In the beginning of this week’s portion, Tazria, the Torah states: “If a woman conceived seed, and bore a male child.”
According to one commentary, this verse alludes to the Jewish people and their Final Redemption with Moshiach.
“A woman” is symbolic of the Jewish people; “conceived seed” alludes to the Jews’ service of mitzvot (commandments) and good deeds; “and bore a male child” refers to the ultimate result of this process – the birth of the Messianic Era.
The Final Redemption is referred to as “male” as an expression of its strength, for after Moshiach redeems the world there will be no possibility of further exiles, and the Messianic age will last forever.
This same concept is expressed in a Midrashic reference to the tenth and final song that will be sung by the Jewish people with Moshiach. The tenth song is called “shir,” the masculine form, whereas the nine songs that have already been sung are termed “shira,” the feminine form.
In order to understand why the Jewish nation is symbolically a woman we need to examine the Hebrew word for woman.
Eve was called “isha” (“woman”) “because out of man (‘ish’) was this one taken.” The word “isha” therefore expresses the woman’s relationship with her husband, and reflects her innate desire to reunite with him.
Similarly, in the spiritual sense, G-d is “male,” whereas the Jewish people is “female.” Just as Eve was created from Adam, so too is every Jew’s soul “taken” from within G-d himself, being a “veritable piece of G-d Above.”
Accordingly, every Jew’s innate desire is to reunite with G-d, the source of his being. Material wealth and physical pleasures can never satisfy the Jew’s longing for G-d; neither can spiritual delights totally satiate this yearning. Consciously or not, throughout his life the Jew seeks this union with G-d; it is the driving force of his existence.
To continue the metaphor of the “seed,” this innate desire to unite with G-d must be sown precisely in the ground, finding expression in practical mitzva observance.
A seed planted in the air will never sprout; good intentions and positive feelings toward Judaism alone will never yield the desired results. Only through actual Torah study and the observance of mitzvot does the Jew cultivate the “seed” and allow it to grow.
Of course, the underlying objective of the Jew’s service in the world is its ultimate “germination” – the Messianic Era.
Translating one’s positive feelings into action – doing one more mitzva, performing one more good deed for a fellow Jew – is what will bring the revelation of Moshiach and the redemption of the entire world.