The Shekhinah She


In the study NOT ALL is IN THE HANDS OF HEAVEN: ESCHATOLOGY AND KABBALAH*, Rachel Elior mentions that after the martyrdom of Shlomo Molcho, who chose to be burnt at the stake in Mantua in 1532 rather than to submit to the Papal decree demanding a renunciation of his profound belief in imminent messianic expectations, Rabbi Joseph Karo, a leading rabbinic figure in Turkey who was associated with Molcho, began to receive what he perceived as auditory and visual heavenly visitations which embody the concepts of exile and redemption in a new way that changed the nature of mystical eschatology. Karo left detailed recordings of his visions in his mystical diary which was published posthumously as Maggid Mesharim. He wrote of hearing the heavenly voice of the Shekhinah (the Divine presence which dwells, ideally, in the Holy of Holies in the temple. When the temple does not stand the Shekhinah is spoken of as being in exile and is described as the female aspect of the Godhead) urging him and his fellow mystics in Turkey to redeem this divine entity from the bondage of exile:

My friends, my beloved. .. blessed are you. . . that you have undertaken to crown me tonight, for it is now many years since the crown fell from my head, I have no one to comfort me and I am cast into the dust, embracing dungheaps. But now you have restored the crown to its former glory. . . therefore my sons, be strong, resolute and joyful in my love, my Torah and my reverence; and if you could surmise the minutest part of the grief that is my lot. .. therefore, be strong and resolute and desist not from study. .. therefore, stand upon your feet and exalt me. . . and She repeated, blessed are you, resume your studies and desist not for one instant and go to the Land of Israel instantly. .. and through you I have been exalted tonight.

* Eschatology in the Bible and in Jewish and Christian Tradition, edited by Henning Graf Reventlow

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