August 17, 2011 | by

Someone recently showed me a copy of "Lillith," a Jewish feminist magazine. Is the name Lillith mentioned in the classical Jewish texts?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Lillith, a female demon, was Eve's alleged predecessor who enticed Adam into illicit sexual activities.

From the four specific references to Lillith in the Talmud, we learn that she is a wild-haired and winged creature with nymphomaniac tendencies (Eruvin 100b, Nidah 24b, Shabbat 151b). She is the mother of demons (Bava Batra 73a) and is said to "kill 100 of her demon children daily."

According to Rabbi Chiya, she "returned to dust" (Genesis Raba 22:7, Zohar 34b), and God proceeded to create a second Eve for Adam (Genesis Raba 18.4).

As with all Midrashic material, the above statements might not be literally true but rather serve to teach ethical or Kabbalistic lessons. In this case (whether or not Lillith literally existed), the message might be that man cannot be married to a purely physical being solely for the purpose of mating and producing young. He must rather have a soul-mate, with whom he builds a soul connection and lives in a relationship which is fundamentally spiritual. Possibly, Adam had to try out the alternative to recognize that a physical relationship alone would never truly satisfy him.

See this article for a fuller treatment on this topic. See also this past response about understanding Midrash.

(sources: Zohar - Vayikra 19; Alphabet of Ben-Sira; The Juggler and the King, by Rabbi Aharon Feldman,

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