Skip to main content

Today Is:

Mailing Address Only: 84 Senior Place Fairfield, CT 06825 | Phone: 203.583-9142 | Email: info@ahavathachim.org

Congregation Ahavath Achim logo Congregation Ahavath Achim

A Modern Orthodox Synagogue

What is "The Shechinah"?
 
Let us look at some definitions:
 
Oxford Languages defines the Shechinah as being "the glory of the divine presence, conventionally represented as light or interpreted symbolically".
 
Dictionary.com tells us that the Shechinah is "the presence of God on earth or a symbol or manifestation of His presence".
 
According to its Wikipedia page, the Shechinah is "a Hebrew word meaning "dwelling" or "settling" and denotes the presence of God in a place.
 
Interestingly, while the term "Shechinah" as such does not appear anywhere in Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, the concept does have its roots in this week's parasha.
 
In this week's reading, Parashat Terumah, the Almighty expresses His will to Moshe Rabbeinu and the Israelite people that they should construct a Mishkan, a Tabernacle, that will travel with them in the wilderness.  The Jewish people have just been redeemed from their Egyptian servitude, they have been given the Torah at Mt Sinai, now the time has come for them to construct a Mishkan that will serve as a centralized place of worship as well as a home for the Ark and its Tablets.
 
But the Mishkan serves a third, more sublime, purpose as well:  the redemption from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and the giving of the Ten Commandments were all profound expressions of the special love and connection that exists between God and His people.  However, these expressions were all limited to specific moments in time.  The construction of the Mishkan helped to ensure the continued and sustained relationship between the Jewish people and their Lord.  The Mishkan's presence in the center of the Israelite camp was a (semi)permanent reminder of the Almighty God's presence in their midst. It is to that end that the most basic translation of the Torah, the Targum Onkelos, interprets the verse in this week's parasha (Shemot 25:8)"They shall make a sanctuary for Me so that I may dwell among them" as "they shall construct a sanctuary on my behalf and I shall cause my Shechinah to dwell amongst them."  This translation of Targum Onkelos is the earliest known reference to "the Shechinah".
 
May the words of this week's parasha help to remind us of the continued presence of the Almighty amongst His people and in our individual lives.
 
Shabbat Shalom,
 
Rabbi Peretz Robinson