this anti-traditional championing of her as a misunderstood character. Another film "Serpent's Lair" has her preying on men. With a tounge-in-cheek attitude the creators of "Cheers" had Dr. Frasier Crane's wife called Lilith (played by Bebe Neuwirth)
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2006, 12:45:38 PM »

Hi all!

As an orthodox Jew, I say Lilith shmilith!

I submit:

Quote
Lilith

Lilith is a character who appears in passing in the Talmud and in rabbinical folklore. She is a figure of evil, a female demon who seduces men and threatens babies and women in childbirth. She is described as having long hair and wings (Erub. 100b; Nid. 24b). It is said that she seizes men who sleep in a house alone, like a succubus (Shab. 151b). She is also mentioned in midrashim and kabbalistic works, in which she is considered to be the mother of demons. Her name probably comes from the Hebrew word for night (laila). She is similar to and probably based on a pagan demon named Lulu or Lilu that appears in Gilgamesh and other Sumerian and Babylonian folklore.

In recent years, some women have tried to reinvent Lilith, turning her into a role model for women who do not accept male domination or a rival goddess to the traditions that they think are too male-biased. For example, a number of female musical artists participated a concert tour called "Lilith Fair" a few years ago, and the name "Lilith" was clearly chosen to represent female empowerment.

This revisionist view of Lilith is based primarily on a medieval work called the Alphabet of Ben Sira, the significance of which has been widely misinterpreted and overrated. The story of Lilith in Ben Sira claims that Lilith was the first wife of Adam. Lilith insisted on being on top when they were having sexual intercourse, claiming that she was Adam's equal. For this reason, Adam rejected the uppity Lilith, and Lilith was replaced with the more submissive second spouse, Eve. The complete story is presented here http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~humm/Topics/Lilith/alphabet.html.

Many modern commentators have pounced on this story, claiming that it comes from the Talmud and reflects the traditional rabbinical understanding of the roles of men and women. Feminists reject the negative characterization of Lilith's actions in this story, and make Lilith out to be a hero who was demonized by male-chauvinist rabbis who did not want women to have any sexual power.

However, it is important to note that the Alphabet of Ben Sira is not a traditional rabbinical Jewish source. It is not part of the Talmud, nor is it considered to be a midrash. It is not entirely certain what Ben Sira is, but it appears to be a satire or parody, possibly even an antisemitic one. It tells many stories about biblical characters envisioned in non-traditional, often unflattering ways, often with slapstick humor at the expense of traditional heroes. See this http://www.ucalgary.ca/~elsegal/Shokel/950206_Lilith.html critique of the use of Ben Sira to turn Lilith into a feminist hero.

To treat The Alphabet of Ben Sira as a reflection of traditional Jewish thought is like treating Cervantes' Don Quixote as an accurate depiction of chivalry, or Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles as a documentary of the American West.

Link: http://www.jewfaq.org/women.htm#Lilith

About kabalah...

I'm an orthodox Jew. I know very little about Kabbalah & as committed as I am to orthodox Judaism, I feel no need whatsoever to delve into Kabbalah. In terms of my faith, I am an unlettered bumpkin & have nowhere near the requisite levels of learning & holiness to delve into Kabbalah.

Kabbalah (i.e. esoteric Jewish mysticism) is, quite properly, the province of very few Jews (only). Only the most pious, learned & saintly need delve into kabbalah in any depth. When I see what is being done by the clowns who are responsible for prostituting one of my faith's most treasured (and misunderstood!) concepts, I get an inkling of how Christians must have felt what that "artist" in New York a few years back had the unmitigated gall to put a crucifix in a glass of urine and call it "Piss-Christ" (remember that?) Ugh! Suffice to say that that chain of so-called "Kabbalah Centers" has as much to do with real kabbalah as a Twinkie has to do with real pastry (see http://tinyurl.com/2smgx).

http://www.jewfaq.org/kabbalah.htm is a very good intoductory read on this subject. I'll cite one sentence:

Quote
Today, many well-known celebrities have popularized a new age pop-psychology distortion of kabbalah (I have heard it derisively referred to as "c/rap-balah") that has more in common with the writings of Deepak Chopra than with any authentic Jewish source

Kabbalah is a very holy & precious concept to we Jews; we treasure it and we guard it very closely. I once went to lecture here in Jerusalem by a noted Hasidic rabbi who said that he always found it amusing that Jews and non-Jews who had no knowledge whatsoever of the most basic Jewish concepts, want to study Kabbalah. He said that it's like someone who hasn't even studied basic anatomy immediately delving into advanced neurosurgery.

Be well!

MBZ
« Last Edit: April 17, 2006, 01:23:46 PM by MBZ » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2006, 12:57:46 PM »

He said that it's like someone who hasn't even studied basic anatomy immediately delving into advanced neurosurgery.

LOL!!! I think that goes for a lot of new age "spiritualities"!
Thanks for the informative post MBZ, you've cleared up a lot of misconceptions for me.
Happy Pesach!

Shalom
« Last Edit: April 17, 2006, 12:59:31 PM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2006, 02:22:34 PM »

MBZ,

    Yet another thing to talk about, tomorrow at lunch! Thanks for the info!  Wink
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2006, 05:37:48 PM »

Hi all!

Quote from: ozgeorge
Thanks for the informative post MBZ, you've cleared up a lot of misconceptions for me.
Happy Pesach!

You're welcome!

And a Happy Easter to my Eastern Orthodox friends!

Quote from: SouthSerb99
Yet another thing to talk about, tomorrow at lunch! Thanks for the info! Wink

Lunch with the one who complains that he can't have lobster at the Seder? Roll Eyes  

Please let me know what comments you get.

Be well!

MBZ
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"Gather your wits and hold on fast..." [The Who]

"Lose your dreams and you could lose your mind." [The Rolling Stones]

http://tinyurl.com/bvskq

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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2006, 05:42:49 PM »

Lilith

Lilith is a character who appears in passing in the Talmud and in rabbinical folklore. She is a figure of evil, a female demon who seduces men and threatens babies and women in childbirth. She is described as having long hair and wings (Erub. 100b; Nid. 24b). It is said that she seizes men who sleep in a house alone, like a succubus (Shab. 151b). She is also mentioned in midrashim and kabbalistic works, in which she is considered to be the mother of demons. Her name probably comes from the Hebrew word for night (laila). She is similar to and probably based on a pagan demon named Lulu or Lilu that appears in Gilgamesh and other Sumerian and Babylonian folklore.

Oh, if anyone sees any male versions around - you know, with wings and stuff - that's an incubus.  They're evil too and must be avoided.
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2006, 06:33:46 PM »

Thank you so much for the information.  Maybe I need to hang out here more.   Wink
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« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2006, 01:45:57 AM »

THanks alot, MBZ!
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« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2006, 04:04:03 AM »

Oh, if anyone sees any male versions around - you know, with wings and stuff - that's an incubus.  They're evil too and must be avoided.
Something they don't teach at school!
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2006, 07:50:47 AM »

Something they don't teach at school!

That depends on the school you go to!
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