Acquiring Torah 28: Rashbi: Connecting to the Shechinah
Rabbi Shimon was once going to Tiberius accompanied by Rabbi Yosi and Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Chiya. On the way they saw a Rabbi Pinchus coming towards them. When they met, they dismounted and sat down under a large tree. Rabbi Pinchus said, “Now that I am sitting here, I should like to hear some of those wonderful ideas on which you speak daily.”
Rabbi Shimon thereupon began a lecture with the text, “And he went on his journeys from the South even onto Bethel and Ai (Genesis 13:3).” The word “journeys” is used here although we might have expected “journey,” to indicate that the Divine Presence was journeying with him. It is incumbent on a man to be ever “male and female,” in order that his faith may be firm, and that the Divine Presence may never depart from him.
What, then, you will say, of a man who goes on a journey and, being absent from his wife, is no longer “male and female”? His remedy is to pray to God before he starts his journey, while he is still “male and female,” in order to draw to himself the Presence of his Master. When he has offered his prayer and thanksgiving, and the Divine Presence rests on him, then he can depart, for through his union with the Divine Presence, he had a “male and female” on his travels as he was at home, as is written, “Righteousness, (Tzedek, the female form of Tzaddik) shall go before him and shall place his footsteps on the way (Psalms 85:14).” (Zohar I 49b)
In order for a man who studies Torah to find Shechinah, the Divine Presence in his study, he must be aware of the essential role his wife plays in his learning and his spiritual development. As Rabbi Akiva said, “All that is mine and yours; is hers!” It is only the one who appreciates the role played by those who afford him the opportunity to study who can find the Shechinah in his service of God.