A Renewed Look at Creation, in word and image:
The book Under One Crown looks anew—with words and powerful illustrations—at a verse in Genesis 1 whose interpretation in Talmud has served as the basis for Judaism’s depiction of the feminine archetype as a source of evil.
In Genesis 1:16 we read, “So God made the two big lights, the big light to rule by day and the small light to rule the night, and the stars.” We start with two big lights, and, on the other side of a white space with hardly room enough for a breath, we find one big and one small light. What happens in the white space between the two parts of this verse?
A powerful strand in Jewish mystical tradition understands the evil we experience as a consequence of what transpires in that white space. Indeed, according to this influential interpretive motif, God’s design for the universe requires the Moon’s diminishment in order to account for evil and suffering. Tractate Chullin 60b in the Babylonian Talmud has long been understood as midrashic confirmation for this association of evil with the feminine.
Sample pages from Under One Crown (click image to enlarge)
Why Our Understanding of Biblical Creation Needs Renewing
Under One Crown’s alternative to the Chullin 60b narrative yields a more integrated and egalitarian perspective of the masculine and feminine archetypes. With the current impulse to honor all aspects of Divinity, this book responds to Torah’s question in our time: if we were to choose this alternative Midrash of new insight into the attributes of both the masculine and feminine lights, how might our subsequent understandings differ? For we know, every interpretative choice both seeds and bounds future interpretations. It is our prayer that Jewish women and men benefit from this fresh look at a profoundly influential ancient teaching.
The authors and artist have designed this midrashic innovation for Jews and others yearning for a healthier and more inclusive understanding of gender, sexuality, and gender roles. When feminine and masculine energies – however we live them in our variously embodied selves – are freed from ancient stereotype, they express the creative freedom to shape reality and mystery in a less binary, more holistic way.
Under One Crown offers a way to learn, reflect, and grow in beauty. The book is appropriate for: a student, bat or bar mitzvah, confirmand, wedding couple, new parent, scholar, art lover.