The Shechinah in general
We do not always have a positive image of a king in our current society. We see him as someone who wants to enrich himself at the expense of the common man, someone who plays the boss and wages war. But a true king protects his people, giving everything he has to ensure that his people are well off.
In the Adon Olam-prayer, we say:
He who was, is and will be King. He was King even before this world was created, but a king is not a king without servants. But this desire – to put it bluntly – made Him King and this is the Shechinah at the highest level, in the highest heaven. But while it is in the highest heaven it is not revealed, it can only be revealed here in our physical world. You can name the Shechinah as the revelation of G-d’s Presence as King of His World.
Hashem created, shaped, and made the world and Gan Eden and placed there the first humans, Adam and Chava. The garden they were to guard and preserve. And also make G-ds Kingship visible by not eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. After eating the fruit, the Shechinah retreated in part. After the sin of Cain and Abel, the sin of Noah’s generation, the tower of Babel, it retreated further and further, to the highest heaven.
With Abraham, this changed. He recognised G-d and made His Name known among men. People who were his guests and wanted to thank him for his hospitality, he pointed out that they should give their thanks to G-d. As a result, the Shechinah slowly returned to earth. This return to earth culminated at Mount Sinai. Here the highest heaven – the Throne of G-d – touched the physical world, so to speak. Rashi points out in his explanation to Deutronomy 5:19 that this was the highest form of revelation of G-d’s Kingship that He publicly revealed, thereafter it never occurred.
At that time, the people were at the same spiritual level as Adam and Eve in Gan Eden, making this revelation possible to the whole people. However, after hearing the 10 G-d divine sayings, the people chose that the rest of what G-d would speak would come to them through Moses because Moses was at a higher spiritual level than them and he could handle the intensity of G-d’s words, as they were afraid the intensity would be too high for them. Moses was at such a high level that he was able to approach G-d’s Throne and receive the Torah there and take it with him to our physical world. Which allowed the Shechinah to live among the people again, even at a higher level than in Gan Eden.
However, things turned out differently, the people, led by the Erev Rav, made themselves a golden calf. The Shechinah would eventually reside among the people, after G-d’s forgiveness, but in the Mishkan. In the Mishkan, the Levites and the Kohanim would serve in place of the firstborn of the people, because they had not participated in the sin of the golden calf.
After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Shechinah went into exile with the people. But soon when the Third Temple becomes visible, it will fully return to the Temple. HaShem will be King of the whole world and everyone will recognise and serve Him.
Personally experiencing of the Shechinah
Anyone who already now acknowledges and commits His Kingship is already experiencing an ever-increasing revelation of His Kingship here and now.
That is a growth process, and even in that growth process there are times when you experience the Shechinah more or less.
As a young girl, I could talk intensively with Hashem, under the stars, experiencing Him. As I got older, that slowly became less however when I was 13 and decided to give my heart to Him, that intense moment from before was back for a while. But even that waned again, it was wave after wave of experiencing the Shechinah. At the moments in my life when I sought Him, He stayed with me. Like He stayed with the people when they stayed at an encampment in the desert.
Now that I am Bat Noah the surges are no longer there, it is more a gradual growing awareness of His Kingship a trust in His goodness even when things are momentarily difficult.
I think I have felt my trust in Him, and therefore His Presence, the most after a car accident (and another personal event), and it is because of this that I know and trust that when the time will be there to leave this world, my awareness of His Presence will be the greatest.
By Angelique Sijbolts
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