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The Shechina, or Divine Presence, is mentioned as being present in a number of different situations in the Talmud:

  • When 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 people sit and occupy themselves with Torah, (Avot 3:2,6, Ber 6a)
  • When 10 gather to pray, (Ber 6a)
  • When three sit as judges, (ibid)
  • with a sick man, specifically above his head in bed (Shab 12b)
  • Wherever Israel is exiled, (Meg 29a)

To name a few1.

Is the dwelling of the Divine Presence a perceivable experience? Do any sources discuss what palpable sentiments or energies in a given situation indicate the dwelling of the Shechina?


1. For English, see here

2

The Ramchal in his book, Derech Hashem, understands the "Shechina" to be the revelation of G-d's presence. The Shechina is present in different degrees in various circumstances, including the ones you mention.

The Shechinah is a perceivable phenomena. However, there are two major influences on the perception of the Shechinah:

1) The quality or degree of the revelation (10 men learning is more than 2, the Kotel HaMaaravi would be more than a regular synagogue.)

2) The sensitivity of the observer. A phenomena known as "timtum halev" (literally, blockage of the heart) obscures a person's ability to sense the Shechinah. (Timtum halev can be caused by, among other things, non-kosher foods, inappropriate sights, and other sundry sins).

Many people can attest to feeling something special in places with a great revelation and/or people who themselves possess the spiritual sensitivity to appreciate the revelation.

  • interesting source. I wonder if the Ramchal had ASMR? It fits with my experiences and with his descriptions... – Isaac Kotlicky May 27 '15 at 13:40
  • @IsaacKotlicky ASMR? – LN6595 May 28 '15 at 21:24
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_sensory_meridian_response Sometimes colloquially (and crudely) known as a "brain-gasm." It's... difficult to describe. A tendency toward non-sexual pleasurable sensation in the head/brain/body that can be stimulated through certain triggers. It's an old phenomena thing that's being studied for the first time. It's believed to be related to feelings of religious fervor and meditation (I get it when I meditate or pray deeply). – Isaac Kotlicky May 28 '15 at 21:50
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A classic ancient source that discusses the revelation of the Shechinah is the Hagada Shel Pesach.

During Magid we say וּבְמֹרָא גָּדֹל - זוֹ גִלּוּי שְׁכִינָה - and with Great Fear - this refers to the Revelation of the Shechina.

When one merits a revelation of the Shechina one is overcome with great awe and fear of the almighty.

Some of the prophets described this, to the extent that they lost control over their bodies and fell on their faces during the revelation.

For example: in Daniel Ch. 10 he describes a divine revelation - not only does he feel faint, but even those people with him - though they didn't realize what was going on - they still felt a great fear and decided to run away and hide:

ז: וְרָאִיתִי אֲנִי דָנִיֵּאל לְבַדִּי אֶת הַמַּרְאָה וְהָאֲנָשִׁים אֲשֶׁר הָיוּ עִמִּי לֹא רָאוּ אֶת הַמַּרְאָה אֲבָל חֲרָדָה גְדֹלָה נָפְלָה עֲלֵיהֶם וַיִּבְרְחוּ בְּהֵחָבֵא: ח: וַאֲנִי נִשְׁאַרְתִּי לְבַדִּי וָאֶרְאֶה אֶת הַמַּרְאָה הַגְּדֹלָה הַזֹּאת וְלֹא נִשְׁאַר בִּי כֹּח וְהוֹדִי נֶהְפַּךְ עָלַי לְמַשְׁחִית וְלֹא עָצַרְתִּי כֹּחַ: ‏

As others answerers have pointed out, one usually needs a certain spiritual preparedness to appreciate a divine revelation. That is why one may be visiting the sick and praying with 10 others and not feel anything special.

  • 1
    A. Daniel was approached by an angle, not the Schina, I don't think that every divine revelation is the same. B. The Gmara in Megila 3a it is explained that the people with Daniel felt fear because their guardian angle was aware of the danger they were in. – yechezkel May 28 '15 at 8:20
  • Interestingly according to some Rishonim (Ri Ben Yakar IIRC) וּבְמֹרָא גָּדֹל actually means "with a great vision" – mevaqesh May 29 '15 at 16:43
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The effects are often seen and are different. In the מדבר, the presence of the Shechina was noticed when a cloud would form. In the בית המקדש it was noticeable through the steady miracles. In the Beis Din the idea is that it guides the judges. In exile, over the sick and at a large gathering, it refers to acceptance of the Tefillah.

When a father smiles at his son, the child appreciates the smile, regardless of whether or not he is thinking of the practical application of his better chances of getting a new toy. When a principal is angry at a pupil, the child will be afraid of that itself, although it is obviously based on what the principal is capable of doing.

Divine closeness is cherished for its own sake, but surely there are ramifications.

  • Sources would improve this answer, insightful as it is! – Baby Seal May 27 '15 at 5:19
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    Well, the part about the cloud in the Midbar is over Chumash. The steady miracles in the בית המקדש is in פרקי אבות פרק ה. In exile, we have the: ירושלמי דתענית (פ"ב ה"ו), ריש לקיש בשם רבי ינאי אמר, שתף הקב"ה שמו בישראל. למה הדבר דומה, למלך שהיה לו מפתח פלטרין קטנה, אמר אם אני אניח המפתח כמו שהיא, הרי היא אבודה, אלא הרי אני קובע בה שלשלת, שאם תהיה אבודה, תהיה השלשלת מונח עלי. כך אמר הקב"ה, אם אני מניח את בני ישראל, הרי הם אבודים בין האומות. אלא הרי אני משתף שמי הגדול בהם, מה טעם, "וישמע הכנעני ויושבי הארץ ונסבו עלינו והכריתו את שמינו מן הארץ ומה תעשה לשמך הגדול" (ר' יהושע ז, ט), שהוא משותף בנו – HaLeiVi May 27 '15 at 6:29

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