Thursday, December 13, 2007

When two or three gather, the Shekinah is in their midst

I thought this is pretty interesting on a couple of levels, particularly in light of what Jesus says in Mt 18.20. ("For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.")

From the Mishnah Tractate Avot 3.3 & 7:

"3. Rabbi Chananiah ben Teradion said . . 'when two sit together and words of Torah pass between them, the Divine Presence rests between them' . . .

"7. Rabbi Chalafta ben Dosa of Kefar Chanania used to say: 'If ten men sit together and occupy themselves with the Torah, the Divine Presence rests among them as it is written (Psalm 82:1) "God has taken his place in the divine council." And from where do we learn that this applies even to five? Because it is written (Amos 9:6) "And founds his vault upon the earth." And how do we learn that this applies even to three? Because it is written (Psalm 82:1) "In the midst of the gods he holds judgment." And from where can it be shown that the same applies even to two? Because it is written (Malachi 3:16)"Then those who revered the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord took note and listened." And from where even of one? Because it is written (Exodus 20:24) "In every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you."'"

If I understand the translators correctly, the word translated as "divine presence" is "Shekinah." Jesus is the Shekinah (cf., Jn 1.14).

Also of interest along this line are Talmud Berachot 6, "when three sit as judges, the Shekinah is with them," and Talmud Sanhedrin 39, "Whenever ten are gathered for prayer, there the Shekinah rests."


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