Let My People Know

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz: “The Divine Presence is manifest wherever a person performs a mitzva.”


It is stated in Sanhedrin (39a) that a cer-
tain heretic said to Rabban Gamliel:
“You say that the Divine Presence
dwells upon any gathering of ten Jews.

How many Divine Presences do you
have?” Rabban Gamliel replied to
him with an analogy of the sun’s
light, which enters through many
windows, and so forth. (San 39a)


The Divine Presence is manifest wherever a person performs a mitzva.

This might lead one to think that God has undergone a change, God forbid, as He reveals Himself differently in different contexts.

Alternatively, one might erroneously presume that there are multiple elements within God, since the Divine Presence apparently manifests itself in multiple places simultaneously.

The incident recorded in the Talmud provides a resolution to this misconception.

Rabban Gamliel’s analogy teaches that although the windows differ from one another in shape and location, and the light passing through them is ostensibly unique to each one, the fact of the matter is that it is the same sunlight that shines through them all.

This analogy alludes to the concept of the dwelling of the Divine Presence.

Any time a person merits attaining a certain degree of utter self-nullification to God, namely, through altruistic Torah study and performance of mitzvot, it is as though he has opened a window to the Divine.

The exact characteristics of the window itself are less important than the dwelling of the Divine Presence that shines and is revealed through it.

Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz