My father-in-law, the Rebbe, of blessed memory, writes as follows in the maamar that he released for the day of his passing, the tenth of Shvat, 5710:

"I have come into My garden, My sister, My bride."

Midrash Rabbah (on this verse) observes that the word used is not L'Gan [which would mean "to the garden"], but L'Gani [which means "to My garden"] — and this implies L'Gnuni [which means "to My bridal chamber."

The Divine Presence is thus saying:] "I have come into My bridal chamber, into the place in which My essence was originally revealed."

The Midrash continues: "...for the essence of the Shechinah was originally apparent in this lowly world."

Let us understand why the Midrash uses the expression "the essence of the Shechinah."

Discussing the meaning of [the level of Divinity termed] Shechinah, the Alter Rebbe explains that the Divine Presence is thus named "because it dwells and is enclothed [in all worlds],"..."as in the Scriptural phrase, Veshachanti Betocham — `that I may dwell within them,' for [the Shechinah] is the initial revelation of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light."

From the Alter Rebbe's statement that "the initial revelation of the [infinite] Ein Sof-light" is called Shechinah, we understand that the Shechinah transcends by far even [the loftiest of the Four Worlds, the World of] Atzilus, [and that the Shechinah is to be found] even in the Divine light that precedes the [initial self-imposed contraction of Divine revelation that is known as the] tzimtzum, for revelation first occurs in the [infinite] Ein Sof-light that precedes the tzimtzum.

As the Mitteler Rebbe writes: "The luminescence of the Kav and Chut [i.e., the narrow band of Divine illumination that shone forth following the tzimtzum] in relation to the essence of the Ein Sof- light is termed Shechinah."

For the meaning of the term Shechinah varies according to the spiritual level of its context. In relation to Atzilus, [for example,] it is Malchus [lit., "sovereignty", the lowest of the Supernal Sefiros,] that is termed Shechinah.

Even with regard to this use of the term, the Tzemach Tzedek explains that it applies only when Malchus becomes the level of Atik [i.e., when it serves as the fountainhead] for the World of Beriah.

However, when Malchus is still in Atzilus it is united with them (i.e., with the Sefiros of Atzilus), and the term Shechinah cannot be applied to it.

Nevertheless, this does not contradict the earlier statement that [even so lofty a level as] the kav [which is spiritually superior by far to Atzilus] is termed Shechinah, for the term Shechinah as used by our Sages refers to the level of Malchus of Atzilus, and even then, only insofar as it becomes the level of Atik for the World of Beriah.

In its source, however, i.e., in the state in which it exists in relation to the Ein Sof-light, even the kav is termed Shechinah.

The Rebbe Maharash writes that one of the reasons why the kav is called Shechinah in relation to the Ein Sof-light, is that the kav is drawn down in order to become enclothed in the worlds and in Jewish souls. It is therefore termed Shechinah even at its outset.

The Rebbe Rashab explains that on an even higher level the first source of Shechinah precedes the tzimtzum, for the revelation of Divine light prior to the tzimtzum is termed Shechinah.

In general, there are three levels of G‑dly illumination that precede the tzimtzum:

[(a)] the essence of the [Divine] light (etzem haor), and [(b) and (c)] the two sub-categories within its diffusion (hispashtus haor).

The first of these is the revelation of light insofar as it is revealed for GÄd Himself, this revelation being the source of the light of sovev kol almin [the light that transcends (lit.: "encompasses") all worlds];

The second is the revelation of light as revealed for Himself that bears a relation to the worlds, this revelation being the source of the light of memaleh kol almin [the light that is immanent in all worlds].

It is this [latter] illumination that is termed Shechinah.

Although this light precedes tzimtzum and thus cannot possibly serve as a source for [the creation of] worlds — for which reason it was necessary that there be tzimtzum [in the first place] — and, moreover, this first tzimtzum was [not a mere diminution of Divine light, but] an act of withdrawal, nevertheless, this [latter level of illumination] is termed Shechinah.

We may now appreciate the precise wording of the Midrash, which taught that "the essence of the Shechinah was originally found in this lowly world."

It informs us that the revelation of the Shechinah in this world is not of the level of Malchus, i.e., the Shechinah in relation to Atzilus, nor is it the level of the kav, i.e., the Shechinah in relation to the Ein Sof-light; rather, what was present specifically in this lowly world was the essential and innermost degree [i.e., the most transcendental and consequently non-manifest degree] of Shechinah.

[The reason why the Midrash must refer to the essential level of Shechinah is as follows:]

For the [Divine] illumination clothed within the worlds descends in an orderly and progressive manner, so that the loftier the world, the greater the degree of illumination; the lower the world within the progressive chain of descent [of worlds], the lesser the illumination.

This is generally so regarding the illumination found within progressively descending levels.

[Consequently, with regard to the lower levels of Shechinah, i.e., the illumination clothed within the worlds, this revelation is found to a greater degree in the higher worlds than in this physical world.]

Although it is true that before the sin [of the "Tree of Knowledge"] the illumination was revealed in this world as well, nevertheless, even then the illumination was revealed to a greater extent in the higher worlds.

In the words of our Sages, "He extended His right hand and created heaven; He extended His left hand and created earth."

We must perforce say that the above statement [that "the essence of the Shechinah was originally found in this lowly world"] refers to the [Divine] illumination that transcends all worlds; this is what is meant by the essence of the Shechinah.