The Shekhinah, the Divine feminine — Jill Hammer

Design by Rabbi Jill Hammer

‘Where can we find a powerful image of the Divine feminine within Jewish sources? One name for Her which has been with us for centuries is the Shekhinah, the ‘dweller within.’ — Rabbi Jill Hammer

A Prayer to the Shekhinah                                                      from Nakedness of the Fathers by Alicia Ostriker                               Click here to read the entire prayer.

Come be our mother we are your young ones
Come be our bride we are your lover
Come be our dwelling we are your inhabitants
Come be our game we are your players
Come be our punishment we are your sinners
Come be our ocean we are your swimmers
Come be our victory we are your army
Come be our laughter we are your story
Come be our Shekhinah we are your glory

I share Rabbi Jill Hammer’s words…

‘…According to the Talmud, the Shekhinah, the Indwelling, is the Divine that resides within the life of the world, dwelling on earth with the Jewish people and going into exile with them when they are exiled. While the traditional Jewish image of the transcendent God is male, in the kabbalah, that image has been accompanied by the feminine image of the Shekhinah—the inner glory of existence….

‘…The Shekhinah embodies joy, yet she is also a symbol of shared suffering and empathy, not only with a nation’s exile, but with all the hurts of the world. Mystics believe that in messianic times She will be reunited with her heavenly partner and that they will become one. Many Jewish poets of the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have reclaimed her as a powerful feminine image of God….

‘… As a rabbi, a feminist scholar, and a seeker, I have been looking for the Divine feminine for many years. In my own dreams, I have seen the Shekhinah as a pregnant woman glowing with light, as a great bird, as an old, secretive woman in a black robe, and as a stone with feathers. While I constantly look for her in texts, I believe that our own experience of Her will guide us toward Her, if we can open our eyes and ears….

‘….The Shekhinah, for some, is a reminder that there is no division between creation and divinity. The Shekhinah allows us to break through the exclusively male and hierarchical visions of God and imagine a God that changes as we change, that evokes nature as well as the supernatural. Melissa Weintraub writes: “Shekhinah, Mother of all being, you are the stream that runs through our veins, and dances through the soil….” When we speak to the immanent Shekhinah, She speaks not to us, but through us, and through all the varied facets of the world.’

—Rabbi Jill Hammer’s reflection can be read in full here: