'Avinu, Malkeinu, Kin(g) of All the Earth': A Yom Kippur D’var Torah
15 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 4, 2019
This talk explores the image of divine Kingship that is central to the liturgy of the Jewish High Holidays. The divine King is our sovereign and judge, and that image might even suggest a God Who is painfully transcendent and even austere. But the metaphor is much richer and multi-layered than that. The notion of divine Kinship emphasizes God’s immanence as much as God’s transcendence. It is a token of God’s engagement with the world and of God’s responsibility to the world. Moreover, in the Kabbalistic imagination, the attribute of “Malkhut,” divine Kingship, is associated with the Shekinah, the indwelling presence of God, the part of God that lives with us in exile, usually thought of as the feminine aspect of God. And it is at least worth noting that the Anglo-Saxon root of king – “cyning” – just meant “member of the kindred.”
This text ends with a postscript that further explores the image of divine Kingship in the context of our contemporary sensibilities about gender hierarchies and the understandable aversion to employing apparently unapologetic masculine language about God.
Keywords: Divine Kingship, God as King, Avinu Malkeinu, Rowan Williams, transcendence, immanence, feminist theology, Yom Kippur, High Holidays, Jewish liturgy, Jewish prayer, Kabbalah, Sefirot, Shekinah, Vine Deloria
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