The Zohar often depicts the Shechina as a passive, dependant “female”-figure who is without “color” or “light” (i.e., overt substance and strong definition) of her own, and who can thus act as a sort of selfless, malleable reflector of whatever enters her purview from above and to transmute it downward unobtrusively (see Zohar 1, 221a, 151b-152a; also see Eitz Chaim 6:5).
Thus, in relation to the Sephirot above it, the Shechina is of the lowest-rank, but in relation to the worlds below it is of the very highest order (1, 172a-b; 1, 159b-160a; also see Pardes 11:2 where Malchut is referred to as the world’s “architect”). It’s thus “female” in that it receives Divine flow from the active “male” Sephirot above her, but it then, ironically, transmits it in a “male” way to the lower phenomena under its purview
And it’s said to act as the foundation stone of the world (2, 222a-b), its house (1, 172a-b), its mother (3, 249a-b), as righteousness itself (2, 139b-140a), God’s own agent (2, 50b-51a), as the moon to God’s sun (1, 181a-b; 3, 45b, 248b), and as God’s queen (3, 69a),
We see, then, that the Kabbalists combined the nearness and approachability of the Shechina expressed above and its association with God Himself, as His very consort, partner, and intimate in the act of creation.
We’ll see what Ramchal said about this next.
(c) 2013 Rabbi Yaakov Feldman
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