Learning about the faith of our “elder brothers in the faith.”
In 2000, the Vatican published a document on it’s website written by a woman named Lea Sestieri titled, “The Jewish Roots of the Holy Spirit.”
The Hadassah Research Institute on Jewish Women gives some background on Lea Sestieri:
… an Italian Jewish woman completed her studies at the rabbinical college. Of course, she did not become a rabbi as this was not yet possible in an orthodox community. But the rabbis invented a degree for her. Her name is Lea Sestieri. She is one of our most prominent Bible scholars and she has been teaching for many years at a Vatican college.
From Lea Sestieri’s document titled, “The Jewish Roots of the Holy Spirit:”
The «Guide for a correct presentation of Jews and the Jewish religion in the Preaching and Catechesis of the Catholic Church» (1985), encourages Christians to acquire a more respectful and adequate knowledge of the common heritage of Christians and Jews because this knowledge «can help them better understand certain aspects of the life of the Church» …
Although in Jewish scripture the Holy Spirit is never presented as a person but rather as a divine power capable of transforming the human being and the world, the fact remains that Christian pneumatological terminology is rooted in that of the Jewish religion. In preaching and Catechesis therefore it will be necessary to point out this connection, underlining the main aspects.
Later in the document some of the pneumatological terminology (terminology pertaining to spirit) of “the Jewish religion” which Christian pneumatological terminology is said by Lea Sestieri to be rooted in is listed:
Rabbinical thought starts with the Spirit as Spirit of Prophecy which ceases as such with Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi (Yoma 9b) and it is then recognized as charismatic inspiration and is promised to scholars. The Mishnah speaks of the spirit as something, which can be attained by man though different spiritual stages (see appendix). Never in rabbinical texts is the Spirit considered as an entity separate from God, even though at times it is used as synonymous with God and inter-changeable with Shekinah (majesty of God present among men and in nature; immanence.
Hebrew philosophy likens the Spirit to the rabbinical Shekinah (Filone), to the Glory of God (Jehudah HaLevi); while Maimonide describes it as the inspiration of the divine Intellect (emanated by God upon prophets) and Nahmanide, regarding Gn 2,7 stresses «It is the spirit of the great name from whose mouth comes knowledge and intelligence». (Perushe hatorah 1,33).
The Mysticism of Rhenish Hassidism (12th-13th century) refers again to the Glory «it is the great splendour called Shekinah and therefore identical to the Spirit of Holiness from which come the voice and the word of God». The Zohar (1,15a) shows that it is thanks to the Spirit that the world was created, in as much as it is the emanation of this light, splendid and primordial point as it had already been described by the philosopher Saadia (9th century).
In this last century Idealism rediscovers the absolute Spirit as the name for the absolute «I». F. Rosenzweig, referring to creation, underlines «the spirit of the Covenant of Gn l, 2 as something tending to depersonalization, that is to greater transcendence». A Neher defines it an absolute principle of revelation. Lastly the divine Spirit is considered to be that which represents the inseparable relation between God and man (Herman Cohen).
So this is not at all a lecture on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament religion related to the New, which is what most people would take Lea Sestieri’s vague terms, “Jewish Scripture” and “the Jewish religion” to suggest. This is a lesson on the non-Biblical Talmudic, Kabbalistic and modern Judaic philosophical traditions encompassing developments from the 1st through the 12-13th and even 20th centuries, well after the Christian understanding of the Holy Spirit was defined.
Now for the parts that Judaic Vatican college professor, Lea Sestieri left out.
The Judaic Shekinah has a racist preference for “Israel,” and according to certain Pantheistic Judaic schools of thought, the Shekinah is the Judaic people themselves:
Though the presence of God is everywhere, the Shekhinah rests preeminently on Israel rather than on the gentiles (Ber. 7a; Shab. 22b; Num. R. 7:8). For Israel is a people chosen and sanctified by God to be carriers of His will to the world …
… it said that even while Israel is unclean the Shekhinah is with them (Yoma, 56b); when they are exiled it goes into exile with them, and when they come to be redeemed the Shekhinah will be redeemed too (Meg. 29a)…
In the 19th century Nachman Krochmal interpreted Shekhinah as pure spiritual power. Krochmal’s philosophy of history, which is based on Hegel, asserts that every nation has a spiritual power, and that the Jewish people has the spiritual power in its purest form which is directly rooted in the Absolute Spirit. This spiritual power of the Jews is called Shekhinah (Moreh Nevukhei ha-Zeman, ch. 7), and this notion explains the rabbinic sayings that wherever the Jews wandered the Shekhinah wandered” …
In kabbalistic theology the Shekhinah is the divine principle of the people of Israel. Everything that happens to Israel in the earthly world is therefore reflected upon the Shekhinah who waxes and wanes with every good deed and every sin of each individual Jew and the people as a whole; on the other hand, everything that happens to the Shekhinah … is reflected in the status of Israel in the earthly world … (Encyclopaedia Judaica, “Shekinah”)
The Judaic Shekinah is also feminine. Those aware of EWTN favorite and Opus Judei lodge brother, Scott Hahn’s insane mutterings will be familiar with this non-Biblical concept. The question in my mind is why haven’t any of those who’ve challenged Scott Hahn on this absurd notion of his traced it back to it’s Talmudic/Kabbalistic/Hermetic root? Many of Hahn’s inquisitors fancy themselves experts on Judaism. They quite obviously are nothing of the sort.
The basic elements of the kabbalistic concept of the Shekhinah are found in the earliest kabbalistic work, the Sefer ha-Bahir, where the Shekhinah, or Malkhut, is described as the daughter, the princess, the feminine principle in the world of the divine Sefirot …
The symbolism describing the Shekhinah is the most developed in kabbalistic literature. Most of the many and varied symbols refer to aspects of the Shekhinah’s relationship with the other Sefirot above her—such as her acceptance of the divine light from them, her relationship to them as a lower aspect of themselves which is nearer to the created world, and her coming close to the masculine element or moving further away from it.” (Encyclopaedia Judaica, “Shekinah”)
SHCHINA – SHECHINAH – SHECHINA – SHEKHINAH, meaning “resting” or “dwelling” refers to the Divine Presence, usually characterized as the feminine aspect of God. Although this name for God does not appear in the Bible, God is often described as “dwelling” (shohen – SHIN VAV CAF NUN) among the people or in Jerusalem …
… Kabbalists placed the concept of the SHEKHINAH at the center of their mystical system. The SHEKHINAH – also called Malkhut (Kingship), Princess, Daughter, Bride, Wisdom, and Divine Speech – is the tenth and most immanent of the Sefirot and radiates it upon the earth….
According to Kabbalistic theory, the original divine unity was shattered at the beginning of Creation so that God’s masculine aspects (the Sefirot, called Tiferet and Yesod) were separated from the feminine, the SHEKHINAH. Our task is to bring together – through prayer, study of Torah, and performance of the mitzvot (commandments) – the ten separate Sefirot, [and sex magic], thereby restoring that original divine unity. [The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols by Ellen Frankel and Betsy Platkin Teutsch (1992. Northvale: Jason Aronson. 154-155)]
Shekhinah is feminine, and She is a part of Masonry whether we want to admit it or not, if for no other reason than she represents LIGHT. In Hebrew tradition, Shekhinah is the Feminine face/aspect of god. She was the ancient Hebrew Goddess of wisdom and joy, the feminine part of Yahweh, and the light that dwelt within everything. She lived at the root of the Tree of Life, residing within the acacia, the tree that produces gum arabic, the glue that holds the world together. Her foundations can be traced back to the early Goddess imagery of Asherah and Astarte.
It gets far stranger than this.