What was the Shechinah? Was it the presence of a Divine person
or only of a Divine power? The following quotations will show
what is the teaching of the Talmud on the matter, and will be
read with interest by the theologian, whether Jew or Christian.
Where do we learn that when ten persons pray together the
Shechinah is with them? In Ps. lxxxii. 1, where it is written,
"God standeth in the congregation of the mighty." And where do
we learn that when two sit together and study the law the
Shechinah is with them? In Mal. iii. 16, where it is written,
"Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and
the Lord hearkened and heard it." (_Berachoth_, fol. 6, col. 1.)
Where do we learn that the Shechinah does strengthen the sick?
In Ps. xli. 3, where it is written, "The Lord will strengthen
him upon the bed of languishing." (_Shabbath_, fol. 12, col. 2.)
He who goes from the Synagogue to the lecture-room, and from the
lecture-room back to the Synagogue, will become worthy to
receive the presence of the Shechinah; as it is written (Ps.
lxxxiv. 1), "They go from strength to strength; every one of
them in Zion appeareth before God." (_Moed Katan_, fol. 29, col.
Rabbi Yossi says, "The Shechinah never came down here below, nor
did Moses and Elijah ever ascend on high, because it is written
(Ps. cxv. 16), 'The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's,
but the earth hath he given to the children of men.'" (_Succah_,
fol. 5, col. 1.)
Esther "stood in the inner court of the King's house" (Esth. v,
1). Rabbi Levi says, "When she reached the house of the images
the Shechinah departed from her. Then she exclaimed, 'My God! my
God! why hast thou forsaken me?'" (_Meggillah_, fol. 15, col. 2.)
"But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God are alive every
one of you this day" (Deut. iv. 4). Is it possible to cleave to
the Shechinah? Is it not written (_ibid._, verse 24), "For the
Lord thy God is a consuming fire"? The reply is:--He that
bestows his daughter in marriage on a disciple of the wise (that
is, a Rabbi), or does business on behalf of the disciples of the
wise, or maintains them from his property, Scripture accounts it
as if he did cleave to the Shechinah. (_Kethuboth_, fol. iii,
He who is angry has no regard even for the Shechinah; as it is
written (Ps. x. 4), "The wicked, when his anger rises, does not
inquire after God; God is not in all his thoughts." (_Nedarim_,
fol. 22, col. 2.)
He who visits the sick should not sit upon the bed, nor even
upon a stool or a chair beside it, but he should wrap his mantle
round him and sit upon the floor, because of the Shechinah which
rests at the head of the bed of the invalid; as it is written
(Ps. xli. 3), "The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of
languishing." (Ibid., fol. 40, col. 1.)
When Israel went up out of the Red Sea, both the babe on its
mother's lap and the suckling at the breast saw the Shechinah,
and said, "This is my God, and I will prepare Him a habitation;"
as it is written (Ps. viii. 2), "Out of the mouths of babes and
sucklings thou hast ordained strength." (_Soteh_, fol. 30, col.
Where do we read that the Shechinah is present everywhere? In
Zech. ii. 3, where it is written, "And behold the angel that
talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet
him." It is not said went out after him, but "went out to meet
him." From this we know that the Shechinah is present
everywhere. (_Bava Bathra_ fol. 25, col. 1.)
Rabbi Akiva says, "For three things I admire the Medes:--1. When they
carve meat, they do it on the table; 2. When they kiss, they only do so
upon the hand; 3. And when they consult, they do so only in the field."
THE TALMUD, _Berachoth_, fol. 8, col. 2.