Vayetze: Chapter 23

"and found mandrakes in the field"


This is a lengthy and mysterious passage concerning birth and Creation. It is an explanation of the phrase "the world was formed by word and spirit together, Male and Female." The Hidden World is male, this one female. The Zohar reflects on the allegorical importance of the mandrake root, whose magical properties allowed Rachel to conceive. Rabbi Chiya and Rabbi Yosi continue their discussion with a person called The Man of Arka, connecting the passage concerning the mandrakes, Rachel, and the birth of Reuben with the secret meaning of matzoh in the Passover story. "Out of the earth comes bread." That is, the birth of a child is like the creation of worlds.


The creation of the cosmos is the same creative process that unfolds with the birth of each new child in this world. Each of us, therefore, is a supernal world, imbued with the divine Light of the Creator. Along with this comes the responsibility of recognizing the Godliness within and around us. Evolving this awareness constitutes the work of spiritual development.