Rabbi Dr Z Aviner
IDOLATRY-12/ The Shechinah
Know your CREATOR, Know Yourself and Know the Idols
Who or what is the Shechinah?
The term comes from the Hebrew “Li-shchon” which means “to dwell.”
For instance: Moses’ Tabernacle is called “Mi-shchan,” a Place where Hashem (YHVH) Dwells.
As it says: “And they (Israel) shall build me a Tabernacle and I shall Dwell IN THEM” (Exodus 25: 8).
The simple meaning of the verse is, that YHVH would Dwell IN THEIR CAMP. Yet the sages have said (Shilo, Alsheik): “In them – inside them, or inside their heart.”
Hence the Shechinah is that part – or aspect – of YYVH that Dwells in the Tabernacle and in our human hearts.
And as it comes out – the Tabernacle is a “temporary station” from where She would Dwell in Israel’s camp and inside their hearts.
From here comes the teaching that a person should aspire to build a Temple for Hashem (YHVH) in his heart, a room in which She would Dwell. That idea, for instance, underlies the daily service prayers we offer three times a day.
The Completion of CREATION
The sages saw Moses’ Tabernacle, the Mishchan, as the completion of CREATION as told in Genesis Chapter One. How?
At the end of the Six Days, comes the story of the Sabbath, where it says:
And ELHM ended all His work that He had done
and ELHM blessed the Seventh Day and He sanctified it
for in it He abstained from all His Work
that He had done, TO MAKE.”
The section of the Sabbath ends with an apparently superfluous word: TO MAKE.
ELHM had already ‘finishe ’His work and has already blessed the sabbath, so why does the verse add “to make?” So, the Talmud explains – ELHM has left something for Man to accomplish beyond Genesis Chapter One. What is it?
The Rabbis said: He left for Mankind, or Israel, to make for Him a Tabernacle
Thus, building Moses’ Tabernacle would finish the building of Six Days, or Six Floors of CREATION.
The emphasis is on the action of ‘building,’ which takes time, a process. BUILDING THE TABENACLE WOULD FINISH THE STORY OF THE SABBATH.
There are many similarities in the selection of words and style , between the two sections – the the Sabbath in the Book of Genesis, and the erection of Moses’ Tabernacle in the book of Exodus.
For instance– in Exodus it says that Moses finished all the works oof the Tabernacle,
While in Genesis it says that RELHM finished all the work that He had done,
and so forth. (The subject is discussed at length in Nechamah Liebovitz book.)
Thus, at the end of Chapter One, YHVH was still looking for a Place to Dwell, to REST. It was not the end of the story of Genesis.
Yes, ELHM created the world in six Days, yet it is up to Adam to finish the story.
And it is up to Adam to offer Her a Place to REST, either in the Holy Temple under the cherubs, or in our hearts, our deeds and our Sabbath.
To understand it, let’s look at the story of the Sabbath at the end of Genesis Chapter One:
And ELoHiM made the animals…cattle…and everything creeping
And ELoHiM saw that is was good…
And ELoHim said let us make Adam
in our form and our image…
And ELoHiM blessed them saying be fruitful and multiply…
And EloHiM said behold, I have given you all the grass…
And ELoHiM saw everything that He had done and behold, it was
Very good (Tov Meod) And it was evening, and it was morning,
Y om (Day)
H a Shishi, (Sixth) (Genesis 1:31)
………………………… The Sabbath Day ………………………………………
V aYechulu (and they ended)
H aShamyim (the Heaves)And the Earth, VeHaaretz, and all their hosts,
And ELoHiM finished all the work he had done,
And ELoHiM finished on the Seventh Day His work which He had done,
And He abstained on the Seventh Day from all His work which He had done
And ELKM blessed the Seventh Da
As you see in the text, the acronym YHVH lies over, or covers the transition
from the Sixth Day to the Sabbath.
The front of Her Name, YH, protrudes into the Sixth Day, our world, whereas the
back part oof Her Name, VH, is still lying in the Sabbath.
(YH can be pronounced as YaH, and is found in many Biblical names like Isaiah, Jermiah)
What’s the story?
Tradition says that before making Adam,
ELHM ruled over the Six Day, awesomely alone, and
YHVH ruled over the Sabbath awesomely alone,
with no intermingling and no dialogue between them.
NO ATTRIBUTE INTERMINGLED WITH THE OTHER.
Why was that exclusiveness? Because these two Attributes are so different apart,
their values are so mutually exclusive, that there is no common ground for a dialogue between them. Thus, they can’t rule over the same Universe together
ELHM stands for the Absolute truth and Justice, without Mercy.
For six Days He ruled the world as a sole Dictator,
using the upper hand and iron fist, giving orders
that no one could refuse nor dared to refuse.
For long Six Days He followed the harsh way of ‘measure for measure,’
an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, with no mercy.
Under His awesome rule, creatures cause pains then suffer pains,
kill and are killed in a cycle of Absolute cycle.
Moreover, during the Six Days ELHM appears as a strong force,
an All-Mighty powerful Judge, who constantly creates and judges,
who never rests or abstains from creating more.
He exalts Himself over CREATION. He is neither shy nor modest.
He listens to no one, consulting no one, asking no one’s permission or advice.
YHVH in contrast is extremely powerful, yet shy and modest.
In Her domain, the Eternal Sabbath, She RESTS comfortably,
creating no one, judging no one; Her presence radiates
Holiness, Joy and Love.
How could those two completely opposing Attributes
ever share the same Universe?
That is why before making Adam,
ELHM governed the Six Days alone,
And YHVH Dwelled in the Eternal Sabbath alone.
The same was true for all previous Universes that ELHM had built alone,
and the two Attributes had never joined force or consulted each other.
ELHM ruled apart, and YHVH ruled apart.
All those previous Universes failed, terminated,
because whenever ELHM placed in them an intelligent creature
equipped with a Free Will and bad inclinations,
those intelligent creatures sinned and messed up so much,
that ELHM had to ‘finish’ them with wrath.
He finished the creatures, along with their Universes.
This time, however, creating our Universe,
ELHM wishes to finish the story differently.
He wishes our Universe to enter the Sabbath,
or better said: that the Sabbath would enter
our Universe, so that it would endure and not falter.
Let’s note that the Sabbath is not another Floor
on top of the Six Floors Building – nature.
The Sabbath is a new Light, a new Mode of Ruling that enters our world.
It is the Light of YHVH that enters our world and fills it with Her Values of
MERCY, COMPASSION, FORGIVENSS, HOLINESS and LOVE
ELHM built our Universe with a plan, sat up ahead,
that this time it would be offered an option to have the Sabbath
entering it, so that YHVH would take over and ELHM would abstain.
But the question was:
Who is the creature in ELHM’s world,
that could offer YHVH a Place to Dwell, or REST, in its heart?
Who would unite the Attributes YHVH and ELHM in Oneness?
Who would Observe the Holy Sabbath in ELHM’s world?
Who would perform YHVH’s MERCY and COMPASSION in ELHM’s world?
Since all creatures of the Six Days, before Adam, were made by ELHM alone,
none would offer a place in its heart for YHVH and Her values,
none would be able to perform YUHVH’s MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS.
So, for that reason,
ELHM decided to make an Adam, with YHVH participation.
Adam would be able to comply with ELHM’s Laws and ways
and at the same time would be able to comprehend YHVH and host Her in his heart.
ELHM, then, planned to make a new creature – Adam,
who would be able to comprehend Himself, as well as YHVH.
He would turn to YHVH, and ‘ask’ Her to ‘come over’
and participate in making Adam.
But to open a dialogue with YHVH, so to speak,
ELHM ‘had’ to change the way He rules.
For the ‘modest’, ‘shy’ YHVH – despite Her awesome power-
would not co-operate with the Self exalted, most powerful ‘tyrant’ ELHM.
In other words, ELHM ‘would have’ to accommodate Himself
to the ‘taste of the Merciful YHVH,’ in order to enter a dialogue between them.
Not unlike a Groom,who accommodate himself to the likeness of his beloved Bride.
Let’s recall that ELHM and YHVH are NOT two deities,
but rather two Attribute of the Infinite, nameless CREATOR.
All the images we use here in the story are only metaphors,
to satisfy our limited, human minds.
Hence, as a first step towards YHVH, so to sp
stepped down from His High Pedestal as a Sole Dictator,
and instead of giving order like “Let there be an Adam,”
He spoke in plural, saying: “Let Us Make an Adam in Our Form and Our Im
In other words, He relinquished His Sole Power as a All-Mighty JUDGE
And became a “KING Who Consults,” a “Democratic Ruler”
Who is opened to all sorts of ideas, IN MODESTY.
Under such rule, we’ve already said,
He opened the door for idolaters to think there are more than One CREATOR.
He would also make another concession towards Her,
by accepting Her view as overriding His view
in the newly formed Heavenly Court.
He did all that, relinquishing His Sole authority,
not out of power struggle, but because He LONGS to meet the sabbath,
to have the Sabbath entering His World.
You see that longing in the Hebrew words for “finished,” khalah
which also stands for khalah, a bride,
and also stands for khalah, consume to nothingness.
Hence, He posed an alternative:
Either I meet my Bride, my khlah,
Or khalah! Annihilation!
ELHM offered YHVH, so to speak, to have an Adam in his world,
So that Adam would offer Her a Place to REST,
Either in a physical Temple under the Cherubs Wings,
or in his heart, or in the Sabbath day of his week
where She could Dowell and REST in Time.
YHVH agreed, and entered our world – into the Sixth Day
from Her Sabbath.
She entered hesitantly, in a modest way,
as an acronym overriding the gap between the Sixth Day and the Sabbath,
half of Her Name is here, in our Sixth Day, the other half still in the Sabbath Da
like a thin ray of light, a shy Dove, or as a beautiful Cherub.
It would be up to Adam to draw Her more deeply into our world,
So that She would Dwell here in Her full name,
carrying the values of the Sabbath along with Her into ELHM’s world.
Hence, the text in Genesis Chapter One, only captures that moment in history
when YHVH has entered our world hesitantly, shyly, not in full name.
She is still waiting for Adam to draw Her farther inside our world
By building a Ta barnacle for Her.
That is what the Rabbis said, that the story of CREATION
was ‘finished,’ ended, by Moses building his Tabernacle.
Hosting YHVH in our hearts is a learned process,
that may take time, perhaps the entire human history.
Adam would receive a Torah, a guidance,
by which he could accomplish his task.
The Torah would mold Adam’s heart,
And gradually change it to accommodate YHVH and ELHM as One.
When that happens, Adam would be deemed Very Good,
by both Attributes, and merit seeing the Eternal Sabbath
taking over ELHM’s world.
At that point in time, ELHM would
ABSTAIN from more creating,
ABSTAIN from more judging,
ABSTAIN from more trials and tribulations.
At that moment, the Shechinah will Dwell in our entire world,
Filing it with Her Holiness, Joy a
So, let’s repeat:
The Sabbath day of our week is a Temple in time,
Where the Shechinah can Dwell,
and spread Her light to the rest of the week.
That is why
the Laws of the Sabbath were presented in the Book of Exodus
simultaneously with the commandment to build the Tabernacle.
The Tabernacle is the Place on Earth where the Shechinah Dwells,
and our Sabbath is the site in Time where YHVH RESTS.
In fact, all the 39 types of work, that are forbidden to do on the Sabbath,
are derived from the type of works that Moses and his men did
to build the Tabernacle.
This indicates clearly how the Temple and the Sabbath are intertwined,
both offering the Shechinah a Place to Dwell,
in the physical dimension of the Temple,
and in the time line of the week.
(Isn’t’ our world constituted of Space-Time four dimensions? )
The question is –
Are Noahides, gentiles, obligated in keeping the Sabbath?
The answer is derived from the parallelism
between the Sabbath and the Temple.
In the Holy Temple, not all Israel had to serve G-d by offering.
It was rather the task of the few, of Israel’s priests, to perform that duty,
in the name of all Israel.
Similarly, since our Sabbath day is Temple-in-time for the Shechinah,
not all Mankind are required to observe the Sabbath in the stringent way
of observing the 39 types of forbidden work.
Since G-d appointed Israel to serve as a kingdom of priests for all Mankind,
It is the task oof Israel to observe the Sabbath in a stringent way
For the congregation of all Mankind.
If Adam fails to offer the Shechinah a room in his heart to Dwell,
or fails to offer Her a Dwelling Place in the Sabbath,
The Shechinah would retract in disappointment back to Her Sabbath Day,
leaving our Universe in the Hands of the harsh ELHM,
who would definitely terminate it with wrath, to khalah, nothingness.
How is all that shown in the text?
At first, planning Adam, ELHM spoke in plural, saying “Let Us…”
but next it says:
“And ELHM created Adam in His Image,
In His Image did He create Adam.”
ELHM would not create Adam ready to accept the Shechinah in his heart,
since YHVH and Her features of MERCY, COMPASSION and FORGIVENESS
are none of His features.
But ELHM made Adam in His Image,
carving in it a room CAPABLE of hosting the Shechinah in it,
and it would up to Adam to fill that room with the content of YHVH
Again, this would be a learning process, that can take time,
the entire human histo
Another question is:
What is there for Adam to gain
By the advent of the Shechinah in ELHM’s world?
The answer is –
the advent of the Shechinah of YHV in the Heavenly Court,
would sweetens our verdicts. While ELHM act as a prosecutor, She would be our defense.
would offer Adam the option to repent, ask forgiveness and start all over again.
Would offer Adam the opportunity to enjoy Her Holiness, Joy and Love, especially in our Sabbath.
Since YHVH is the source of Blessing, Her presence would shower on us
spiritual and material success and happiness.
YHVH heals the sick,
saves the oppressed,
redeems the captivities,
conducts wars and peace,
answers our prayers,
gives us beyond what we deserve.
Without Her, our lives would be animalistic, cold, dull,
pursuing an eye for an eye, all day long.