Equality Between Men and Women: Good or Bad?
A woman fulfills her role by being opposite (and not equal!) to a man.
Men's and women's roles have become so blurred that people are confused about what the ideal roles of men and women are supposed to be. This has affected the relationships between men and women, and has even caused people to become confused about their own identities.
As much as we desire to create simple, plain equality - according to our understanding of it, in the end it does not benefit men or women. It does not make our lives more balanced, harmonious, fair or happy - and that's because the way we seek to create "equality" goes against the laws of nature.
Instead of learning how to arrange our lives from nature, we have been thinking that we are above nature and inventing our own rules. Yet our lives prove that we are, in fact, part of nature. Hence, we have to let nature teach us how to create perfect relationships between us and live in harmony with one another.
This is exactly what the wisdom of Kabbalah enables us to do - it reveals nature's laws, enabling one to see the best way to act toward others, whether toward men, women, children, or the whole world. Without this knowledge, it is impossible for us to arrange our lives in a sensible way. Rather, with every passing day, we will only experience more problems and suffering.
But how did the confusion around our sex roles begin in the first place? After all, the relationship between men and women is only unbalanced among humans. In the animal world, for instance, the male always supplies the female with everything she needs. The problem with humans is that everything operates according to the ego, and not according to the duties one sex has toward the other. Precisely the ego has made our relationships and gender roles unbalanced.
So what is the balanced way for us to build our lives? It is written that a woman was created to be help against a man. That is to say, a woman fulfills her role and provides the help needed of her precisely by being opposite (not equal!) to a man. To be opposite to him means to help him attain the spiritual goal, and this is how they both attain it.
Why Are We So Preoccupied with Sex?
The spiritual root of sex is the soul's unity with the Creator.
In the spiritual world, the soul is united with the Light, and this union is called Zivug - coupling. It constitutes the unification of two parts of creation - male and female, and is the greatest pleasure that can ever be - the soul being filled by the Light of the Creator.
This spiritual coupling also has a branch or copy in the physical world, the world of matter. This is why we are so preoccupied with sex - it is the ultimate pleasure in this world, and the root of all of our desires in this world.
Sex is the basis of all our thoughts, because its root is the soul's union with the Creator. This union is the final goal of Nature, and everything that happens in the world is determined by the final goal. This is why we just can't avoid thinking about sex. Our attraction to the opposite sex and to pleasure also come from this final state - the adhesion with the Creator, called "Zivug" (never-ending sexual union).
The pleasure we feel from sex is a perfect example of the difference between physical and spiritual pleasure. We spend so much time and effort thinking about sex, and we imagine that it will give us enormous pleasure, but in fact our pleasure vanishes into thin air the minute we reach the peak of sexual satisfaction. Before we really had time to enjoy this feeling, it is over and we find ourselves once again striving for another moment of pleasure.
This is what happens in our world, because the pleasure that fills the desire immediately neutralizes it. No longer having the desire, we stop feeling pleasure. It leaves us feeling empty, and as life goes on, this emptiness only grows bigger. This is why it is written, "One leaves the world with half his cravings unfulfilled."
Spiritual pleasure works very differently because being in spirituality means having the ability to receive the Light with the intention of giving pleasure to the Creator, to the One who gives you the Light. Hence, in spirituality, coupling or sex is continuous and eternal, and it only grows stronger all the time. As a result, one feels eternal life and perfect fulfillment that constantly gets bigger. Obviously, this is very different from the pleasure we feel in our world, where we can only feel momentary pleasure followed by emptiness.
This is why it is written that ever since people fell from the spiritual world into our world, only those who attain the spiritual world still feel the real taste of copulation. The true, spiritual pleasure is attained when two opposite parts of creation - male and female - merge together and are filled by the common Light.
Subconsciously, in our souls, we all desire this coupling because we were created for it. On some level, we all aspire to feel the spiritual world because it is the only place where we will find true, lasting pleasure.
What does the Story of Adam and Eve Mean in Our Times?
Our ego is the snake that prevents us from being able to love someone else.
The meaning behind the story of Adam, Eve and the snake is actually very simple. The snake represents the ego that became revealed between Adam and Eve, the man and the woman. And that's really all there is to the story.
For example, suppose that a happy, young couple falls in love. They hug, kiss and laugh together, go to the movies and the beach. Then they get married and begin living together, and everything is wonderful. They're in the Garden of Eden.
And suddenly - the snake (the ego) arrives. They suddenly begin arguing. Then they begin taking advantage of each other and making private calculations, such as "How can I get him/her to be the way I want them to be?" This happens to us because the snake (the ego that's inside us) prevents us from being able to love someone else, and makes sure that our love is egoistic from the start.
Under these circumstances, the closest we can come to love is to surrender our egos in day to day life as much as we can. However, this still doesn't solve the problem at the root, and does not enable us to experience real, unconditional love. This is where Kabbalah offers another solution: to correct our soul at the root, or to correct the snake that separates us from our partners.
To do this, both partners must realize that there is a goal to their lives that's above this world. Then they will also realize that they can only attain it by having a partner in life, someone who will go through the spiritual path together with them. This is the meaning of the verse, "Man, woman, and the Divine Presence between them." It means that in order for us to attain the Divine presence, spirituality, we must connect with each other correctly.
Then, instead of taking advantage of each other, Adam and Eve will complete each other. And the snake, instead of driving them apart, will become the driving force that pushes them to reveal the Upper Force - the Divine Presence, or the Creator.