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I stumbled across the following from Leadership U ...
I'm not a big fan of the site, but I found the article (only partially quoted here) more than a little interesting -- particularly since, as a member of a Reform temple, I've grown accustomed to the 'new' gender-neutral terminology. The distinction between being made b'tzelem Elohim and being "made of godstuff" is an interesting reflection of the distinction between radical monotheism and paganism.
There can be little doubt that, for Judaism, divine parenthood is better symbolized by fatherhood than motherhood, or at least that fatherhood is far less problematic than motherhood. In Genesis, God-like a father- generates outside of Himself. In the creation myth of feminine deities, however, everything emerges from the womb of the Mother God, conveying a sense that the world is an emanation or extension of the divine, and therefore divinized, as in pantheism. But at the very center of Jewish monotheism is the denial of a divinized nature: Nature is good, because God has made it so, but nature is not divine, and human beings are not made of godstuff.
The moral and theological implications of the Mother God and "birth metaphor" have been cogently described by Rabbi Paula Reimers in her essay "Feminism, Judaism, and God the Mother" (Conservative Judaism, Fall 1993). If "the universe and its processes are 'birthed' by the deity," Rabbi Reimers argues, then nature and its cycles are "held to be an expression of the divine will." In such a cosmology, good and evil lose all meaning, everything being good in its proper time. Suffering and death no less than flourishing and life are to be regarded as "necessary stations on the great wheel of existence." In a "birthed" universe, moreover, "human beings are not qualitatively different from anything else that exists. They share in the divine essence, as children of the goddess, but only to the same extent that everything else does. Human life objectively is no more or less significant than the life of animals or plants. . . . Human free will is dissolved in the face of the determinism of nature." Human beings need follow no moral standard other than to accept and submit "to the divine rhythm of existence, of which they are a part."
Rabbi Reimers contrasts the "inherent pantheism of goddess religion, rooted in the birth metaphor," with Jewish monotheism, which "is rooted in the creation metaphor of Genesis." In Judaism, nature and humanity emerge not as part of an undifferentiated birth of the universe, but through discrete acts of creation in which all things are appointed a place in the hierarchy of the world. Good and evil, right and wrong, are known not by reference to nature's processes, impulses, and vitalities, but through the words and commandments of a transcendent God. Because God is not identified with the cycles of natural recurrence but with unique revelations and mighty acts-especially the Covenant-time is given meaning by progressive development, and history is imbued with direction and purpose. Human beings are not permitted to view themselves or their impulses as divine; they are to understand themselves, rather, as creatures made "in the image and likeness of God," with a dignity and worth above the rest of nature, and with free will to act according to transcendent laws concerning good and evil.
The Father-God metaphor, then, while revealing certain limits and imperfections of human language and understanding, provides a better symbolization than motherhood of the sense of distance in the divine- human relationship and is less likely therefore to invite a pantheistic cosmology.