"Anochi ered imecha mitzrayma - I [personally] will go down to Egypt with you..." (Gen. 46:4)

This verse teaches that the Divine Presence (Shechinah) descended to Egypt with Jacob; this seems difficult in view of the statement by the Midrash [Mechilta on Exodus 9:29] that Moses had to go out of town to offer up a prayer due to the preponderance of impurity within the town.

...whenever...the Jewish people would experience problems, G‑d would share their suffering.

Perhaps what G‑d had in mind when He told Jacob that He would descend with him to Egypt was that whenever he or the Jewish people would experience problems, G‑d would share their suffering. (Compare Psalms (91:15): "I am with him in distress")

"Anochi ered imecha mitzrayma": the word mitzrayma may be derived from the word "meitzar - a narrow, confined area." G‑d hinted that whenever Jacob (i.e. the Jewish people) would find themselves hemmed in, He would share their misery. G‑d demonstrated this to Moses when He appeared to him out of the burning bush, certainly not a dwelling fit for G‑d. G‑d’s message was that as long as the Jewish people are in distress in Egypt, He Himself would reside in such locations as the lowly thorn bush.

The Shechinah never descended to the part of Egypt which was full of impurity. There are numerous instances (such as in Megillah 29) where the descent of the Shechinah to Egypt is understood to mean that G‑d shared the exile experience of the Jewish people with them.

You have to realize that the manifestation of G‑d’s Presence (Shechinah) occurs in a variety of forms and degrees. We are taught that when ten people sit together and are preoccupied with Torah, the Shechinah rests amongst them. (Avot 3:6) The rabbis in the Mishnah there are at pains to prove from scriptural quotations that even a single individual studying Torah is accompanied by the Shechinah. On the other hand, we find that the Shechinah did not descend from heaven to take up residence amongst the Jewish people until the latter had established the Tabernacle (compare Exodus 40:35) and had made numerous preparations to qualify for hosting the Shechinah. How is it possible that no such preparations appear to be required for an individual who studies Torah and qualifies for G‑d’s Presence as stated in Avot?

...one must distinguish between different levels of Divine Presence.

Clearly, when one speaks of the presence of the Shechinah one must distinguish between different levels of Divine Presence. The amount of enlightenment one experiences depends on the level of Divine Presence one is privileged to experience. If we were to describe such different levels of a Divine Presence, we could categorize the revelation at Mount Sinai as the highest level of such a Divine Presence. The next lower level may be the Divine Presence in the Holy of Holies in the Temple. A slightly lesser level of G‑d’s Presence may be experienced by the "average" prophet at the time he receives a message from G‑d. Progressively lower levels of such a Divine Presence may be found in synagogues or houses of study. A group of ten people discussing matters related to Torah-study may qualify for an even lesser degree of such a Divine Presence, etc.

When we keep this in mind we can better understand the statement of our sages that the Divine Presence, i.e. the enlightenment provided to a prophet never descended to certain levels. As a result, Moses had to leave the city in order to qualify for the degree of Divine Presence that could respond to his prayer.

The degree of Divine Presence found amongst a group of people studying Torah is of a lower level, however, and it was that level of the Shechinah which descended to Egypt with Jacob and remained there until the Exodus.

While it may sound presumptuous to differentiate between different degrees of Divine light, this is true as long as we speak of G‑d Himself. Light which radiates from G‑d, however, is subject to different "filters" in order to ensure that the recipient receives the amount which is beneficial to him and does not harm him through over-exposure.

The same principle applies even to different souls, all of which may be perceived as parts of G‑d’s "light" emanating from G‑d’s throne of glory.

The reason G‑d repeated the words "aloh gam aloh/I will also bring you up from there" is, that G‑d will:
1) see to it that Jacob will be buried in Canaan;
2) that the Jewish people will be led out of exile by G‑d. G‑d added the word "gam/also" as an allusion that both the regular Jewish people will be redeemed as well as the lost souls which had been captive amongst all the impurity in that country and about which we have written earlier. All of them would ascend to the land of Israel.

[Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar" by Eliyahu Munk.]