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What are the modern beliefs and opinions of the Shekhina being the feminine presence / version / alternate of God who dwells on the earth?

In his article "Shekhina," as referenced by the Encyclopedia Britannica, Ilil Arbel, Ph.D., wrote, "The manifestation of a loving maternal entity, ready to defend her people even from God Himself, brings a feeling of comfort that a paternal, invisible entity like Yahweh cannot bestow upon His worshipers. Shekhina represented compassion in its purest form, and despite being, officially, the female side of God, she was visible and audible as a feminine entity in her own right."

The complete article is here: http://www.pantheon.org/articles/s/shekhina.html

The Encyclopedia Britannica page is here: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/539592/Shekhina

What are the current Judaic perspectives on this concept of Shekhina? Is it explored, rebuked or embraced?

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Discussed at chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/12721615#12721615 et seq. –  msh210 Dec 18 '13 at 16:37

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There is only one God. God has no body and thus no gender.

We attribute various roles and qualities to God; some of which, if applied to a human being, we would normally associate with a human male, and others with a human female.

Thus when Biblical Hebrew has to choose a gender (every word in Hebrew is gendered, there's no gender-neutral option!) to describe God's acting, or God's might, it's conjugated in the male.

When we talk about God's presence being felt in a more passive sense, it's described as "the shechina" -- the dwelling -- and that's a feminine word. Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik once said that when studying he could feel the Shechina over his shoulder, "and she was saying -- well, what do you think the Talmud is saying here?"

But there's only one God. Who has no body and no gender.

Just as an illustration -- God has no age. Yet we find metaphoric language describing God a young warrior because when we picture a human fighter full of vitality, we think of youth. We also find metaphoric language describing God as an aged scholar and judge because when we think of a wise, humble, compassionate human being, we think of an old person. It's all about the best way we can describe it given our limited perception.

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