Suckling at My Mother's Breasts

The Image of a Nursing God in Jewish Mysticism

By Ellen Davina Haskell

Subjects: Women's Studies
Series: SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions
Paperback : 9781438443805, 203 pages, July 2013
Hardcover : 9781438443812, 203 pages, November 2012

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Table of contents


Hebrew and Aramaic Transliterations

Introduction: Kabbalistic Images, Relationality, and a Breastfeeding God

1. Breastfeeding and Religious Transmission in Rabbinic Literature

2. Suckling the Divine Overflow in Early Kabbalah

3. God as a Nursing Mother in Sefer ha-Zohar

4. Concluding Thoughts on the Nursing Divine


A fascinating discussion of the kabbalistic image of a nursing god, its historical context, and its theological implications.


One of Kabbalah's most distinctive images of the feminine divine is that of a motherly, breastfeeding God. Suckling at My Mother's Breasts traces this idea from its origins in ancient rabbinic literature through its flourishing in the medieval classic Sefer ha-Zohar (The Book of Splendor). Taking the position that kabbalistic images provide specific, detailed models for understanding the relationship between God and human beings, Ellen Davina Haskell connects divine nursing theology to Jewish ideals regarding motherhood, breastfeeding, and family life from medieval France and Spain, where Kabbalah originated. Haskell's approach allows for a new evaluation of Kabbalah's feminine divine, one centered on culture and context, rather than gender philosophy or psychoanalysis. As this work demonstrates, the image of the nursing divine is intended to cultivate a direct emotional response to God rooted in nurture, love, and reliance, rather than knowledge, sexuality, or authority.

Ellen Davina Haskell is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.


"This book is an accessible work, ideal for anyone seeking a spirituality that centers on a positive relationship between humanity and God." — Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual