As we head into World Breastfeeding Week (August 1–7, 2018), the US has just made breastfeeding in public legal in all 50 states. Hopefully, the new legislation will raise the importance of breastfeeding in general.
At this point you may be asking yourself, what does the wisdom of Kabbalah have to do with encouraging women to breastfeed?
The wisdom of Kabbalah deals a lot with the concept of ‘suckling’, but not in its physiological aspect, rather in the context of its spiritual roots — the spiritual forces that create the phenomenon of breastfeeding in our physical world.
From the spiritual system we can learn that the mother’s natural nourishment contains unique forces, vital not only to the physical body of the newborn, but also for his or her spiritual development. However, the scientific tools we have today are incapable of detecting all of the subtle and delicate components found in breast milk.
Beyond the many benefits of mother’s milk that medicine indicates, such as antibodies that protect the newborn’s body against diseases, mental development, and more, there is also an emotional nourishment that flows between the mother and baby. The newly arrived baby needs continuous contact with his mother, in as much as it can be similar to how it was in the womb.
Breastfeeding connects the mother and infant to a single system, in which the mother’s blood turns into milk, and becomes blood once again within the baby’s body. This is why breast milk is so important, since it’s almost identical to being fed through the umbilical cord in the mother’s womb.
The great Kabbalist, the Ari, wrote about the spiritual roots of this in his book Tree of Life (Etz Chaim): “After the birth of the newborn, the upper blood returns to be milk… blood is turned into milk within the full belly, and from that juice, butter is made to feed the baby.”
The milk carries with it the mother’s physicality and her smell, but also her attitude and her inner world, her life wisdom and other factors that cannot be measured scientifically. It is an open communication channel for twenty-four months, through which much information flows, raising the baby according to the countless changes that shape his world emotionally, physiologically and mentally.
At the age when the baby begins to walk and still breastfeeds, as several layers of connection are formed. On the one hand, the baby can “escape” its mother and begin to build his independence away from her. On the other hand, the emotional need and the constant connection between them connects them for life.
The mother also enjoy the benefits of breastfeeding not only in the physical sense, but as it is written, “Hear the sons of your father’s morality, and not abandon your mother’s Torah” (Proverbs 1: 8). From his mother, the baby receives what is referred to as “Torah” — the inner lights that develop his inner qualities, preparing him for future spiritual development. Over the course of his life, he will seek that deep connection, only at a higher level — to be born as a spiritual person and suckle from his higher root.
For more about this subject please see my article about why stay-at-home mothers should benefit first from basic income.