A Coequal Helpmeet

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Rabbi Rami Shapiro answers questions from S&H readers. “I’m engaged to a man I met in Bible study. He asked me to be his helpmeet the way Eve was Adam’s helpmeet (Genesis 2:18) ... What do you think he means?”

I’m engaged to a man I met in Bible study. He asked me to be his helpmeet the way Eve was Adam’s helpmeet (Genesis 2:18). I thought it was touching. Now I’m not so sure. What do you think he means?

“Helpmeet” is the King James Bible’s rendering of the Hebrew ezer k’negdo: one who helps (ezer) by opposing (neged). The French rabbi and Torah commentator Rashi said an ezer k’negdo supports their partner when the partner does good and opposes their partner when the partner does evil, and this requires that both partners be of equal power and moral and ethical stature. I suggest you speak with your fiancée to see if this is what he had in mind when he asked you to be his helpmeet.

I consult tarot cards daily. My sister calls tarot the devil’s deck and worries I am being misled by the prince of lies. Is this possible?

There is only one lie, and we are all susceptible to it. The lie is that you are apart from rather than a part of the dynamic nondual Aliveness manifesting as all reality. This lie leads to the exploitation and oppression of others—humans, animals, and nature as a whole—and is at the heart of all evil. If your reading of tarot fosters this lie, then your sister is right, and you should stop consulting the cards. If it doesn’t, then your sister is wrong, and you should continue consulting the cards.

During COVID lockdown my apartment was my little monastery where I devoted myself to prayer and study. Now that I’m moving back into the world, I’m appalled by my fellow humans’ greed, ignorance, racism, violence, and hatred. What should I do?

There is a Talmudic story about Rabbi Shimon and his son Rabbi Elazar who hid in a cave for 12 years to avoid capture and death at the hands of the Romans. They spent their time studying Torah. When they emerged from the cave and saw farmers harvesting their fields, they said, “Why would anyone do this rather than study?” As soon as they spoke these words, the fields burst into flame and the produce was lost. A Heavenly Voice spoke to them saying, “This is what comes from your study? Return to the cave!” They stayed hidden for an additional year, finally reentering the world with compassion rather than contempt. I suggest you go back into your monastery until compassion overcomes contempt and you can return to the world as a vehicle for love.

I asked a Mormon missionary how he knew that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. He asked me how I knew that it wasn’t. I couldn’t answer that question. Could the Book of Mormon be part of God’s revelation?

Why not? If God revealed the Five Books of Moses, why not the Gospels and the Holy Qur’an? Why not the Bhagavad Gita and the Book of Mormon? And if God’s revelation can be found in these (and other) books, shouldn’t you read them all? And when you do you will find they hold many ideas and values in common. What is common may be Truth. What is unique to each may be the work of people promoting the supremacy of their tribe. While I don’t consider any scripture to be true, I do find Truth in all of them. I read for Truth. I suggest you do the same.

I’m Jewish, my partner isn’t. I want her to accompany me to High Holy Day services and she wants me to explain how they might speak to her. Honestly, they don’t speak to me, so I have no idea what to say to her. What would you say?

Judaism rests on two principles: teshuvah, returning to your true Self as a manifesting of God (YHVH, the Happening happening as all happening), and tikkun, repairing the world by being a blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). While the Days of Awe (High Holy Days) explore these two principles through Jewish tradition, texts, and teachings, the principles themselves are universal and should speak powerfully to both you and your partner. The key is to find a synagogue that makes this explicit. If this proves difficult, you might try my online Days of Awe for the World retreat at

All my life I have struggled to do God’s will, but as I enter the last years of my life I wonder if I have actually done so. Your thoughts?

God is YHVH, Tao, the nondual Happening happening as all reality. God’s will is the way things happen moment to moment. Struggling has nothing to do with it. Clouds don’t struggle to rain; suns don’t struggle to shine; roses don’t struggle to bloom. If you are struggling, you aren’t doing God’s will but striving to impose your own will. My advice is this: Stop struggling and start blooming.

I recently received a diagnosis of a terminal illness from which there is no escape. I want to contact friends and acquaintances, inform them of my situation, and ask them for forgiveness for any injury I may have caused them. How might I phrase such a request?

While I applaud the sentiment, I urge you not to do this. You are coercing people into forgiving you, and this will taint any forgiveness that is proffered. Rather, I would reach out to people, briefly explain your situation, and apologize for any hurt you may have caused them and forgive them for any hurt you may have received from them. Do not be specific as this may rekindle old anger and pain. If they respond in a similar manner—well and good. If they don’t, at least you can take satisfaction in having reached out with love and humility.

I attended a seminar recently and learned that there is one question at the heart of every person’s life. When asked what my one question was, I had no idea. How do I find my one question?

You would expect that question to be answered as part of the seminar. If it wasn’t, your one question should be “How do I get my money back?” That said, I think the question at the heart of every person’s life is the same: Who am I? Asked wisely this question is a scalpel slicing away all that defines you: race, class, gender, sex, religion, ethnicity, nationality, career, and so on to reveal the one true Self manifesting as all life. You will know this is the right question because the more skillfully you ask it the freer you become.

Helpmeet equals man and woman dancing sketch

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