Malchut-Shechinah: Divine Mother

migrant motherThough a human mother might forget her children, I never could forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands. (Isaiah 49:14-16).

Opening to Shechinah is the last station on the seven-week journey of the Omer. This last week represents an opportunity to experience emotionally a subtle truth about God.

Ramak (Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, 1522-1570) imagines Shechinah as an archetypal image of Mother. No matter how much or how little each of us was loved by our real mothers, Shechinah sustains us spiritually with unconditional love. Held by love, we develop the confidence and courage to support one another in difficult times.

Just as Shechinah, a facet of God, may not be like your real mother, so God the creator may not be like any created thing. For example, says the Ramak, we are taught to approach God with yirah. Yirah can mean either “fear” or “awe”; so which is the proper attitude towards God? Normally, we fear concrete things like suffering, violence, or death. But God is not like these things. God does not destroy us; God sustains us. Thus, we should approach God with unique awe, not ordinary fear.

Perhaps we have reflected deeply on the sefirot during this Omer period. If we have paid attention to these psychic vessels for shaping and holding divine energy, we may be increasingly aware of spiritual thoughts and feelings. These thoughts and feelings, however, are not God. They are only reflections of God’s power, messengers announcing God’s existence, forms of consciousness turning us towards God’s presence.

Who in your life has held you with unconditional love? How have they helped you understand that you are more than your fears? How have they alerted you to God’s presence? And how will you thank them this Mother’s Day?

— Image: Florence Owens Thompson by Dorothea Lange

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