On the Day of Judgment, Rosh Hashanah —literally “Head of the Year” —we call G‑d father, not mother, and we proclaim G‑d king, not queen. Can’t get more patriarchal than that.

But then, we also declare that “today is the birth of the world.”1 Men don’t give birth, so maybe Rosh Hashanah is a feminine kind of day.

There’s also a “make Me your king” request. That’s the reason given for the blowing of the shofar—to coronate G‑d, so to speak.2 But isn't that more than a little self-defeating? If He’sIf He’s the ultimate patriarchal authority, isn’t He compromising that status by making this request of us year after year? the ultimate patriarchal authority, isn’t He compromising that status by making this request of us year after year, as though He were somehow dependent on us for His authority?

The short explanation is that Rosh Hashanah is the day that “G‑d created the human being…male and female He created them.”3 Yet Rosh Hashanah is not about male energy or about female energy. It’s about the dynamic between them.

As described in Midrash4 and other classic Jewish texts,5 Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a complex dynamic between those energies, eliciting something that transcends both.

So let’s get into that, step by step:

Creativity Is a Male/Female Dynamic

Go through the texts and you’ll see that the relationship between man and woman is by far the most common metaphor for our relationship with G‑d—in Tanach (the Hebrew Bible), in Talmud and Midrash, and even more so in Zohar and Kabbalistic works.

That makes sense. After all, the Creator of this world chose a male-female dynamic for generating life (other than in a few rare instances). According to the Zohar, He implemented a quite similar dynamic to generate time, space and existence as we know it.

And it’s not hard to fathom. Think of any time you have been creative.

People tend to think of creativity as a unilateral, top-down experience. The artist is ostensibly just releasing creative energies, “expressing himself.”

But the artist perceives things quite differently.

She has an idea. She has the clay in her hands to realize that idea. But Creativity emerges not from any single origin, but out of a collision of forces running in opposite directions. G‑d is in the explosion.somehow the clay speaks to her fingers, her fingers to her mind, her mind to something deep inside, and a work of art entirely new and fascinating emerges.

The same with an author. He imagines a story. He carefully crafts the characters to carry out that story—only to discover his own characters informing him of a new direction his story must take, as is befitting, they declare, of characters such as these. Yes, character hijack is real—and the dynamo of the very best novels.

Take Jim Henson’s puppets. They were perpetually being remodeled. It was a collaborative effort—between the puppets and their puppeteers. As one of the staff put it, “Kermit and Miss Piggy kept on telling us how they really needed to look.”

Examples scream out from literally every arena of human expression without exception.

Where do good comedians discover their best material if not out of that vital interaction with a live audience? What would Jackie Mason have been had every performance been on Zoom or Clubhouse with “mute all”?

Why is it that the best music history has produced emerged out of musicians sitting down with new designs of old instruments—whether Beethoven with a pianoforte or the Beatles with electric guitars and track-laying studios. Who came up with the music—the composer or the technology? Or both?

In fact, just the other day I sighted a 12-string Martin guitar crying out to me from the wall of a used goods shop, and once in my hands, it whispered to me the sounds it needed me to play (and gently urged me to take it home).

We’re seeing the same technology feedback loop today with what they call AI—digital widgets and robots that simulate decision making and learning. The most exciting phenomena in the field are the unexpected interactions between those artificial devices and authentic intelligence—real human beings. It’s at that nexus of organism and mechanism that something really new emerges.

The mother matrix of all creativity is Torah itself, the blueprint of the cosmos.

There’s Torah as it comes down from heaven, as a divine monologue. We call it “the written Torah.”

Then there’s what we call “the oral Torah”—the dialogue between man and G‑d, as the sages struggle to apply G‑d’s word to situations as they arise.

These are the debates of masters such as Abbaye and Rava in the Talmud, the creamy-rich, ocean-deep homily and metaphor of the Midrash, the brilliant abstraction and application of Maimonides. There, in the convergence of sacred dictate and human ingenuity, that’s where the beauty of Torah appears in all its glory.

Creativity, true creativity, emerges not from any single origin, but out of a collision of forces running in opposite directions. G‑d is in the explosion.

Ending Up Before the Beginning

Rabbi Shalom Dovber of Lubavitch articulated this idea in one of the best-studied texts in Chabad, composed at the cusp of the 20th century, where he describes communication as feminine energy.6

Speaking starts with ideas and emotions, he writes, but it ends up tapping into something much deeper.

When we simply express ourselves, we might squeeze a little more juice out of our brains. But when what concerns us is not what we are saying, but what the other person is hearing, then wellsprings gush open at the core out of our psyche, and words and ideas we hadn’t dreamed of flow forth as if out of nowhere.

That explains well the words of Rabbi Chanina in the Talmud: “I learned much The male energies seem to be initiating everything. But down the line, nobody ever said that conception begins with the male.from my teachers, more from my colleagues, but from my students I learned more than all combined.”7 It wasn’t that his students informed him of things he did not know, but that in the interaction with students, more than with colleagues, newness emerged.

So how does that work? Rabbi Shalom Dovber cites the words of Lecha Dodi, a mystical poem sung in almost all Jewish congregations at the entry of Shabbat—the feminine day of the week

“The final act was in thought from the beginning.”

The final act—that’s not the delivery, but the reception of your words by your audience. It’s that reception and the feedback it delivers that reaches before the beginning of thought, to a place where speaker and listener are not separate entities, but fused as one. And it’s from there that the most creative ideas emerge.

So these are the masculine and feminine forces of creation:

The top-down content, seminal information, explicit command chain—that’s principally male energy. The same with the great chain of being, the cosmic hierarchy discussed in all ancient cosmologies.

The feedback loop where things actually gestate and get real—that’s principally female energy.

Which is dominant?

The ultimate woman is Planet Earth. The ultimate artist is the gardener. You prepare the soil and plant a seed, water the seed and protect its plot. A tree grows. You are the male, Planet Earth is the female. Who gave birth to the tree, you or Planet Earth?

The male energies seem to be initiating everything. But down the line, nobody ever said that conception begins with the male.

But is dominance really relevant here? Does it matter who wins in the end—the masculine or the feminine? Ultimately what we’re looking at is neither of these.

“The final act was in thought from the beginning.”

In the convergence of these two energies, a third element emerges—one that transcends male and female and any other dichotomy. The ultimate origin of both. That’s the closest we get to G‑d Himself.

And indeed, that’s the winning explanation for why G‑d created the world to run on this dynamic, this nexus of opposites—to provide a window upon His own reality, upon a perfect singularity, a true oneness where the notion of opposites simply dissolves.

The Sundering of Adam and Eve

All this explains an awful lot more about Rosh Hashanah than you might expect.

The kabbalists talk about the night of Rosh Hashanah as the nesirah—the sundering apart of Adam and Eve, initially created as a single being, now divided into two. Why are they sundered apart? So that they can meet one another face to face.

That’s a paradigmatic image for the bifurcation that begins the creative process. G‑d decides He’s going to make a universe of two opposing and complementary energies: The energy of transcendence and the energy of immanence. Male and Female. Descending light and returning light. And out of their union will emerge existence, life, and eventually, the meaning of all things.

These are the two names by which G‑d is most often called in According to the Arizal, at the threshold of the messianic era, the feminine will transcend the masculine altogether.Torah: The four-letter, ineffable name (code-named Havayeh for practical purposes) that says He is beyond time; and the name Elokim, that says He is found in all the forces of nature.

Havayeh is the name of G‑d as He is creating top-down. Elokim is the name of G‑d as He is interacting with His creation, where the emphasis is on the characters of the story, taking carefully into account how they need to play out the roles they’ve been assigned.

These are the two lovers of whom Solomon sings in his “Song of Songs.” Often, in Tanach, it’s “G‑d and His name.” In the Talmud, Midrash and Zohar, it’s G‑d as “The Holy One, blessed be He” and that same G‑d in cameo as the Shechinah —G‑d’s presence in this world.

Every mitzvah we do, teaches the Zohar, is to return these two back to their original state of perfect union. The world needs to see not two, but only one.

“Know as clear as day,” says Moses, “that Havaye is Elokim. In the heavens beyond and the earth beneath there is nothing else.”8

Here’s how Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi reads that in his ”Gateway of Unity and Faith”:

When you know that Havaye is Elokim and Elokim is Havaye, that these are simply two modalities of the same G‑d working in perfect tandem to enact the creative process, then you will realize as clear as day that there is truly no other existence other than that perfect oneness.

Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal, described this union as a process spread over history. In this way, he deciphers an extremely bewildering Midrash concerning a dispute between the sun and the moon. Read about that in The Lunar Files.

Initially, explains the Arizal, the feminine element, known as malchut—royalty—is nothing more than a dimensionless “point beneath the foundation.” Gradually, malchut rises through ten stages, first to simply reconnect, but then to be abreast with the masculine. Until, at the threshold of the messianic era, the feminine will transcend the masculine altogether, fulfilling the verse, “A woman of valor is the crown of her husband.”9

Through our mitzvahs, the Arizal explains, we are the agents of this tikun. The entire story of the Jewish people—very much the feminine of the nations—is to promote that feminine quality back up to its origin. Once complete, the essence of G‑d Himself, true oneness, is able to shine in our world.

Note that the feminine is not reabsorbed within the masculine. Neither does it usurp the masculine. On the contrary, when the two energies are at the peak of their fulfillment, then, in the exquisite harmony between them, emerges the ultimate light.

Birthing the Universe

How does this help us understand Rosh Hashanah?

For one thing, it explains this puzzling request for us to coronate G‑d, every year, again and again. That request is coming from Him as He plays the masculine role. The G‑d point within us—our divine souls—plays the feminine role.

As much as we depend on Him as judge and father, He chooses to depend on us to complete the story and imbue this world with meaning and light, to make it a worthwhile investment. We make Him a real king.

Why does He choose to do so? To provide dominance to the feminine energy—embodied by us. This way, the universe receives each year from a yet deeper hidden place—much as those wellsprings we earlier described gushing By providing dominance to the feminine energy—embodied by us—the universe receives each year from a yet deeper hidden origin.forth when we speak to a receptive audience.

It also explains an even more puzzling anomaly of the day: In our Rosh Hashanah prayers, we call this day “the first day of Your works.” We also call it “the birth of the world.”

Why? Because, according to tradition, it is the day the first human being was created.

But the human being was not the birth of the world. Neither was he created on the first day of creation, but the sixth and last day.

And that’s exactly the point. Until there was a feedback loop to creation, nothing had begun. Humanity was the female of creation, and therefore the point where all begins. (More on that in Rosh Hashanah and the Warping of Time.)

So too, every year since, the rebirth of a meaningful world is up to us. Every year. On Rosh Hashanah.

How? By playing the feminine role of G‑d.

The Final Phase

By all calculations, we are now at the final phase of the rise of the feminine as described by the Arizal. That explains a lot. But the crucial point is that we’re not talking about the rise of women, but of femininity.

According to all the above, perhaps we can describe femininity as the capacity to be receptive to another, to say “it doesn’t have to be about me,” but rather to draw out the inner powers of others. That capacity is the womb of life, the healing waters, and the gateway to the messianic era.

In the English language, the soil, the dirt, the mud, that gave birth to us, supports us, and nurtures us—all these terms are soiled, dirtied and muddied with the ugliest connotations.

Not so in Hebrew. We are called Adam because we were formed from the adamah—the ground beneath our feet. And certainly not pejoratively—we plead to our Maker three times a day that our lives should be “as the soil to everyone.” As to say: “Let my life be as fertile soil from which many others may flourish.”

True, naughty little children may step all over you. What do you care? You Perhaps we can describe femininity as the capacity to be receptive to another, to say “it doesn’t have to be about me,” but rather to draw out the inner powers of others.stand at the gateway of the very next line of that prayer: “Open my heart to your Torah.”

Nurture, empathy, knowing life from within —when we can properly appreciate these qualities at least as much as we appreciate dominance, power, and transcendence, then there will be balance and harmony between men and women, between humanity and Planet Earth, between the universe and its Creator.

In the words of Zechariah the prophet, “G‑d will be one and His name will be one.”10

May that be sooner than we can imagine, and may all you males and females be blessed with a good and sweet year.