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Rabbi Rami: Should I Prostrate Myself to My Teacher

Question: My teacher insists we prostrate ourselves to the Father and to him. As a woman, I am all too aware of how women have been made to prostrate themselves to male gods and their male hierarchies, and I find myself resisting this practice. Am I missing something? Rabbi Rami: Let me be clear: The God I grew up with was made in my image (Genesis 1:26), was obsessed with my genitals (Genesis 17; Leviticus 21:20, 22:24; Deuteronomy 23:1), and privileged a hierarchy reflecting my likeness. That said, I am drawn to prostration practice, though I prostrate myself to the Mother rather than the Father. Stretched out on the ground, my body given to Mother Earth, my mind offered to Mother Wisdom, I feel like a cat curled up in a beloved’s lap, purring my mantra softly until surrendered at last to the infinite emptiness/fullness of Her. While I support your resistance to male gods and their male hierarchies, it may be that your teacher is the problem rather than this practice. I will be dead before year’s end. What I want to know is this: Will I survive my dying? When I pose the question to myse …

Rabbi Rami Shipiro

Rabbi Rami Shapiro is an award-winning author, essayist, poet, and teacher. His spiritual advice column, “Roadside Assistance for the Spiritual Traveler,” addresses reader questions pertaining to religion, spirituality, faith, family, God, social issues, and more. His latest book is Surrendered—The Sacred Art: Shattering the Illusion of Control and Falling into Grace with Twelve-Step Spirituality.

He has this to say about religion: “To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the mindset of the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say or cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you know, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue, yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multi-lingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.”

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