Kabbalistic image of breastfeeding God explored in UNCG professor’s book
One of Kabbalah’s most distinctive images of the feminine divine is that of a motherly, breastfeeding God. In her new book, “Suckling at My Mother’s Breasts: The Image of a Nursing God in Jewish Mysticism,” UNCG professor Ellen Davina Haskell traces this idea from its origins in ancient rabbinic literature through its flourishing in the medieval classic “Sefer ha-Zohar” (“The Book of Splendour”).
An assistant professor of religious studies at UNCG and scholar of Jewish mystical literature, Haskell writes that kabbalistic images provide specific, detailed models for understanding the relationship between God and human beings, and connects divine nursing theology to Jewish ideals regarding motherhood, breastfeeding and family life from medieval France and Spain, where Kabbalah originated. Her approach allows for a new evaluation of Kabbalah’s feminine divine, one centered on culture and context, rather than gender philosophy or psychoanalysis.
Haskell is the recipient of an American Association of University Women American Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship for the 2012-13 academic year.
“Suckling at My Mother’s Breasts: The Image of a Nursing God in Jewish Mysticism,” 193 pages, is published by SUNY Press.