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The exile of the Shekinah is the exile of the Erotic into the Sexual: Marc Gafni

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In this blog we want to provide some deep context in sources of hebrew wisdom for this core idea that that the exile of the shekinah is in one expression, the exile of the erotic into the sexual.

This is important so follow closely my friends. {This blog is for you Dr. mk:)}

The idea that the exile of the Shehina is the exile of the erotic into the sexual is possibly best expressed in the Raya Mehimna and Tiqunei Zohar literature. Based on the biblical verse “and a maidservant that inherits her mistress” (Proverbs 30:23), the Shehina in exile is said to be the state in which the maidservant has inherited her place.

The “maidservant” includes a range of possibilities, (see Raya Mehimna, Zohar, vol. 2 117b, where it says explicitly that “not all Shehinas are the same”) from the lack of fullness that resulted as a result of Moses’ passing and the ensuing leadership of Joshua (Tiqunei Zohar 14b), to the most commonly defined “maidservant” state – that of the “evil one” (often identified with Lilith), who invariably takes the Shehina’s place because of some sort of sexual sin (e.g. Raya Mehimna, Zohar, vol. 3, 226a, Tiqunei Zohar 24b).

She is called menstrualy unclean, heathen, and a prostitute – all expressions of what we have called “fallen sex”. When she is not in union with her true lover, when all of her fullness is not being loved – when eros is exiled into the sexual, she is replaced by/becomes “maidservant”(this may have implications for feminism) (see Tiqunei Zohar 132b, 12a, and Raya Mehimna Zohar vol. 3, 222a).

In some sources, it is only her clothes that have become “blackened” (Raya Mehimna Zohar vol. 3 279b). Although Shehina and maidservant are two expressions of the one Feminine, sometimes She is depicted as hiding herself in Metatron, so as to be protected from the evil maidservant, and she is then called Mitatron (Metatron with a yod) (Tiqunei Zohar 15a) – a description with immense theological-psychological implications. In passing, we should also mention a wildly radical twist that this kabbalistic school adds to this teaching – the fact that the maidservant is mishna (secondary) to the Shehina.

For the author(s) of Raya Mehimna and Tiqunei Zohar, the maidservant-mishna represents the bothersome, dialectical, Tree of Consciousness of Good and Evil, pilpul tradition of the Oral Torah, as opposed to Shehina as Kabbalah, the place of true intimacy, the Tree of Life, the secrets of the Torah. Although this is not the context to present and analyze this idea in all its fullness, the curious may want to look at Tiqunei Zohar 22b, 27b, 43b, and 147a, for starters.

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